The temperatures may have been chilly but the racing was hot on Tuesday evening as two relay world records fell on the first night in Melbourne.
Women’s 400m Freestyle - Lani Pallister On Top Down Under! Starts off World Short Course with a bang
It didn’t take long for the Australians to celebrate a gold medal at a home FINA World Swimming Championships (25m) in Melbourne as Lani Pallister won the very first gold medal of the meet with a 3:55.04 in the 400m freestyle.
My parents are in the stands and winning this first medal in front of a home crowd in Australia is special
Pallister said: “I am pleased to get this win out of the way. I am far more comfortable in the 800m and 1500m distances, and this event was the one I was most concerned about.
“It was an amazing day and I was very very nervous this morning. I just wanted to be sure that Australia had a fun night tonight. It was the coolest environment. At the 300m mark I realized that I had legs and I made sure to use them and take a stab at the gold medal.”
It was a 1-2 for Oceania as New Zealand’s Erika Fairweather pushed Pallister for all she was worth, leading for 250 meters before the Aussie kicked it into high gear. Fairweather won the silver at 3:56.00 for her first international medal on the senior level after being World junior champ in 2019 in the 200m.
“I'm super stoked,” Fairweather said. “I've been coming over here to World Championships and it’s as close to home as I can get.
“The team is super excited. I can hear them so I know they're excited. My mom and aunty are here and it’s super exciting to have them here.”
Women’s 200m IM - Kate Douglass gets closer to Katinka Hosszu’s world record than anyone has before
It was expected to be an exciting race, and it certainly lived up to expectations. It wasn’t the American we thought, however, as it was Kate Douglass who touched the wall first at 2:02.12, with World long course champ Alex Walsh winning the silver at 2:03.37.
We hyped this race as one between Walsh and Worlds silver medalist Kaylee McKeown of Australia, as well as last year’s champ Sydney Pickrem of Canada, but it was Douglass who took the gold medal, really putting a hammer down on the breaststroke 50, giving herself momentum for a strong freestyle to give the Americans their first win in this event at this meet since Allison Wagner won the inaugural gold in 1993.
Douglass also moved herself up to #2 all-time in this event, swimming faster than anyone not named Katinka Hosszu by two seconds as Hosszu’s world record of 2:01.86 got a big push, but will ultimately last another day. Walsh and McKeown (2:03.57) won silver and bronze as they now sit third and fourth on the all-time list.
"It felt great to come back after this morning and it was really important for me to be relaxed tonight,” Douglass said.
It's definitely nerve wracking to be racing in the first swim of the meet so to be able to swim well is honestly an awesome feeling.
This is a big swim for Douglass, who had won bronze at the Olympics in this event in 2021 but had been a bit overshadowed in the 200m IM by teammate Walsh, who was the long course World champ in July and the fastest swimmer ever in short course yards.
Douglass had seemed to shift her focus to the 50m freestyle but put herself back in the mix for this event come Fukuoka 2023 with this swim.
Douglass and Walsh train together at the University of Virginia and look to be a solid 1-2 punch for the American women moving forward with this week and the march towards the Paris Olympics.
“I felt really good,” Walsh said. “I put together a really good race. I wanted to go 2:03 – that was my goal – so honestly, I couldn’t be happier. I swim with (Douglass) every single day so I know she knows how to race. I
"’m pretty proud of us for swimming short course meters which we don’t do very often. It's great to know it was a well-executed race for the both of us.”
Men’s 200m IM - Matthew Sates Gets the Long Awaited World Short Course Title
After a stellar breakout performance at last year’s Swimming World Cup in which he set a slew of world junior records en route to winning the overall title, South Africa’s Matthew Sates had a lot of eyes on him on what he was going to do next. A couple months later, he had a brief stint in the United States where he was the American collegiate champion in the short course yards venue.
But a few months later, he had underperformed at the long course FINA World Championships in Budapest, only reaching one final across his program. The Commonwealth Games in July didn’t yield better results.
But on Tuesday evening in Melbourne, Sates finally got that long-awaited gold medal on the international stage, setting up some momentum heading into 2023. Sates won the 200m IM final with a 1:50.15, nailing his breaststroke 50 before putting his legs into it on freestyle to pull away from the field. The time is a new African record and puts him second on the all-time list, behind only American superstar Ryan Lochte (1:49.63).
"I genuinely don't know what to say,” Sates said. “I'm so pleased with this swim and want to thank everyone for coming out to watch us race.
I swam this race, especially for my Mom and I want to thank my friends and my family.
American Carson Foster won the silver medal, matching his spot from this summer in Budapest as well as last year’s World Short Course Championships in Abu Dhabi, swimming a 1:50.96 to put himself seventh all-time.
The big surprise in the race was American Shaine Casas (1:51.31) finishing fourth as he came into the race as the favorite after racing to second all-time at the Swimming World Cup in October, but he was beat to the wall by Canada’s Finlay Knox, who moved from sixth to third over the final 75 to win bronze at 1:51.04.
Japan’s Daiya Seto, another one of the pre-race favorites coming in as the defending champion, finished a disappointing fifth at 1:51.39 after only being in medal contention at the 150.
Men’s 1500m Freestyle - Gregorio Paltrinieri once again on top
It may have been looking like a potential upset was brewing at 1150 meters when Gregorio Paltrinieri’s lead had shrunk to just 0.03 over Henrik Christiansen, who had been descending on his splits and challenging the almighty Paltrinieri, who has achieved everything there is to achieve in the 1500m freestyle.
But after that 1150 turn, Paltrinieri showed why he is one of the all-time best distance swimmers the sport has ever seen, splitting consistent 28s on his 50s the rest of the way to win the gold medal at 14:16.88, following up his World Short Course gold from 2014.
Since initially winning silver as an 18-year-old in 2012, Paltrinieri has been on every World short course podium in this event except for 2021, as he adds to his illustrious trophy case that he has accumulated.
It's great to be back on top after not winning this event in short course meters for a really long time,
Paltrinieri said. “After the finish, I felt as though I could have swum the race again. I had a lot of fun tonight.
“I know that I was being challenged by those guys but I was always confident. I was suffering the same as they were (due to the cold weather) but I was swimming my own race. I knew I was being chased and I was racing in short bursts until finally I made a move to win.”
Christiansen finished with the bronze medal at 14:24.08, as France’s Damien Joly won the silver medal with an impressive back half at 14:19.62.
Women’s 4x100m Freestyle Relay - Emma McKeon splits fastest ever on anchor as Australians light up Melbourne with the first world record of the meet
It almost looked to be the upset of the meet as the United States held the lead in the 4x100m freestyle relay final for 350 meters as they were under world record pace and looked to beat the almighty Australians in their backyard and take the world record in the process.
With the new World Record by 🇦🇺 Aussies in the Women 4x100m Freestyle 👉3:25.43, there was a sensational final split by Emma McKeon (49.96!!!).— World Aquatics (@WorldAquatics) December 13, 2022
Re-watch it here 👇#swimming #FINAMelbourne22 pic.twitter.com/VrcaIDKD5n
But Emma McKeon was the anchor leg for Australia, splitting the fastest time ever, swimming the first ever sub-50 relay swim at 49.96.
In the last two decades, five different Australian women have had the distinction of being the top 100m freestyler in the world, and McKeon flexed her muscles in front of the Melbourne crowd to give the Australians the come-from-behind win in dramatic fashion. McKeon’s time overtakes fellow Aussie Cate Campbell’s 50.38 from 2019 as the all-time fastest relay split.
The team of Mollie O’Callaghan (52.19), Madison Wilson (51.28), Meg Harris (52.00), and McKeon (49.96) set the world record at 3:25.43, taking over a full second off of the Netherlands’ time of 3:26.53 from 2014.
The Americans pushed the Australians for every meter, winning the silver at 3:26.29 with Torri Huske (51.73), Kate Douglass (51.17), Claire Curzan (51.59) and Erika Brown (51.80) swimming the second fastest time ever and a new American record.
Men’s 4x100m Freestyle Relay - Italians break second world record of the night
The Italian national anthem was heard for the second time on Tuesday night in Melbourne as the 4x100m freestyle relay men set the second world record of the night with a 3:02.75, lowering the Americans’ mark of 3:03.03 from this meet in 2018.
The team of Alessandro Miressi (46.15), Paolo Conte Bonin (45.93), Leonardo Deplano (45.54), and Thomas Ceccon (45.13) celebrated a successful night for the Italians in following Paltrinieri’s 1500m gold medal, as the Italian men have usurped themselves as one of the best teams in the world in 2022.
This is the first time the Italians have won this relay at World short course since 2006 as they are now becoming a dominant and reliable force in the sprint relays.
The Australians concluded their successful night with a silver here, with Flynn Southam (47.04), Matthew Temple (46.06), Thomas Neill (46.55), and Kyle Chalmers (44.98). Chalmers’ anchor leg was the fastest of the 32 men in the final and puts him tied with himself as the eighth fastest relay split in history.
Women’s 50m Butterfly Semifinals
Men’s 50m Butterfly Semifinals
Hungary’s Szebasztian Szabo (21.90) put in the top time and will challenge Trinidad & Tobago’s Dylan Carter (22.02) for the gold medal. Carter went undefeated at the FINA World Swimming Cup this year in this event and will face his toughest 50m butterfly challenge yet in Szabo and Switzerland’s Noe Ponti (22.04).
Women’s 100m Backstroke Semifinals
This was one of the events we thought would be a can’t-miss race and thus far it is anyone’s game for who will touch first in the final. Last year’s champ Louise Hansson (56.08) is tied for third with Claire Curzan (56.08) while pre-race favourite Kaylee McKeown (56.35) is seeded sixth.
Men’s 100m Backstroke semifinals
USA’s Ryan Murphy looked smooth in the heats and semis and will have lane four in Wednesday’s final with a 49.17 semifinal swim. He is seeded ahead of Poland’s Kacper Stokowski (49.33) and Italy’s Lorenzo Mora (49.57).