World Junior Championships: Merve Tuncel Storms to 800 Freestyle Crown; Ksawery Masiuk Wins Backstroke Duel

merve tuncel

World Junior Championships: Merve Tuncel Storms to 800 Freestyle Crown; Ksawery Masiuk Wins Backstroke Duel

Ahead of the Junior World Championships in Lima, Peru, the men’s 100-meter backstroke was tabbed as a showdown between Poland’s Ksawery Masiuk and South African Pieter Coetze. The teenagers fulfilled expectations on Wednesday night, with Masiuk registering a tight triumph in what was a two-man battle.

Masiuk posted a winning time of 52.91, good for a championship record, to narrowly edge Coetze, who managed a time of 52.99. The bronze medal went to the Czech Republic’s Miroslav Knedla, who was more than two seconds back of the frontrunners in 55.08. Earlier this summer, Masiuk was sixth in the event at the World Championships in Budapest.

From the start, Masiuk and Coetze went stroke for stroke, the Polish athlete taking the lead at 25.86 to 25.93 at the midway mark. On the return lap, Masiuk turned in a split of 27.05, compared to the 27.06 of Coetze. The South African was just off his championship and African record, which was established at 52.95 during the semifinals on Tuesday night.

In other action:

Women’s 200 Butterfly – Final

Italy grabbed a pair of podium positions, headlined by Anna Porcari securing the gold medal in 2:12.00. Porcari was sixth at the 50-meter mark, fourth at the halfway point and in third place with a lap to go. But a 33.82 finish rallied her to the front of the field, with the silver medal going to Mehlika Kuzeh Yalcin (2:13.23). The bronze medalist was Porcari’s countrywoman, Paola Borrelli (2:13.36).

Men’s 200 Freestyle – Final

The biggest name in the sport this summer, Romania’s David Popovici, easily captured the gold medal in the 200 freestyle. Clocking a championship record of 1:46.18, Popovici finished more than two seconds ahead of runnerup Daniel Meszaros (1:48.98). Popovici had almost a one-second lead at the first turn and continually opened up his margin. The bronze medal was claimed by Italy’s Filippo Bertoni (1:49.05).

Women’s 50 Breaststroke – Final

Poland picked up its second gold medal of the session when Karolina Piechowicz edged Spain’s Maria Ramos Najji in the 50 breaststroke. Piechowicz sprinted her lap in 31.55, Ramos Najji following for the silver medal in 31.68. Irene Mati of Italy notched a swim of 31.96 for the bronze medal.

Men’s 100 Butterfly – Semifinals

Following four finals to start the evening, Diogo Ribeiro of Portugal led the way in the semifinals of the 100 butterfly. After cruising in the morning prelims, Ribeiro picked up the pace at night and hit the wall for a time of 52.29, which was almost a second clear of No. 2 seed Daniel Gracik (53.13) of the Czech Republic. Look for Ribeiro to push the 52-second barrier in the final, as he owns a personal best of 51.61 from the European Champs.

Women’s 100 Freestyle – Semifinals

When Nikolett Padar led off the Hungarian 800 freestyle relay with a 1:58 split, the effort signaled some fine freestyle times for the week ahead. Padar delivered on that promise in the semifinals, as she took the top seed for the final in 55.62, which was .30 up on Italian Matilde Biagiotti (55.92). Another Italian, Marina Cacciapuoti, went 56.18 for the No. 3 position in the final.

Men’s 100 Breaststroke

Austrian Luka Mladenovic was the class of the event from the start and he had no trouble collecting the victory, a time of 1:01.30 providing a comfortable cushion. Mladenovic sat second to Serbia’s Uros Zivanovic at the 50-meter mark, 28.53 to 28.56, but the Austrian took command over the back half of the race. A closing split of 32.74 enabled him to pull away to the title. The bronze medal was won by Filip Urbanski of Poland in 1:02.80.

Women’s 100 Backstroke

Dora Molnar pulled off a sensational comeback to win the 100 backstroke, as she tracked down Japan’s Aimi Nagaoka down the stretch and prevailed by the slimmest of margins. Molnar took the gold medal in 1:01.44, followed by Nagaoka in 1:01.45. At the turn, Molnar was back in fifth place and trailed her Japanese opponent, who had the lead, by .75. But with every stroke over the last 50 meters, Molnar cut into Nagaoka’s lead, until she hit the wall just ahead. Also making the podium was Japan’s Chiaki Yamamoto, who clocked a 1:02.10.

Men’s 200 Individual Medley

Turkey’s Sanberk Yigit Oktar was the lone athlete to break the two-minute barrier and walked away with the title in 1:59.89, which was exactly a second quicker than the 2:00.89 of Japan’s Tomoyuki Matsushita. As was the case in the women’s 100 backstroke, Japan placed two swimmers on the podium, as Yuta Watanabe was the bronze medalist in 2:01.39.

Women’s 800 Freestyle

As expected, Turkey’s Merve Tuncel easily bested the field in the 800 freestyle. Tuncel checked in with a time of 8:30.00, which was more than six seconds faster than Japan’s Ruka Takezawa (8:36.80). Tuncel was the European junior champ this summer in the 400 free, 800 free and 1500 free, and she will try to replicate that sweep in Peru.

Mixed Medley Relay

Poland had no trouble rolling to victory by three-plus seconds, a time of 3:52.00 easily ahead of the 3:55.58 of Italy. Ksawery Masiuk led off in 53.52 on the backstroke leg and gave way to Karolina Piechowicz, who covered the breaststroke in 1:08.95. Masiuk (100 backstroke) and Piechowicz (50 breaststroke) earned solo titles earlier in the evening. The butterfly was handled by Krzysztof Chmielewski (53.31) and Paulina Cierpialowska closed out the freestyle leg in 56.22.

Day Two Finals Results

Meet Results

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