2022 World Championships: Day 3 Finals Preview

2022 FINA WORLD AQUATICS CHAMPIONSHIPS

It’s Day 3 of finals at the 2022 FINA World Championships, and we’ve got another packed session. There are five finals tonight, which means that 15 more medals will be presented. Those finals are the men’s 200 free, women’s 1500 free, women’s 100 back, men’s 100 back, and women’s 100 breast.

On the semifinal front, we’ve got the men’s 50 breast, women’s 200 free, and men’s 200 fly. It should be another great session of racing, as many of these events (medal round or not) have tight fields filled with veterans and rising stars alike.

Day 3 Finals Schedule

  • Men’s 200 Free – Final
  • Women’s 1500 Free – Final
  • Men’s 50 Breast – Semifinal
  • Women’s 100 Back – Final
  • Men’s 100 Back – Final
  • Women’s 200 Free -Semifinal
  • Men’s 200 Fly – Semifinal
  • Women’s 100 Breast – Final

Men’s 200 Free

Hwang Sun-woo (Photo credit: Rafael Domeyko)

With his World Junior Record of 1:44.40 from the seedlings, David Popovici comes into this final with a slight edge. But this first final has the potential to be the race of the night, as you could argue for the win coming from just about any lane. Fellow teen phenom Hwang Sunwoo will be eager to reclaim his world junior record, and Tokyo gold medalist Tom Dean has been strong throughout the rounds. Popovici opened his semi swim sub-24, the fastest in the field, so look for him to take the race to the field from the opening lengths.

Notably, #2 seed Felix Auboeck and 400 free world champion Elijah Winnington both scratched out of the 800 free prelims in the previous session, signaling that they’re both all in for this race.

Women’s 1500 Free

Katie Ledecky (photo: Jack Spitzer)

No surprises here, Katie Ledecky is the favorite for gold. If she wins, it will be her 17th world title, extending her lead as the winningest female swimmer at the World Championships. She posted 15:47.02 in prelims, well off the 15:38.99 she posted to win US Trials. It was a strong prelim swim though, and she’s still over nine seconds ahead of Simona Quadarella, the next fastest qualifier. Behind Ledecky, there’s a tight race for silver and bronze. Quadarella, Katie Grimes, Lani Pallisterand Moesha Johnson are sitting within 1.6 seconds of each other.

In the prelims, Quadarella, Pallister, and Johnson were neck-and-neck through the first 1000 meters until Quadarella pulled away. A similar pattern may play out in finals, but they’ll also have to factor in Grimes, who hung within 10-15 meters of Ledecky during the middle of their prelim heat.

Women’s 100 Back

Regan Smith (photo: Jack Spitzer)

Regan Smith rattled the world record in the semis, posting 57.65 for the sixth-fastest performance in history. That’s just .08 seconds off her American record of 57.57. With the current world record holder, Kaylee McKeownscratching this event in favor of the 200 IM on Day 2, Smith’s main competition for gold will be Canadian Kylie Masse.

Smith leads Masse and the rest of the field by almost a second, making her the clear favorite heading into the final. Masse clocked 58.57 in the seedling, well off her best of 57.70. She seemed to slow down towards the end of her swim though, which could mean she was saving something for tonight or is slightly off form. We’ll soon find out.

The only other woman sub-59 was Claire Curzan, putting her solidly in the third seed. To win her first senior international long course medal (individually), she’ll have to fend off Kira Toussaintwho’s been as fast as 58.65.

Men’s 100 Back

Apostolos Christou (Photo Credit: Peter Sukenik)

Greece’s Apostolos Christou put up a dominant swim in the semis, blasting a 52.09 for a new championship record and becoming the #7 fastest performer of all-time. Behind him, Italy’s Thomas Ceccon and Ksawery Masiuk each posted national records of their own to qualify second and fourth, with Ceccon clocking 52.12 to become the #10 fastest performer in history.

The three of them will have to contend with the American duo of Hunter Armstrong and ryan murphy. Armstrong qualified third in 52.37, slightly off his personal best 52.20. World record holder Murphy clocked 52.80 to qualify sixth. That’s the lowest seed Murphy has been heading into the final in years; he’s historically been the top seed. He’s also been slower through the rounds than he was to win at US Trials. While none of this means that he’s out of medal contention, his time progression plus the momentum the top end of the field brings into the finals means the possibility is definitely there.

Women’s 100 Breast

Anna Elendt (photo: Jack Spitser)

Anna Elendt (Germany) and Benedetta Pilato (Italy) are the top two seeds heading into the final, and both were just off their national records in the semis. Elendt has been consistently improving this season and Pilato was DQed at the Tokyo Games, so this is a nice bounce back for her. Elendt has never won a medal on the senior international stage, and she’s put herself in a great position to claim her first one.

Speaking of returns to form, former world record holder Ruta Meilutyte comes into the final as the fourth seed with a 1:06.04. The 2012 Olympic champ hasn’t raced in a couple of years, so this is a big comeback for her.

On the opposite end of the spectrum, Rio gold medalist Lilly King got bumped into the final after her teammate Annie Lazor‘s DQ. King has not looked her usual self through the rounds, not blasting out early like she usually does. But she hates to lose as much as (if not more) than anyone, so look for her to try to reclaim her form and pull herself onto the podium.

Semifinal Quick Hits

  • After eight DQs in the men’s 50 breast prelims, we finally got our top 16. They’re led by 100 breast gold medalist Nicolo Martinenghiwho’s looking to go two-for-two. Michael-Andrew, Joao Gomes Jr. and 100 breast bronze medalist Nic Fink are close behind.
  • Even with Olympic silver medalist Siobhan Haughey out of the meet, we’ve got a great race brewing in the women’s 200 free. Junxuan Yang is the top seed, but four women are within a second of her. Both semifinals should be great races and keep an eye on Taylor Ruckwho’s returned to form this season and seemed to be on cruise control during the middle 100 of her swim.
  • Kristof Milak toyed with the men in his prelims heat, and hung around with Trenton Julian for the first 175 meters until absolutely blasting past him on the final 25 to clock a field-leading 1:54.10. He likely won’t show his cards until the final on Day 4, but watch for his closing speed. Noe Ponti was also excellent this morning, posting at 1:54.75. 400 IM field Leon Merchant is safely through to the semifinals with a 1:56.38 but is sitting 11th, so he’ll have some work to do to make his second final of the meet.

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