Mixed 4x1500m Relay | Ages 14-16

While Italy led early, Team USA relied on two women – Olympian Katie Grimes and her fellow 19th FINA World Championship medallist Claire Weinstein – to take the title in the Mixed 4x1500m Relay in the 14-to-16-year-old age category on the third and final day at the 5th FINA World Junior Open Water Swimming Championships on Seychelles’ Mahe island.

Having both the 14-15 women’s winner in Weinstein and 16-17 age category victor in Grimes, the Americans elected to use the usually unorthodox relay order of leading off with two men in Nathan Szobota and Sam MarsteinerThe quartet's winning time was 1:13:09.8.

Image Source: Vanessa Lucas | Seychelles Tourism

Germany – the country with the most relay medals in international open water swimming in the senior ranks – pulled off a stunner for silver, moving from fifth to second thanks to the final leg of Arne Schubert. Finishing 11.5 seconds behind the USA, Germany's time was 1:13:21.3.

A European Youth Olympic Games medallist in the pool, Schubert showed an impressive turn of sustained pace from the third and fourth of four buoys before catching and passing Turkey for silver in the final drive to the touchpad.   

Image Source: Vanessa Lucas | Seychelles Tourism

If Weinstein felt the pressure of the men pursuing behind, she didn’t show it and told the USA contingent soon after the race that she didn’t know that the male anchors for Germany and Turkey had pulled the gap to nearly within striking distance by the finish line. Should it have come down to a sprint, Weinstein has speed, as evidenced by helping the USA win gold in the women's 4x200m freestyle earlier this summer in Budapest. 

Following strong second and third legs from Ahmet Burak Isik and Tuna Erdogan, Turkey’s Emir Batur Albayrak caught and passed Mexico and then Italy on the anchor leg to claim bronze in 1:13:24.0.

After leading through the first two legs thanks to the strong swims from Davide Grossi’s 17:32 split on the opening leg and Guglielmo Lombardo’s 18:06, Italy finished fourth, 24 seconds off the podium.

Image Source: Vanessa Lucas | Seychelles Tourism

The performance of the race came from Grimes who split a 17:45 to turn just over a one-minute deficit to Italy into an eight-second advantage before turning over the closing duties to fellow Friday individual winner Weinstein.

“I definitely felt some pressure to put our team in a position to win,” USA’s second leg swimmer Sam Marsteiner recounted after the race. “Nathan and I put us in a good position, and then Katie and Claire completed the job. It feels great.”

Mixed 4x1500m Relay | Open (Ages 14-19)

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The final race on the final day of the world juniors ended fittingly in Seychelles: with a dominating Hungarian performance capped by David Betlehem crossing the line well in front of his nearest pursuers.

So dominating was Hungary’s run in the more senior relay age category that lead-off swimmer Mira Szimcsak – Saturday’s bronze medallist in the 7.5km individual –  Bettina Fabian – Saturday’s winner in the 7.5km individual – were in the medal hunt amongst the teams, turning over relay duties to  Arshak Hambardzumyan and Betlehem quite literally on the toes of the United States and Canada that occupied the second and third places at midway.

Working with a 1:02 deficit on the third leg, Hambardzumyan turned that into an eight-second edge at the turnover for the final leg. With Betlehem closing against a female competitor, it was game-set-match. The recent individual European and FINA World Junior individual champion didn’t dawdle about, posting the day’s fastest split of 17:17 en route to Hungary winning in 1:11:20.1.

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Post-race, Betlehem could only offer praise for his teammates. Still, he did offer a little bit of his extra motivation going into his final global junior race ever: in his first important relay in the junior ranks, he led the race for Hungary as their anchor before getting caught and finishing off the podium. It’s an experience Betlehem said still motivates him today, five years later.

“It’s the toughest job in the relay, leading off against the guys,” Szimcsak said after the podium ceremony. “I did a good job and I’m proud of myself – just as I am of our whole team. For most of us, this is our last junior world championship relay, so we wanted to end on a high note. It’s just great.”

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Germany completed a double silver day, following the Hungarian strategy of leading off with Marlene Blanke and Lara Seifert before turning it over to their male teammates Linus Schwedler and Noah Lerch to finish 1:33 behind Hungary in 1:12:53.3.

Leading off for Germany, Blanke’s said her goal was to “get some feet of the boys” before turning it over to Seifert in seventh behind men competitors and Hungary’s Szimcsak.

Our goal in the relays is always that the girls get some boys and we get more speed with that. And then the boys, they just get the teams in front of us. The setup pretty well for us; it worked.”

In a relay déjà vu of the European junior championships relay, Germany caught front-running Italy – who again led off with Giuseppe Ilario and Pasquale Giordano. Unlike the morning, Italy was able to hold onto a medal position with their final two legs from Alessia Ossoli and Iris Menchini, finishing in 1:13:27.5.

Image Source: Vanessa Lucas | Seychelles Tourism

For Schwedler, Sunday was a bit of a redemption day in Seychelles. After racing from second through almost the entire 7.5km individual race and pulling a small pack of competitors in his wake trying to chase down eventual winner Hunor Kovacs-Seres before being passed by two rivals in the final 200m to finish just off the podium in fourth, he called the relay a redemptive performance.

“You can’t do that, pull people through the whole race and then have them pass you at the end,” Schwedler said. “But you have to deal with it. I knew I’d have to do it better in the relay and we did.

“We came to show what we can do. And we did.”

Teams Trophy | FINA World Junior Open Water Swimming Championships 2022

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Matching the USA with four gold medals (both USA and Hungary won three individual events and one relay) in Seychelles, Hungary showed a little extra team depth to take the Teams Trophy as the best collective team effort at the FINA World Junior Open Water Swimming Championships.

The trophy recognises that open water swimming takes a team – not only at the races but especially when putting in the many kilometres swimming and hours doing dryland and weight room work together, as a team.

Image Source: Torin Koos | FINA

Hungarian national team captain Gabor Gellert expressed his satisfaction in taking the nation’s first teams trophy home to the swimming hungry country:

"I am very happy with this performance because we have been waiting for a long time to finally finish at the top of the medal table and in the points competition at a FINA World Junior Championship after the European Championships. “So far, we have been second twice, but now everything has come together: we have never won four more golds, and it has never happened that all twelve of our competitors took at least a sixth-place either individually or in relays. All of this shows that we have a very serious team, that the profession has a very successful future ahead of it, the supply.”

Added golden relay girl Szimcsak: “We really wanted this trophy, and now it's become a reality, so that’s cool.”

Final Results

Image Source: Torin Koos | FINA

Mixed 4x1500m Relay | Ages 14-16

GOLD: United States – 1:13:09.8

SILVER: Germany – 1:13:21.3 (+11.5)

BRONZE: Turkey – 1:13:24.0 (14.2)

Full event results can be found here.

Mixed 4x1500m Relay | Ages 14-19

GOLD: Hungary 1:11:20.1

SILVER: 1:12:53.3 (+1:33.2)

BRONZE: Italy – 1:13:27.5 (+2:07.4)

Full event results can be found here. 

Teams Trophy | FINA World Junior Open Water Swimming Championships 2022

  • First: Hungary – 153 points
  • Second: United States – 124 points
  • Third: Italy – 100 points

Full team trophy results can be found here.

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