World Championships, Day 3 Prelims: Sam Short Bolts to Top Spot in 800 Freestyle; Florian Wellbrock Locked Out of Final

Sam Short of Australia celebrates after winning the gold medal in the 400m Freestyle Men Final during the 20th World Aquatics Championships at the Marine Messe Hall A in Fukuoka (Japan), July 23rd, 2023.

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World Championships, Day Three Prelims: Sam Short Bolts to Top Spot in 800 Freestyle; Florian Wellbrock Locked Out of Final

On the way to his gold medal in the 400-meter freestyle on the first night of the World Championships, Sam Short pressed the pace in the morning prelims. The Australian wasn’t into ease-on-through mode, confident his training and conditioning had him prepared for several swift performances. That strategy is once again in play for Short, who logged the fastest qualifying time in the 800 freestyle.

Establishing a sizable lead early in the third heat of four, Short posted a time of 7:40.90 to grab the top seed for the final, which will be held as part of Wednesday night’s program. Short will try to join Ian Thorpe (2001) and Grant Hackett (2003/2005) as the only Aussies to have won a world title in the 1500 freestyle. During his victorious swim in the 400 freestyle, Short became the fifth-fastest performer of all-time, and he seems to be moving in that direction at twice the distance.

Tunisia’s Ahmed Hafnaoui, who finished just behind Short in the 400 freestyle, was again second to the Aussie in the prelims of the 800 free. Hafnaoui managed a time of 7:41.97 and was followed in third for the final by Germany’s Lukas Martens (7:42.04).

The fourth through seventh qualifiers came from the last heat of prelims, which was won by Ireland’s Dan Wiffen in 7:43.81, just ahead of reigning world champion Bobby Finke of the United States (7:43.87). Following were the Ukraine’s Mykhailo Romanchuk (7:44.07) and Italy’s Gregorio Paltrinieri (7:44.89), a former world champion in the event. Rounding out the final in eighth was Brazil’s Guilherme Costa in 7:45.80.

Locked out of the final was Germany’s Florian Wellbrock, who won a pair of world titles earlier this month in open-water competition. Wellbrock was the silver medalist in the 800 freestyle at last summer’s World Champs.


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