USA’s Katie Ledecky and Sweden’s Sarah Sjostrom continued their unprecedented winning streaks in the 800 free and 50 butterfly, respectively, as Ledecky became the first swimmer to win the same event at five consecutive FINA World Championships.
Women’s 50 Butterfly - Sarah Sjostrom On Top of the World in 50 Butterfly Yet Again
Death, Taxes, and Sarah Sjostrom. The 28-year-old Swede won the fourth straight World title in the 50 butterfly on Friday night in Budapest with a 24.95, getting under 25 seconds for the 13th time in her career. The impressive part? No other woman has been faster than 25.07.
It is her fourth World title, dating back to 2015, and the fifth overall for Sweden, as Therese Alshammar won in 2007. The Swedes have a rich history in this event, with Anna-Karin Kammerling winning a silver and two bronzes in the first three editions of this event in the early 2000s.
“It’s amazing to win this event, keeping myself on the top it’s very hard,” Sjostrom said. “That was a tough race, I had a lot of pressure on me because of the past years’ successes. I’m super happy to win this event, it’s a unique thing for me.”
It’s Sjostrom’s second medal of the championships, after a silver in the 100 free, as she advanced to tomorrow’s 50 free final as the second seed. Sjostrom will also likely swim Sweden’s anchor leg on the medley relay tomorrow.
France picked up its seventh medal of the championships with a silver from Melanie Henique (25.31). Henique last won the bronze medal in 2011 as she is the first woman to leave more than 10 years between her first and last medal in this event at the FINA World Championships.
“Obviously, I wanted the gold but we are talking about Sarah, so that’s it,” Henique said. “Maybe there is a chance next year, but this year has been really tough so I could be proud of my second place.”
China’s Zhang Yufei picked up her third bronze medal at 25.32, which is a new Chinese record as she won the bronze medal in each butterfly event here in Budapest.
“I’m happy because this was my first final in this event but also a bit unhappy as I would like to clinch at least the second place,” Zhang said. “I think it was not far away.”
Zhang is the second swimmer to win a medal in all three butterfly events at a single world aquatics championships, after Hungary’s László Cseh in 2015.
Men’s 50 Freestyle - Ben Proud Finds Redemption From Tokyo With 50 Freestyle Gold Medal
Great Britain’s Ben Proud found himself on top of the world again on Friday night in Budapest after missing the podium at the last Olympics and the last World Championships. Proud won the 50 freestyle final at 21.32 to stand on top of the podium after finishing fifth at last year’s Olympics.
“I was in tears because the Olympics has been such a big thing and with COVID happening, it was an emotional roller coaster,” Proud said. “I paid a price with my mental health the last couple of months afterwards. I’ve had a brilliant team around me this year. Mark Skimming back at Bath University stuck around and did exactly what he needed to do to get me to a place where I was ready to step on.
“Recently I’ve been back to Turkey where I was training with Mark Cosso, who has been an absolute legend and gotten me to a great place physically and mentally. I absolutely love training with him and we have a really good thing going. This medal today, gold, silver or bronze, it was always going to be for them. I’m chuffed to be able to bring something home. I’m a bit disappointed after the 50 fly - lane four coming seventh. I made a really big mistake on that but I’m much happier to be leaving freestyle world champion.”
At age 27, Proud is the second-oldest winner of this event at the world aquatics championships, after Alexander Popov won in Barcelona at age 31 in 2003. The race notably was without American Caeleb Dressel, who won the last two World titles and last year’s Olympic gold.
“As soon as he was out, that changed the dynamics of the competition,” Proud said. “I think a lot more people had a different type of pressure leading in. But when you come to World Champs, it’s all about getting through the rounds and getting your hand on the wall. I have to appreciate that but also wishing the best for Caeleb because no one wants to be sick. We hope he’s doing well because it’s not the same without him.”
The silver went to American Michael Andrew, who upgrades his fourth place from Tokyo last year, and also gives him his third medal of the week.
“I can never be disappointed with making a podium at a World Champs,” Andrew said. “Going into the race, I texted my dad, ‘21.30 wins it.’ Frustrating to not be the 21.30 but I am very happy with a personal best. It was a great race and it sets us up nicely for a little time off and fuels the fire to get ready for the next Worlds and Paris.”
Andrew already claimed bronze in the 50m butterfly and 50m breaststroke in Budapest. He is the first swimmer, male or female, to win individual medals in three different strokes at a single world aquatics championships.
The bronze went to France’s Maxime Grousset, who won the country’s eighth medal in Budapest with a 21.57.
“I’m very satisfied with this third place, I don’t think I could have swum faster tonight,” Grousset said. “It’s fun to compete with these guys. Yesterday I had a swim-off against (Bruno) Fratus, it was a pleasure for me, so that’s why I’m extremely happy now.”
Men’s 100 Butterfly - Kristof Milak Gives Delivers Another Gold Medal For Budapest Crowd
The Duna Arena in Budapest was again sold out to see Hungary’s favorite swimmer at the moment, Kristóf Milák swim another butterfly final. After his world record in the 200 on Tuesday nearly reached a decibel maximum, he followed it up with a gold medal in the 100 - a 50.14. It wasn’t a best time for Milak, as the time tied his swim from last night’s semis, but it gave the Budapest crowd something to cheer about as they also got to sing their national anthem.
“Obviously, I’m not satisfied with the time as I swam exactly the same time as in the semis,” Milak said. “But I won the gold and that’s the most important now. I’m so proud to be Hungarian and I’m overjoyed that here in the Arena 4000 people were cheering for me. I hope, in front of the TVs and all around the world all 15 million Magyars gave me their support. I’m so grateful for everyone behind me – this makes my quest much easier.”
His swim wasn’t as dominant as the one in the 200, with Japan’s Naoki Mizunuma winning the silver at 50.94. He had been quicker in the semifinals, but it is his first major international medal.
Mizunuma is the first Japanese swimmer to claim a medal in this event at the world aquatics championships.
“I was a little bit nervous before the race but I’m very happy to win a medal here,” Mizunuma said. “I wanted to swim faster, next is Fukuoka, my plan is to win a gold there.”
The bronze went to Canada’s Josh Liendo, who added to his bronze from the 100 freestyle on Tuesday night. He swam a 50.97 not long after he missed the podium in the 50 free where he was fifth. USA’s Michael Andrew had also completed the 50 free/100 fly double as he finished fourth here in 51.11.
“I was super proud of myself with the way I handled it,” Liendo said. “Obviously I wanted the 50 to be better but I came back and did well in the 100 fly, and then had the relay after so I was proud of all those swims and the way I handled myself. It was hard, I’m sweating right now! But it was good.”
Canada currently has nine medals through seven days at the World Championships in swimming, a high for the nation.
“It feels good. We are building some momentum so I am looking forward to next year and then 2024 so I think we are going to have a really good team, so it is super exciting.”
Liendo picks up Canada’s second medal in a men’s butterfly event at the world aquatics championships, after gold by Bruce Robertson in the men’s 100m butterfly in 1973.
Women’s 200 Backstroke - Kaylee McKeown Wins Last Lap Fight Over Phoebe Bacon
Australia’s Kaylee McKeown followed up her Olympic gold medal from last year with a gold here at the World Championships in Budapest with a 2:05.08.
McKeown had been trailing the race through 150 meters to American Phoebe Bacon as she had flipped at a 1:00.87 to McKeown’s 1:01.51 at the 100 mark. Bacon held her lead on the third 50, flipping at 1:33.05 with McKeown in tow at 1:33.38. McKeown and Bacon both fought hard on the last 50, with the Olympic champion getting the touch by 0.04 to Bacon’s 2:05.12.
It was McKeown’s second individual medal of the week after a silver in the 200 IM on Sunday.
“It’s been a great race, I’ve managed to check the time on the scoreboard,” McKeown said. “In the end, everything turned out positively. It’s really hard to swim at the end of the week but I’m happy to finish it off with a gold medal.”
McKeown, who trains with Michael Bohl at Griffith University, is the second Australian woman to win this event at the FINA World Championships. She follows in the footsteps of Emily Seebohm (2015-2017). Australia now has six gold medals in swimming at the championships, as McKeown’s victory was similar to those last 50 comebacks from Zac Stubblety-Cook and Mollie O’Callaghan this week.
“We are all just excited to be here and race,” McKeown said. “We haven’t had a lot of opportunities over the last two years to race internationally so I think we are just digging deeper than we ever have before, especially in the last closing day. It’s good to see the Australian team up in the crowd bigger than ever.”
The gap between McKeown and Phoebe Bacon (USA, silver) was only 0.04 seconds. This marks the second-smallest difference between the gold and silver medallist in this event at the Worlds after Cornelia Sirch (GDR) beat Besty Mitchell (USA) by 0.02 seconds in 1986.
This was Bacon’s one and only event in Budapest as she described the feelings of waiting until day six to swim her first race.
“Watching the meet and to see all my friends get medals and swim fast and do well, it was difficult to contain my excitement,” Bacon said. “But I knew my swim was coming and I just had to be patient with myself and trust my training and that I would swim well.”
USA’s Rhyan White won the bronze at 2:06.96 to improve on her fourth place from Tokyo, adding on to her world short course gold in December.
“I’m so excited to race here because this is my first long-course podium,” White said. “I’m a little bit more excited today than before, but it’s fine, I’m happy with the bronze medal.”
Women’s 800 Freestyle - Katie Ledecky Joins the Elite Five-Timers Club But First to Do It Consecutively
The word “greatest” gets used in sports frequently but American Katie Ledecky has a serious resume to be considered the greatest female swimmer in history. Ledecky became the third swimmer to win an individual event at a World Championships five times, and the first to do it consecutively when she won the 800 freestyle in Budapest on Friday night.
The joins the five-timers club with American Michael Phelps, who won the 200 fly five times in 2001, 2003, 2007, 2009, and 2011, and Hungarian Katinka Hosszu, who won the 400 IM in 2009, 2013, 2015, 2017, and 2019.
“It’s year after year of hard work,” Ledecky said. “I think back to London (2012), I made it a goal to not be a one hit wonder and here we are 10 years later. I’m really proud of that and still excited for the future as well.”
“It’s a really good end to a great week.
Ledecky now has 29 of the 30 fastest 800 freestyles in history - a staggering number that almost doesn’t even seem real.
The swim is Melverton’s first individual medal internationally, as she won a silver earlier this week in the 4x200 free relay. It was also a new best time for Melverton, putting herself in a tie for 22nd all-time. Melverton had taken the race out hard, flipping at the 400 at 4:06.46, which was only three seconds on her 400 flat start best. She was three seconds ahead of Quadarella at the halfway point, with the Italian eventually overtaking Melverton at the 700.
But Melverton found another gear on the last 100 to win Australia’s second of three medals on the night.
“It just feels great to have this silver medal,” Melverton said. “I didn’t really know what to expect after the heats, but in the final I was on lane 1 so I know I had to go out and be as fast as I could. And the others this way might not see me. I managed to keep up a good pace and I’m really happy with this silver medal.”
Quadarella adds to her silver from the 800 in 2019 and improves on her fifth-place finish in the 1500.
“The 1500m went very bad, I was so disappointed after that final,” Quadarella said. “But now I’m very glad with this 800m, it’s like last year's Olympics, 1500m was a disaster, then the 800m was great. I tried to focus on my own race, I started swimming easily and then catch up with the others. And it worked so I’m very happy now.”
Mixed 4x100 Freestyle Relay - Australia Showcases Sprint Prowess & Takes World Record Over Canada & United States
For the fourth straight World Championships, the world record fell in the mixed freestyle relay final, but this time it was the Australians claiming their first gold medal of the relay with a 3:19.38. The team of Jack Cartwright (48.12), Kyle Chalmers (46.98), Madison Wilson (52.25) and Mollie O’Callaghan (52.03) erased the United States’ world record of 3:19.40 from Gwangju 2019, as the U.S. had won all three gold medals in this event since it debuted in 2015.
“We did not expect the world record, that was a huge swim,” Chalmers said. “Every swimmer in the really has a great World Champs here, clocking a lot of PBs. It’s a long term plan to focus on this event and of course we want to get even better in this event.”
“It was pretty unexpected,” Wilson said of the world record. “I don’t think there was any mention or any expectation or even a thought of being able to break that so to do that and see that at the end was unbelievable and a real surprise for us.”
This was Australia’s second relay gold medal of the week after the women’s 4x100 free gold on Saturday. Australia has won either gold or silver in every relay this week.
“It’s the Australian spirit,” Cartwright said of the relays swimming well.
The Americans ended up with the bronze, after being chased down by Canada on the back end.
The Canadian team of Josh Liendo (48.02), Javier Acevedo (47.96), Kayla Sanchez (52.52) and Penny Oleksiak (52.11) won the ninth medal of the swim meet through seven days with a 3:20.61.
“Those girls were amazing in the backend, they just swam their best,” Liendo said. “I think I started with a really nice first 100m but I feel every part of my body, I’m still sweating. But this doesn’t matter because we are really good as a team and happy with the silver medal.”
The American team of Ryan Held (47.93), Brooks Curry (47.72), Torri Huske (52.60) and Claire Curzan (52.84) finished with the bronze at 3:21.09.
“I think it was a good swim from the team,” Held said. “We did a great job. It was a close race with a new world record, so I want to say congratulations to Australia. It’s a really feeling to race here because I love the noise and the energy in the Duna Arena.”