The 22-year-old Australian had the fastest 200m freestyle split to anchor Australia’s third relay gold medal of the 2023 World Aquatics Championships.
Australia won three more gold medals on night five of swimming as the green and gold are having perhaps their best World Championships ever in the pool. Two more world junior records fell on night five from Canada and China.
Women’s 200m Butterfly - Summer McIntosh erases 400m freestyle disappointment with new world junior record
Canada’s Summer McIntosh was advertised as the next great swimming sensation ahead of the 2023 World Aquatics Championships, coming in as the defending champion in the 200m butterfly and 400m IM. Earlier this year, she set the world record in the 400m freestyle and 400m IM, and all of a sudden the 16-year-old was looked at as the best swimmer in the world.
On Sunday, McIntosh came into the 400m freestyle as the favorite, but walked away empty-handed in finishing fourth. In the 200m freestyle on Wednesday, she came away with a bronze medal and a new world junior record.
But on Thursday, she won her first gold medal of the week in the 200m butterfly with another world junior record at 2:04.06, lowering her own mark she set earlier this year in March.
Overall I'm really happy with that race, the 200m Butterfly is definitely one of my favourite races so going into tonight I just wanted to see how hard I can push and how much I can hold onto that second half.
McIntosh, who trains with coach Brent Arckey in Sarasota, Florida in the United States, took the lead from the start and never relinquished it, turning at 58.97 at halfway and finishing with 32.50 and 32.59 on the last two 50’s.
USA’s Regan Smith, who was a 2:03 back in June, was expected to challenge, but she could not keep pace with the Canadian and won the bronze at 2:06.58. Smith elevates to bronze in 2023 after missing the podium in 2022.
“I'm very proud that I got a medal for Team USA,” Smith said. “Unfortunately I didn't medal in that event in 2022 at the World Championships, so I'm making my way back up and I'm very proud of that.”
Australia’s Elizabeth Dekkers, who trains with coach Vince Raleigh in Brisbane, won her first major international medal with a silver at 2:05.46. Dekkers was fifth on the first 100m, but played her cards right, and moved up to third at the 150m and had the fastest last 50m in the field at 32.52.
“I’m just really happy,” Dekkers said. “I really wanted to be a medalist. I’m very happy that I could do it. I just wanted to race, and that race was a pretty incredible field, so yeah I’m really happy I could get there.”
Lana Pudar of Bosnia & Herzegovina finished fourth at 2:07.05 after coming in as the top seed as she was looking for her nation’s first ever medal at the World Aquatics Championships.
McIntosh is now tied for fourth all-time with 2012 Olympic champ Jiao Liuyang as she is now the fourth woman to win back to back World titles in the 200m butterfly, joining the likes of Rosemarie Kother (1973, 1975), Otylia Jedrzejczak (2003, 2005), and Jess Schipper (2007, 2009) as two-time winners.
Men’s 100m Freestyle - King Kyle reigns supreme in the blue ribbon event
It was a race that could go in any direction amongst the eight swimmers but it was Australia’s Kyle Chalmers who touched the wall first after two lengths of the pool in the men’s 100m freestyle on Thursday night in Fukuoka.
Chalmers won gold at 47.15, his fastest time in two years, as he won first ever individual World title after winning the Olympic gold in 2016.
It’s one that I’ve been desperate to do for quite some time and I’d be lying if I said there wasn’t doubt in my mind that I wouldn’t be able to achieve that, to stand up and get the job done tonight, there’s always a lot of pressure and expectation on me to perform and win gold so that’s a moment I’ll cherish for a very long time. It’s a moment I train for six days a week, 50 weeks of the year - it’s that exact feeling I’m feeling right now with standing on top of the podium and singing my national anthem proudly and having a gold medal around my neck.
Chalmers, who has been on a tear in the last 12 months, winning the World short course title in December, took the gold medal after flipping seventh at the 50m mark at 23.04.
“For me to stand up as a 25-year-old, the oldest guy in the race tonight and stand on top of the podium finally in a World Championships final is so special,” Chalmers said. “It’s a moment I’ve envisioned for quite some time. I’m a guy that trains to win - I don’t train to make up the numbers, I want to win the race every time. I’m a competitive beast. For me, I’m very happy with that.
“There’s been some challenging times like winning at such a young age and learning how to deal with that and the expectation and pressure that comes with that. I’m at a point in my career now where I’m able to enjoy the moment and stay relaxed. Tonight, I’ve never felt calmer in a championship final and it’s due to the amount of racing I’ve done over this period.”
USA’s Jack Alexy, who was the last one into the final in lane eight after botching his start in the semi-finals, was leading at the 50 at 22.48, and looked to steal it from the outside. Alexy hung on to get silver at 47.31, which is his personal best after a 47.7 at Trials in June. Alexy is now 13th all-time with his swim.
“I'm pretty happy to come back after that semi final swim getting messed up at the start,” Alexy said. “I knew I could have just a little chance of medaling or even winning that event. I'm very happy that I did and made myself proud and very happy.”
Alexy, coached by Dave Durden who famously coached Olympic champion Nathan Adrian, is swimming in his first World Championships after he represented the United States at the World Juniors in 2019. Alexy dropped his lifetime best from 48.85 earlier this year down to 47.31 in July.
“I was just trying to make the Worlds team whether it be a relay or individual spot. I am very happy with that time and my place.”
France’s Maxime Grousset, who also drew an outside lane in lane 1, won the bronze medal at 47.42 after flipping second at the 50 at 22.67. Grousset backs up his silver from last year’s Worlds with another bronze in 2023 as his profile quietly builds for a home Olympics next year in Paris.
“I have a big start, very good sensation, very good feeling, and I forgot everybody behind me and just focused on me and my lane,” Grousset said.
China’s Pan Zhanle (47.43) set a new Asian record to match his fourth place finish from last year’s Worlds. Pan was just 0.01 away from getting onto the podium.
The 200m champion from Tuesday, Matthew Richards of Great Britain, finished fifth at 47.45. Richards came in as the top seed from the semis but the field was much quicker in the final than it was in the semis.
Last year’s champion and world record holder David Popovici was with the field early, flipping third at 22.73, and based on his closing speed in the year’s past, it appeared the field played right into his hands. But Popovici was missing that dangerous finishing kick that propelled him to such a good 2022 and he wound up sixth at 47.83. His last 50 was the second slowest amongst the finalists.
Chalmers won Australia’s third World title in the 100m freestyle, joining James Magnussen (2011, 2013) as winners of the event for Australia.
Women’s 50m Backstroke - Kaylee McKeown makes it two & is one step closer to ultimate hat trick
No swimmer in history has ever won the 50m, 100m, and 200m of the same stroke at the same World Championships since the 50s of backstroke, breaststroke, and butterfly were introduced in 2001. On Thursday evening in Fukuoka, Australia’s Kaylee McKeown got one step closer to the ultimate hat trick, winning the 50m backstroke gold medal with a 27.08 and a new Oceania record to back up her win in the 100m backstroke on Tuesday.
“Fifty metres is fifty metres,” McKeown said. “There is not much in it at all. I think that is the first time I have done an international fifty so I am very happy. There is no room to get it wrong. It is not as close as the men’s fifty... but it is an epic race to be in.”
It was a nearly identical finish to the 100m backstroke from two nights ago with McKeown winning ahead of USA’s Regan Smith (27.11), who won her second medal in about a 30-minute span.
“I’m really happy with that race,” Smith said. “I think it was a really tight race and really fast. I’m really pleased with my time. It was just a ‘one hundredth’ off my best time. And so to do that right after the butterfly, I’m very pleased with it.”
Great Britain’s Lauren Cox was a surprise bronze medal winner, touching the wall third at 27.20 ahead of defending World champion Kylie Masse (27.28) of Canada and 100m back bronze medalist Katharine Berkoff (27.38) of the United States.
Cox is Great Britain’s first female individual World Championships medalist in eight years.
“I think my start was really good and my (stroke) rate was really quite high,” Cox said. “I really want to work on my 100 because that is obviously the olympic event, so I definitely need to work on that and a bit of ‘backend’ speed and hopefully qualify for the olympics next year. I am just thankful for everyone that watched and for the guys who got up early to watch me - it means a lot.”
Men’s 200m IM - Leon Marchand wins third gold but misses Lochte’s world record
Four days after breaking the oldest world record on the books in the 400m IM that was held by the greatest of all-time Michael Phelps, there were murmurs around the Marine Messe in Fukuoka that France’s Leon Marchand would take aim at Ryan Lochte’s 1:54.00 world record from 2011.
On Thursday night, it was not meant to be for the 21-year-old Frenchman, who defended his title from 2022 and set the European record at 1:54.82, breaking Laszlo Cseh’s record of 1:55.18 from 2009. Marchand won his third gold medal of the 2023 World Aquatics Championships, backing up his wins in the 400m IM and 200m butterfly.
“I feel amazing,” Marchand said. “It has been a very big four days for me. I am very happy with the time and the win today.”
Marchand looked to be challenged by the two Americans, who had both been 1:55 in 2022 as Shaine Casas had the lead after the butterfly and Carson Foster had the lead after the backstroke, with both of them under world record pace.
But the breaststroke was where Marchand shined. Having scratched the 200m breast in which he had the top time in the world this year, he split a 32.94 on the third 50 to pull away from the two Americans.
As the eight swimmers turned onto freestyle, Marchand had the race wrapped and the other seven scrambled to get on the podium.
Reigning Olympic silver medalist Duncan Scott split 28.12 on the last 50 while 200m free silver medalist from Tuesday Tom Dean split 27.12 on the last 50 to give Great Britain two medals in the event for a European podium sweep.
“It's the same as the 200m Freestyle,” Dean said. “All the action really happens at the last 50. The training we've been doing, I knew if I explode down that last length, I'll be able to catch a few people. I know my strengths and I know my weaknesses, and my backstroke does a lot of work, but I know my freestyle is strong, my breaststroke has always been quite good. So yeah, you can only work with other people so much, you've got to play to your strengths.”
Scott won the silver at 1:55.95 while Dean was third at 1:56.07.
“I stuck to what I wanted to do really well,” Scott said. “I think I was just hurting at the 150 more than I thought I would be. But you know, to give myself a chance in the race, I know I had to be there at the ‘one fifty’ and I was, so I am really happy with that.”
Americans Casas (1:56.35) and Foster (1:56.43) finished off the podium in fourth and fifth.
Marchand is also the third swimmer to ever break 1:55 in the 200m IM, joining the exclusive club that housed only Lochte and Phelps since 2009.
Marchand is the third man to win more than one World title in the 200m IM, joining the likes of Lochte (2009, 2011, 2013, 2015), Phelps (2003, 2005, 2007), and Hungary’s Tamas Darnyi (1986, 1991).
Women’s 4x200m Freestyle - Australia swims fastest ever to close night five as domination continues
The Australians kept it rolling, winning their third relay in five nights with a world record in the women’s 4x200m freestyle at 7:37.50. The time absolutely annihilates the 7:39.29 the quartet set last year at the Commonwealth Games as Ariarne Titmus closed in the fastest split ever at 1:52.41, lowering her own standard of 1:52.82 on last year’s anchor leg from Commonwealths.
The team of Mollie O’Callaghan (1:53.66), Shayna Jack (1:55.63), Brianna Throssell (1:55.80), and Titmus (1:52.41) won gold over the United States, who made it a race for 600 meters before Titmus turned on the jets, proving why she is one of the best swimmers in the world.
Australia won its third relay gold medal of the week after winning both 4x100m freestyle relays on Sunday. This is also Australia’s second gold medal in this relay after the team won in 2019.
The American team of Erin Gemmell (1:55.97), Katie Ledecky (1:54.39), Bella Sims (1:54.64), and Alex Shackell (1:56.38) swam faster than they did last year in winning gold in Budapest as they won silver in Fukuoka at 7:41.38.
The Chinese won their ninth medal of the week of the swimming program as they held off a strong Great Britain team in fourth at 7:46.63. The British team of Freya Colbert (1:56.16), Lucy Hope (1:57.32), Abbie Wood (1:56.85), and Freya Anderson (1:56.30) just missed their first women’s relay podium appearance since 2009.
Women’s 100m Freestyle
Fresh off a world record last night in the 200m freestyle, Australia’s Mollie O’Callaghan swam the second fastest time in the 100m semi-finals with a 52.86 to sit behind Marrit Steenbergen of the Netherlands at 52.82. Steenbergen is looking to add to the Dutch dynasty in women’s sprint freestyle as the nation has won eight medals in this event at the World Championships since 1973.
O’Callaghan is the defending champion and will be joined in the final by the reigning Olympic champion Emma McKeon of Australia as she is seeded fourth at 53.00. Olympic silver medalist Siobhan Haughey of Hong Kong, China is seeded third with a 52.86 as she is looking to win her country’s first medal at the World Aquatics Championships.
The United States advanced its two swimmers in Abbey Weitzeil (53.36) and Kate Douglass (53.38) in fifth and sixth, respectively. Sweden’s Michelle Coleman (53.41) and China’s Yang Junxuan (53.67) also advanced to tomorrow’s final.
Men’s 200m Breaststroke
The man to beat in tomorrow’s final will be the reigning Olympic and world champion and world record holder Zac Stubblety-Cook of Australia as he is seeded first at 2:07.27. Stubblety-Cook will be looking to take down China’s Qin Haiyang (2:07.70), who is going for the first ever 50m, 100m, 200m sweep in the same stroke at the same World Aquatics Championships. No man or woman has ever accomplished the ultimate hat trick and Qin has a chance to do that after winning the 100m on Monday and the 50m on Wednesday.
China’s Dong Zhihao set the world junior record at 2:08.47 in placing fourth in the semis, lowering his own record of 2:08.83 he set earlier this year.
Japan’s Ippei Watanabe will hear the cheers from the Marine Messe crowd as the 2019 Worlds bronze medalist was the last one into the final at 2:09.50.
The United States qualified two swimmers in Matt Fallon (2:07.90) and Josh Matheny (2:09.04) to tomorrow’s final as they both are making their senior international debut after both racing the 200m breast at the 2019 World Juniors in Budapest.
Women’s 200m Breaststroke
Former world record holder Tatjana Schoenmaker of South Africa posted the top time in the semis with a 2:21.31 as she is seeded ahead of Tes Schouten (2:21.71) of the Netherlands searching for her first major international medal.
Men’s 200m Backstroke
Expelling as little energy as he could, 100m champ Ryan Murphy of the United States cruised to fourth at 1:56.02 as he is going for back to back gold medals in this event. France’s Mewen Tomac is seeded fifth at 1:56.05 ahead of Australia’s Bradley Woodward (1:56.16).