Women’s 50m Butterfly - Make It Six! Sjostrom Swims Fastest 50m Butterfly since 2017

There are three certainties in life - death, taxes, and Sarah Sjostrom winning the 50m butterfly. On Saturday evening in Doha, the 30-year-old won her sixth straight World title in the event, dating all the way back to Kazan 2015 as she swam 24.63 for the third fastest time all-time. Sjostrom holds the 23 fastest times in history as this is her fastest time since July 2017 and her second fastest time indoors.

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Sjostrom, coached by Antonio Lutula, is one of only two swimmers to win the same event six times at the World Aquatics Championships as she joins American Katie Ledecky (800m freestyle) in that club, and doesn’t appear to be slowing down anytime soon as she prepares for her fifth Olympics this summer in Paris.

This is Sjostrom’s 23rd career medal at the World Aquatics Championships in her ninth appearance, making her debut back in Rome 2009 as a 15-year-old.

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“I do not know why everyone is saying it is easy or that it looked easy,” Sjostrom said. “Imagine going in, everyone is expecting you to win, if you do not, it is a disaster. So it is not easy to do that - it is actually one of the hardest things you can do and it is easy to win the first time. It is quite easy to win the second time, then it just gets harder and harder every time and it is tough to keep going and handling the pressure. I am proud that I was able to prove to myself and that I can manage all the pressure in the world. I did a really good race anyway.”

France’s Melanie Henique was even with Sjostrom at 25 meters but couldn’t match the speed, nonetheless winning the silver medal at 25.44 as she matched her silver from Budapest 2022. Henique, age 31, is in her eighth World Championships, as is Egypt’s Farida Osman, who won the bronze at 25.67 at age 29.

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“I am really happy to be on the podium again,” Henique said. “I enjoy the process a lot and I think I’m very lucky to be a part of a competition where the best athletes meet. To reach the gold I will need to work on building my strength to push harder and keep my calm before the race.”

Osman and Henique each won their third Worlds medal in this event as Osman matched her bronze medals from Gwangju 2019 and Budapest 2017.

“I’m honestly very proud to be in the final,” Osman said. “I have three bronze medals. To be the first and the only Egyptian to have bronze medals, this is something that honestly makes me happy.

“Any swimmer wants to win a medal, for themselves, for Egypt, for all the Arab countries. That has been the goal for a long time. The fact that I can achieve it more than once that’s something that makes me very happy.”

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Henique and Osman also raced in the 50m freestyle semi-finals, with Henique tying for ninth and Osman finishing 16th.

South Africa’s Erin Gallagher (25.69) and 100m butterfly champion Angelina Kohler (25.71) of Germany just missed making the podium as the latter swam a new best time in finishing fifth.

Australia’s Alexandria Perkins (25.85), Greece’s Anna Ntountounaki (25.89) and Australia’s Brianna Throssell (25.96) also swam in the championship final.

Men’s 50m Freestyle - Vladyslav Bukhov Pulls the Upset to Take Down McEvoy

All the talk around the men’s 50m freestyle was whether Australia’s Cameron McEvoy could be the third man to break 21 seconds and take aim at the world record set way back in 2009. After going 21.13 in the heats, McEvoy looked untouchable, but on Saturday night in the final, he was beat to the wall by Ukraine’s Vladyslav Bukhov (21.44).

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Bukhov, age 21, had the slowest reaction time of the field at 0.69 and was last to 15 meters, which was McEvoy’s strongest part of the race. But when McEvoy didn’t have his usual separation from the field, he seemed vulnerable.

It appeared as if the race would come down to the two veterans in the field - 29-year-olds McEvoy and Ben Proud, who were even at 35 meters. But Bukhov, coached by Andrii Khloptsov in Kiev, found something, and stormed to the wall to win Ukraine’s first World title in swimming since 2007. It’s not his best time, as he was 21.38 in the semi-finals, but it is his first international medal at the senior level after he was the World Juniors champion in 2019.

“It was very hard to win and I need to thank my coach and my family for their support in this way,” Bukhov said. “I did not expect this win today and it is very special to me. I am so excited. It was not an easy transition from junior to senior category and you need to be mentally very strong. It is good, when you do your job in a smart way. And discipline is the key.

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McEvoy won the silver at 21.45, the slowest of his three rounds as he couldn’t defend his title from Fukuoka 2023. This is McEvoy’s ninth career medal at the World Aquatics Championships in his sixth appearance as he is coached by Tim Lane at Somerville House.

“I’ve got mixed emotions about the race,” McEvoy said. “First and foremost, you want to win, but I was .01 off, and even a tie would have been really nice. Second point, my main goal for this competition was three 50’s as fast I can go. My first one was beautiful, second one was good, tonight I have been on the average side, but cumulatively I am happy with that. The goal was to come out here, go all out in each semi final, see how I pull up and use that data for Paris later in the year. I successfully did that.

“From about 2016 to 2022, I would have killed to have a lane in that final, let alone a chance at a medal or gold. Although I wanted it to be better, my past self would be super proud of where I am right now.”
By Cameron McEvoy

Proud won bronze at 21.53, winning his fifth career medal in his seventh appearance after he returned to the podium after winning gold in Budapest 2022.

“I feel I had to earn my medal tonight, it was not a given,” Proud said. “I have seen the results of the other two, all credit goes to them. Cam might not be happy with the final, but over the course of the rounds he showed his dominance and showcased his good form. Vladyslav, I think is having his breakout year. I am happy to be on the podium.”

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Michael Andrew finished fourth from lane eight at 21.71 as he could not match his silver from Budapest 2022. Australia’s Isaac Cooper, the youngest in the field at 19, finished fifth at 21.77, as Andrew and Cooper also raced the 50m backstroke semifinals later on in the session.

Kenzo Simons (21.81) of the Netherlands, Bjorn Seeliger (21.83) of Sweden, and Kristian Gkolomeev (21.84) of Greece also swam in the championship final.

Women’s 200m Backstroke - Claire Curzan Completes the Backstroke Hat Trick

Coming into Doha 2024, American Claire Curzan had never stood on top of the podium alone at the World Aquatics Championships, having won two relay golds in Budapest 2022. By Saturday night, Curzan had swept the backstroke hat trick, saving her best swim for last in the 200m final, swimming 2:05.77 to move herself up to 11th on the all-time list.

Curzan, age 19 and coached by Todd DeSorbo and Blaire Bachman at the University of Virginia, had never broken 2:06 coming into the day and absolutely dominated four laps of the pool to win her fourth gold medal of the week in Doha. Curzan was a dominant butterfly swimmer as an age grouper in the United States, and although she won silver in the 100m butterfly this week, she has had immense success in backstroke in her senior career, joining Kaylee McKeown as the only other backstroke hat trick winner at the World Aquatics Championships.

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McKeown won all three backstroke distances at last year’s Worlds, becoming the first woman to win the 50m, 100m, and 200m of the same stroke at the same Worlds, while Curzan joins the stroke sweep club that includes McKeown and People’s Republic of China’s Qin Haiyang (men’s breaststroke).

“I was super excited about the 200m, and I hoped to go for a best time, but I am happy with that win,” Curzan said. “I think it’s definitely one of my main events that I have been focusing on. I have been doing a lot of aerobic freestyle specifically for that race. I am happy that is paying off and I am excited to add that to my programme.

“The medals are great, but I am happy with how I have been able to recognize my approach to races and really address it to be better for this kind of high stake meets. Happy with how I handled prelims, semis, finals format.”

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Australia’s Jaclyn Barclay won the silver medal at 2:07.03 to slice over a second and a half off her best time at age 17 as she is now 33rd all-time and is the fifth fastest Australian in history. Barclay, who swims at St. Peters Western, won her first individual medal at the World Aquatics Championships after she was the World Juniors champion in the 100m backstroke last year.

“It is just about having fun and experiencing everything tonight,” Barclay said. “And it’s just amazing to do the PB as well in the process. I just focus on keeping myself calm since I’ve done this a hundred times before. It was exactly how I expected it to be and more. I didn’t really have too many expectations of myself; I just wanted to focus on experiencing everything to the fullest.”

Anastasiya Shkurdai (2:09.03) won the bronze medal for her first medal at the World Aquatics Championships at age 21.

Hungary’s Eszter Szabo-Feltothy (2:09.76) finished fourth overall ahead of Poland’s Laura Bernat (2:09.92) and Bulgaria’s Gabriela Georgieva (2:10.11).

Hungary’s Dora Molnar (2:11.01) and Great Britain’s Freya Colbert (2:11.22) also swam in the championship final.

Men’s 100m Butterfly - Diogo Ribeiro Follows up 50m with 100m Gold

Five days after making history for Portugal as the first ever swimming gold medalist at the World Aquatics Championships, 19-year-old Diogo Ribeiro backed it up to win the 100m butterfly gold medal at 51.17, lowering his lifetime best to move to 49th all-time.

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Ribeiro had built up a big profile as a junior swimmer, winning three gold medals at the 2022 World Juniors, taking out the 50m and 100m butterfly and 50m freestyle in Lima that summer. At the senior level, Ribeiro won Portugal’s first ever medals at the Worlds, winning silver in Fukuoka 2023 in the 50m butterfly, before doing one better in Doha 2024 on Monday night. Ribeiro hadn’t been able to match his 50m speed across to the 100m, finishing 13th in Fukuoka last year.

But on Saturday evening at the Aspire Dome in Qatar, Ribeiro put together the right race, going out in 23.84 and coming home in 27.33 to win his second career gold medal at the World Aquatics Championships.

“I wasn’t expecting to win one gold here and now I have two!” Ribeiro said. “It’s perfect for me. I will return to my country with the feeling that work pays off. I’m just 19-years-old and I can’t explain my feelings. For me it’s a fantastic moment, but tomorrow even with two gold medals, it’s going to be the same. I’ll do more and more sessions to get better. I want to go to Paris and do my best, to make it to the final, and who knows if I can get a medal there too.”

Ribeiro, coached by Alberto Silva, has become a household name in Portuguese sport, amassing 166,000 Instagram followers.

“We don’t have that many athletes in Portugal that can get medals at a World Championships and especially the gold,” Ribeiro said. “Just to make it to a final is important as a Portuguese athlete. We have to think about achieving more, and this is for the kids, too, to believe that it’s possible.”

Ribeiro was able to time his finish perfectly, winning ahead of silver medalist Simon Bucher (51.28) of Austria, and Jakub Majerski (51.32) of Poland.

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The race was taken out hard by Nyls Korstanje of the Netherlands, who blasted the first 50m at 23.50, leading by three tenths over Ribeiro and the field. Korstanje looked strong on the back 50m, but was tightening up at the finish. He held the lead through the 75m mark with the rest of the field closing in.

Korstanje looked as if he would win the fourth gold medal for the Netherlands of the week, but he tightened up at the finish and took a half stroke into the wall, finishing fourth and off the podium at 51.41.

Bucher and Majerski, both age 23, made their first podium appearances at the World Aquatics Championships as they were sixth and seventh, respectively, in the Budapest 2022 final.

“I worked hard for this competition,” Bucher said. “The gold medal would have been nice but I’m still happy with my silver medal. The last thirty-six hours were hard for me as I was thinking of a different outcome. I can’t say much about what was on my mind but I was just listening to music before the race and when I stepped on the block, I told myself - it's time.”

“I knew that the last 50 meters would be the most important and I wanted to focus on that,” Majerski said. “If you have the speed for the last stretch, you can detach the fist and put your hands right, so I focused on that and I think I did it well. I am happy about my result, faster than yesterday so it’s good. Third place is good and my first ever world championship medal — it’s nice.”

South Africa’s Chad Le Clos, who won this event way back in Barcelona 2013 and Kazan 2015, finished fifth at 51.48 in his first 100m butterfly Worlds final since Gwangju 2019.

Zach Harting (51.68) of the United States, Mario Molla Yanes (51.72) of Spain, and Josif Miladinov (51.73) of Bulgaria also competed in the championship final.

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Women’s 800m Freestyle - Simona Quadarella Outlasts Isabel Gose in Thrilling Finish

Italy’s Simona Quadarella (8:17.44) and Germany’s Isabel Gose (8:17.53) put on a thrilling race in the final of the women’s 800m freestyle as the two Europeans matched splits for eight straight minutes, going toe to toe for all 16 lengths of the pool at the Aspire Dome in Doha.

New Zealand’s Erika Fairweather set the pace early, leading through the first 400m at 4:07.09 off the backs of her 400m gold medal from Sunday, the first in history for New Zealand at the World Aquatics Championships.

But Fairweather couldn’t hang on to the pace, as Gose took over at the 450m with Quadarella in tow. Throughout the last 300 meters, Gose held on to the lead but Quadarella kept inching closer and closer. By 500m, the gap was 0.14, by 600m, the gap was 0.08, by 700m, the gap was 0.07.

As the pair flipped at 750m, the gap was 0.08 and each of them gave it their all on the final 50m.

Quadarella, coached by Christian Minotti, was able to get over the top of Gose, as the 25-year-old won her second individual title of the week here in Doha, upgrading her silver from Gwangju 2019 and bronze in Budapest 2022 in the 800m freestyle.

“It’s one of most beautiful medals I’ve won, one which I didn’t have until tonight,” Quadarella said. “It’s my first world time in 800m and it feels so special.”

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Gose, age 21, won her third career medal at Worlds after she won bronze in the 400m and 1500m this week. Gose, coached by Bernd Berkhahn in Magdeburg, swam a lifetime best as she is now 19th all-time, improving on her 8:17.95 from last year.

“It was a good race… tough but felt really good,” Gose said. “For February, this time is so good, my personal best.

“In the first part, Erika took the pace and I followed her. I took my chance to get in and to go a bit faster than her. It is always Simona and me at the 800m – always like the two of us racing together at the European Championships and the worlds, and I think it is going to be great next time.”

Fairweather, coached by Lars Humer in Dunedin, hung on to win the bronze at 8:22.26 for her third medal of the week after she won gold in the 400m and silver in the 200m freestyle.

“I’m so tired I mean it’s the end of a long week,” Fairweather said. “I’m so proud of the results I’ve managed to pull out. I’m really looking forward to the rest of the season. With such a full race schedule it’s shown that you have to be in the meet from the start to the end and that’s what I’ve done.”

Fairweather was also joined in the final by teammate Eve Thomas (8:24.86), who lowered her best time by 0.12.

Argentina’s Agostina Hein (8:29.19), the youngest in the field at age 15, finished fifth overall.

Japan’s Ichika Kajimoto (8:29.24), Australia’s Kiah Melverton (8:29.35), Hungary’s Ajna Kesely (8:29.83), and Australia’s Maddy Gough (8:36.43) also swam in the championship final as nine swimmers competed due to a tie for eighth in the heats.

Mixed 4x100m Freestyle - China wins third Relay of the Week with Pan’s Fourth Gold Medal

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The People’s Republic of China closed out the penultimate night of the World Aquatics Championships - Doha 2024 with its third relay gold medal of the week in Qatar, taking out the mixed 4x100m freestyle gold medal at 3:21.18.

The team of Pan Zhanle (47.29), Wang Haoyu (47.41), Li Bingjie (53.11), and Yu Yiting (53.37) broke the Asian record to beat the Australians (3:21.78) for the gold medal. China has thus far won the men’s 4x100m and 4x200m freestyle relays this week, with Pan and Wang swimming on all three of the victorious relays as Pan also took out the 100m free final on Thursday.

“I have to say a big thank you to my teammates – they are very good,” Li said.

“I also want to thank our coach, he is very good,” Yu said.

Australia couldn’t quite close the gap on the back half as the team of Kai Taylor (48.01), Jack Cartwright (47.90), Shayna Jack (52.38), and Brianna Throssell (53.49) won the silver for the team’s fourth straight podium appearance in the event.

The United States won the bronze at 3:22.28 with the team of Hunter Armstrong (47.83), Matt King (47.78), Claire Curzan (53.82), and Kate Douglass (52.85) for the nation’s sixth straight podium appearance.

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Canada (3:23.79) finished fourth ahead of Italy (3:24.40), Netherlands (3:25.14), Slovakia (3:29.88), and Hong Kong, China (3:31.13).

The quickest splits outside the medalists came from Canada’s Javier Acevedo (47.58) and Italy’s Alessandro Miressi (48.06) and Manuel Frigo (48.06), and Netherlands’s Marrit Steenbergen (52.74) and Canada’s Taylor Ruck (53.28).

Semis Wrap

Women’s 50m Breaststroke

Lithuania’s Ruta Meilutyte swam to 29.42 through two rounds of the 50m breaststroke as she is looking for her third straight World title in this event and also may take aim at her world record set last year at 29.16.

She is ahead of 100m champion Tang Qianting (29.80), who set the Asian record once again to move up to tied for seventh all-time in this event. Italy’s Benedetta Pilato (29.91) is seeded third as she is going for her fourth straight podium in this event, winning silver in Gwangju 2019 and Budapest 2022, and bronze in Fukuoka 2023.

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The youngest finalist tomorrow will be Piper Enge (30.53) of the United States, who moved from 15th in the heats to fourth in the semifinals. Enge, age 17, was the bronze medalist at last year’s World Juniors.

South Africa’s Lara van Niekerk (30.56), who won bronze in Budapest 2022, is seeded fifth ahead of Finland’s Veera Kivirinta (30.57), Ireland’s Mona McSharry (30.57), and Finland’s Ida Hulkko (30.69).

Women’s 50m Freestyle

About an hour after winning her sixth straight 50m butterfly gold medal, Sweden’s Sarah Sjostrom sprinted to the top seed in the 50m freestyle with a 23.90, her 30th swim under 24 seconds. Sjostrom holds the world record at 23.61 which she set last year in Fukuoka, en route to her third World title in the 50m freestyle.

Sjostrom will have her hands full tomorrow however with Poland’s Kasia Wasick (24.01), who swam her lifetime best at age 31 as she was the silver medalist in Budapest 2022. Wasick could be the 13th woman to break 24 seconds if she can get under tomorrow night.

Kate Douglass (24.24) of the United States is seeded third as she was just off her 24.19 best time and will be going for her third individual medal of the week here in Doha.

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Last year’s silver medalist Shayna Jack (24.44) of Australia is seeded fourth ahead of Great Britain’s Anna Hopkin (24.51), who was fifth in Budapest 2022 in this event and fifth in the 100m final on Friday.

Sweden’s Michelle Coleman (24.65), Poland’s Kornelia Fiedkiewicz (24.71), and Canada’s Taylor Ruck (24.72) also advanced to the championship final.

Men’s 50m Backstroke

Australia’s Isaac Cooper blasted to a new Oceania record with a 24.12 in the semi-finals, moving himself up to seventh all-time as he came into the day with a 24.38. Cooper has never won a medal at the World Aquatics Championships as he was fourth in Fukuoka last year. He won silver at a home World Short Course Championships in Melbourne 2022 but he has yet to replicate that in long course and he is in pole position to do that tomorrow night.

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Defending champion Hunter Armstrong (24.43) of the United States is seeded second as he is going for his third straight podium and his second individual gold of the week after he won the 100m backstroke on Tuesday. Armstrong is also the world record holder in this event.

The gold and silver medalist from the 2022 World Juniors, Poland’s Ksawery Masiuk (24.46) and South Africa’s Pieter Coetze (24.46) tied for third place in the semis, as Coetze won bronze last night in the 200m backstroke, and Masiuk won bronze in this event in Budapest 2022.

Last night’s 200m champion Hugo Gonzalez (24.60) of Spain is seeded fifth, ahead of Italy’s Michele Lamberti (24.68), who is the son of 1991 World champion Giorgio Lamberti.

United States’s Michael Andrew (24.70), and Germany’s Ole Braunschweig (24.74) also advanced to tomorrow’s championship final.