Tremendous individual efforts highlighted Day 4 in Singapore, at the 5th FINA World Junior Swimming Championships as versatility was the ruling word this evening. We could witness a couple of rare pairings of medal winning performances from outstanding young talents – and as a bonus, 5 more World Junior Records.Turkey’s Viktoria Gunes captured the titles in the 100m breaststroke and the 200m IM, US’s Michael Andrew had a gold from the 50m back and a silver from the 50m free and between the two he clocked the best time in the semis of the 50m fly, while Aussie Kyle Chalmers sprinted to victory in the 50m free then “re-paced” himself to help the 4x200m free relay to a silver medal.Actually, those responsible for preparing the schedule of the championships couldn’t anticipate such individual programmes: breaststrokers rarely swim in the IM events (at least not on the same day), backstroke dashers rarely enters the 50m free/fly (or vice-versa) and freestyle sprinters rarely called on duty for the 4x200m relays. That’s why we could see the young guns rushing from the respective medal ceremonies to the start of the very next event (like Gunes and Andrew did) and waited for Chalmers while he left behind his relay team-mates to catch his first ceremony at the other end of the pool.
Kyle Chalmers (AUS) ©Andrea Masini / Deepbluemedia
And this was also the day of dead heats: the first tie for a medal happened in the men’s 50m back where Mohamed Samy (EGY) and Robinson Molina (VEN) shared the bronze, while at the end of the day two swim-offs had to be held, first in the women’s 50m back, then in the men’s 50m fly – the latter was to decide a three-way tie (!) for the last berth in the final…
Turkey’s Viktoria Gunes did a brilliant job while winning the 100m breast and 200m IM in a time-frame of 32 minutes (including a ceremony). Her winning margins were even more overwhelming: a full second in the breast (1:06.77) over Sweden’s Sophie Hansson and even more, 1.03sec over Canada’s Marie-Sophie Harvey (2:11.03) in the 200m IM where she brought down the World Junior Record as a bonus.
“It was really hard, I wanted to beat the records and I was able to do it in the medley” Gunes said. “Though I need to improve a lot, especially in the backstroke but I have time to do it until Rio as I wanted to be part of the Olympic team.”
Viktoria Gunes (TUR) ©Andrea Masini / Deepbluemedia
Michael Andrew, who has become famous for swimming in five events on Day 2, now created another busy evening for himself. “It was less demanding, though” the tall boy smiled at the end of the day. For the start, he bettered the Championship Record while winning the 50m back (25.13). In 16 minutes he was back to clock the top time in the semis of the 50m fly, and 26 minutes (and a victory ceremony) later he was ready for the 50m free, though this time he had to settle for the silver medal behind Kyle Chalmers.
“I knew it would be a busy schedule and I wouldn’t say it would have been a different story had I not had to rush from the ceremony to the start. I’m really strong mentally so I tried to close out everything and concentrate on my races” Andrew said.
Asked about his idols, the young American had a nice reply: “Personally, my idol… When I look up to someone, I will look up to God because God blesses everything…”
Kyle Chambers, who managed to beat Andrew in the 50m free also talked on his rival: “I’m pretty happy with this gold. I saw Michael beside me on the starting blocks, and I knew I had to swim faster than ever.”
The Aussies pulled of another win in the freestyle, Tamsin Cook smashed the Championship Record (4:06.17) in the 400m while gaining 1.3sec on the 800m champion Sierra Schmidt (USA).
“I’ve talked to my coach before the race and decided to go out fast, the second 200 was just about being in the race” Cook said. “I was definitely worried in the last 50m, my legs were burning a lot but I just had to keep my head down and get to the wall as fast as I could. I got the silver in the 200m fly and now to see the flag raised for me just tops this meet, I couldn’t be any happier.”
Japan’s Rikako Ikee flied way faster than the others in the women’s 50m, setting a new Championship Record (26.28). The race for the minor spoils were pretty close, three swimmers hit the wall in a span of 0.06sec with Penny Oleksiak (AUS) coming second, ahead of Mariia Kameneva (RUS) and Wand Jungzhuo (CHN).
Rikako Ikee (JPN) ©Andrea Masini / Deepbluemedia
“I felt I could be the best today and reach my full speed” Ikee said. “Though I was a bit scared as this is the first time I’m taking part in such a big event, with media around, answering questions, so next time maybe I can clock an even better time than this…”
Russia’s Anton Chupkov added the 200m crown to his 100m title – no doubt that in this age-group he is the breaststroke king. Of course, that’s not surprising at all as he was already a finalist in Kazan among the seniors and came 7th. The only thing he might miss here is to beat his WJR set at the ‘big’ World Champs (2:09.64), he was close but fell a bit short this time (2:10.19, still good for a CR).
“I’m really happy to earn my third gold medal here” Chupkov said (he was member of the victorious mixed medley relay). “It was a good swim, I felt I was strong enough to win this race. It does good to the team spirit as these championships didn’t begin as we expected but now we are all delighted and hope to maintain this level for the remaining days.”
As for the World Junior Records, the US quartet bettered it in the 4x200m free (7:13.76), while the girls smashed the global mark in the 50m back three times during the day. Gabrielle Fa’Amausili (NZL) started it in the morning (28.09), Minna Atherton beat it in the next heat (28.00) and the Aussie shaved it further in the semis (27.92) – this last one would have placed her 6th in the final in Kazan. And she might get even closer to the top seniors on Saturday!
Medal table after Day 4
AUS 7 5 0
USA 5 7 3
RUS 4 0 8
TUR 3 0 0
CAN 2 5 1
CHN 2 2 1
GBR 1 1 5
JPN 1 0 1
ROU 1 0 0
SWE 0 2 0
ITA 0 1 3
ESP 0 1 1
BRA 0 1 0
HUN 0 1 0
EGY 0 0 1
LTU 0 0 1
NZL 0 0 1
VEN 0 0 1
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