Gergely Csurka, FINA Media Committee Member

DUBAI (United Arab Emirates), 27 August – Russia enjoyed a brilliant day in the magnificent Hamdan Bin Mohammed Bin Rashid Sports Complex: they earned eight medals including three golds. In the boys’ field all four finals brought a new Championship Record, one more was clocked in the women’s events and another one in the mixed medley relay final.Apostolos Christou (GRE) swept through the pool with a fine sub-55sec
effort in the men’s 100m back, ensuring a great start of the second
day’s afternoon session. The Greek’s win was never in doubt, he clocked a
new Championship Record. The battle for the silver was a tight one,
Danas Rapsys (LTU) had the better touch-in ahead of Grigory Tarasevich
(RUS), by 0.09sec.

The women’s 200m fly brought a surprising result: Kathryn McLaughlin (USA) launched a sensational finish to pass Liliana Szilagyi (HUN) in the last ten metres; in fact, the Hungarian had the best entry time (a full second better than the others’), won the heats by a huge margin but didn’t noticed the American coming.

After the opening day’s duel over 400m, the Horton (AUS) vs. Guy (GBR) rematch in the 200m free produced the same outcome with the Aussie winning (and bringing down the Championship Record, of course) by a comfortable margin.

Mack Horton (AUS), 200m free gold medallist - credit: Giorgio Scala/Deepbluemedia
Mack Horton (AUS), 200m free gold medallist - credit: Giorgio Scala/Deepbluemedia

Ruta Meilutyte (LTU) earned her first gold medal in Dubai, she managed to break the 30sec barrier, she clocked 29.86 upon winning the breaststroke dash – a slightly weaker effort than her world record (29.48) set in Barcelona.

The boys’ 100m breaststroke event offered a great race: at the half-way mark Dmitry Balandin (KAZ) led the race but the two Russian finalists geared up for the second 50m and Ilya Khomenko, who had turned 6th, came home the fastest, especially in the last 10 metres with Vsevolod Zenko securing a 1-2 finish for Russia. Balandin was out-touched for the bronze by Kohei Goto (JPN) with 0.04sec.

Ruta Meilutyte, 50m breast gold medallist - credit: Giorgio Scala/Deepbluemedia
Ruta Meilutyte, 50m breast gold medallist - credit: Giorgio Scala/Deepbluemedia

The girls’ 100m back final was the most exciting race of the day: four swimmers arrived simultaneously to the red part of the lane-diving ropes so it was a bit of luck which decided the final order. In fact, 0.28sec separated the winner from the fourth-placed: Daria Ustinova (RUS) had the golden touch, 0.13sec ahead of Kathleen Baker (USA) with Jessica Fullalove (GBR) with a further 0.09sec away.

Swimming on lane 1 and 2, Semen Makovich (RUS) and Keita Sumana (JPN) led the pack at the halfway mark in the boys’ 200m individual medley and they managed to keep up with the others in the second part as well. What’s more, Makovich seemed to make wonder by winning the event on lane 1, but Joseph Bentz’s (USA) freestyle leg was devastating: his 28.20 was better than six of the FINA World Championships finalists’ last leg in Barcelona, and his time would have been enough to swim in that final. Here Bentz gained 0.60sec both on the Russian and the Japanese over the last 50m and won the race, though the margin was rather tiny (0.06sec). Naturally, the American set a new Championship Record.

Boys 200m IM podium: Semen Makovich (RUS), Joseph Bentz (USA) & Kohei Goto (JPN) - credit: Giorgio Scala/Deepbluemedia
Boys 200m IM podium: Semen Makovich (RUS), Joseph Bentz (USA) & Kohei Goto (JPN) - credit: Giorgio Scala/Deepbluemedia

The fastest heat of the girls’ 800m saw a one-man, or more precisely, a one-girl show as Alanna Bowles (AUS) represented a different class. She built a three body-length advantage after 400m and enjoyed a seemingly easy cruise in the second half of the race. She just missed her compatriot, Bonnie Macdonald’s 2011 CR by 0.38sec. With this win the Aussies levelled the golden count to 2-2 against the US on this day, just as on the first day.

But it was the Russians who had the last laugh and clinched their third title of the day in a fabulous race in the day-ending mixed medley relay. The event – which will also be part of the FINA World Championships’ programme from 2015 – brought a fantastic race. Lithuania was the only team starting with a male backstroker and it paid off as it turned out later: Danas Rapsys clocked an even better time (55.22) than his silver medal-winning effort (55.24) an hour earlier in the individual race and Ruta Meilutyte was still first at 200m. However, Vselovod Zdanko’s breaststroke leg in the Russian relay proved to be the decisive one: his reaction time was dangerously good (0.05sec) and his 59.96 effort was more than two seconds better than the closest one in the field and that paved the way to the top of the podium.

4x100m mixed medley relay - credit: Giorgio Scala/Deepbluemedia
4x100m mixed medley relay - credit: Giorgio Scala/Deepbluemedia

Though Lithuania could go further ahead as another boy vs. girl clash followed in the fly, their 5 second-lead recorded at the 300m turn didn’t last too long. Eva Gliozeryte (LTU) came up with a heroic effort but Evgeny Sedov (RUS) powered her off in the last 50m (49.20 to 57.78), though the Lithuanian girl could keep the second position. The US relay, turning fifth, clinched the bronze, thanks to another superb anchor leg from Caeleb Dressler (the last man of the golden US 4x100 free relay from Monday), this time he produced 48.70, the best of the entire field.

Interestingly, the majority of the teams applied the girl-boy-girl-boy line-up, only Lithuania opted for reverse order while Great Britain started with two girls who fell 5sec behind at the half-way mark but the boys brought them back to the 5th position from the 8th. One thing is for sure: this event will serve as a highlight of relay-racing at senior level.

4x100m mixed medley relay, Russian winning team - credit: Giorgio Scala/Deepbluemedia
4x100m mixed medley relay, Russian winning team - credit: Giorgio Scala/Deepbluemedia

Medallists, Day 2

Boys 200m free
1. Mackenzie Horton AUS    1:47.55 CR
2. James Guy GBR        1:48.18
3. Andrea M. D’Arrigo ITA    1:48.28

Boys 100m back
1. Apostolos Christou GRE    54.87 CR 
2. Danas Rapsys LTU        55.24
3. Grigory Tarasevich RUS    55.33

Boys 100m breast
1. Ilya Khomenko RUS    1:00.88 CR
2. Vsevolod Zanko RUS    1:01.10
3. Kohei Goto JPN        1:01.39

Boys 200m IM
1. Joseph Bentz USA        1:59.44 CR
2. Semen Makovich RUS    1:59.50
3. Keita Sunama JPN        1:59.74

Girls 100m back
1. Daria Ustinova RUS    1:01.05 
2. Kathleen Baker USA    1:01.18 
3. Jessica Fullalove GBR    1:01.27

Girls 800m free

1. Alanna Bowles AUS    8:32.68
2. Rebecca Mann USA    8:37.85
3. Linda Caponi ITA        8:38.42

Girls 50m breast

1. Ruta Meilutyte LTU    29.86 CR
2. Viktoriya Solnceva RUS    31.34
3. Sophie Taylor GBR        31.38

Girls 200m fly

1. Kathryn McLaughlin USA    2:08.72
2. Liliana Szilagyi HUN    2:09.46
3. Misuzu Yabu JPN        2:10.76

4x100m mixed medley relay

1. Russia            3:48.89 CR
(Daria Ustinova, Vselovod Zanko, Svetlana Chimrova, Evgeny Sedov)
2. Lithuania            3:52.52
(Danas Rapsys, Ruta Meilutyte, Povilas Stradzas, Eva Gliozeryte)
3. United States        3:52.63
(Kathleen Baker, Joseph Bentz, Kathryn McLaughlin, Caeleb Dressel)