World Junior Swimming Championships: Grgic Steals Show, USA Gold Rush Seals Top-Team Title

gretchen-walsh-usa-fina-world-juniors
Gretchen Walsh won two of the five gold medals for the United States on the last day. Photo Courtesy: FINA / Budapest 2019

FINA World Junior Swimming Championships (USA Gold Rush)

Budapest 2019

Day Six Finals

A sizzling Franko Grgic 14:46.09 World Junior Record Makes Croatian Ace Fastest 16-Year-Old Over 1500m In History, stole the show in the curtain-closer at the Duna Arena in the Hungarian capital this evening.

The last session of finals also produced an upset win for Russia in World-junior-record time over the USA in the men’s 4x100m medley, an upset win for New Zealand’s Erika Fairweather over Aussie ace of the women’s meet Lani Pallister in the 200m freestyle; and American 1-2 from Wyatt Davis and Carson Foster in the 200m backstroke that set in chain a victory sprint to the finish line from the top team of the meet, the USA, Gretchen Walsh nailing the sprint double with triumph over 50m free, Luca Urlando grabbing gold in the 200m butterfly, before Walsh was back in wash for a second title on the night with teammates 4x100m medley.

Men’s 100 Free

  • World Junior Record: 47.58, Kyle Chalmers, AUS (2016)
  • Championships Record: 48.33, Ivan Girev, RUS (2017)

Russia’s Andrei Minakov got the night started with a gold in the men’s 100 free to add to his gold in the 100 fly earlier in the meet. Minakov won the gold medal at 48.73 to just miss Ivan Girev’s meet record from 2017 as he was the only man to break 49 seconds in the final.

Minakov has been faster – a 48.50 his best from Russian nationals earlier this year, but needed no more for gold. At the World Championships in Gwangju last month he enjoyed a senior breakthrough with silver behind Caeleb Dressel in the 100m butterfly.

Canada’s Joshua Liendo (49.17) took silver for his first medal of the week ahead of Sweden’s Robin Hanson (49.25), who adds to his silver in the 200 free. Hanson was slightly slower than his 49.0 from European Juniors earlier in the summer when he won the silver medal in Israel.

USA’s Adam Chaney (49.27) was locked out of the medals in fourth place ahead of 50 free champ Vladyslav Bukhov of the Ukraine (49.81) and Italy’s Stefano Nicetto (49.84). Armenia’s Artur Barseghyan (50.03) and Brazil’s Murilo Sartori (50.30) also swam in the final.

1 MINAKOV Andrei Russian Federation RUS 48.73
2 LIENDO Joshua Canada CAN 49.17
3 HANSON Robin Sweden SWE 49.25
4 CHANEY Adam United States of America USA 49.27
5 BUKHOV Vladyslav Ukraine UKR 49.81
6 NICETTO Stefano Italy ITA 49.84
7 BARSEGHYAN Artur Armenia ARM 50.03
8 SARTORI Murilo Brazil BRA 50.30

Women’s 200 Breast

  • World Junior Record: 2:19.64, Viktoria Gunes, TUR (2015)
  • Championships Record: 2:19.64, Viktoria Gunes, TUR (2015)

Russia’s Evgeniia Chikunova was a big favorite to win the 200 breast final after she came into the competition with a 2:21 best time from the semi finals of the European Juniors, which put her third in the world. The pace was slower than that but the gold was in her grasp by the end of a tight tussle with Japan’s Mei Ishihara and the champion’s teammate Anastasia Makarova. 

Chikunova, who looked untouchable over 200 after she won the 100 breast at the last stroke earlier in the week, had a tough time establishing a lead during the race, battling with Ishihara.

Ultimately the favorite was able to pull away with a 2:24.03 for Russia’s second gold medal of the night. She also celebrated a 1-2 finish with Anastasia Makarova (2:24.39), who moved up to 21st in the world with her swim and is also the fifth fastest Russian this year in what is becoming a very competitive event in the country with six women ranked in the top 25 in the world this year.

Ishihara won the bronze at 2:24.99, moving up to 31st in the world and third in Japan. Early leader Kayla van der Merwe of Great Britain, was close and able to celabrate a best time of 2:25.27.

Hungary’s Eszter Bekesi (2:25.49) and China’s Zheng Muyan (2:25.50) were also among the swimmers fighting for the medals, placing fifth and sixth, and also putting themselves in the top 50 in the world.

Slovakia’s Nikoleta Trnikova (2:27.96) and USA’s Abby Arens (2:28.06) also swam in the final.

1 CHIKUNOVA Evgeniia Russian Federation RUS 2:24.03
2 MAKAROVA Anastasia Russian Federation RUS 2:24.39
3 ISHIHARA Mei Japan JPN 2:24.99
4 VAN DER MERWE Kayla Great Britain GBR 2:25.27
5 BEKESI Eszter Hungary HUN 2:25.49
6 ZHENG Muyan People's Republic of China CHN 2:25.50
7 TRNIKOVA Nikoleta Slovakia SVK 2:27.96
8 ARENS Abby United States of America USA 2:28.06

Men’s 200 Back

  • World Junior Record: 1:55.14, Kliment Kolesnikov, RUS (2018)
  • Championships Record: 1:56.69, Hugo Gonzalez, ESP (2017)

After Russia started the night two gold medals and a 1-2 finish, the United States followed up with a 1-2 finish of their own in the men’s 200 back with Wyatt Davis (1:58.18) leading the way with teammate Carson Foster (1:58.47) in the gold and silver medal positions.

Foster was leading the race through 150 meters and looked to have it wrapped after a disappointing showing in the 400 IM last night where he came in as the world junior record holder and faded badly over the second 200 meters to finish in sixth place.

Foster wasn’t able to completely exorcise those demons from the 400 IM but he was able to celebrate a 1-2 finish with Davis, who moved up to 45th in the world and ninth in the United States. He swam an impressive 29.54 on the last 50 to slingshot by Foster to win the gold medal to complement his silver in the 50 back and bronze in the 100.

Foster was able to sustain his spot as silver medalist from the 2017 World Juniors as he was slightly slower than his 1:58.2 from US Nationals earlier this month to remain 47th in the world rankings. France’s Mewen Tomac won the bronze medal from lane one with a 1:58.71 as he was also slower than his 1:58.3 from European Juniors where he won the silver medal. He was able to hold off a strong finish from Canada’s Cole Pratt (1:58.93), who finished in fourth after splitting a 29.7 on the final 50.

Great Britain’s Charlie Brown (1:59.57) finished in fifth ahead of Lithuania’s Arijus Pavlidi (1:59.69) who was leading at the 100. Russia’s Egor Dolomanov (2:00.05) and Portugal’s Joao Costa (2:00.32) also swam in the final in seventh and eighth.

1 DAVIS Wyatt United States of America USA 1:58.18
2 FOSTER Carson United States of America USA 1:58.47
3 TOMAC Mewen France FRA 1:58.71
4 PRATT Cole Canada CAN 1:58.93
5 BROWN Charlie Great Britain GBR 1:59.57
6 PAVLIDI Arijus Lithuania LTU 1:59.69
7 DOLOMANOV Egor Russian Federation RUS 2:00.05
8 COSTA Joao Portugal POR 2:00.32

Women’s 100 Fly

  • World Junior Record: 56.46, Penny Oleksiak, CAN (2016)
  • Championships Record: 57.25, Rikako Ikee, JPN (2017)

USA’s Torri Huske took down favorite Anastasiya Shkurdai of Belarus in the 100 fly final. The Virginia native lowered her own 15-16 national age group record in the process with a 57.71, improving on her 57.8 from the US Nationals where she took down one of records that had belonged to the legendary Mary T. Meagher. Huske is still ranked 20th in the world in this event and is the sixth fastest American this year as the Swimming World high school swimmer of the year is only going to be a junior this fall.

Huske won the gold medal over Shkurdai (57.98) and fellow American Claire Curzan (58.37) as the latter two were in the exact same positions in the 50 fly final earlier in the meet. Shkurdai was a 57.3 at the European Juniors earlier this summer where she sits tenth in the world rankings this year. Curzan won the bronze medal as she also swam faster this year with a 57.8 at US Nationals. Huske will be swimming butterfly duties on the medley relay later in the session and Curzan will be swimming backstroke so they will team up to close out the meet.

Canada’s Hanna Henderson (59.06), China’s Qian Xinan (59.13) and Russia’s Aleksandra Sabitova (59.64) also broke 1:00 in the final with Canada’s Genevieve Sasseville (1:00.06) and Italy’s Helena Biasibetti (1:00.38) finishing seventh and eighth.

1 HUSKE Torri United States of America USA 57.71
2 SHKURDAI Anastasiya Belarus BLR 57.98
3 CURZAN Claire United States of America USA 58.37
4 HENDERSON Hanna Canada CAN 59.06
5 QIAN Xinan People's Republic of China CHN 59.13
6 SABITOVA Aleksandra Russian Federation RUS 59.64
7 SASSEVILLE Genevieve Canada CAN 1:00.06
8 BIASIBETTI Helena Italy ITA 1:00.38

Men’s 1500 Free

  • World Junior Record: 14:51.55, Mack Horton, AUS (2014)
  • Championships Record: 14:56.60, Mack Horton, AUS (2013)

Croatia’s Franko Grgic rattled the world junior record in the 800 free earlier in the week at the FINA World Junior Swimming Championships. For an encore performance in the 1500, he not only took down Mack Horton’s world junior record of 14:51 from 2014, he obliterated it, taking it down to a 14:46.09. Grgic also took 10 seconds off the meet record of 14:56.60 from Horton set at the 2013 Championships.

Grgic, just 16, broke into the top ten in the world with his swim, moving up to sixth as he would have been in the mix at the World Championships had he replicated that swim a month ago. That final in Gwangju featured eight European swimmers, and Grgic has put himself in the mix to make the final in Tokyo next summer as the depth the Europeans have shown this year has been unmatched.

It was hardly a race from the start as Grgic won by 13 seconds over Australia’s Thomas Neill (14:59.19), who added a fourth medal to his silver in the 400, bronze in the 800 and 4×200 free relay. Neill is now ranked 19th in the world rankings and is the second fastest Australian this year, looking to one day contribute to the historical dominance that the Australians have had in this event over the years.

Russia’s Ilia Sibirtsev won the bronze medal at 15:05.17 over teammate Kirill Martynychev (15:07.51), who got the better hand of him at European Juniors. Sibirtsev added another medal to his collection after a silver in the 800 as he moved to 33rd in the world rankings. Martynychev added to his 15:01 from earlier this summer. USA’s Arik Katz (15:07.68) finished in fifth and is now the fifth fastest American this year.

Tunisia’s Ahmed Hafnaoui (15:16.04), USA’s Jake Mitchell (15:16.28) and France’s Tommy-Lee Camblong (15:18.33) also finished in the top eight.

2019 World Rankings:

  1. 14:36.54, Florian Wellbrock, GER
  2. 14:37.63, Mykhailo Romanchuk, UKR
  3. 14:38.34, Gregorio Paltrinieri, ITA
  4. 14:44.72, David Aubry, FRA
  5. 14:45.35, Henrik Christiansen, NOR
  6. 14:46.09, Franko Grgic, CRO
  7. 14:46.51, Daniel Jervis, GBR
  8. 14:47.75, Alexander Norgaard, DEN
  9. 14:48.52, Jan Micka, CZE
  10. 14:51.15, Bobby Finke, USA
1 GRGIC Franko Croatia CRO 14:46.09 WJ, CR
2 NEILL Thomas Australia AUS 14:59.19
3 SIBIRTSEV Ilia Russian Federation RUS 15:05.17
4 MARTYNYCHEV Kirill Russian Federation RUS 15:07.51
5 KATZ Arik United States of America USA 15:07.68
6 HAFNAOUI Ahmed Tunisia TUN 15:16.04
7 MITCHELL Jake United States of America USA 15:16.28
8 CAMBLONG Tommy-Lee France FRA 15:18.33

Women’s 50 Free

  • World Junior Record: 24.33, Rikako Ikee, JPN (2017)
  • Championships Record: 24.59, Rikako Ikee, JPN (2017)

The United States won their third gold medal of the night with Gretchen Walsh claiming her fifth gold medal overall with a 24.71 in the 50 free.

Walsh already won gold in the 100 free earlier in the week and swam on three gold medal winning relays for the US as she moved to 17th in the world rankings and tied for third in the United States (with Erika Brown) as she finished 1-2 with Maxine Parker, who is just behind her in the world rankings in 20th.

Parker will be a freshman at the University of Georgia after the Olympics while Walsh is still uncommitted and entering her junior year.

Australia’s Meg Harris (24.89) won the bronze medal to move up to 31st in the world rankings and also won her third medal of the meet after bronze in the 100 free and silver in the 4×100 free relay. Harris is now the sixth fastest Australian this year in this event.

Those three were well in front of the rest of the field with South Africa’s Aimee Canny well back in fourth at 25.29. Austria’s Nina Gangl (25.30) and Canada’s Hanna Henderson (25.33) finished fifth and sixth ahead of Italy’s Costanza Cocconcelli (25.45) and France’s Lison Nowaczyk (25.53).

1 WALSH Gretchen United States of America USA 24.71
2 PARKER Maxine United States of America USA 24.75
3 HARRIS Meg Australia AUS 24.89
4 CANNY Aimee South Africa RSA 25.29
5 GANGL Nina Austria AUT 25.30
6 HENDERSON Hanna Canada CAN 25.33
7 COCCONCELLI Costanza Italy ITA 25.45
8 NOWACZYK Lison France FRA 25.53

Men’s 200 Fly

  • World Junior Record: 1:53.79, Kristof Milak, HUN (2017)
  • Championships Record: 1:53.87, Kristof Milak, HUN (2017)

USA’s Luca Urlando swam a well-paced race to take gold in the 200 fly to win the gold medal at 1:55.02. The time was a little underwhelming for Urlando, who was a 1:53.84 earlier this summer, for third in the world rankings, but he was still able to claim gold medal, his second in individual swims (after the 200m freestyle) and fifth overall, with relays.

The early leader in the final was Federico Burdisso of Italy, who was out in a sizzling pace at 53.1, doing his best Chad Le Clos impression from the very same lane where he won the World title two years ago in 2017. Burdisso could not match his early speed on the second half, coming home in a painful 31.94 and he slipped to bronze at 1:55.39, ultimately getting passed by Japan’s Tomoru Honda (1:55.31) for the silver medal.

Honda was coming home furiously on the final 50, splitting the only sub-30 final 50 with a 29.5 as he almost caught Urlando. Honda nearly got into the top ten in the world with an 11th ranked swim as he could be making an appearance at a home Olympics next summer. He currently sits as the third fastest man in Japan this year.

Taiwan’s Wang Kuan-Hung (1:56.48) was the second seed coming into the final but finished fourth, placing himself 31st in the world rankings.

Russia’s Egor Pavlov (1:58.01), Czech Republic’s Sebastian Lunak (1:58.20), France’s Leon Marchand (1:58.73) and South Africa’s Ethan Du Preez (1:58.83) also swam in the final.

1 URLANDO Luca United States of America USA 1:55.02
2 HONDA Tomoru Japan JPN 1:55.31
3 BURDISSO Federico Italy ITA 1:55.39
4 WANG Kuan-Hung Chinese Taipei TPE 1:56.48
5 PAVLOV Egor Russian Federation RUS 1:58.01
6 LUNAK Sebastian Czech Republic CZE 1:58.20
7 MARCHAND Leon France FRA 1:58.73
8 DU PREEZ Ethan South Africa RSA 1:58.83

Men’s 50 Breast

  • World Junior Record: 26.97, Nicolo Martinenghi, ITA (2017)
  • Championships Record: 27.02, Nicolo Martinenghi, ITA (2017)

Russia’s Vladislav Gerasimenko won his second gold medal of the week as he doubled up in the sprint breaststroke events with a 27.58 in the 50 breast. Gerasimenko claimed the 100 gold earlier in the week when he was the only swimmer under 1:00 in that final. He successfully won the 50 final, adding to his European Junior crown in the event. He won tonight ahead of Canada’s Gabe Mastromatteo (27.73) and Great Britain’s Archie Goodburn (27.83).

Gerasimenko will swim the breaststroke leg on Russia’s medley relay at the end of the session as they will be looking to end the Americans’ streak in the relays. Josh Matheny will swim breast for the US as they are looking for a clean sweep of the relays. He was fourth in the 50 at 27.96 ahead of Greece’s Arkadios Aspougalis (27.98).

Japan’s Shoma Sato (28.04), Great Britain’s Kyle Booth (28.24) and USA’s Kevin Houseman (28.28) also swam in the final.

1 GERASIMENKO Vladislav Russian Federation RUS 27.58
2 MASTROMATTEO Gabe Canada CAN 27.73
3 GOODBURN Archie Great Britain GBR 27.83
4 MATHENY Josh United States of America USA 27.96
5 ASPOUGALIS Arkadios Greece GRE 27.98
6 SATO Shoma Japan JPN 28.04
7 BOOTH Kyle Great Britain GBR 28.24
8 HOUSEMAN Kevin United States of America USA 28.28

Women’s 200 Free

  • World Junior Record: 1:55.43, Yang Junxuan, CHN (2019)
  • Championships Record: 1:57.08, Taylor Ruck, CAN (2017)

Australia’s Lani Pallister was aiming for a fourth individual gold medal of the week as she was looking for a clean sweep of the 200-1500 free races. But she was upstaged tonight by New Zealand’s Erika Fairweather, whose 1:57.96 delivered the first gold medal of the meet for New Zealand. Fairweather moved up to 39th in the world for 2019 as she was able to end Pallister’s quest for four gold medals this week as the Aussie won the silver at 1:58.09.

Pallister is now 44th in the world rankings and is eighth in Australia as she is aiming to make her first Olympic team next year to join her mother Janelle Elford as the only mother-daughter duo to swim in the Olympics for Australia. Pallister was also able to win two silver medals in the free relays this week for a whopping six total medals.

Canada’s Emma O’Croinin came on strong on the final 50 as she was a 1:58.64 to win the bronze medal, adding to her silver in the 400 free. She was unable to crack the top 50 in the world but she was able to get on the podium ahead of Japan’s Nagisa Ikemoto (1:58.83).

Hungary’s Fanni Fabian (1:59.37), USA’s Claire Tuggle (1:59.83), Russia’s Polina Nevmovenko (2:00.14) and Canada’s Katrina Bellio (2:00.25) also swam in the final.

1 FAIRWEATHER Erika New Zealand NZL 1:57.96
2 PALLISTER Lani Australia AUS 1:58.09
3 O’CROININ Emma Canada CAN 1:58.64
4 IKEMOTO Nagisa Japan JPN 1:58.83
5 FABIAN Fanni Hungary HUN 1:59.37
6 TUGGLE Claire United States of America USA 1:59.83
7 NEVMOVENKO Polina Russian Federation RUS 2:00.14
8 BELLIO Katrina Canada CAN 2:00.25

Men’s 4×100 Medley Relay

  • World Junior Record: 3:35.17, Russia (2018)
  • Championships Record: 3:36.15, United States (2017)

The Russian Federation ended the United States’ perfect streak in relays on the final night of the World Juniors in Budapest with a world junior record in the men’s 4×100 medley relay. Both the Russians and the Americans were under the old world junior record as Russia’s 2018 record was obliterated. The team of Nikolay Zuev (53.84), Vladislav Gerasimenko (59.53), Andrei Minakov (50.93) and Aleksandr Shchegolev (48.89) swam a 3:33.19 to take their Youth Olympics . record down by nearly two full seconds.

It wasn’t easy though with the Americans trailing in second at 3:33.66. Their team of Will Grant (54.45), Josh Matheny (59.55), Blake Manoff (51.72) and Adam Chaney (47.94) gave the Americans all the could handle but had to settle for the runner-up.

The Russians were big favorites coming into the relay with Gerasimenko and Minakov having won golds in the breast and fly, and Zuev winning silver in 100 back. The Americans were also expected to be tough but lacked the star power that the Russians possessed. Matheny won silver in the 100 breast but he was the only one of the four to win medals in the 100 of their strokes. Chaney was the bronze medal winner in the 50 free and Grant led off the mixed medley relay in a time that would have won the bronze so they had talent, but the big question mark was with Manoff, who was over a second behind Minakov in the individual 100 fly final.

Nonetheless, the Americans gave the Russians all they could handle, including Chaney coming home in a monstrous 47.9 to nearly take down Shchegolev, but it was not enough as the Russians win their first relay gold medal in Budapest after four silver medal performances in the men’s free relays and both mixed relays.

The Canadians won the bronze medal at 3:36.35 after the Italians originally touched third but ended up getting disqualified for an illegal takeover by butterflyer Federico Burdisso. The Canadian team of Cole Pratt (54.79), Gabe Mastromatteo (59.82), Joshua Liendo (51.90) and Finlay Knox (49.84) got to stand on the podium to see their flag hoisted amongst the Americans and Russians.

Hungary (3:40.46) finished a distant fourth as they never were really in medal contention. Australia (3:41.28), Brazil (3:42.34) and Czech Republic (3:42.63) also competed in the final.

1 Russian Federation RUS 3:33.19, WJ, CR Zuev, 53.84, Gerasimenko, 59.53, Minakov, 50.93, Shchegolev, 48.89
2 United States of America USA 3:33.66 Grant, 54.45, Matheny, 59.55, Manoff, 51.72, Chaney, 47.94
3 Canada CAN 3:36.35 Pratt, 54.79, Mastromatteo, 59.82, Liendo, 51.90, Knox, 49.84
4 Hungary HUN 3:40.46 Jaszo, 55.83, Bohm, 1:02.27, Kos, 52.98, Zombori, 49.38
5 Australia AUS 3:41.28 Edwards-Smith, 55.26, Yong, 1:02.46, Quach, 54.42, Neill, 49.14
6 Brazil BRA 3:42.34 Figueiredo, 56.29, Martins, 1:02.90, Bondra, 53.18, Sartori, 49.97
7 Czech Republic CZE 3:42.63 Cejka, 55.28, Matatko, 1:02.69, Lunak, 54.37, Prochazka, 50.29
Italy ITA DSQ

Women’s 4×100 Medley Relay

  • World Junior Record: 3:58.38, Canada (2017)
  • Championships Record: 3:58.38, Canada (2017)

The United State closed out the 2019 FINA World Junior Swimming Championships with a gold medal in the women’s 4×100 medley relay. The team of Claire Curzan (1:00.75), Kaitlyn Dobler (1:07.51), Torri Huske (57.86) and Gretchen Walsh (53.01) swam a 3:59.13 to win the gold medal ahead of the Russians (4:00.30) as the Americans were the only team to break 4:00 in the field.

The Americans won seven of the eight relays as Russia was second in five of those relays. The Russians posed a challenge after two legs with Daria Vaskina (59.90) and Evgeniia Chikunova (1:07.45) swimming back and breast to give them the lead. But Huske ran down Aleksandra Sabitova (58.47) to give Walsh the lead over Ekaterina Nikonova (54.48), who did not stand a chance against the sprint ace from Tennessee.

Canada won the bronze medal with a 4:03.17 with Jade Hannah (1:00.42), Avery Wiseman (1:08.23), Hanna Henderson (59.16) and Brooklyn Douthwright (55.36) swimming for them.

Italy (4:05.29), Australia (4:06.96), Hungary (4:07.32), Germany (4:08.66) and Slovakia (4:11.87) also swam in the final.

1 United States of America USA 3:59.13 Curzan, 1:00.75, Dobler, 1:07.51, Huske, 57.86, Walsh, 53.01
2 Russian Federation RUS 4:00.30 Vaskina, 59.90, Chikunova, 1:07.45, Sabitova, 58.47, Nikonova, 54.48
3 Canada CAN 4:03.17 Hannah, 1:00.42, Wiseman, 1:08.23, Henderson, 59.16, Douthwright, 55.36
4 Italy ITA 4:05.29 Gaetani, 1:01.26, Pilato, 1:08.41, Biasibetti, 59.53, Tarantino, 56.09
5 Australia AUS 4:06.96 O’Callaghan, 1:01.22, Powell, 1:10.20, Ryan, 1:00.10, Harris, 55.44
6 Hungary HUN 4:07.32 Szilagyi, 1:02.71, Bekesi, 1:08.62, Hathazi, 1:00.16, Szoke, 55.83
7 Germany GER 4:08.66 Riedemann, 1:02.47, Heimrath, 1:10.81, Kleyboldt, 1:00.44, Vogelmann, 54.94
8 Slovakia SVK 4:11.87 Marusakova, 1:02.55, Trnikova, 1:11.28, Ripkova, 1:00.71,