Day 6 Swimming Worlds: The Final Weekend Begins
(c) 2017 FINA World Championships
After the U.S. won three more gold medals on Thursday night, Day 6 started off with the same golden hue for the Americans as Simone Manuel came right out of the gate to win in the opening women’s 100m freestyle. But it was Russia who matched the Americans’ Wednesday night heroics with wins in the men’s 200m backstroke, and both 200m breaststroke events.
The women’s 100m freestyle final was one of the most stacked fields at these entire Championships, seven of the finalists had Olympic gold to their names and the eighth – Mallory Comerford – was also in the medal hunt with her qualifying times. Sweden’s Sarah Sjoestrom looked to be the favorite thanks to her 100m world record in the relay earlier this week, but Manuel outsprinted her over the last 25 meters to win by a touch and back up the Olympic gold medal she won in Rio last year.
Ryan Murphy was not quite as lucky in the 200m backstroke final. Talented Russian Evgeny Rylov led by a full body length halfway through and again at the 150m mark. Murphy made up almost a full second on the final 50m but lost to Rylov’s European record time of 1:53.61. American Jacob Pebley swam to an impressive bronze medal out of lane two as American men grabbed four of the six individual medals in Olympic backstroke distances here in Budapest.
After winning double gold in Rio, Murphy will have to be content with bronze and silver at these Championships in the 100m and 200m, but perhaps that’s just what the 22-year-old Cal grad needed to keep him from any complacency over the next few years.
(c) 2017 FINA World Championships
The women’s 200m breaststroke was another sequel in the Lilly King vs. Yuliya Efimova rivalry that the American media here appears to love, but while King was ahead at the first turn and second at halfway mark, she faded as Efimova’s long streamline and smooth strokes took charge in the second half of the race. American Bethany Galat came in second for her first career World Championships medal. And it was refreshing to see Galat congratulate Efimova at the finish – something King avoided (or forgot?) in the 100m breaststroke final.
Meanwhile, the men’s 200m breaststroke had some drama of its own, if not quite the personalities. Coming back over the final 50m, seven of the eight swimmers all had a chance at touching first, but it was Anton Chupkov of Russia winning the country’s third gold of the night with Japan going silver and bronze.
The night of competition ended with the U.S. win streak in the relays ending with it. After four straight relay golds, the men’s 4x200m relay had a commendable third-place finish behind Great Britain and Russia coming out of lane one. The U.S. strategy of resting three of its swimmers for the morning heats had them starting in the outside lane and the U.S. line-up came out strong with its best swimmer Townley Haas swimming second to jump to the lead at the halfway point, but Britain had former 200m world champion James Guy in the anchor leg and he blitzed to the win in a fantastic 1:43.80 split.
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