In the only battle of the race, for the silver medal, Lauren Boyle, from New Zealand was the fastest in 8:17.65, more than 10 (!) seconds behind Ledecky. Boyle, 27 years old, was also second in the 1500m free, while Jazmin Carlin (GBR) got her second bronze in Kazan (after the 400m free), stopping the clock in 8:18.15. Lotte Friis (DEN), silver medallist in 2011 and 2013, was the negative surprise of this race, finishing in fifth (8:21.36).
Katie Ledecky (USA) - Photo credit: Giorgio Scala/Deepbluemedia
The second World Record of the day, also for the USA came in the concluding event of the session, the first-ever mixed 4x100m free relay, with the North American quartet touching for gold in 3:23.05, slightly better than the 3:23.29 set by Australia in February 2014. The winners counted on Ryan Lochte for the first leg, who touched in 48.79 (fifth), then Nathan Adrian improved the situation in a 47.29 effort (touching in second and swimming the fastest split among men), Simone Manuel, the first woman of the team, confirmed the second provisional place in 53.66 and Missy Franklin assured the victory in 53.31. It was the 11th medal for Franklin and 26th for Lochte at the Worlds.
The other medallists in this première were the Netherlands, silver in 3:23.10 and with Ranomi Kromowidjojo performing the fastest split (52.48) among women, and Canada, in the last march of the podium in 3:23.59. For the second time during this finals’ session, Vladimir Morozov could not reach the medal zone, finishing fourth with his team in 3:24.21.
In the first final of the day, Sarah Sjostrom (SWE) earned her third medal here in Kazan, the gold in the women’s 50m butterfly, touching home in a new Championships record of 24.96. She improved her own mark from the semis, when she qualified first for the decisive race in 25.06, but was still far from her World Record of 24.43, established in July 2014. The Swedish champion, aged 21, became the only woman to win the 50m and 100m butterfly in the same edition of the FINA World Championships. Besides the butterfly events, Sjostrom was also second in the final of the 100m free at the Kazan Arena.
The 2013 champion, Jeanette Ottesen, from Denmark, had to content this time with the silver, stopping the clock in 25.34, and repeating the same fate as in the 100m, when she was also second to the Swedish star. The bronze went to Lu Ying (CHN), in 25.37, again a replica of what happened in the 100m butterfly, when she had also been third. Lu was silver medallist in the 50m in Barcelona 2013, but had been 2014 Asian Games champion in this event. Farida Osman, from Egypt, already finalist two years ago in Spain, obtained the best placing ever for her country at the Worlds, placing fifth in 25.78, a new African record.
Florent Manaudou (FRA) - Photo credit: Giorgio Scala/Deepbluemedia
In the shortest event in the programme, the men’s 50m free, Florent Manaudou (FRA), the 2012 Olympic champion, had one goal: get his first medal at Worlds in this event. Swimming in lane 5, the French champion perfectly controlled operations and touched home in a winning time of 21.19, close to the Championships record of Cesar Cielo (BRA) from Rome 2009, in 21.08. The Brazilian, absent in Kazan, was the champion also in 2011 and 2013. Manaudou got his third gold in Kazan, after his victory in the 50m butterfly and 4x100m free relay.
The minor medals went to US Nathan Adrian, his first podium in Russia, in a time of 21.52, while the bronze was earned by Bruno Fratus (BRA), recently silver medallist at the Pan-American Games and 2014 Pan Pacs champion. Local hero Vladimir Morozov, qualified after a thrilling swim-off on the previous day with US Anthony Ervin, finished in fourth (21.56).
Two-time defending champion Missy Franklin (USA) was the woman to beat in the 200m backstroke, and after leading until the 150m-mark, the North American star lost the control of the race and eventually handled the gold to Australia’s Emily Seebohm, in a new Oceania record of 2:05.81. It was her third gold medal in these World Championships, after the 100m backstroke and 4x100m free relay titles. Franklin, still with no individual gold here in Kazan (she was part of the winning team in the 4x200m free relay), arrived second in 2:06.34 (her best simply being the WR at 2:04.06, from the 2012 Olympics), while the bronze went to Katinka Hosszu (HUN), in 2:06.84. The Magyar, the “Best FINA Athlete of the Year” in 2014 was the winner of the 200m IM here in Kazan and could not win what would have been her first gold medal at the Worlds in a single-stroke event.
The podium of the women's 200m backstroke - Photo credit: Giorgio Scala/Deepbluemedia
In the men’s 100m butterfly, Chad Le Clos (RSA) was able to revalidate his 2013 title in a thrilling race, touching home in 50.56, his personal best in this event. The South African star had been second in the 200m butterfly and managed to control his main contender in the 100m-race, Hungarian Laszlo Cseh. The Magyar, precisely the winner in the longer distance and third in the 50m, earned his 12th award at this level.
The bronze went to Joseph Schooling, from Singapore, the first-ever medal for this country at the World Championships (all disciplines included). The 20-year-old, training in the US, has been doing a very steady progression over the last years, and was the 2014 champion in the Asian Games and silver medallist also in the 100m butterfly at the Commonwealth Games. Tom Shields (USA) represented United States in this final and despite the American supremacy in this event (19 of 45 available medals and nine of 15 available golds), the Californian swimmer finished in fourth in 51.06.
Florent Manaudou (FRA, gold, men’s 50m free): “I think I’ve done a good job here, at the championships. It was a great win in a great race”.
Bruno Fratus (BRA, bronze, men’s 50m free): “I had a long summer season, which ends with a silver medal, but Florent (Manaudou) is the top contender for the next year”.
Emily Seebohm (AUS, gold, women’s 200m backstroke): “We got excited after the relay yesterday - and today my race plan worked pretty well”.
Katinka Hosszu (HUN, bronze, women’s 200m backstroke): “I didn’t have too much race experience in this event, unlike Missy and Emily. And I didn’t have real races in the long pool in the 200m back so far. When I hit the wall I thought I wish I could have done it again. But coming third behind the world record-holder and the world champion is still awesome”.
Chad Le Clos (RSA, gold, men’s 100m butterfly): “I’m very proud of my performance, it was very difficult to win as Cseh is a very good competitor, but I think I should not look too often to the other sides – though I feel it’s a must to know where I am”.
Laszlo Cseh (HUN, silver, men’s 100m butterfly): “Though it’s a national record, I feel there is more in this swim, there is room to improve a lot. The 100m hasn’t been put together that precisely as the 200m was, so we have to look after a series of minor details as I need definitely more for Rio. Congratulation to Chad, he clocked a great best time, first time under 51sec, he seemed being on fire after the 200m”.
Joseph Schooling (SIN, bronze, men’s 100m butterfly): “I made history! It's the first medal ever for Singapore, that's great! It was hard piece of work, to be in good shape as it's a long season for me, I've already had nine events in the South Asian Games”.
Sarah Sjostrom (SWE, gold, women’s 50m butterfly): “Though I'm in a good shape, the 50m is always a tight race. I knew that Jeanette (Ottesen) would go out fast but I tried to swim my own race, pacing myself as planned, as I know the second 25m is my strong side and I managed to keep calm and execute everything well. And of course, I'm really happy!”