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World SC Doha, Day 5 finals

Dec 7, 2014  - James Parrack

World SC Doha, Day 5 Finals

In many ways, there was too much of a good thing.  14 world championship finals in one session of a championships that has served up 23 world records (14 in individual events).  It seemed more like a world cup series final than a world championship, with another million dollars or so dished out in prizes and the same winners.  Katinka Hosszu and Chad Le Clos were the winners of the World Cup series, and the pair were FINA’s swimmers of the year, and the same two were awarded the trophies as the top male and female swimmers of the championships.

Hosszu won 8 medals, all individual events, which is the most ever by a woman, and equalling the 8 won by Ryan Lochte in 2012 (in individual and relays), with four golds and four WRs (100m and 200m back, 100m and 200m IM) three silvers (200m free, 200m fly and 400m IM), and one bronze in the 50m back.

Le Clos swept all three fly events, becoming the first man ever to do so, and added gold in the 200m free.  The 100m fly was a WR.

Brazil topped the medal table with 7 gold in 10 medals, followed by Hungary with 6 gold in 11 medals, then the Netherlands, 5 gold in 12 medals, South Africa, 4 gold in 5 medals, then Mireia Belmonte with 4 golds.

The USA won no individual titles, for the first time in any world championships, but still won the trophy for top team, amassing 17 medals, including 2 gold in relays.

So to the action and the day belonged to Cesar Cielo and Sarah Sjostrom.  Cielo won the 100m free in a ding dong showdown with Flo Manaudou.  The Frenchman, and winner of the 50 free and 50 back was leading to 75 before the Brazilian 27 year old turned on the heat in the final 15 metres for a very well deserved victory.  47.75 the winning time to 45.81 for Manaudou.  No one was watching Izotov win the bronze.  The question here is why is this event number  2 on the programme? This is the standout race, no?  Or are the other 12 going to be better than this one?

On a side note, for this author, Amaury Leveaux's WR 44.94 in 2008, among a host of mind bending swims, marked the turning point in the now-banned suit era.  For me, the jury was still out after the Beijing Games, but after Rijeka at the end of the year, it was clear to everyone that the circus had to stop.  Only after the most extraordinary swim meet in Rome the following year did the rules finally change.

For Sjostrom, it was an amazing double.  First a world record 54.61 in the 100m fly, to erase Bui Duyet’s 55.05 from the suit era in 2009, then a barnstorming 1:50.78 WR in the 200 free an hour later.  No wonder she was knackered for the 4x100m medley relay half an hour later.

In the fly, Jeanette Ottesen set the early pace, but as she so often does, the Swede pulled away from the field in the final 15m to record the first sub 55 100m fly.  China’s Olympic silver medallist Lu Ying passed a fading Ottesen to finish second.

The 200m free was an outstanding prospect, bringing together Sjostrom, Hosszu and Femke Heemskerk, the winner of the 100m free, along with world record holder Frederica Pellegrini.  This time it was the Hungarian who set the pace, before the charge from Sjostrom in the close.  Hosszu was second and Heemskerk third.

Speaking of close, Chad le Clos was pushed hard by Daiya Seto (JPN), the winner of the 400IM, whose excellent underwater work put him in front at the 150m, before a quick look by the South African out of the final turn and then head down concentrating on what was required for victory.  1:48.61 the time that delivered a historic sweep of the fly events and a fourth gold of the week.

The session started with a WR for the Netherlands in the women’s 4x50 free relay, with Kromowidjojo recording a 22.88 anchor leg to demolish any hopes the USA might have had of a win after Natalie Coughlin’s 0.00 takover and 23.39 put them ahead with 50 to go.  Denmark were third after a stunning lead off from Ottesen of 23.73.

The happiest girl in the pool was perhaps Brazil’s new find: the 23 year old Etiene Mediros, whose athleticism off the start brought a WR 25.67 in the 50m back in front of Emily Seebohm (AUS) adn Hosszu.  The 50 is not an Olympic event of course, and there is a wealth of talent in the world in the 100m, but still.

Radoslaw KAwedki won from lane 8 in the 200m back to deny Ryan Lochte the gold, and Lochte was again half an hour later in the 100IM as Markus Deibler struck Germany’s first gold with a WR 50.66 to finish ahead of Morozov (RUS) and the American.

European champion and defending champion Rikke Moller Pedersen (DEN) led for 150m of the women’s 200m breast before fading to third behind the Japanese pair of Kanako Watanabe, the 18 year old who finished third two years ago but won here with a 2:16.92, and the fast finishing Rei Kaneto.  Less than a second separated the trio at the finish.

The power of Felipe Franca da Silva was once again on display as the 27 year old Brazilian took the title in the 50m breaststroke in 25.63.  Britain’s Adam Peaty just couldn’t live with the pace to finish joint second with world record holder Cam Van Der Burgh (RSA) in 25.87.

After anchoring the Dutch to relay gold, Olympic and world champion Kromowidjojo duly won the individual 50m free in 23.32, and after a difficult year of change and tough decisions, the emotions spilled out during the national anthem.  Bronte Campbell (AUS) and Dorothea Brandt (GER) were the passengers on this one.

A quiet championships for Italy after their heroics in Berlin this summer saw gold in the shape of Gregorio Paltrinieri, the defending champion and European champion, as the 20 year old set a European record 14.16.10, dragging the 30 year old 2008 Olympic champion Oussama Mellouli (TUN) to a best time 14.18.79, as well as a national record for Olympic and world silver medallist Ryan Cochrane (CAN) 14.23.35.

Brazil won the men’s 4x100 medley relay thanks to a grandstand finish from Cielo, with a stunning 44.67 to overhaul Lochte and the Americans, stopping the clock at 3:21.14, 0.35sec ahead of the USA.  Manaudou led off in 50.35 for the French and a closing 45.84 off a 0.00 takeover from Clement Mignon secured bronze for France.

European champions Denmark successfully defending their title in the final event, the women’s 4x100 meldey, leading from start to finish from Mie Nielsen, (56.86), Pedersen (1:04.62), Ottesen’s huge effort of 54.99 on the fly and then Pernille Blume anchoring with 52.39.  AUS and JPN with the minor medals.

James Parrack is Eurosport's swimming commentator and co-founder of the BEST Centre, the elite swim training centre in Mallorca