Pedro Adrega & Camille Chappelet, FINA Communications Department

The fifth final session of the swimming competition at the FINA World Championships in Budapest (HUN) was highlighted by the three titles of USA, but also with the impressive and significant victories of Mireia Belmonte (ESP) and Etiene Medeiros (BRA). The Spanish great managed to confirm her 2016 Olympic title in the women’s 200m butterfly and defeated Hungary’s Katinka Hosszu in front of an ecstatic home crowd, while the Brazilian champion gave the first female swimming gold to her country in the Worlds’ history, by winning the 50m backstroke.

The remaining three finals went to US swimmers, with Chase Kalisz celebrating the eighth consecutive title for the North Americans in the men’s 200m IM, and Caeleb Dressel dominating the men’s 100m free (the US even made the one-two, with Nathan Adrian getting the silver in this event). Finally, in the women’s 4x200m free relay, Katie Ledecky earned her 13th gold at the World Championships, anchoring the US quartet for the victory.

Men’s 200m IM

In the first final of the day, the men’s 200m IM, Chase Kalisz maintained the successful US tradition in the event, getting the gold in 1:55.56. After Phelps’ three titles in 2003, 2005 and 2007, and Lochte’s four crowns in 2009, 2011, 2013 and 2015, this is the eighth consecutive win for the North Americans in this event. In the history of the World Championships, and for individual races, this is only the second time it happens, after the US supremacy in the men’s 200m backstroke between 1998 and 2013 (also eight titles). Kalisz, perhaps stronger in the 400m IM, where he collected silver at the Rio 2016 Olympics and bronze in Kazan 2015, took the lead in the breaststroke leg and was never in danger until the end. His main challenger was Japan’s Kosuke Hagino, silver medallist in 1:56.01. The Japanese star had been second in this event in 2013 and also got the silver at the Olympics last summer in Brazil. The bronze (1:56.28) went to Wang Shun, from China, also the third best ranked swimmer two years ago in Russia.

KALISZ Chase (USA), gold

“Lochte and Phelps will never be replaced and they have always been my idols since I am a kid. To have the satisfaction to continue to bring USA to the top is a dream come true.”

“My plan for the rest of the competition is just to keep my composure and swim the best I can.”

“I never thought I could even make the team to come to the Worlds Championships but progressively I dropped 3sec… but I definitely didn’t think that I would sit here today. I am shocked with my time (1.55)."

"Doing more swims is definitely in my advantage, I am gaining experience. Adding an extra race was productive for me here. I look forward to taking the stage.”

WANG Shun (CHN), bronze

"I am very satisfied with the bronze medal. I was until the beginning of the month in a training camp in the USA, and after that, I went back home, to Beijing, so I still suffering from jet lag."

Caeleb Dressel (USA) - Photo by Giorgio Scala/Deepbluemedia

Men’s 100m free

The second US title of the day went to Caeleb Dressel in the men’s 100m free. The 21-year-old US star controlled operations throughout the race and touched home in 47.17. It is the first victory in this event for the United States, since the triumph of Anthony Ervin in 2001. Dressel had already two gold medals in Budapest, in the 4x100m free and in the mixed 4x100m medley. At the Rio Olympics, he was sixth in the 100m free. His teammate Nathan Adrian took the silver in 47.87, after being bronze medallist in Kazan 2015. Adrian was also Olympic champion in 2012 and third at the Rio Olympics in this race. The fastest of the semis, France’s Mehdy Metella, earned bronze in 47.89, his best individual ranking in a World Championships – he was gold medallist in the 4x100m free relay in Kazan 2015. Australia’s Cameron McEvoy, second in Russia two years ago, had to content this time with the fourth position, in 47.92. 

DRESSEL Caeleb (USA), gold

"I'm very excited about it, but more importantly, American won two is more exciting. That's what I always want to see on the board. I'm very happy with my best time."

METELLA Mehdy (FRA), bronze

"During the last 50m, I was very tired and did a few mistakes. This is why my arrival was not perfect and got beaten by Dressel. This was not a failure. Anyhow, if you want to go further you first need to get some failures."

Etiene Medeiros (BRA) - Photo by Giorgio Scala/Deepbluemedia

Women’s 50m back

After being in 2015 the first female swimming medallist (silver) for Brazil at the Worlds, Etiene Medeiros became today the first-ever gold medallist for the South American country, after convincingly winning the 50m back, in 27.14. It is the fourth podium presence for Brazil in Budapest, after three men’s medals (in the 50m fly, 50m breast and 4x100m free). Since the inclusion of this event in the World Championships’ programme in 2001, China had obtained three victories, including the 2015 title by Fu Yuanhui. This time, the Chinese star got the silver, in 27.15, while the bronze (27.23) went to veteran (32 years old) Aliaksandra Herasimenia, from Belarus, who had already medalled (silver) in this event in 2007! Herasimenia is also a 50m free specialist, with the Olympic silver in 2012 and the bronze in Rio, last year.

MEDEIROS Etiene (BRA), gold

“I took gold in Doha in 2014 and it gave me confidence to achieve what I did today. To win a long-course Championships medal is even more inspiring. It has a huge meaning for my country, my friends, my coach and my teammates.”

“Brazilian swimming is becoming stronger, definitely. We took two silver medals here and my gold medal now. We are progressing since 2015. We are getting better but there is still more to come. I am 26 and I have swam competitively since 2009. I am very happy that I have accumulated a lot of experience and that I can witness a progression in my career.”

“I swim the 100m back but this year the focus was on the 50m events. But my idea is to go back to the 100m back and free too. Brazil has a tradition and history in sprint swimmers but I am happy to see that we take part in other events too.”

“The Belarus swimmer took bronze in the Olympics and the Chinese won two years ago so it is nice to see that other countries are come out and achieving good results.”

FU Yuanhui (CHN), silver

"It was a very tight finish but in a crawl-stroke, this is absolutely normal. I'm not completely satisfied with my result, but, of course, I'm happy about my silver medal. Unfortunately, I couldn't swim my personal best, so I have a little feeling of want."

Mireia Belmonte (ESP) - Photo by Giorgio Scala/Deepbluemedia

Women’s 200m fly

In the women’s 200m butterfly, Mireia Belmonte (ESP) managed two extraordinary achievements: firstly, to defeat Katinka Hosszu; secondly, to defeat Katinka Hosszu in Budapest, in front of thousands of Hungarian fans! After the gold at the 2016 Rio Olympics, the Catalonian star earned her first gold at the Worlds, after three silver and one bronze medal. Before the Magyar rendezvous, she had been second in this event in 2013, also silver medallist in the 400m IM in Barcelona, and third in the 200m IM at home. Kazan 2015 was not a successful competition for Belmonte, who had earned already the silver in the 1500m free at the Duna Arena. In the butterfly race, the Spanish champion controlled operations and had Hosszu out of sight (Belmonte swam in lane 3, while the Magyar great was in lane 7), touching home for victory in 2:05.26. Hosszu, winner of the 200m IM, was only bronze medallist (2:06.02) this time, conquering her 11th award at the Worlds. The silver went to Germany’s Franziska Hentke in 2:05.39, her first podium presence at this level, after being fourth in 2015. After three titles (twice for China and once for Japan) for Asian athletes in the last three editions, the best representative of the continent in Budapest was Sehyeon An, from Korea, in fourth (2:06.67).

BELMONTE Mireia (ESP), gold

“It is incredible to swim here. The pool is amazing and the crowd is very loud. In 2013 in Barcelona I felt the same than I felt today. All the Hungarians cheering was great.”

“I still don’t believe it is true. But I need to stay focus for the 400 IM and my other event. That’s what I want to do now. I looked surprised because it was a difficult race with a lot of good swimmers in each lane. This morning I felt really bad, with a cold. I thought “I want to be in bed” but I have recovered during the day. I have never won a title like this so it is so important. It feels different than an Olympic medal but I can’t explain why.”

“1500m to the Olympics is great. It is one more event for me to swim. In Rio I took the second place and now I have to prepare for Tokyo.”

“I had a spot in the open water 5km race but I decided to be only here in the pool only and fight for medals here without conflict. Maybe in the Olympics I will do the 5km, I don’t know yet.”

HENTKE Franziska (GER), silver

 "I don’t know what I should say at the moment, I am absolutely speechless and I am so happy, that I was after a long time in a good shape at a top event. When I saw the composition of the final I was sure, that only Mireia Belmonte, Katinka Hosszu and me can make a medal. I still cannot believe, that I got the silver!"

HOSSZU Katinka (HUN), bronze

"I'm absolutely satisfied with the bronze medal. It was a really good competition. The time was encouraging. It was an unbelievable feeling to swim a final in front of such an audience. You can hear the cheering from inside, even from the water."

Women’s 4x200m free relay

And the 13th gold finally arrived for Katie Ledecky, who anchored the winning US 4x200m free relay, in a victory time of 7:43.39. It is the fourth consecutive success for the US team in this event, and the seventh overall in the history of the FINA World Championships. Katie Ledecky is now associated to three of these triumphs, after decisively contributing to her team’s wins in 2013 and 2015. The North Americans were second (behind Russia) after the first 200m, but second-swimmer Mallory Comerford recovered and allowed the US quartet to be in the lead at half-way. Melanie Margalis and Ledecky then successfully concluded the work. The Chinese squad, the fastest of the heats, got the silver in 7:44.96 (they were third in 2015), while the bronze went to Australia in 7:48.51 (slightly worse than their 2013 second place). 

MARGALIS Melanie (USA), gold  

“I think we all know the tradition of USA Swimming in this relay and we all wanted to try our best for the country. If you’re swimming at the World Championships, you always try to grab a medal.”

“You feel pretty confident when you have the U.S. flag on your side even if we are careful about the other competitors. This time it is very special to hear the national anthem play and knowing that I have a big part in this medal.”

“I still don’t feel like a veteran. I don’t feel that I am old at all and need to be reminded sometimes. My role in the team is to make the girls smile and not be so serious.”

In semi-final action, the women’s 100m free will certainly be one of the most exciting races of the programme, after the qualification of the best athletes of the planet in this distance: Sarah Sjostrom (SWE), who established a new WR (51.71) as lead-off of the 4x100m free relay, continues to be the favourite, after qualifying first in 52.44. Simone Manuel (USA) and Penny Oleksiak (CAN), the joint gold medallists in Rio 2016 are respectively second (52.69) and fourth (53.05). Federica Pellegrini (ITA), the winner of the 200m, was not fast enough this time and concluded the semis in 15th. In the 200m breaststroke, Russian swimmers took decisive options for the victory: in the men’s event, Anton Chupkov is the fastest so far, in a new Championships Record of 2:07.14, while in the women’s version Yulia Efimova clocked the fastest time of the semis in 2:21.49. Finally, in the men’s 200m back, the surprise came with the elimination of the 2015 world champion Mitch Larkin, from Australia, who finished 15th of the semis. The provisional leaders, all under 1:55, are Xu Jiayu (CHN, 1:54.79), Ryan Murphy (USA, 1:54.93) and Evgeny Rylov (RUS, 1:54.96).