Lochte (USA) makes history with 8 medals in Istanbul

FINA World Swimming Championships (25m)

For the fourth consecutive edition of the FINA World Swimming Championships (25m), Ryan Lochte (USA) is the winner of the FINA Trophy for best male swimmer, earning an unprecedented eight medals in Istanbul! The swimming superstar already made history two years ago in Dubai (UAE) with seven podium appearances, but this time in the Turkish metropolis, he did even better with an even more impressive roll of honour: 1st 200m Free, 1st 4x100m free, 3rd 100m fly, 1st 4x200m free, 1st 200m IM, 2nd 200m back, 1st 100m IM, and 1st 4x100m medley.

Lochte has now an accumulated total of 30 medals at these championships since his first appearance in Indianapolis in 2004. Moreover, the 11-time medallist at the Olympics was the only swimmer to establish new World Records in Istanbul: firstly in the final of the 200m IM (1:49.63) and then in the semi-finals of the 100m IM (50.71). Lochte's performances decisively helped USA clinch the title for Best scoring team in Istanbul.

"My overall performance this week was decent, I had a couple of World records and it was an honour. I'm glad I was able to step up for the team. I always feel I can do better", said Lochte after the event.

Looking ahead, the U.S. champion added: "After the Olympics, I took a two-and-a-half-month break, this was the longest break ever since I was 8 years old. My biggest goal is Rio 2016." And continued: "I push my body to limits where other athletes are afraid to go to."

His last word went to his family and fans: "The fans are incredible, they brought me where I am today. I love kids because I am a big kid too. I have to be thankful for my family, they're my biggest supporters. I'm also thankful for my fans, they've given me so much love, especially at this meet."

Hungary’s Katinka Hosszu was awarded the FINA Trophy for Best female swimmer. She earned five medals in the five-day competition: 1st 200m fly, 3rd 400m IM, 1st 100m IM, 2nd 200m IM, and 2nd 200m free. The winner of the 2012 FINA/ARENA Swimming World Cup demonstrated her immense versatility in the pool, ending in the best possible way a fabulous 25m season.

"It feels awesome to be the Champion of the meet. I'm proud that Hungary won so many medals at this competition", said Hosszu.

Besides these two major stars, other athletes also shined in Istanbul. With three or more appearances in the podium, the following swimmers are worth mentioning:

MEN
Paul BIEDERMANN (GER) – 2nd 200m free, 3rd 4x200m free, 1st 400m free
Laszlo CSEH (HUN) – 2nd 400m IM, 3rd 200m IM, 2nd 200m fly
Stanislav DONETS (RUS) – 2nd 100m back, 3rd 50m back, 2nd 4x100m medley
Tommaso D’ORSOGNA (AUS) – 3rd 4x100m free, 2nd 4x200m free, 2nd 100m free, 3rd 4x100m medley
Matt GREVERS (USA) – 1st 4x100m free, 1st 100m back, 2nd 50m back, 1st 4x100m medley
Robert HURLEY (AUS) – 2nd 4x200m free, 1st 50m back, 3rd 4x100m medley
Vladimir MOROZOV (RUS) – 1st 50m free, 1st 100m free, 2nd 4x100m medley
Thomas SHIELDS (USA) – 2nd 100m fly, 3rd 50m fly, 1st 4x100m medley
Kenneth TO (AUS) – 3rd 4x100m free, 2nd 100m IM, 3rd 4x100m medley

WOMEN
Ruta MEILUTYTE (LTU) – 1st 50m breast, 2nd 100m IM, 1st 100m breast
Mie NIELSEN (DEN) – 2nd 100m back, 1st 4x100m medley, 3rd 4x100m free
Jeanette OTTESEN (DEN) – 3rd 50m fly, 1st 4x100m medley, 3rd 4x100m free, 3rd 50m free
Rikke PEDERSEN (DEN) – 1st 4x100m medley, 3rd 100m breast, 1st 200m breast
Megan ROMANO (USA) – 1st 4x200m free, 2nd 100m free, 3rd 4x100m medley, 1st 4x100m free
Allison SCHMITT (USA) – 1st 4x200m free, 1st 4x100m free, 1st 200m free
Olivia SMOLIGA (USA) – 1st 100m back, 3rd 4x100m medley, 2nd 50m back

In Istanbul, many remarkable performance were achieved and besides Lochte's two WR, 18 Championships Records were set (11 among women, seven in the men’s field).

Topping the medal table, USA, clearly dominating the operations with a total 27 awards (11 gold, 8 silver and 8 bronze). The top-5 still includes China (3+5+3), Hungary (3+4+3), Denmark (3+2+5) and Russia (2+3+4). In this group, the major revelation came from Denmark, present in Istanbul with a very strong and successful team. Never before had the Nordic country such success at short-course Worlds.

25 countries had athletes with medals – only the 2002 edition in Moscow (RUS) had been more prolific, with 26 nations. Moreover, four new National Federations sent their first swimmer to the podium: Lithuania, with new breaststroke queen Ruta Meilutyte; Jamaica, and the excellent Alia Atkinson (two silver medals in the women’s 50m and 100m breast); Faroe Islands – bronze medal of Pal Joensen in the men’s 1500m free; and Trinidad and Tobago, thanks to the bronze medal of George Bovell in the men’s 100m IM. 

"It is definitely a special moment for Trinidad and Tobago, after all these years I finally got my first medal at a World Championships. I was nervous, it's been a long season with the Olympics, I was not in great shape coming to this meet so I'm very pleased with this medal", considered Bovell.


Day 5 – Finals

The last day of competition in Istanbul included 12 finals and produced three new Championships Records: in the men’s 200m butterfly, Kazuya Kaneda (JPN) concluded a very successful season with a gold medal in 1:51.01 (the previous best mark of the meet, 1:51.05, had been set by Moss Burmester from New Zealand in 2008); in the women’s 200m breaststroke, Rikke Pedersen was one of the three champions for Denmark, getting the World crown in 2:16.08 (improving the 2:16.39 effort from U.S. Rebecca Soni in 2010).

“This gold is awesome, is everything to me. It’s my first gold at a World championships, I’m a world champion!” said an ecstatic Pedersen.

On what the key to her win was: “Just to be brave and aggressive and to think that I could be the first. I told myself to risk it all. To trust myself and all the work I’ve done”.

Finally, in the women’s 50m backstroke, Jing Zhao (CHN) improved her own mark from the semis (26.11), touching first for gold in 25.95. “Today I’m over the moon. Since I stopped using the textile swimming suit, this is my personal best. The opponents were very strong. I was very nervous before the race, maybe that’s how I beat them”, Zhao said.

The other highlights of the session were the victory of Vladimir Morozov (RUS) in the men’s 100m free. He also won the 50m free, confirming his status of short-course king of freestyle sprint events.

"My plan was to break my best time and it is already improved by 1.7 seconds since last year. I'm pretty happy with the race. I tried to begin very fast, but I think it was a bit too fast, so I was not able to speed up in the last metres”, stated Morozov.

Radoslaw Kawecki (POL) won the duel with Ryan Lochte in the men’s 200m back – in a thrilling final, Kawecki beat the North American by only 0.02 (1:48.48 against Lochte’s 1:48.50).

Ilaria Bianchi gave a second World short-course title for Italy after being the fastest in the women’s 100m butterfly, defeating 2008 Olympic champion in the 200m, China’s Zige Liu.

"My first medal at short-course World Championships. I'm so proud to be the first Italian woman since Federica Pellegrini to win a gold medal at these Worlds!" said Bianchi after the race. On her feelings coming into the race: “I’ve been thinking about the race all day, it is the first time I’ve been really nervous before a race”.

On her recent improvements: “This year it’s been an escalation, I found what I needed in terms of training. I’ve reached perfection on both the physical and psychological levels. I feel I’m doing what I really need”.

Bianchi’s effort could not be replicated by her compatriot Gregorio Paltrinieri in the men’s 1500m free – after a very close race, Mads Glaesner from Denmark touched home in 14:30.01 while the Italian was second in 14:31.13.

“I was hoping for a medal. I knew it was going to be painful and it was. I tried to stick to Gregorio (Paltrinieri) and it worked”, recalled Glaesner on his race.

On the performance of the Danish swimmers in Istanbul: “The (2012) Olympic Games were disappointing for us, so it’s good we are doing so great here”, he concluded.


alt
 Women's 50 free medallists - credit: Giorgio Scala

Aliaksandra Herasimenia (BLR) overcame a strong field to impose herself in the women’s 50m free (23.64). Britta Steffen (GER), winner of the 100m free, missed the podium (fourth, in 24.04) while Aleksander Hetland (NOR) narrowly beat his main challengers in the men’s 50m breaststroke.

The winner from Norway concluded in 26.30, 0.02 faster than silver medallist Damir Dugonjic from Slovenia and 0.03 ahead of Florent Manaudou from France (bronze in 26.33).

Finally, the last three wins for the USA came from Ryan Lochte in the men’s 100m IM touching in 51.21, from Allison Schmitt in the women’s 200m free (swimming in lane 1, she triumphed in 1:53.59), and from the quartet in the men’s 4x100m medley relay, where Lochte got his last medal of the Championships.


alt
USA men's relay - credit: Giorgio Scala


Bye bye Istanbul, over to you Doha!

FINA President Dr. Julio C. Maglione highlighted the success of the FINA World Swimming Championships (25m) in Istanbul and handed over the FINA flag to the next organisers of the competition, the city of Doha in Qatar.

In the closing ceremony at the Sinan Erdem arena Mr Ali Al Jabir, Assistant Dırector of the Qatar Swimming Association received the flag on behalf of Doha 2014. In his short speech, Mr. Al Jabir thanked Istanbul for hosting a successful event and went on to say: “It is with great pride and honour to accept this responsibility to organise the 12th FINA World Swimming Championships (25m). The hosting of this unique event in close collaboration wıth FINA and with the support of the Qatar Olympic Committee, will be a key milestone to the development and promotion of the sport of swimming”.

Before that, the FINA President considered: “The FINA Family lived an unforgettable competition, highlighted by many remarkable performances. Confirmed stars and new revelations have demonstrated the vitality and progress of Swimming in the five continents. This success is mostly due to the hard work of our 202 National Federations worldwide. They all deserve our gratitude and appreciation!”. Dr. Maglione concluded by saying: “Many countries were represented at the medal’s table of these championships, and some new nations had the opportunity to shine at the highest level. Swimming is developing fast, attracting more youth and generating an increased number of stars in the five continents. This is fundamental for the improvement of the value and image of FINA and its aquatic sports worldwide”.