2022 FINA WORLD AQUATICS CHAMPIONSHIPS
It’s Day 5 of the 2022 FINA World Championships, and we’re officially more than halfway through the meet. In this session, we have five more finals, including the women’s 4×200 free relay to cap off the day. The other medal rounds are the women’s 200 fly, men’s 100 free, women’s 50 back, and men’s 200 IM.
In addition to the women’s 100 free semi-finals, we’ve got three stroke-200 semifinals on tap: the men’s and women’s 200 breast, along with the men’s 200 back.
Day 5 Full Schedule
Women’s 200 Fly – Final
Women’s 100 Free – Semifinal
Men’s 100 Free – Final
Women’s 50 Back – Final
Men’s 200 Breast – Semifinal
Men’s 200 IM – Final
Women’s 200 Breast – Semifinal
Men’s 200 Back – Semifinal
Women’s 4×200 Free Relay – Final
Women’s 200 Fly
Teen phenom Summer McIntosh posted 2:05.79 in the semis to qualify first in world junior and Canadian record fashion. She pulled away from Regan Smith in the closing meters of the race, but Smith might have more in the tank for the final. Also looking to topple McIntosh will be Hali Flickinger, who’s lurking just behind McIntosh in 2:05.90. Flickinger is known for her closing speed, so she’s capable of tracking McIntosh down if she’s ahead of her on the final lap.
Smith and Flickinger won silver and bronze in Tokyo, with Zhang Yufei winning gold. Yufei is also in the final, though sitting a bit further back in fifth with a 2:07.76. She’s always liked to take the race out quickly and try to hang on, but so far that strategy hasn’t been as successful for her as in years past, as after she opened her semi in 59.83, the field ran her down. Will she be able to hang on tonight, or will a surging field pass her?
Men’s 100 Free
David Popovici set his third world junior record in two days in the semifinal, popping a 47.13 to become the ninth-fastest performer in history. He was seventh in this event in Tokyo, but has established himself as the man to beat. He’s already dropped .17 seconds from his previous best, but in the 200 free he showed that he’s an expert at managing his speed through the rounds, so he could have even more in store for the final. Watch for his closing speed–in the semi, he came home in a lightning-fast 24.32.
Behind him, the rest of the field is separated by only .36 (counting Nandor Nemeth‘s swim-off time) so it should be a tight race for the other spots on the podium as well. Josh Liendo qualified third, ripping a new best of 47.55 in semis to get under 48 seconds for the first time. Also sub-48 for the first time was American Brooks Curry. They’re two of the young speedsters in this event, along with Pan Zhanle and Lewis Burras. With Alessandro Miressi and Maxime Grousset also in the mix, it looks like it’s going to be an absolute dogfight for the medals.
Women’s 50 Back
It will be an all-new podium in Budapest, as none of the women who medaled in 2019 will be in the field tonight. Kylie Masse leads the way in 27.22, just off her Canadian record. Her teammate Ingrid Wilm is sitting fourth, and they’ll be eager to make it 2 Canadians on the podium.
In the hunt to break up the Canadian party is Analia Pigree, who took a tenth off her French record to tie for second seed with Regan Smith. The American duo of Smith and Katharine Berkoff are also sure to be a factor in the final. Both have looked strong throughout the rounds, so we’ll see what they have in store for tonight. This will be the second swim of a 200 fly/50 back double for Smith, and she’s scheduled to have just 28 minutes between the two events. It’ll be a tight turnaround for her as she tries to win her second backstroke event of the meet.
Also hanging around is Australia’s Kaylee McKeown and the Netherlands’ Kira Toussaint. Right now, they’re on the outside looking in on the medals as they swam 27.58 and 27.69 to qualify in sixth and seventh, respectively. But, they’re both capable of pulling a big swim and surprising here.
Men’s 200 IM
Only 43 minutes after winning silver in the 200 fly, Marchand dove in for the 200 IM semi and absolutely crushed his French record with a 1:55.75. He’ll be the top seed tonight and won’t have a swim before this, which begs the question: what is he going to drop tonight? Adding to the intrigue is that after blowing past Carson Foster on the breaststroke, Marchand seemed to be in cruise control on the freestyle leg.
While Marchand comes in as the favorite, the gold medal is far from a done deal. He’ll have to contend with Foster, Chase Kalisz, and Daiya Seto. They each had strong races in the semis, highlighted by Foster setting a new personal best of 1:56.44. Seto is the defending world champion in this event and after missing out in the 400 IM podium, he’ll be hungry to reclaim a spot on the podium.
With Duncan Scott not here and both Wang Shun and Jeremy Desplanches missing the final, this is another event that will have none of the Tokyo Olympic medalists in the field.
Women’s 4×200 Free Relay
Like yesterday’s mixed medley relay heats, the times this morning in the women’s 4×200 free relay were nothing to write home about. That could change tonight though, as nations swap out their morning swimmers for their big stars. China especially is all in on this relay, with Yang Junxuan scratching the 100 free semis to focus on this race. At the Tokyo Olympics, the Chinese squad set a world record of 7:40.33. They’ve had an up and down meet, so it’s unlikely that we’ll be on world record watch here, but they clearly have their sights set on gold. In the individual 200 free, Yang won gold and Tang Muhan won bronze, so they seem to be in a good position; even with Canada and the U.S loading up with the likes of Penny Oleksiak and Katie Ledecky.
The key for them will be Zhang Yufei, who exemplifies the ups and downs of the Chinese team during this meet. In Tokyo, she executed the 200 fly/relay double expertly. We’ll see if she can do the same here–there’s more time between the events, but she hasn’t looked on the same form as she was last summer.
Semifinal Quick Hits
Mollie O’Callaghan posted 53.49 to qualify first for the semis, .31 ahead of the field. This race was already missing some big names, but that list got longer today when Shayna Jack announced she’s withdrawing from the meet due to injury and Yang Junxuan scratched to focus on the relay. Watch for the young guns to try to take advantage, while veteran Sarah Sjostrom tries to get back on the podium.
New world record holder Zac Stubblety-Cook did what he needed to do this morning, using his trademark closing speed and running down Caspar Corbeau to touch in 2:09.09. That’s top seed into the semis–don’t expect him to get close to his world record this session, but he’ll aim to hold onto lane 4 for the final on Day 6.
Despite reportedly being at “about 80% capability,” Lilly King qualified for the 200 breast semis in second, clocking 2:24.46. That’s a much better result for her than in the 100, where she only made the final because of a DQ. If she’s feeling better, look for her to get closer to her usual form and assert herself as one of the women to beat.
In his LC World Champs debut, Shaine Casas clocked 1:56.66 for the top time of the morning in the men’s 200 back. 19-year-old Aussie Joshua Edwards-Smith also had a strong swim of 1:56.85. They’ll be in lane 4 during the two semis, but keep an eye on Ryan Murphy, the 100 back silver medalist, who got under 52 seconds in the 100 for the first time since 2018. He’s clearly on form, and is still looking for his first long course World title.