Short Course World Championships: Daiya Seto Wins Fifth Straight 400 IM Title (Day Five Men’s Recap)

SETO Daiya JPN Gold Medal, 200m Individual Medley Men Final Abu Dhabi - United Arab Emirates 16/12/2021 Etihad Arena FINA World Swimming Championships (25m) Photo Andrea Staccioli / Deepbluemedia / Insidefoto
Daiya Seto won gold in the men's 400 IM -- Photo Courtesy: Andrea Staccioli / Deepbluemedia / Insidefoto

Short Course World Championships: Daiya Seto Wins Fifth Straight 400 IM Title (Day Five Men’s Recap)

Japan’s Daiya Seto had a difficult 2020 as he did not win a medal at the Tokyo Olympics, but he has looked great throughout the short course season, and he won his second gold medal of the meet in the 400 IM. The win made Seto just the second man to ever win one event at five straight Short Course World Championships, and this one came down to the wire as he held off Russia’s Ilya Borodin, who destroyed Seto’s world junior record on the way to a silver medal.

The session kicked off with a bang as the United States and Russia tied for gold in the men’s 200 medley relay, while 41-year-old Nicholas Santos scored his third short course world title in the men’s 50 fly.

Men’s 200 Medley Relay FINAL

Prior to this week, there had never been a tie for the gold medal in a relay at the Short Course World Championships, but it has now happened twice at the 2021 edition of the meet in Abu Dhabi. Four days after the U.S. and Canadian women tied for gold in the 400 freestyle relay, the Russian Swimming Federation and the United States finished in equal marks of 1:30.51 in the men’s 200 medley relay.

Russia, with a group of Kliment Kolesnikov (22.76), Kirill Strelnikov (25.62), Andrei Minakov (21.76) and Vladimir Morozov (20.37), won gold, and so did the American foursome of Shaine Casas (23.11), Nic Fink (25.13), Tom Shields (21.75) and Ryan Held (20.52). Kolesnikov provided the fastest backstroke leg before Fink and Shields paced the field on the middle legs as the Americans took over.

Italy’s Lorenzo Zazzeri posted the fastest freestyle split (20.29), followed by Morozov and Held, but Held anchored the American men to a relay gold medal for the second straight day. Italy, which set the world record at the European Championships in November, took bronze with Lorenzo MoraNicolo MartinenghiMatteo Rivolta and Zazzeri. The top three teams were more than a second clear of the rest of the field.

The U.S. team took down the American record, finishing four tenths faster than the team of Ryan MurphyMichael AndrewCaeleb Dressel and Held swam at the 2018 World Championships.


Men’s 100 Freestyle Semifinals

Italy’s Alessandro Miressi put on a show in the men’s 100 free semifinals. He blasted in front of the first semifinal heat and recorded a time of 45.58, becoming the 12th-fastest performer in history in the event. Miressi finished seven tenths ahead of the field, while Canada’s Joshua Liendo won the second semifinal in 46.29 to qualify second in 46.29. Liendo will be going ofr his second individual medal of the meet after he picked up bronze in Sunday’s 50 free.

Two Olympic finalists, France’s Maxime Grousset (46.35) and South Korea’s Hwang Sunwoo (46.46) finished third and fifth, respectively, while the USA’s Ryan Held split the difference with a 46.36. Held was out fastest in 21.71, but he faded down the stretch after he had swum the 200 medley relay just minutes earlier. Fortunately for Held’s chances in this race, he will come in fresh for the final.

The Russian Swimming Federation’s Vladislav Grinev, the Netherlands’ Stan Pijnenburg and Ireland’s Jack McMillan also made the semifinals.


Men’s 50 Butterfly FINAL

Brazil’s Nicholas Santos is 41 years old, and he first competed at a World Championships in 2001 — and he’s still winning. Santos, who set the world record in the 50 fly at 21.75 three years ago, won his third gold medal in the event with a 21.93. The Brazilian previously won gold in the event in 2012 and 2018, plus a silver in 2014. Santos has also been a medalist in this event at the past three long course World Championships.

Here, Santos had to work hard to touch out Trinidad and Tobago’s Dylan Carter by five hundredths for the gold. Carter touched in 21.98 for silver, while Italy’s Matteo Rivolta was four hundredths further back to win bronze in 22.02. Rivolta added to his ledger after scoring gold in the 100 fly earlier in the week.

Meanwhile, Hungary’s Szebasztian Szabo finished fourth in 22.14. Szabo tied Santos’ world record in November, but he was unable to come close to that speed on the world stage.


Men’s 50 Breaststroke Semifinals

Belarus’ Ilya Shymanovich already has secured gold in the 100 breast in Abu Dhabi, and he could add another gold in the 50 breast. He qualified first for the final in 25.55 as he edged out American Nic Fink in the second semifinal. Fink finished second in 25.68, and he has already had an excellent week. He has gold medals in the 200 breast and men’s 200 medley relay, a silver in the mixed 200 medley relay and a bronze in the 100 breast. Fink could secure two more medals Tuesday, with the 100 breast and 400 medley relay finals to come.

Italy’s Nicolo Martinenghi, the silver medalist in the 100 breast Friday, took third in 25.87, while Germany’s Fabian Schwingenschlogl (25.94) and Brazil’s Joao Gomes (25.96) also got under 26. Other finalists include China’s Yan Zibei, the Netherlands’ Arno Kamminga and Austria’s Bernhard Reitshammer.

Turkey’s Huseyin Sakci won the first semifinal in 25.52 and looked like a strong candidate to win a medal, possibly even gold, but he was disqualified for a dolphin kick at the finish. Sakci would have been the top qualifier prior to the DQ call. The same thing happened in the women’s 50 breast when top qualifier and gold-medal favorite Alia Atkinson was DQ’ed in semifinals for a dolphin kick at the finish.


Men’s 400 IM FINAL

Japan’s Daiya Seto made history as only the second man to ever win gold in the same event at five straight World Championships. He won gold in the men’s 400 IM as he repeated the title he previously won in 2012, 2014, 2016 and 2018. Seto led wire-to-wire, and he was up by 3.5 seconds with 100 meters to go. Seto then faded hard over the final 100 meters as the Russian Swimming Federation’s Ilya Borodin closed in, but he held on to win by 0.21, 3:56.26 to 3:56.47.

Borodin was the long course European champion in this event earlier this year, but he missed the Tokyo Olympics after testing positive for COVID-19 shortly before the Games. But here, Borodin crushed Seto’s world junior record of 3:59.15. Ironically, Seto set that mark on his way to the first of his five golds at the 2012 Short Course Worlds. Borodin also moved to third all-time in the event behind Seto and Ryan Lochte.

The USA’s Carson Foster finished third in 3:57.99. Foster was in second place for most of the race before Borodin came on strong, and he will finish his senior international debut with one medal of each color, including gold in the 800 free relay and silver in the 200 IM. Italy’s Alberto Razzetti, the gold medalist in the 200 fly and bronze medalist in the 200 IM in Abu Dhabi, ended up fourth in 3:59.57.


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