The World Swimming Championships (25m) had plenty of storylines play out through six days in Victoria. Here are four that had us talking after the event came to a close last week.
Nicholas Santos - Brazil
Tell me if you’ve heard this one before: Nicholas Santos of Brazil became the oldest swimmer in history to win a medal at the World Swimming Championships (25m) after winning the 50m butterfly.
With the win, Santos became the first swimmer to be a four-time world champion in the 50m butterfly event. The 42-year-old (1980 vintage) announced his retirement from competitive swimming after winning again in Melbourne, ten years since his first title 10 years ago in Istanbul.
In 2014 at the Doha edition of the worlds in the 25m pool, Santos also earned two gold medals as the butterflyer on the Men’s and the Mixed 4x50m Medley Relays.
With the years, Santos isn’t slowing down: his 21.78 in Melbourne was a new Championship Record, only 0.03 seconds off his own World Record of 21.75.
The Brazilian’s two Olympic appearances included a 16th place finish in the 50m Freestyle in the 2008 Beijing Olympics and as a member of the 9th place 4x100m men’s freestyle relay at the 2012 London Olympic Games.
In long course, Santos has had more success at the FINA World Championships, which includes the silver he won earlier this year at the 19th FINA World Championships. This continued Santos’ theme of four. Coming into Budapest, he had already earned two silver medals in the 50m butterfly events at the 2015 and 2017 editions of the FINA World Championships, followed by a bronze medal in this event at the FINA World Championships 2019 in Gwangju, Korea.
Adam Peaty - Great Britain
Adam Peaty of Great Britain clinched Team GB’s first medal in Melbourne after finishing third in the 100m breaststroke. After the race, Peaty said: “I’m angry with bronze. I don’t get bronze very often so that will be a weird one for Wikipedia.”
The 29-year-old also noted that racing in Melbourne filled with the brim and firestone he’ll need to return to his place atop the world’s breastroke field, saying:
"I feel pure anger which is very dangerous. I am loving it. I have come back from hell really. I had a lot of personal things that I had to take care of."
With Peaty adding:
"It’s great to be back in the arena; I am just enjoying the sport again. I am disappointed, but I not going to allow myself to be. I have been putting in a lot of hard work but they just out-skilled me tonight. It is what it is; I am what I am.
"I am looking forward to a long course season after this week. I am looking forward to a challenge and this is the high that I need."
He also seemed enthralled with what the Land of Oz had to offer:
Along with his three Olympic golds and eight long course world championship titles, Peaty is a former world record holder in the short course 100m, but has never won the world title in the 25m pool. The event’s reigning Olympic champion, Peaty also holds the 100m breaststroke world record of 56.88 seconds, a mark he set in 2019.
Peaty’s return to the pool comes after a training accident earlier in the year where he fractured a bone in his foot. Not having a qualification time after being away from the competitive side of the sport while he healed, Peaty swam in the non-seeded first heat of the 200m breaststroke.
While Peaty won his heat by beating the swimmer from Zimbabwe while another swimmer in his heat was disqualified, he clocked a 2:07.31, which placed him 18th in the prelims, not fast enough to advance into the semifinals.
While Melbourne might look like an abbreviation for the Brit, it was great seeing him back in the environment we’ve come to see him dominate for so long. With Fukuoka coming in just over seven months’ time, don’t be surprised to see Peaty back at his world-beating best again – and sooner rather than later.
Lilly King - United States of America
Lilly King of the United States is an accomplished pianist outside of the pool. The 100m breaststroke titlist in Melbourne, King won the same event as she did for one of her Olympic gold medals from the Rio 2016 Games.
In Melbourne, King placed second in the 200m breaststroke in Melbourne and owns an Olympic Silver medal from the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games in the longer breaststroke event. The American swimmer was born, raised and trained in Indiana and is also the world record holder in the 100m event.
“I started playing the piano when I was 7 years old. I like playing, I think it is a good stress reliever.”
King describes herself as quite competitive and that extends to her musical endeavours.
Lani Pallister - Australia
Lani Pallister of Australia made a memorable mark in Melbourne by becoming a quadruple world champion. The 20-year-old won the 400m, 800m and 1500m, and was a member of the world record-setting 4 x 200m freestyle relay.
Pallister’s efforts ended with her becoming the first female Australian swimmer to win three gold medals in the short course world championships.
In a poignant moment, Pallister was presented with her 1500m gold medal by her godmother Dawn Fraser. An icon of Australian sport, Fraser won eight Olympic medals, including four gold medals, and six Commonwealth Games gold medals in her illustrious career that saw her also set 39 records in her career.
Among the all-time barriers that Fraser broke included being the first woman to swim 100m freestyle in under one minute. She also well held the freestyle record for 15 years, from 1 December 1956 to 8 January 1972.