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  • Jul

    Day 8 Swimming Worlds: Final Thoughts from Budapest!

    (c) 2017 FINA World Championships

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    USA, USA, USA! We try not to be too jingoistic and overly-patriotic here at, but when the U.S. team dominates the swimming competition once again like it did at the 2017 World Championships in Budapest this week, you need to give great where credit is due.

    The U.S. team finished with 38 total medals in the pool including 18 gold medals [see full swimming medal table below]. The overall count was nearly four times as much as its nearest competitors while the gold medal count more than quadrupled runners-up Great Britain (4 golds).  That kind of dominance is staggering and almost hard to believe given the level of international talent out there with the likes of Sun Yang, Katinka Hosszu, Sarah Sjostrom and Adam Peaty. Her only blemish: a silver in the 200m behind world record holder Federica Pellegrini of Italy, proving she is human after all.

    But the U.S. depth continues to prove itself far beyond the global competition so much so that relay wins often looked routine and we seem to barely raise an eyebrow when seeing two U.S. medalists on the same podium. At some point in the future (but hopefully not too soon!), that dynamic will change.

    While most of the expected American and international stars shined bright in Budapest, it was 20-year-old Floridian Caeleb Dressel who was perhaps the star performer, announcing himself on the world stage with a performance to match that of the greatest of all time.

    (c) 2017 FINA World Championships

    Sure, Dressel has many years and Olympics to go to be compared to Phelps but one stat he has already equalled: Dressel’s seven gold medals in Budapest ties him with Phelps as the only swimmers to accomplish that feat at the World Championships. And Saturday night, Dressel won three golds in one session – the only swimmer ever to pull that off. He was the meet’s star performer on the men’s side, although Peaty’s consistent lowering of world records continues to leave mouths agape at his sheer breaststroke speed.

    On the women’s side, no new superstars emerged but Sarah Sjostrom notched an impressive three individual golds and one silver along with two world records to claim Female Swimmer of the Meet honors. Ledecky finished with the same individual medal count, but did not have any world records. Her only blemish: a silver in the 200m behind world record holder Federica Pellegrini of Italy. Like Peaty, American Lilly King is proving herself a speed demon in the sprint breaststroke events with a pair of world titles and world records (50m/100m) following on her Olympic gold last year.

    (c) 2017 FINA World Championships

    There were other big winners in Budapest – too many to name in one article – but those who break new ground always deserve a mention. Farida Osman won Egypt’s first-ever medal at the World Championships with bronze in the 50m fly and Brazil’s Etiene Medeiros became the first-ever female gold medalist from Brazil with her 50m backstroke win. In a country with a great history of male swimmers it’s nice to see women making a mark.

    The home crowd was boisterous and energetic and cheered passionately for their home swimmers right to the finish. They were delighted with Hungary’s surprising bronze medal in the men’s 4x100m freestyle relay, and silver medals for Hungary in the men’s 100m and 200m butterfly represented the old – Laszlo Cseh – and the new – world junior record holder Kristof Milak – for their country. Hosszu won gold in both of the women’s IMs as expected - nearly blowing the roof off the stadium - but it was perhaps her silver and bronze medals from the outside lanes in the 200m butterfly and backstroke which proved that winning any medal at all can sometimes taste sweeter than gold.

    In the end, it was the Hungarian hosts who perhaps deserve the biggest gold medal of all. In an event that was called the largest sporting event in Hungary’s history, the local organizers put on a show that was entertaining, well-organized, fun, high-energy and worthy of one of the great biannual sporting events on the planet.

    With a great aquatics tradition and the graceful metropolis of Budapest as a backdrop, Hungary was the perfect selection to host the Championships after Mexico backed out four years ago.  For that, we say “Kessenem, Hungaria!” Thank you, Hungary!

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