Gergely Csurka, FINA Media Committee Member

DUBAI (United Arab Emirates), 31 August – An exciting final day saw the two stars of the FINA Junior World Swimming Championships in Dubai securing a fitting end to their magnificent six-day campaign. Mackenzie Horton (AUS) won the 1500m free, while Ruta Meilutyte (LTU) clinched the 50m free title – both of them earned four individual gold medals respectively. Australia tops the medal count, with the US and Russian teams also showing outstanding performances.The quality of the results in Dubai is a solid guarantee that the level of Swimming is ensured for the years to come. After the establishment of 47 Championships Records in a 42-event competition (giving an amazing average of more than one record per event), it is confirmed that the 2013 edition was the most successful one and that a new group of talented athletes is ready to shine also at senior level. Many of the names that excelled in the Hamdan Sports Complex in Dubai will be the swimmers to watch in 2015, at the FINA World Championships in Kazan (RUS), and of course at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro (BRA).

The level of the organisation in Dubai was also outstanding and set a valuable standard for the future editions of the Championships – in 2015 in Singapore (SIN) and in 2017 in Budapest (HUN).

Caeleb Dressel (USA) had to wait until the last day to prove his
fantastic skills in his main individual event: after delivering three
sub-49sec swims in relays – all anchor legs – he proved he was capable
of doing the same in the 100m free final. He launched a devastating
23.03sec opening 50m, only Luke Percy (AUS) could cope with his speed
but Dressel reached the wall a bit better (by 0.09sec). It was a kind of
revenge as Percy won the dash by 0.05 ahead of Sedov (the Russian came
third this time) and by 0.08 ahead of Dressel.

Ukraine could celebrate a 1-2 finish in the girls 200m breast: Viktoriya Solnceva was a class apart, she went with the pack for 100m then she gained a full second on half-way leader Molly Renshaw (GBR) over the third leg then she produced an amazing last 50m, the split for that was 34.63, the rest of the field clocked 37sec or weaker. Her time (2:23.12) would put her to the 6th place in the final of the FINA World Championships in Barcelona, where the top competitors were naturally faster in the first 150m, but none of them produced a sub-35sec finish.

Caeleb Dressel (USA) - credit: Rita Pannunzi/Deepbluemedia
Caeleb Dressel (USA) - credit: Rita Pannunzi/Deepbluemedia

Italy earned its first title on the last day, thanks to Luca Mencarini in the 200m back who was overwhelming in the second 100m. Connor Green (USA) was way ahead at the halfway mark, Mencarini trailed by almost 2sec at this stage, but he switched gears in the third and came up with a brilliant last 50m. His split was 28.68 (compared to Green’s 30.51) and he clocked the only time inside 1:58min – naturally a new CR. Green was even caught by Keita Sunama (JPN).

The boys 1500m free could bring nothing else but another gold for Mackenzie Horton (AUS). The Aussie crowned his Dubai performance with a sub-15min swim (12sec better than the silver medallist, Jan Micka, CZE). Horton smashed the Championships Record, his time of 14:56.60 would have been enough for the 6th place at the FINA World Championships. Though after the race he said he had expected an even better effort from himself. All in all, Horton earned his fourth individual title in Dubai, winning all free events from 200m through 1500m – a performance hard to copy in the following editions.

Two heroes in Dubai: Meilutyte (LTU) and Horton (AUS) - credit: Giorgio Scala/Deepbluemedia
Two heroes in Dubai: Meilutyte (LTU) and Horton (AUS) - credit: Giorgio Scala/Deepbluemedia

If Horton was the star among the boys, this title goes to Ruta Meilutyte (LTU) among the girls. She ended her Dubai campaign in style, by clinching the 50m free title. The Lithuanian won the gold right at the beginning: her start was simply amazing (again), her reaction time of 0.59sec was 0.2 better than the others – even though Rozaliya Nasretdinova (RUS) tried desperately to catch her and towards the end she seemed to make it but Meilutyte could maintain the pace and out-touched her rival by 0.08sec. Meilutyte won four individual titles and added a relay crown in the mixed medley, so she could be satisfied – and she was, indeed.

“I’m really happy with what I achieved here, both the results and the
time results”, Meilutyte said. “I planned to race here, to test myself
in other events (not only the breaststroke), and I can say that one or
two might be added to my programme in the future. Yes, the 50m free is
always there to try.”

After a rather busy summer, Meilutyte will take a week rest, “that should be enough then I will head back to the pool.”

Andrew Seliskar (USA) - credit: Rita Pannunzi/Deepbluemedia
Andrew Seliskar (USA) - credit: Rita Pannunzi/Deepbluemedia

Another US win followed in the boys 200m fly: Andrew Seliskar offered a finely built-up swim, he had a killing third 50m with a split of 29.04sec, gaining almost two seconds on the half-way leader, Masato Sakai (JPN) and he won comfortably, bringing down the meet mark as well.

Peter John Stevens didn’t make any mistake in the boys 50m breaststroke: after setting a new CR in the heats and winning the semis he ruled the field in the final, too. Though it was a dash, the long and powerful Slovenian’s win was never in danger. This time he couldn’t improve his CR but he was the only one in the field who broke the 28sec barrier.

Diletta Carli (ITA) - credit: Rita Pannunzi/Deepbluemedia
Diletta Carli (ITA) - credit: Rita Pannunzi/Deepbluemedia

Italy finished the championship on a high note as another gold medal came, this time in the girls 200m free: Diletta Carli’s second 100m stood out as she speeded up and produced a 30.31 split for the third 50m and 29.74 for the last one, both almost half a second better respectively than the others’ results.

The curse on the US medley relays were back again: after the men’s quartet was disqualified in Barcelona, the boys also lost their medals (perhaps this tasted less bitter: not the gold, ‘only’ the bronze gone), due to a disastrous take-over before the fly leg (–0.21sec). The title went to Japan, they really deserved it: after three silver medals just on this day they finally won gold – two runners-up, Sunama (200m back) and Goto (50m back) returned to the pool to grab a shinier medal, ahead of Russia and South Africa.

Girls 4x100m medley gold medallists: Rozaliya Nasretdinova, Svetlana Chimrova, Anna Belousova / Daria Ustinova (RUS) - credit: Giorgio Scala/Deepbluemedia
Girls 4x100m medley gold medallists: Rozaliya Nasretdinova, Svetlana Chimrova, Anna Belousova / Daria Ustinova (RUS) - credit: Giorgio Scala/Deepbluemedia

The event was concluded by Russia’s comfortable win in the women’s medley relay. It was another masterpiece from Svetlana Chimrova, who earlier had won the 50m and 100m fly cracking the respective CRs each time racing (6 CRs, altogether): she was two seconds faster than the rivals in the fly, and Rosaliya Nasretdinova easily secured their win in the home-coming leg. They also cracked the Championship Record so the count for the CRs stopped at 47 – this number well can be regarded as the 48th Championship Record.

The medal count is topped by Australia, they had one more gold (10) than Russia and the US team, both finishing with 9 titles – though both sides collected more medals in total than the Australians. The US won the trophies of the team competitions in both the boys’ and the girls’ fields. Thus they received the Championship Trophy – a great conclusion of the championship, which has set the bar really high for the future organisers, thanks to the magnificent efforts of the hosts, the United Arab Emirates Swimming Federation.

The winning team of USA - credit: Giorgio Scala/Deepbluemedia

Medallists, Day 6

Boys 100m free
1. Caeleb Dressel USA        48.97 CR
2. Luke Percy AUS            49.06
3. Evgeny Sedov RUS        49.47

Boys 1500m free
1. Mackenzie Horton AUS        14:56.60 CR 
2. Jan Micka CZE            15:08.43
3. Pawel Furtek POL            15:17.48

Boys 200m back
1. Luca Mencarini ITA        1:57.92 CR
2. Keita Sunama JPN            1:58.21
3. Connor Green USA            1:58.42

Boys 50m breast
1. Peter John Stevens SLO        27.98
2. Kohei Goto JPN            28.09
3. Vsevolod Zanko RUS        28.18

Boys 200m fly

1. Andrew Seliskar USA        1:56.42 CR
2. Masato Sakai JPN            1:56.82
3. Alexander Kudashev RUS        1:58.57

Boys 4x100m medley relay

1. Japan                3:38.13 CR
(Keita Sunama, Kohei Goto, Takaya Yasue, Toru Maruyama)
2. Russia                3:38.72
(Grigory Tarasevich, Vselovod Zanko, Alexander Kudashev, Evgeny Sedov)
3. South Africa            3:42.01
(Christopher Reid, Jarred Crous, Ryan Coetzee, Caydon Muller)

Girls 50m free

1. Ruta Meilutyte LTU        25.10
2. Rozaliya Nasretdinova RUS    25.16
3. Siobhan Bernade Haughey HKG    25.38

Girls 200m free

1. Diletta Carli ITA            1:58.94
2. Mariia Baklakova RUS        1:59.51
3. Quinn Carrozza USA        1:59.69

Girls 200m breast

1. Viktoriya Solnceva UKR        2:23.12 CR
2. Anastasiya Malyavina UKR    2:27.46
3. Silvia Guerra ITA            2:27.51

Girls 100m fly
1. Svetlana Chimrova RUS        58.34 CR
2. Liliana Szilagyi HUN        58.73
3. Jemma Schlicht AUS        59.08

Girls 4x100m medley relay

1. Russia                4:04.48 CR
(Daria Ustinova, Anna Belousova, Svetlana Chimrova, Rozaliya Nasretdinova)
2. Great Britain            4:05.42
(Jessica Fullalove, Sophie Taylor, Emma Day, Grace Vertigans)
3. United States            4:05.76
(Kathleen Baker, Olivia Anderson, Courtney Weaver, Cierra Runge)