Short Course World Championships: Nic Fink Continues Roll With Title in 200 Breaststroke (Day 3 Men’s Recap)

FINK Nic USA Gold Medal, KAMMINGA Arno NED Silver Medal, LICON Will USA Bronze Medal 200m Breaststroke Men Final Abu Dhabi - United Arab Emirates 18/12/2021 Etihad Arena FINA World Swimming Championships (25m) Photo Andrea Staccioli / Deepbluemedia / Insidefoto
Arno Kamminga, Nic Fink & Will Licon were the medalists in the men's 200 breaststroke at Short Course Worlds -- Photo Courtesy: Andrea Staccioli / Deepbluemedia / Insidefoto

Short Course World Championships: Nic Fink Continues Roll With Title in 200 Breaststroke (Day 3 Men’s Recap)

The third day of finals at the FINA World Short Course Championships in Abu Dhabi provided an immediate opportunity for Dutchman Arno Kamminga to bounce back from a miss of the podium a day earlier. One day after finishing fourth in the 100-meter breaststroke, the double-Olympic medalist returned for the final of the 200 breaststroke, but it was American Nic Fink who snared the gold medal and maintained the momentum he built toward the end of the International Swimming League season. Kamminga earned a podium place this time around, as he finished just behind the American.

Fink was joined as a champion by Italian Matteo Rivolta, who trusted his early speed to build a sizable edge and roared to the gold medal in the 100 butterfly. That victory snapped a run of four consecutive titles in the event by South African Chad Le Clos. Meanwhile, the Dutch capped the session with a come-from-behind win in the mixed 200 medley relay, as Thom de Boer rallied his country on the freestyle leg.

Here  is a look at what unfolded during men’s action the third session of finals.

Men’s 200 Breaststroke Final

The United States’ Nic Fink took a unique approach to the world title in the 200 breaststroke, as he led from the start through the midway mark, fell back to fourth with 50 meters remaining, but rallied down the stretch to best the field. Fink touched the wall in 2:02.28 to clip the Netherlands’ Arno Kamminga, who was timed in 2:02.42. The bronze medal went to American Will Licon, who covered the race in 2:02.84.

Fink surged to the lead at the 50- and 100-meter marks, but at the 150-meter checkpoint, the American was out of the medals as Licon took the lead. However, Fink responded with a closing split of 30.84 (the only sub-31 on the last 50) and overhauled Kamminga. A double-Olympic silver medalist, Kamminga again claimed runnerup accolades as he pulled ahead of Licon in the closing meters. Licon, though, held on for the podium, just edging Sweden’s Erik Persson (2:02.91).

200 Breaststroke

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Men’s 100 Medley Semifinals

The absence of Caeleb Dressel has generated a wide-open chase for the gold medal in the 200 individual medley, and Russia’s Kliment Kolesnikov and Japan’s Daiya Seto are positioned to make a run during Sunday’s final. Kolesnikov earned the top seed for the final behind a mark of 51.33 while Seto will be the third seed, following a semifinal performance of 51.52. Seto, who is rebounding on the world stage after a disastrous Olympics, has already won the 200 medley at these World Champs.

Sandwiched by Kolesnikov and Seto in the No. 2 slot was Norway’s Tomoe Hvas (51.39), who doesn’t have the pedigree of Kolesnikov and Seto, but may play the role of spoiler. Italy’s Thomas Ceccon was fourth, but there was a considerable dropoff to the 51.86 clocking he managed.


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Men’s 50 Freestyle Semifinals

A couple of strong relay performances to his credit, American Ryan Held flashed his on-form skills en route to the top seed for the final of the 50 freestyle. Held blasted his way to a showing of 21.81, which was .07 quicker than Canada’s Joshua Liendo, who went 20.88 for a national record. Also cracking the 21-second barrier were Great Britain’s Ben Proud (21.95) and Dutchman Thom de Boer (21.98).

If Held can capture a world title in the 50 freestyle, it would define a story of atonement. Over the summer, Held was locked out of a berth to the Olympic Games in Tokyo due to restrictions placed on team-member limits. While this competition does not measure up to the importance of the Olympics, Held deserves credit for the way he answered his adversity and clearly focused on being at his peak for his next international opportunity.


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Men’s 100 Butterfly Final

It didn’t come easy, thanks to the presence of former world champion Chad Le Clos of South Africa, but Italian Matteo Rivolta backed up his top seed and walked away with a world title in the 100 butterfly. Producing a winning time of 48.87, Rivolta attacked the race and was under world-record pace by .04 at the midway work. While he couldn’t maintain that speed over the back half of the race, he did enough to top the medals stand.

Fourth at the midway point, Le Clos made a charge on Rivolta but could not move past the Italian and picked up the silver medal with a time of 49.04. Le Clos was the four-time reigning world champion in the event and has now won five medals in the discipline. He was followed as the bronze medalist by Russia’s Andrei Minakov (49.21).


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Men’s 50 Backstroke Semifinals

The Russian Federation is set up for a gold-silver showing in the final after Pavel Samusenko and Kliment Kolesnikov cruised to the top places in the semifinals. Samusenko moved through his two lengths in 22.74 and Kolesnikov followed in the next semifinal with a swim of 22.78. Kolesnikov, based on his past, should be considered the favorite. If Kolesnikov is on form, it is difficult to foresee him being beaten in an event in which he has routinely flourished.

Germany’s Christian Diener was the only other athlete to break 23 seconds in the semifinals, as he came through in 22.89. He was followed in fourth by Italy’s Lorenzo Mora and American Shaine Casas, who tied at 23.13. Casas has already won the 100 backstroke title.


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Mixed 200 Medley Relay Final

Going against the conventional wisdom that recommends two men leading off a mixed relay, the Netherlands rallied past the United States for the gold medal in the mixed medley relay. The Netherlands went 1:36.20, with Team USA at 1:37.04. Bronze went to Italy in 1:37.29. Kira Toussaint jumpstarted the Dutch with a split of 26.21 on the backstroke leg and was followed by the 25.40 mark of Arno Kamminga on the breaststroke leg. The Netherlands went to Ranomi Kromowidjojo on the butterfly leg and she answered with a split of 24.36, setting the table for Thom de Boer to close in 20.23.

The United States turned to Shaine Casas and Nic Fink for its opening two legs and went with the tandem of Claire Curzan and Abbey Weitzeil to close out the race.


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