Men’s 800m Freestyle - Daniel Wiffen Breaks through to Follow the Hype

Ireland’s Daniel Wiffen put together the right race on Wednesday night to win Ireland’s first ever medal in swimming at the World Aquatics Championships, winning the 800m freestyle gold medal at 7:40.94.

Wiffen had been building towards stardom the last few years - becoming the first Irish male swimmer to make a Worlds final in 2022 in the 800m. In 2023, he broke the European record in the 800m at the Fukuoka Worlds, but he only managed fourth in the best swim of his life. In the 1500m, he was also fourth after coming in with the second fastest time in the world. He closed out his 2023 calendar year as the only swimmer to break a short course meters world record, taking down his hero Grant Hackett’s 800m freestyle world record at the European Short Course Championships in December.

On Wednesday, Wiffen finally broke through for his first gold medal at the World Aquatics Championships, also celebrating Ireland’s first medal.

Image Source: Adam Nurkiewicz/Getty Images

“I am actually very pleased with myself winning this gold medal for Ireland,” Wiffen said. “Coming to this event, my goal was to make the final and now I am here with a gold medal so I managed to show a good performance. Just to come here and win a medal makes the thing so nice and so sweet and I am pleased that all the training was worth it. But now, we have got another event so it is going to head down to this.

“I put a lot of pressure on myself anyway and I hoped I was going to do well at 800. But everybody who comes to the games is actually so cool, we are not going after each other but we are just in to see what is possible. I kind of lost the words and it is so cool to say that we have put the Irish swimming up there and are bringing the gold. I am just speechless about the whole thing.”

Wiffen, coached by Andi Manley in Loughborough, stayed steady on his pacing, with Australia’s Elijah Winnington leading the first 400m at 3:48.66 from lane eight, before he was taken over by Italy’s Gregorio Paltrinieri. The race looked to be a repeat of the Tokyo Olympics when Paltrinieri nearly won the gold medal from lane eight, as he held the lead through the 700m.

Image Source: Adam Pretty/Getty Images

But Wiffen never wavered, splitting 29.1’s on the back half, and at the 700m mark he pulled even with Paltrinieri, and was able to out-sprint the multi-time champion, coming home in 55.97 to win the gold by two seconds.

Winnington, coached by Dean Boxall, came storming back to win the silver for a best time at 7:42.95, while Paltrinieri, coached by Fabrizio Antonelli, won the bronze at 7:42.98. This is Winnington’s second silver of the week after finishing second in the 400m on Sunday.

“The 400m, I maybe went out too timidly but I didn’t want to leave any stone unturned today – I thought I’d just go for it and see where I get,” Winnington said. “I’m not in Olympic shape yet but I am stoked to win this medal. Compared to the other guys, I’m a bit of a sprinter and that was going to be my strength. I just thought I’ll give it everything and they’d have to chase me down.”

Image Source: Quinn Rooney/Getty Images

This is Paltrinieri’s ninth total medal at the World Aquatics Championships after he made his first appearance as a 16-year-old in Shanghai 2011.

“It’s really good to be back on the podium,” Paltrinieri said, who was eighth in Fukuoka last year. “At first I thought it was a 200m or 400m race because of how fast it was! Last week I was competing in open water, so the transition from that to the pool is always difficult. Even more (difficult) if you do it in that order, when the open water race comes first. Yesterday’s (heat) race was really a fight in order to get to the final. I got a chance to be here, at lane 1, so everything I wanted to do was to push from the start and try to win a medal.”

Germany’s Sven Schwarz (7:44.29) and Hungary’s Kristof Rasovszky (7:44.42) couldn’t quite breach the medalists in placing fourth and fifth.

Sweden’s Victor Johansson (7:47.08), Italy’s Luca de Tullio (7:49.79), and Ukraine’s Mykhailo Romanchuk (7:54.51) finished sixth, seventh, and eighth.

Women’s 200m Freestyle - Siobhan Haughey Elevates to the Top of the Podium

Image Source: Adam Nurkiewicz/Getty Images

It seemed hard to believe that Siobhan Haughey had never won a gold medal at the World Aquatics Championships. After finishing fourth in Fukuoka 2023 and Gwangju 2019, and silver at the Tokyo Olympics, Haughey finally conquered the world, winning the 200m freestyle final in Doha at the Aspire Dome at 1:54.89.

“This win is very special, since I had missed the podium in the past two world championships,” Haughey said. “This means a lot. Finally, I get to not only be on the podium but on top of it. I think the time could be a little better, but, at the end of the day, Paris is the goal. Hopefully I can learn something from this race, and we can work on these things so that by the time I get to Paris I’ll be ready.”

Haughey also won the first gold medal for Hong Kong, China at the World Aquatics Championships, adding to her silver from last year’s 100m freestyle final. The time is not a best for Haughey as she holds the Asian record at 1:53.92, but it is her first major win in the 200m.

“Physically I feel we are all pretty similar, but I think at these big meets the mental side of things are very important,” Haughey said. “So, you just have to learn to work out everything and focus on your race and lane and see what you can do. This means so much – first gold medal for Hong Kong, China. I know a lot of people are watching and their support means so much to me. I keep getting all these nice messages and I hope I make them proud.”

Image Source: Maddie Meyer/Getty Images

New Zealand’s Erika Fairweather won her second medal of the week on the backs of her 400m gold on Sunday as she swam 1:55.77 to finish second. The 20-year-old out of Dunedin, coached by Lars Humer, didn’t make it out of the semifinals at last year’s championships, but came back in a big way to win silver on Wednesday night.

“You cannot complain when you are on the world championship podium,” Fairweather said. “At the 400, I feel the best and confident so at the 200m, it is a little bit different. But still, we are playing around with the things and we still have not quite known a lot yet so I am looking forward to the next championships. I think this race just went according to the plan. It did not go exactly how I wanted tonight but again, there are a few things I need to work on in the next few months.”

Australia’s Brianna Throssell came home in a big way to win the bronze at 1:56.00, flipping sixth at the 100m mark. Throssell finished her last two 50’s under 30 seconds as she ran down the likes of teammate Shayna Jack, who was up early in second place. Jack faded to seventh at the finish (1:57.24) as Throssell added to Australia’s medal tally here in Doha. This was Throssell’s best time and her first individual medal at the World Championships after winning 13 career medals in relays across six trips to the Championships.

Image Source: Quinn Rooney/Getty Images

“It’s so special that I finally made it!” Throssell said. “To be in my sixth World Championships and finally get an individual medal is something I am so proud of. To miss the podium in the 100m Fly final a couple of nights before for just 0.03 was so heartbreaking for me.

“Being at the age of 28 and to have this... I’m really overwhelmed and can’t help crying right now! To be racing internationally at this point and to be on the podium gives me great joy and pride.”

Czechia’s Barbora Seemanova (1:56.13) nearly won her first medal at the World Championships in finishing fourth as she came home in 29.93, faster than everyone else in the field except for Throssell, who closed in 29.73.

Brazil’s Maria de Oliveira (1:56.85), Hungary’s Nikolett Padar (1:56.89), and China’s Li Bingjie (1:57.53) also competed in the championship final.

Men’s 200m Butterfly - Tomoru Honda Sings Kimigayo for First World Title

Image Source: Adam Pretty/Getty Images

Without the likes of Olympic champion Kristof Milak and defending World champion Leon Marchand, the men’s 200m butterfly gold medal was up for grabs on Wednesday night in Doha as Japan’s Tomoru Honda broke through for the World title.

The 22-year-old, coached by Toru Horinouchi, improved on two straight bronzes in Budapest 2022 and Fukuoka 2023 to win gold at 1:53.88. Honda was the favorite coming into the race as the only swimmer to break 1:54 in his lifetime as the Olympic silver medalist from Tokyo.

“It was my dream so I’m so happy,” Honda said. “This year we have the Olympics in Paris and my biggest dream is to get the gold medal in the Olympics so this games give me power. I will do my best in Paris.

“I focused solely on my own race, avoiding distractions from others. I executed my race strategy exactly as planned. Despite injuring my ankle on February 5th, I aimed for a better time, but I am relieved that I performed to the best of my ability given the circumstances.”

Image Source: Quinn Rooney/Getty Images

Italy’s Alberto Razzetti, coached by Stefano Franceschi, won his first medal in long course at the Worlds with a silver at 1:54.65, improving on his ninth place finish from last year in Fukuoka.

“It is a very important step toward Paris and I really wanted to win a medal tonight,” Razzetti said. “After yesterday, I saw that I was there ready for a medal fight. So I really wanted to do it. Winning a world medal at the long course championships was one of my goals. So the way I did it now, it just gives me a lot of faith in what I am doing. I will just keep doing what I am doing and will try to do it even better and try to reach my next goal.”

Honda and Razzetti led the race from the outset, with Honda leading by a tenth at the 100m, before they were tied at the 150m. Honda stayed underwater off the turn, and showed why he is the Olympic silver medalist and fifth on the all-time list as he swam away from the Italian to win Japan’s first ever gold medal in this event at the World Aquatics Championships.

“While I felt a bit nervous upon entering the platform, hearing my name called helped me regain my focus, allowing me to swim confidently to the end,” Honda said.

“Overcoming the accident gave me confidence. I intend to carry that confidence with me to the Olympic trials and on to Paris.

Image Source: Quinn Rooney/Getty Images

Austria’s Martin Espernberger came through to win bronze at 1:55.16 in his first major final after he was 20th in Fukuoka last year. Espernberger, age 20, won Austria’s first medal at the World Aquatics Championships since 2009. He is coached by Matt Kredich at the University of Tennessee in the United States.

“It’s crazy, I am holding the medal but I still can’t find any words,” Espernberger said. “I’m speechless. When I touched the wall and looked at the scoreboard I wasn’t sure if that was me among the medalists. 

“It was definitely a surprise for me to be on the podium, I can’t say I was expecting something like that. My time was solid, I can’t complain about my time, it was pretty good.”

Poland’s Michal Chmielewski (1:55.36) finished fourth as he was without his twin brother Krzysztof, who was the top seed coming into the semifinals before being disqualified for a one-hand touch.

Estonia’s Kregor Zirk (1:55.48) and Hungary’s Richard Marton (1:55.76) also competed in the championship final as New Zealand’s Lewis Clareburt (1:55.86) and South Africa’s Matthew Sates (1:57.23) took on the 200m IM later on in the session as well.

Men’s 50m Breaststroke - Sam Williamson Finally Gets it Done

Image Source: Quinn Rooney/Getty Images

After finishing fourth at last year’s Worlds and in Monday’s 100m final, Australia’s Sam Williamson finally made the podium, and he reached the top step - winning Wednesday’s 50m final at 26.32. The time is a new Oceania record and puts the 26-year-old fourth on the all-time list.

“It’s been a long journey getting here,” Williamson said. “Eighteen months ago I wasn’t on the Australian team, I was sitting in my living room watching this race on TV and last year I was the slowest of the final.

“Coming away with that and being the fastest of the final tonight is something I’m incredibly proud of.

“I thought I’d step out of the blocks, win, lose, it doesn’t matter, just go there with a smile and have fun. And I got away with the gold medal.”

Image Source: Maddie Meyer/Getty Images

This is Australia’s first World title in the men’s 50m breaststroke as the Melbourne-based Williamson, coached by Craig Jackson, beat Italy’s Nicolo Martinenghi (26.39) for the gold medal. Martinenghi, age 24, won silver to return to the podium after silver in Budapest 2022 and fifth place in Fukuoka 2023.

“The 50m is just pushing and pushing all the way, there is not much space for any tactics,” Martinenghi said. “So I had no strategy, as I said before. It was not of my best times ever in the fifty, I lost the gold medal that I was longing for but I am glad to stand on the podium.”

Nic Fink of the United States won the bronze at 26.49, adding to his gold in 2022 and his silver last year as he has won his seventh career medal at the World Aquatics Championships with this swim.

“It's cool to see Nicolo and Sam go best times and crush it,” Fink said. “Those are the reasons why the World Championships are what they are. You have to stay sharp. I had a really good race, but those guys had unbelievable races, so, hats off to them. It’s a great meet for those guys but I look forward to racing them.”

Image Source: Adam Nurkiewicz/Getty Images

World record holder Adam Peaty of Great Britain finished fourth and off the podium after a slow start, touching at 26.77. The time was faster than his semis swim of 26.85 as this is Peaty’s first World Championships since 2019 as he has taken a bit of time off after the Tokyo Olympics to focus on his mental health.

Germany’s Lucas Matzerath (26.80), Italy’s Simone Cerasuolo (26.93), Aruba’s Mikel Schreuders (26.97) and Slovenia’s Peter Stevens (27.07) also competed in the championship final.

Mixed Medley Relay - United States Shows No Mercy, Dominated to End Night Four of Swimming

The United States may have brought a small team to the World Aquatics Championships - Doha 2024, but the team of Hunter Armstrong (53.07), Nic Fink (58.27), Claire Curzan (56.54), and Kate Douglass (52.34) dominated the mixed medley relay to close out the fourth night of swimming with a 3:40.22. The time was nearly quicker than their bronze medal swim from Fukuoka last year as the team won by nearly three full seconds.

Image Source: Adam Nurkiewicz/Getty Images

“Everyone was pretty sharp tonight and we wanted to win that one especially after last year,” Fink said. “I think this is really good preparation for later in the summer.”

“We came here with a smaller team, but I think we are still performing up to our standard,” Douglass said. “I think we set a great start to the meet, and we are just excited to see what we can do.”

Australia collected its third straight silver in this relay with the team of Bradley Woodward (53.92), Sam Williamson (59.54), Brianna Throssell (57.22), and Shayna Jack (52.44) touching at 3:43.12. The Aussies have won silver at four of the last five World Aquatics Championships, as this is the eighth swimming medal of the championships for the green and gold.

Image Source: Quinn Rooney/Getty Images

Olympic champion Great Britain won the bronze medal at 3:45.09 with the team of Medi Harris (1:00.28), Adam Peaty (59.42), Matthew Richards (52.87), and Anna Hopkin (52.52) for just their second swimming medal of the competition.

Poland (3:46.04) and Greece (3:46.69) made a run at the podium but finished fourth and fifth respectively, while Italy (3:47.29), Sweden (3:47.46), and Japan (3:47.60) also competed in the final.

Semis Wrap

Men’s 100m Freestyle

Three days after setting the world record en route to gold in the 4x100m freestyle relay, Pan Zhanle of the People’s Republic of China swam to the top time in the semifinals at 47.73 as he will look to follow his 46.80 world record with a World title. Pan was fourth at the last two World Championships in Budapest and Fukuoka and sixth at the World Short Course Championships in 2022. Pan, age 19, is in prime position to win his first World title tomorrow night.

Image Source: Adam Nurkiewicz/Getty Images

Italy’s Alessandro Miressi is also looking for his first individual medal at the World Aquatics Championships as he is seeded second behind Pan at 47.88.

Hwang Sun-woo of the Republic of Korea is seeded third at 47.93 in his first Worlds final in this event as he looks to add to his gold from last night in the 200m freestyle. Last year’s 200m free champion Matthew Richards of Great Britain also advanced to the final in eighth at 48.22.

Hungary’s Nandor Nemeth (47.96) advanced to his fourth straight Worlds final in the 100m freestyle as he has never been higher than sixth.

Serbia’s Andrej Barna (48.05), China’s Wang Haoyu (48.11), and United States’s Matt King (48.17) also advanced to tomorrow’s championship final.

Women’s 50m Backstroke

Last year’s World Juniors champion Iona Anderson of Australia sprinted to the top seed at 27.51 in her follow up to last night’s silver in the 100m backstroke. Last year’s bronze medalist Lauren Cox of Great Britain is seeded second right behind her at 27.55, while last night’s 100m champion Claire Curzan of the United States is seeded third at 27.65.

Image Source: Quinn Rooney/Getty Images

Canada’s Ingrid Wilm followed up her bronze in the 100m on Tuesday to advance to Thursday’s 50m final in fourth at 27.68.

Greece has had a solid World Championships in Doha as Theodora Drakou advanced to the final in fifth (28.00) in her eighth World Aquatics Championships.

Poland’s Adela Piskorska (28.06), Sweden’s Louise Hansson (28.13), and Kira Toussaint (28.13) of the Netherlands also advanced to the championship final.

Maaike de Waard of the Netherlands won a swim-off for ninth place at 27.89 over Italy’s Costanza Cocconcelli (28.24) after they tied for first reserve at 28.14.

Women’s 200m Butterfly

Denmark’s Helena Bach is in pole position to win her first medal at the World Aquatics Championships after finishing seventh in 2022 and fifth in 2023. Bach, age 23, is seeded first after the semifinals at 2:07.45, just three tenths off her lifetime best.

Rachel Klinker of the United States scored a huge best time to win the first semifinal at 2:07.70, having never broken 2:09 before as this is her first major international trip for the United States. Klinker trains with the likes of Dave Durden and David Marsh at the University of California, Berkeley as she has a chance for a medal tomorrow night.

Image Source: Maddie Meyer/Getty Images

Great Britain’s Laura Stephens (2:07.97), who was seventh last year, is seeded third ahead of the 2019 World champ Boglarka Kapas (2:08.48) of Hungary. Kapas will be joined in the final by teammate Dalma Sebestyen (2:09.14) as they will be right next to each other in the final.

China’s Ma Yonghui (2:08.73), Korea’s Park Su-jin (2:09.22), and last year’s World Juniors champ Lana Pudar (2:09.42) of Bosnia & Herzegovina also advanced to the championship final.

Men’s 200m IM

Carson Foster of the United States eased through the semifinals of the 200m IM to take the top seed at 1:57.13 for his third straight 200m IM Worlds final. Last year, Foster was fifth in Fukuoka after winning the silver in Budapest 2022, as he is the top seed ahead of last year’s fourth place finisher Shaine Casas. Foster and Casas train together in Austin, Texas for coaches Eddie Reese and Wyatt Collins and will share the middle of the pool in tomorrow’s 200m IM championship final.

Image Source: Maddie Meyer/Getty Images

Last year’s silver medalist Duncan Scott (1:57.83) of Great Britain is seeded third for tomorrow ahead of the 2019 World champion Daiya Seto (1:57.85) as they will be looking to break up the American party in the final.

Italy’s Alberto Razzetti will be seeded fifth at 1:58.21 after coming out of the 200m butterfly final about 45 minutes prior as he will be fresh for tomorrow’s final. New Zealand’s Lewis Clareburt (1:58.59) also successfully completed the 200m butterfly/IM double on Wednesday, advancing to tomorrow’s final in seventh.

Canada’s Finlay Knox (1:58.50) and Zhang Zhanshuo (1:58.98) of the People’s Republic of China also qualified for tomorrow’s final, shutting out the Olympic bronze medalist Jeremy Desplanches (1:59.08) of Switzerland, who was the top seed after the heats.