Gergely Csurka, FINA Media Committee

Team US switched to the usual top gear and amassed ten medals on Day 2 at the FINA World Junior Swimming Championships in Budapest. The young Americans grabbed four titles and had a podium finish in eight of the nine finals (4-2-4), and set a new junior WR in the mixed medley relay. Italy enjoyed a fine afternoon with two victories, Russia had four medals and Canada also got three, one of each colour.

The day kicked off with a re-match between Italy’s Thomas Ceccon and Russia’s Nikolai Zuev who staged a fine duel at the junior Europeans in Kazan seven weeks ago, back then Ceccon won by 0.27sec. Now both of them came much faster, went deep into the 53s but the Italian managed to save 0.13sec of his advantage till the end and further improved his Championship Record (53.46).

Thomas Ceccon was congratulated once again - Credits: Istvan Derencsenyi

Next came a duel of the nations in the women’s 200m fly – it turned out to be a USA v HUN fight, both teams had two finalists and they shared the top four spots. Lillie Nordman had a brilliant second 100, both her splits were 32.8s while her closest rivals could clock 33.1-33.3s. Home favourite Blanka Berecz, champion in the last two editions of the junior Europeans, offered an outstanding homecoming leg to clinch the silver, 0.07sec ahead of the other American Charlotte Hook, while Fanni Fabian (HUN) came a further second adrift.

Flying Lillie

The US flag stayed in the middle for the next ceremony as Luca Urlando seemed to be a cut above the rest for most of the race in the men’s 200m free. At the end, however, it was just about the touch and some luck. Sweden’s Robin Hanson looked to catch him up at the end on lane 8 but he trailed by 0.06sec at the end. In fact, faith played for a tie here: the European champion barely made the final, by 0.04sec – so he was lucky in the heats, but did not deserve an ‘extra gift’ in the afternoon. The battle for the bronze was no less thrilling, three hit the wall in a span of 0.08sec, Brazil’s Murilo Stein Sartori was the fastest among them to finish third, much to the joy of the loud Brazil coaching team on the stands.

Luca Urlando launched his campaign with a brilliant win in the 200m free

After the back-to-back US golds, Italy ‘equalised’ for 2-2 – it was as clean as it could be since Benedetta Pilato was no match for the others. She had clinched her nation’s first ever medal in female breaststroke events at the FINA World Championships in Gwangju – and her win was never in danger here.

Pilato: after medalling among the seniors, became queen at the junior event

Among the male breaststrokers, Vladimir Gerasimenko was just 0.09sec away from making the 50-100m double at the junior Europeans in July, he won the dash but had to settle for a shared bronze in 100m. Now he was back, and stunned the field on lane 7 by keeping his lead from the beginning to the end – then paraded his bisceps while sitting on the ropes; his was rightfully proud of those engines which kept the two US finalists at bay.

Gerasimenko muscled his way to the top

The new queen of the women’s backstroke Regan Smith would be eligible to race here but understandably the US star enjoys some well deserved rest after her outstanding showing in Gwangju (bringing down the ‘big’ WRs both in the 100m and 200m). With the American being away, the door was wide open and Canada’s Jade Hannah was the fastest to cross it as she offered the only sub-1min swim in the final.

Hannah Jade in the footsteps of compatriot Kylie Masse who won this event at this lane at the 2017 FINA Worlds

Carson Foster already showed that he was on fire when he anchored the US 4x100m free relay to gold on the opening day and now he proved his versatility by winning the 200m IM by a mile and also set a new CR (1.58.46).

Another medley hopeful from the US, Carson Foster

Lani Pallister opened Australia’s golden account, she left everyone behind over the first 300m and only swam against the clock while leading by 7-8 metres in the second half of the race. She established a new CR (8:22.49) and almost gained full 5sec on Japanese runner-up Miyu Namba (that was the only final without a US swimmer on the podium).

Maintaining the Aussie traditions over the longed distances, Lani Pallister won the 800m free by a mile

The 4th US title in the session was bagged in the mixed relay and the quartet finished the American gold rush in style, by setting a new junior World Record. It was US all the way, right from the beginning, only the battle for the silver was extremely tight, at the end the Russians out-touched the Canadians by 0.14sec. The latter two nations enjoyed a fine day too, the Russians claimed four medals (1-2-1) and the Canadians one of each colour – but plenty more are up for grabs in the remaining four days.

Quotes

 

Thomas Ceccon (ITA), gold, 100m back

“This was a good swim, I’m absolutely satisfied. Kazan was so-so, Gwangju was bad but now it was all good. I had to pay attention to Nikolay, he is an amazing guy and he challenged me again.”

Lillie Nordman (USA), gold, 200m fly

“Normally, I try to go out smooth, conserve my energy and try to bring it home over the last 50m. I just try to think about what I can do, I’ve got no control over what my competitors do and I don’t want to waste my energy thinking on them, just want to channel my energy on what I can do.”

Luca Urlando (USA), gold, 200m free

“I was a bit nervous before the race, I knew I had to take it out fast in order to bring it home. It was a great race. I saw Robin coming over the last ten metres, I just kept my head down and went for the touch. It’s not the best time, but it’s good for where I am right now.”

Robin Hanson (SWE), silver, 200m free

“The morning heats were not good, and I was worried before the final so I took out fast. Unfortunately, in the finish I was breathing outside but I saw him before, at the turn, and I knew it was going to be close. But after the hundredths were with me in the morning, I should be happy with this silver and I am, indeed.”

Benedetta Pilato (ITA), gold, 50m breast

“I’m so happy to win this gold. Of course, I somewhat expected it but in 50m you’ll never know. The time is not so good, but the gold is fine.”

Jade Hannah (CAN), gold, 100m back (bronze, mixed relay)

“I’m very happy with the time, it’s a PB (personal best) for me. I worked so hard for it, I’ve put in a lot of work and to stand on the top of the podium is just amazing, it makes me so proud. To have medals back-to-back events, to make it with a great team and with a great supportive staff behind our back just makes me very happy.”

Carson Foster (USA), gold, 200m IM

“It was really the best field, four guys under two minutes, super-impressive, so I had to give my best and I’m really proud.”

Lani Pallister (AUS), gold, 800m free

“I’m really enjoying 800s, I feel I’ve been really growing into it and I’m really enjoying racing distance freestyle. It was an extremely hard race, to compete against the bests in the world of the juniors and I’m extremely happy now.”