World Championships, Day 1 Semifinals: Angelina Kohler Jumps Into All-Time Top-10 in 100 Butterfly

Angelina Kohler of Germany celebrates after compete in the 100m Butterfly Women Semifinals during the FINA Swimming Short Course World Championships at the Melbourne Sports and Aquatic Centre in Melbourne, Australia, December 17th, 2022. Photo Giorgio Scala / Deepbluemedia / Insidefoto
Angelina Kohler -- Photo Courtesy: Giorgio Scala / Deepbluemedia / Insidefoto

World Championships, Day 1 Semifinals: Angelina Kohler Jumps Into All-Time Top-10 in 100 Butterfly

The first evening session of the World Championships in Doha featured semifinal action in four races, with spots in the top-eight at stake in the women’s 100 butterfly, men’s 50 butterfly, men’s 100 breaststroke and women’s 200 IM.

In the first of those semis, Germany’s Angelina Kohler jumped on top of the women’s 100 fly as she entered the all-time top-10 rankings in the event while announcing herself as a true Olympic-medal contender at the upcoming Paris Olympics. Meanwhile, American Michael Andrew made his return to the global stage with a top-seeded result in the men’s 50 fly.

Women’s 100 butterfly

Germany’s Angelina Kohler has made a statement through two rounds of the women’s 100 fly at the Doha World Championships. The 23-year-old had never broken 57 before she went 56.41 to lead the way in prelims, and in the second semifinal, Kohler pulled away from the United States’ Claire Curzan to set herself up as the No. 1 qualifier for the final by almost a second.

And in the process, Kohler did more than give herself a shot at gold at a World Championships missing the usual medal threats in this event, including 2023 world champion Zhang Yufei, 2022 world champion Torri Huske and 2021 Olympic champion Maggie Mac Neil. Kohler has improved her standing in the event to ninth all-time, and her semis time was one hundredth quicker than Zhang’s gold-medal-winning time from a full-strength Worlds last July. Kohler is sending a signal to her rivals that she will be ready to go at this summer’s Paris Olympics.

Curzan faded down the stretch of her semifinal heat but posted a good enough time for the second seed at 57.06. Australia’s Brianna Throssell won the second semifinal in 57.22, touching out Sweden’s Louise Hansson (57.28). Expect the medals to come from those top four qualifiers, who are more than a half-second clear of anyone else. The second Australian, Alexandria Perkins, was the last qualifier at 58.05.

Men’s 50 butterfly

The United States’ Michael Andrew did not qualify for the 2023 World Championships, missing out despite his 50 fly win at U.S. Nationals. Now, Andrew is looking to re-establish himself internationally in Doha before he aims for a spot on his second Olympic team. He won three individual medals at the 2022 Worlds, all in 50-meter races, and now he will be in pole position for his first long course world title after topping all qualifiers in the 50 fly semis.

Andrew puled away from Dylan Carter in the first semifinal heat to win in 22.94, two tenths clear of Carter’s 23.15. Carter, representing Trinidad and Tobago, was the silver medalist in the 50 fly at the 2021 Short Course World Championships and bronze medalist in 2018. Spain’s Mario Molla Yanes won the second semifinal heat in 23.17, good for third overall, while Portugal’s Diogo Matos Ribeiro and Australia’s Isaac Cooper finished tied for fourth in 23.18. Ribeiro is the only swimmer who won a medal at last year’s Worlds who is in the field.

An extremely tight final will also feature Australia’s Cameron McEvoy, the United States’ Shaine Casas and South Korea’s Baek Inchul, while the Netherlands’ Nyls Korstanje and Canada’s Finlay Knox each finished in 23.25, one hundredth away from eighth place.

Men’s 100 breaststroke

Adam Peaty secured a middle lane for the final and, perhaps more vitally, what looks like a return to form. The double Olympic gold medalist led prelims in 58.60 seconds. It’s his second-best time since the Tokyo Olympics, having gone 58.58 at British nationals in 2022. He won the Olympics in 57.37.

He’ll have familiar faces around him in the final. American Nic Fink, who had led the way in prelims, was second in 58.73. Arno Kamminga of the Netherlands was third in 58.87, followed by Italy’s Nicolo Martinenghi in 59.13. (Kamminga won silver and Martinenghi bronze behind Peaty in Tokyo.)

Caspar Corbeau made it two Dutchman in the final. Sam Williamson represents the Aussies. Lucas Matzerath of Germany was fifth. Rounding out the final is Ilya Shymanovich, the Belarussian swimming under the flag of a neutral individual athlete. He edged American Jake Foster by .08 seconds.

Women’s 200 individual medley

Kate Douglass will be the top seed in the 200 IM final, and it looks like the American’s race to lose.

Doulgass won her semifinal heat of the 200 IM by nearly three seconds. The other semifinal was closer, so her time of 2:08.41 is just .35 seconds up on Sydney Pickrem and .42 ahead of Yu Yiting. But then it’s more than a second back to the nearest chaser.

That may well be the medal selection. It’s all that stands in the way of Douglass’s recent rampage. She’s got nine medals across the last two World Championships, including gold in this event last year. (Yu was third.)

Medal contenders will have to make up a gap to challenge any of those leading three. Yu clocked in at 2:08.83. Next was Israel’s Anastasia Gorbenko in 2:10.15. Charlotte Bonnet of France was .09 behind that.

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