World Junior Championships: Pieter Coetze Sets African Record in Semifinals of 100 Backstroke; Mio Narita Rolls in 400 IM

Pieter Coetze

World Junior Championships: Pieter Coetze Sets African Record in Semifinals of 100 Backstroke

The first evening session of the World Junior Championships in Lima, Peru featured finals in four events, including the men’s 400-meter freestyle relay. That event enjoyed can’t-miss status, as David Popovici was on the blocks for Romania. During the morning preliminaries, Popovici led off for his country in 47.37, which was just a half-second off the world record he set in the 100 freestyle at the European Championships in Rome.

Here is what unfolded during Night One:

Men’s 400 Freestyle – Final

Stephan Steverink of Brazil snared the first medal of the competition, as he fought off a later charge by Romania’s Vlad Stancu in the 400 freestyle. Steverink touched the wall in 3:48.27, with Stancu at 3:48.38 after closing in 27.95, compared to the 28.23 finish of Steverink. Poland’s Krzysztof Chmielewski made his way onto the podium behind a bronze-medal time of 3:3:49.34, the last sub-3:50 effort of the night.

Women’s 50 Breaststroke – Semifinals

A tight pack of four athletes will head into the final, paced by Poland’s Karolina Piechowicz and her performance of 31.50. Piechowicz was one of four women to crack the 32-second barrier and advanced ahead of second seed, Jana Pribylova (31.81) of the Czech Republic. Also in the 31-second range were Spain’s Maria Ramos Najji (31.84) and Italian Irene Mati (31.88).

Men’s 100 Backstroke – Semifinals

Sixth in the 100 backstroke at the World Championships in Budapest, Poland’s Ksawery Masiuk entered the meet as the favorite for gold at Junior Worlds. But Masiuk will have his hands full in the final, as South Africa’s Pieter Coetze set an African record en route to winning his semifinal in 52.95. Coetze’s effort broke the previous African standard of 53.12, set in 2016 by Christopher Reid. Masiuk was also strong in his semifinal, as he clocked in at 53.12.

Women’s 400 Individual Medley

As was the case at last week’s Junior Pan Pacific Championships, Japan’s Mio Narita registered a runaway triumph in the 400 medley. Leading from the start, Narita claimed the title by more than six seconds, thanks to a championship-record time of 4:37.78. Narita has clearly established herself as a future pillar for Japan on the senior level. She was followed for the silver medal by Hungary’s Lilla Minna Abraham (4:44.19), with the bronze going to Italy’s Giulia Vetrano (4:44.29).

Men’s 100 Breaststroke

Austrian Luka Mladenovic was the sole swimmer to go under 1:02, as his performance of 1:01.84 was good for the top seed in the final. He will be joined in the battle for the medals by Serbia’s Uros Zivanovic (1:02.46) and Hong Kong’s Sai Ting Mak, who went 1:02.65.

Women’s 100 Backstroke

The European duo of Sara Curtis and Dora Molnar qualified first and second into the final. Italy’s Curtis checked in at 1:02.09 while Molnar was a tenth back in 1:02.19. Japan’s Aimi Nagaoka advanced in the third position, behind a swim of 1:02.24, and will make the battle for gold a three-athlete affair.

Men’s 400 Freestyle Relay

Fueled by David Popovici’s 47.07 leadoff leg, Romania raced to the gold medal in 3:18.84, a little more than a second faster than the 3:20.29 of France. Popovici was followed by countrymen Alexandru Constantinescu (51.17), Stefan Cozma (51.10) and Patrick Dinu (49.50).

Women’s 800 Freestyle Relay

Hungary capped the opening night of action with a gold medal from the quartet of Nikolett Padar, Dora Molnar, Lili Gyurinovics and Lilla Minna Abraham. Padar was the catalyst for the squad, as she led off in 1:58.37, which was the only sub-2:00 mark in the field. The silver medal went to Italy in 8:08.59, with bronze going to Turkey in 8:20.75.

Meet Results

Day One Results

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