Pedro Adrega and Sarah Chiarello, FINA Communications Department

Alia Atkinson, from Jamaica, knew she was close to the victory and for some seconds looked at the scoreboard, perhaps waiting to see her name next to number 2. When she realised that in fact she was aligned with number 1, she couldn’t almost believe: her expression after getting the gold in the women’s 100m breaststroke says everything about the surprising outcome of the race. Swimming next to her, Ruta Meilutyte, from Lithuania, the World Record (WR) holder in 1:02.36 and fastest of the semis in a Championships Record (CR) of 1:02.43, seemed to have the race under control, but gliding in excess in the last stroke, she allowed the triumph of the Jamaican star. In an equalled WR of 1:02.36, Atkinson won the first gold medal ever in the history of three Championships for her country, while Meilutyte got the silver in 1:02.46. On Day 2, the 50m breaststroke had finished in the reverse order, with the Lithuanian earning gold and Atkinson finishing second.


Alia Atkinson (JAM) expressing her surprise after winning the 100m breast - Photo credit: Giorgio Scala/Deepbluemedia

In the fourth day of the 12th FINA World Swimming Championships (25m) in Doha, this was one of the highlights of the evening session, which registered four other World Records: after getting the gold and the best world mark in the 50m free, Florent Manaudou (FRA) was again imperial in the 50m backstroke, stopping the clock in 22.22, much faster than the 22.61 established by Peter Marhsall (USA) in 2009. The French champion, also surprised with his time, didn’t have much time to rest, qualifying some minutes later for the final of the 100m free with the third fastest time of the semis (behind Cesar Cielo and Joao de Lucca, from Brazil).


Florent Manaudou (FRA) in action - Photo credit: Giorgio Scala/Deepbluemedia

Katinka Hosszu (HUN) continues to impress, getting her fourth gold, accompanied by WR performance. After the 100m and 200m backstroke, and the 100m IM, the Magyar champion dominated the field in the 200m IM, touching home in a new global best of 2:01.86, improving her own WR (2:02.13) set in August 31 in Dubai (UAE), during the FINA/MASTBANK Swimming World Cup. This final was held in the absence of Mireia Belmonte (ESP), the winner in 2010 and four-time gold medallist in Doha, but 10th of the heats, missing the decisive race by 0.03. With her two silver medals in the 200m butterfly and 400m IM, Hosszu is now the best female swimmer in the Hamad Aquatic Centre, confirming her status as dominator of the current short-course season, crowned by the recent award of FINA Best Female Swimmer of 2014.


Katinka Hosszu (HUN): four wins, four WR - Photo credit: Giorgio Scala/Deepbluemedia

In the first event of the day, the team of Russia improved their own WR (1:23.36) from 2013 in the men’s 4x50m free relay, touching home in 1:22.60. Thanks to a very fast start from Vladimir Morozov (21.01), the Russian quartet always controlled the pace of the race, and his teammates – Evgeny Sedov, Oleg Tikhobaev and Sergei Fesikov – were very regular, never losing the first place. The minor medals in this new event at the FINA World Swimming Championships (25m) went to USA (silver) and Italy (bronze). In the mixed 4x50m free relay, also a première, the United States (Josh Schneider, Matt Grevers, Madison Kennedy and Abbey Weitzeil) also improved the WR of this recent event, earning gold in 1:28.57 and leaving the previous WR holders, Russia, with the silver.

Chad Le Clos (RSA) continues being very consistent in Doha, getting his third gold of the championships, this time in the 50m butterfly, in a new CR of 21.95 (bettering his own semis’ time of 22.20). The South African star, the FINA Best Male Swimmer of 2014, was already the winner of the 200m free and 100m butterfly, the latter in a WR time of 48.44.  

In the semis of the day, Emily Seebohm (AUS) qualified first for the decisive race in a new CR of 25.87 in the women’s 50m backstroke, while Sarah Sjostrom (SWE) also bettered the Championships best mark in the women’s 100m butterfly, dominating in 55.13. In the men’s field, Adam Peaty, from Great Britain, will clearly be the man to beat in the final of the 50m breaststroke, after being the fastest of the semis in a CR of 25.75.

Before the last day of the Championships, 17 World Records were already improved in the Hamad Aquatic Centre.

 

QUOTES OF THE DAY

Oleg Tikhobaev (RUS), gold medallist and new WR holder in the men’s 4x50m free relay: "The main goal was to show the best in each 20-second split. We wanted this medal for a while and we finally got it."

Alia Atkinson (JAM), gold medallist in the women's 100m breast and WR joint holder: "In the last 25m, I made sure the pull-out was the best, I really wanted to get that momentum coming up and I think I did that for the most part. While I was going up I realised I was catching up so I was just trying to get a good finish. I'm not used to seeing my name up in number 1 so it was kind of a shock, but a good one!"

Florent Manaudou (FRA), winner and new WR holder in the men's 50m back: "I did not expect to go 22.22 tonight, I had the impression I was going as fast in backstroke as in freestyle."

"When touching the wall and seeing the time, I was really surprised. Even though it was my first time competing at this level in the 50m back, I told myself that I was the one with the most chances tonight." 

Chad Le Clos (RSA), gold medallist in the men’s 50m fly: "No one expected me to be able to get the triple but tomorrow I have a chance to win the triple. I’m confident I can deliver, hopefully, and get the triple. It’s something no one has done before."

Nicholas Santos (BRA), silver medallist in men's 50m fly: "I swim against the best swimmers in the world, you have to fight so I'm really happy with the second place. It's a continental and national record, too."

"Competing with these guys [including Chad Le Clos] keeps my motivation high, I also take care of my nutrition [no lactose, gluten and sugar] and it keeps me younger I guess [laughing]."

Katinka Hosszu (HUN), gold medallist and WR seter in the women's 200m IM: "Everything is moving in the right direction. I try not to get too excited as I still have the 200m free and 50m back. I'm getting tired but every race that is a World Record is special and doesn’t hurt much."

Matt Grevers (USA), gold medallist and WR setter in the mixed 4x50m free relay: "It was awesome. Our team dynamic is great. In a sprint race anything is possible. The girls in the relay were the strongest link."