Pedro Adrega & Gergely Csurka

After being third in the men’s 200m IM, Apostolos Papastamos, from Greece, was the highlight of the fifth session at the FINA World Junior Swimming Championships, finishing this Sunday in Budapest (HUN). The Hellenic talent established the only World Junior Record of the evening in the 400m IM. From Australia, Lani Pallister, completed the “triple” in the Magyar capital, with the triumph in the women’s 1500m free (in a new Championships Record), after being the best in the 400m and 800m. Italy was also in evidence, with three medals during the session, including the gold of Thomas Ceccon in the men’s 50m fly. USA had a “modest” evening, with just one title, in the women’s 4x100m free. 

As with the 400m and 800m free, Lani Pallister (AUS) swam alone in the final of the women’s 1500m free. The Australian revelation of these Championships established a new Championships Record in the longest race of the programme, touching the wall in 15:58.86, improving the standard (15:59.51) set by Argentina’s Delfina Pignatiello in Indianapolis 2017. Pallister was also the silver medallist in the 4x200m free relay. Behind the winner, Giulia Salin, from Italy, had to content with silver, in a “distant” 16:14.00, while Chase Travis, from USA, earned bronze in 16:18.04.

Lani Pallister (AUS) - Photo by Istvan Derencsenyi

In the men’s 50m butterfly, Thomas Ceccon (ITA) did an amazing race in lane 2, touching for gold in 23.37, slightly slower than the World Junior and Championships record of 23.22 by Michael Andrew (USA) two years ago. At 18, this was the fifth medal for the Italian talent in Budapest, after the gold in the 100m back, and bronze in the 50m back, 4x100m free, and 4x100m free mixed relay. Swimming in lane 5, Andrei Minakov, from Russia, winner of the 100m fly, may have not seen Ceccon on his far right, and had to content this time with silver in 23.39. It was also the fifth podium presence for the 17-year-old, after getting three additional silver in relay events. The bronze went to Josif Miladinov in 23.48, the first medal for Bulgaria so far in the Championships.

Thomas Ceccon (ITA) - Photo by Istvan Derencsenyi

In another fast race, the women’s 50m back, things remained undecided until the very last metres, with the fastest of the semis, Australia’s Bronte Job, confirming her credentials and touching for the victory in 27.87. Slightly behind, Jade Hannah (CAN) and Daria Vaskina (RUS) shared the silver in 27.91. While this was the first medal for Job in the Budapest rendezvous, Hannah has been a regular presence in the podium in the Magyar capital: besides this silver, the Canadian won the 100m and 200m back, and was third in the 4x100m medley mixed relay. Vaskina had been third in the 100m back final. 

Photo by Istvan Derencsenyi

In the last individual race of the day, the men’s 400m IM, Tomoru Honda, from Japan, was the leader after the first 100m (butterfly), while Carson Foster (USA) was the best after the backstroke section (200m), but Greece’s Apostolos Papastamos was waiting for his turn from the breaststroke leg on. Taking the lead from the 220m-mark, the Hellenic talent then controlled the race until the end, stopping the watch at 4:11.93, a new World Junior Record. He bettered the mark set by Foster on August 2, when he swam the distance in 4:13.39. Papastamos was third in the 200m IM and was born on March 20, 2001. With both Honda and Foster out of the podium, the minor medals were earned by Ilia Borodin (RUS, silver) in 4:12.95 and by Leon Marchand (FRA, bronze), in 4:16.37. 

USA won its sole title of the day in the women’s 4x100m free relay, when Gretchen Walsh, Torri Huske, Grace Cooper and Amy Tang didn’t find special difficulties in overcoming their main challengers. The gold came in a time of 3:37.61, well ahead the Australian team, silver in 3:40.85. The bronze went to Italy in 3:42.04, after the disqualification of France, who had touched in third. 

Photo by Istvan Derencsenyi

Quotes

Lani Pallister (AUS), gold, 1500m free

“Actually I’ve enjoyed the 800 more than the 1500. It’s something I do a lot more. Doing 1500s it’s a different experience, it’s a lot more gruelling and that is something I’ve not used to over the 800. Coming here and racing with the best juniors of the world is quite awarding.

“I think all athletes are chasing the best in the world, it’s something we all train for, all strive for. We don’t train to be second placed I think. We are young and coming to events like this gives us more experience, more exposure and it’s definitely making me more passionate and more determined to try to become as great as Katie Ledecky.”

Thomas Ceccon (ITA), gold, 50m fly

“It felt good. Yesterday in the morning I clocked 24.1, that wasn’t too good. The afternoon was much better and now it was close to perfection, had a new personal best, won the gold, it cannot be any better. Indeed, I enjoy butterfly much more than backstroke. Of course, I like winning backstroke races but fly stands much closer to me.”

Andrei Minakov (RUS), silver, 50m fly

“This is a new personal best so it’s all good. Of course, we can play with the thoughts what if I didn’t swim the 100m free semis before. Maybe I win. Maybe I clock 21 seconds. Just kidding, so it is as it, I’m happy with this silver, it was a great race.”

Bronte Job (AUS), gold, 50m back

“It felt great, I love the 50, it’s such a funny race, I’m really happy. Beating Jade is really awesome, she was great for the whole week so it was a big race. It went according to plans, just the way we’d gone through with my coaches. And I’m pretty happy with the time and with everything.”

Jade Hannah (CAN), silver, 50m back

“I’m a bit disappointed with the race because I know I had it all over the 50m, the last touch just really got me. In the relay (4x100m free, 6th place) we did our job, I’m just happy now that this day is over, it was quite tiring. I’m expecting to come back tomorrow for a very strong relay.

I’m super-happy with my individual races, I’ve come on a long way and I think I couldn’t have any better meet so far.”

Apostolos Papastamos (GRE), gold, 400m IM

“I don’t have words for this... So excited... Men, this world record... It was such a great race. I’ve expected something around 4.14 but the guys were so fast so I could also use their energy and being pushed such way I could really go beyond my limits. I’m so happy now!”