The 16th World Swimming Championships (25m) concluded Sunday evening in Melbourne with a world record from Maggie Mac Neil (CAN) and the fastest relay splits ever from Emma McKeon (AUS) and Kyle Chalmers (AUS) in their respective strokes. Hwang Sunwoo (KOR) also swam the fastest 200m freestyle from anyone in ten years.
Women’s 100m Butterfly - Maggie MacNeil destroys world record to nearly break 54 seconds
We knew it was going to be a can’t-miss race, and it certainly lived up to expectations as Canada’s Maggie MacNeil smashed the world record of Kelsi Dahlia’s from last year, with the Canadian swimming a 54.05 to break Dahlia’s 54.59.
Nothing could separate Mac Neil and American Torri Huske in the 50m butterfly final where they tied for gold, leaving this race as the deciding factor for best in the world.
Mac Neil erased any doubts that she wasn’t the best butterfly swimmer in the world, taking down reigning World champ Huske, who won silver at 54.75 and moved herself up to fourth all-time.
Huske blasted the first 50 with a 25.08, while Mac Neil was in third at 25.78. But Mac Neil utilized her stellar underwater kicks on the back half to come home in 28.27 and break the first 100m butterfly world record of her career.
“I definitely can believe it, I am known for negative splitting my races. That was my goal was to negative split this race and I am really, really pleased about the result.
“I can only really see anyone on the turn. I knew that Torri (Huske) and Louise (Hansson) would be out fast and my goal was to stick with them and use my back half.”
“I'm really pleased for doing a sub 55,” Hansson said. “I was so happy to get it all together. Yesterday the details were not there. So I was happy to see it being a lot better today.”
Mac Neil won three individual gold medals in Melbourne in the 50m backstroke, and the 50m and 100m butterfly, and was awarded the best women’s swimmer of the meet.
Men’s 100m Butterfly - Chad Le Clos back on top, wins back 100m gold
South Africa’s Chad Le Clos returned to the top of the podium in the 100m butterfly, winning his fifth World short course title in the event after taking four straight from 2012 - 2018. Le Clos won the gold at 48.59, taking the lead at the 50 and never relinquishing it.
“Ilya (Kharun) was good tonight and he may give me some trouble in a couple of months,” Le Clos said.
Le Clos added to his gold medal from earlier in the meet in the 200m butterfly as he looks reborn in his career after some troubling times in his life that he has been open about in recent months. He won his career 19th medal at the World Short Course Championships.
What you see is Chad Le Clos 2.0. Tonight's performance was really just for me, it's been an emotional week because I really haven't won in four years,
“It meant so much really, and of course, the 100m did too, but this 200m is part of my comeback. Twelve world titles, I need 3 more to catch Lochte's record, so maybe I can catch that in a year. It's been a long time since I have been happy. The truth is that I have been in a bad place for the last two years. The Berlin World Cup kickstarted the journey that I am on now. To win a race against so many world champions is so special. Tonight capped off an unbelievable week, and in fact an unbelievable year actually looking back now.”
Women’s 50m Breaststroke - Ruta Meilutyte wins third 50m breaststroke, Lilly King completes collection of medals
After drawing a disqualification in the 100m breaststroke earlier in the meet when she initially touched second, Ruta Meilutyte rebounded to win the 50m breaststroke in dominating fashion at 28.50. The time is just off her own world record she set last night of 28.37 but it was her third world short course championship gold in this event after winning back to back in 2012 and 2014 as a teenager.
“I have gained so much from this experience,” Meilutyte said. “I am happy that this is ending on a high note. The challenge is to maintain focus and the hunger as well. I am super proud of myself.
I am looking back stronger this year as there’s a huge learning curve. There were lots of challenges but lots of growth as well. I have gained so much and grown so much. I am thankful for everyone around me, we are in this together. Although there are horrible things happening in this world, it has been a good year for me personally and I am very grateful. I am looking forward to what next year brings.
Meilutyte, now 25, won ahead of South Africa’s Lara Van Niekerk (29.09), who set a new African record, and USA’s Lilly King (29.11), who added to her gold in the 100m and silver in the 200m breaststroke, winning one of each color this week.
This is Van Niekerk’s first medal on the world stage.
“It is a great end to the year,” Van Niekerk said. “I told my parents if I could walk away with any color medal at the end of the year it would be amazing, and I’m just glad I executed that. Especially having the travel bans last year at World Short Course Championships, it’s just great being here and experiencing my first World Short Course meet.”
China’s Tang Qianting (29.22) broke the Asian record in finishing fourth.
Men’s 50m Breaststroke - Nic Fink stays undefeated in 50m breaststroke
After securing a triple crown at the Swimming World Cup earlier this year, as well as becoming World champion in June, Nic Fink ended his year undefeated internationally in the 50m breaststroke, taking the gold medal in Melbourne to close out 2022 with a new American record at 25.38.
“I knew I had to get off the blocks really well and I think I did, I knew Nicolo (Martinenghi) was right there the whole time. It was good to have him there pushing me the whole way. Definitely happy with the result.”
The time puts Fink fifth all-time as he out-touched Italy’s Nicolo Martinenghi (25.42) to repeat as champion after winning in Abu Dhabi last year. Italy was able to get two on the podium with Simone Cerasuolo winning the bronze at 25.68.
Women’s 200m Backstroke - Kaylee McKeown lifts, doubles up in backstroke finals
Australia’s Kaylee McKeown led the race from the word ‘go’ as the Melbourne cheered her on every step of the way, assuring she wouldn’t falter during the race. McKeown, the world record holder and reigning world and Olympic champion, could not let the crowd down, and she delivered with a 1:59.26, just off her own world record of 1:58.94 from 2020.
McKeown was pushed plenty by American Claire Curzan (2:00.53), but the Australian got the job done, winning both the 100m and 200m backstroke finals this week in her home nation.
Canada’s Kylie Masse (2:01.26) added yet another medal to her illustrious career tally as she finished with the bronze medal.
McKeown is the first Australian to win gold in this event at the World Short Course Championships.
Men’s 200m Backstroke - United States snaps silver streak, Ryan Murphy takes backstroke hat trick for first time
The United States had won five straight silver medals in the 200m backstroke without a gold, with that streak ending Sunday evening in Melbourne by the way of Ryan Murphy, who won gold at 1:47.41.
Murphy took the lead at the 75 meter mark, and did not look back, taking a 1-2 finish with Shaine Casas (1:48.01) as the Americans will continue their streak of winning now eight straight silvers in the event, dating back to 2008 when Ryan Lochte was beat to the wall by Markus Rogan.
Murphy is the first man to win all three backstroke finals in a single short course World Championships and the first to win the 100-200m double since Aaron Peirsol in 2004.
When I got the invite I wasn't sure I was going to come, I had taken a lot of time off this summer and I wasn’t sure I was going to be ready for this. I am glad that I got back into training and pushed it hard and had a good showing out here. I feel a lot better about the speed than the endurance.
“I like the 50 and the 100 a lot better than the 200. I know what I am going to work on over the next few months going into the long course season. I'm not going to take a few days off over Christmas. For me it will be head down one foot in front of the other. I will lift my head up in June and see how it goes.”
The four-time champ Radoslaw Kawecki of Poland was seventh at 1:50.33.
Murphy was awarded as men’s swimmer of the championships.
Women’s 200m Freestyle - Siobhan Haughey breaks Australian sweep
The Australians were one win away from capturing a freestyle sweep of the women’s events after Emma McKeon claimed two wins and Lani Pallister claimed three, but Siobhan Haughey of Hong Kong, China had a hard fought win in the 200m freestyle to take the gold at 1:51.65.
Haughey, who was last year’s champion and the world record holder, had led the race from the 50m mark, but never got comfortable with her lead. Canada’s Rebecca Smith, last year’s silver medalist, as well as 100m IM champ Marrit Steenbergen of the Netherlands, had stayed close throughout, and did not make it easy for Haughey to repeat, staying within a second of her.
In the end, Smith won silver for the second straight year at 1:52.24 with Steenbergen winning the bronze at 1:52.28.
I kinda wish the 200m free was on the first day like last year but this year it's on the last day of the meet, I had to watch everyone else race before my main event. I am pretty happy with it. I tried to focus on my own race so I couldn't really see where everyone else was, and I just did my race.
“I am so thrilled with that swim,” Smith said. “It’s my best event and having it on day six was a little tough mentally to keep my composure, but I’ve had some great teammates around me who have helped me and encouraged me throughout the week and I’m just so happy with that result.”
Men’s 200m Freestyle - Hwang Sunwoo goes faster than anyone has in 10 years
We knew it was a race where any number of men in the final could come out and win the gold medal, and the race lived up to the hype - with the fastest time anyone has produced since 2012.
Korea’s Hwang Sunwoo threw down a 1:39.72 to close out the individual events at the World Short Course Championships to put himself third all-time behind Paul Biedermann (1:39.37) and Yannick Agnel (1:39.70). Hwang becomes the third to break 1:40 in the event as Biedermann did it twice in 2009 and Agnel in 2012, making this a historic swim for Hwang.
“It was a really good result,” Hwang said. “In the morning semifinals, I broke my finger (at the finish).
“I am very happy with the race today. I was really, really in pain today but it wasn't a problem in the race tonight.”
In fact, the men’s 200m freestyle has been taken over by the two youngest men in this field - Hwang and Romania’s David Popovici, who won silver tonight at 1:40.79, and also swam the fastest 200m freestyle long course time in 13 years this summer. Hwang is still only 19-years-old while Popovici is 18.
Great Britain’s Tom Dean won the bronze at 1:40.86 after leading at the 100m mark, but after that, Hwang took over, and put his legs into it while Popovici and Dean fought it out for silver and bronze. The podium tonight in Melbourne matched the podium from the long course World Championships when Popovici won gold over Hwang and Dean.
Hwang backs up his gold medal from last year while Korea has won three of the last four titles in the event after Park Tae-hwan won in 2016.
Women’s 4x100m Medley Relay - United States breaks world record, Emma McKeon splits fastest butterfly ever
The American team of Claire Curzan (56.47), Lilly King (1:02.88), Torri Huske (54.53), and Kate Douglass (50.47) smashed the world record to close out the women’s events at the championships in Melbourne with a 3:44.35, lowering the time from two years ago as it is the fourth women’s relay world record to fall this week.
Curzan, Douglass, and Huske each pick up their seventh medal of the championships, while King picks up her fifth medal here in Melbourne, as they will all come home with their share of the world record setting pie.
The Americans got plenty of push from the Australians, who won the silver in their home nation with a 3:44.92 with the team of Kaylee McKeown (55.74), Jenna Strauch (1:04.49), Emma McKeon (53.93), and Meg Harris (50.76), with McKeon splitting the fastest butterfly split in history. McKeon also won her seventh medal of the week and also had the fastest ever 100m freestyle split of all-time earlier in the meet.
Men’s 4x100m Medley Relay - Kyle Chalmers splits all-time best, Australia & United States tie for world record in unreal race
It was a fitting way to end the 16th World Swimming Championships (25m) on Sunday evening in Melbourne in one of the craziest races you might ever see. Australia’s Kyle Chalmers came absolutely roaring home on the anchor leg, channeling his best Ian Thorpe 2000 impersonation while the legend sat poolside watching, splitting the fastest 100m freestyle ever with a 44.63 on the anchor leg.
Chalmers dove in 1.32 seconds behind the Americans, who had the lead for the first 300 meters of the race, and mowed them, as well as the Italians, down on the final 100 meters, clawing closer and closer with each stroke until there were none left. The United States and Australia turned in identical times, and will share the world record at 3:18.98 until someone else can take it down.
The Americans were represented by Ryan Murphy (48.96), Nic Fink (54.88), Trenton Julian (49.19), and Kieran Smith (45.95), while the Australians had Isaac Cooper (49.46), Joshua Yong (56.55), Matthew Temple (48.34), and Chalmers (44.63).
“It was going to take something tonight; it was going to take four very special guys to pull this off, if we had gotten a medal that would have been great but to be the world champion and world record holder is just amazing. It’s so incredible to be a part of team Australia and to be a part of a team that is doing so well in the water is fantastic. Its great to be a part of a team support each other.
“I guess it’s why we swim and why we might be ready for a finish like this one,” Temple said.
The 3:18.98 world record takes down Russia’s 3:19.16 time from 2009.
“It was an amazing finish,” Smith said. “I was swimming as fast I could and I was focused on the Italians thinking they might be closing on me, and I saw 1 next to our lane and the crowd erupted.”
“I saw the Italians but I didn't expect the Australians to come out of nowhere but this result is unbelievable,” Fink said.
The bronze went to the Italians, who almost looked poised to run down the Americans if it were not for Chalmers in the lane next to them. The team of Lorenzo Mora (49.48), Nicolo Martinenghi (55.52), Matteo Rivolta (48.50), and Alessandro Miressi (45.56) won the bronze at 3:19.06 to set the European record.