Gergely Csurka, FINA Media Committee Member

The Hungarian juniors and the Chinese youths were the happiest kids on Earth after winning the respective titles of the event-closing team competitions at the 2nd FINA World Junior Open Water Swimming Championships in Balatonfured (HUN). These two nations topped the medal table as well – China came first – while Russia won the Team Trophy among the juniors and the Chinese among the youths.The two team events, held over 3km, concluded the second edition of the FINA World Junior Open Water Swimming Championships in Balatonfured. The closing day welcomed the young swimmers with mild air-temperatures, the winds eased so a rather peaceful course awaited the participants of the team events.China touching for the victory - Photo credit: Aniko Kovacs

After the wild ducks had been alerted by the motor-boats that the competition was about to start – they peacefully swam a bit away and witnessed the event from enviably close range – the juniors began their competition. As usual, the time-trial format was applied so the excitement stayed on the shore as all eyes were set on the times appearing on the giant screens. Hundreds gathered at the nearby main square, others sat on the lake-side rocks (a big screen was placed on a pontoon on the water) and they quickly became thrilled watching the Hungarians leading at the half-way mark, just a tenth of a second ahead of the Russians.

It was a great battle: the Russians fielded the finest line-up, consisting of three medallists of the 7.5km individual events (gold medal-winner Anton Evsikov, bronze medallist Kirill Belyayev and the girls’ silver medallist Anastasiia Azarova), while the Hungarians had the boy’s competition’s 7th and 11th placed swimmers, Attila Kiss and Adam Orosz, and the girl’s world champion Nikoletta Kiss.


The Junior team event podium - Photo credit: Aniko Kovacs

Finally the hosts prevailed: since they spent weeks in the lake practicing, the cooperation between the two males and the female competitor – who should be ‘drawn’ by the stronger ones –, plus their second-lap effort, all this was too much for the Russians. Still, it was a thrilling 10 minutes in front of the time-keeper’s device while Evsikov&Co. crossed the finish line (the Hungarians started 4th, the Russians 15th) but the very next moments saw the host youngsters going into seventh heaven as clock recorded a 8-second margin in their favour. This was the second gold medal for the hosts, so even more people turned up for the event-concluding victory ceremonies as the two celebrations were held together at the end.

“I set the pace but I also had to take care of Niki (Kiss) not to leave her behind” Attila Kiss said (they are not relatives). “I think we proved that we could work as a great unit, however, we couldn’t know what the others were capable of so we spent some exciting moments on lake-side until the last ones came in. But now we are really happy!”

Nikoletta Kiss, earning two gold medals in Balatonfured, was a bit exhausted: “One day after the 7.5km race I felt I had to burn my very last reserves here. But I told the boys, that I wouldn’t let them leave this event empty-handed! The guys were great, took care of me during the entire race while keeping a fine pace and now this is the utmost joy to celebrate a world title together, in front of our fans!”


Nikoletta Kiss(ed) by her two teammates - Photo credit: Aniko Kovacs

And those fans gave a great applaud for the youth winners as well: after the individual events it seemed inevitable that the Chinese would rule the field as they have the boys’ 5km race’s silver and bronze medallists, Jintong Yang and Zhongyi Qiao, and the freshly crowned girl champion Siyu Yan. And just as among the juniors, the team fielding the girls’ champion won the race. In fact, it was an extreme effort from the Chinese youth swimmers as they clocked better winning time than the junior world champions who were two years older…

The battle for the minor spoils was rather exciting: at the end, the Italians and the US team could celebrate of earning a podium-finish – it wasn’t surprising either as the Italians had the girl’s silver medallist Carlotta di Mattia in their team while the US side was led by the boy’s world champion Taylor Abbott.

Abbott was rather satisfied with winning a second medal: “It was an excellent effort from our team, it was great to swim together with a girl and another guy. This team competition is a great event, and it’s awesome to stand on the podium together with your mates.”

The event was concluded by an emotional closing ceremony where FINA Honorary Secretary Paolo Barelli declared: “Many thanks for all involved staging this event. Hungary had 40 days to organise these World Championships but if anyone had two years to prepare for this, they couldn’t have done a better job”.

In two years time, Guadalajara (MEX) will be the site of the third edition.


The Youth team event medallists - Photo credit: Aniko Kovacs

Medallists, Day 3:

Junior Team Event (3km)

1. Hungary    33:26.1
(Attila Kiss, Adam Orosz, Nikoletta Kiss)
2. Russia    33:34.4
(Anton Evsikov, Kyryll Belyayev, Anastasiia Azarova)
3. Brazil    34:26.4
(Marcus Silva, Yagoh Watanabe, Viviane Jungblut)

Youth Team Event (3km)

1. China    33.25.5
(Jintong Yang, Zhongyi Qiao, Siyu Yan)
2. Italy        34.27.7
(Alessandro Bellinelli, Daniel Silvestri, Carlotta de Mattia)
3. USA        34.33.6
(Taylor Abbott, Simon Lamar, Kylie Mitchell)

Team Trophy

Juniors
1. Russia, 72 points
2. Hungary, 57 pts
3. France, 35 pts

Youth

1. China, 67 points
2. United States, 51 pts
3. France, 36 pts

Medal Table
China                2    1    1
Hungary             2    0    1
Russia               1    2    1
United States     1    0    1
Italy                 0    2    0
Venezuela          0    1    0
Brazil                0    0    1
France              0    0    1