2022 FINA WORLD AQUATICS CHAMPIONSHIPS
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Sunday’s morning session features a lighter schedule than Saturday with just five prelims on Day 2 of the World Championships in Budapest, Hungary. Four of the events – the women’s 100 back, men’s 100 back, women’s 100 breast, and men’s 200 free – have a semifinal round later in the day. Qualifiers from the women’s 1500 free heats will skip the semis and go directly to the final Monday.
Day 2 Morning Events:
- Women’s 100 back – Prelims
- Men’s 100 back – Prelims
- Women’s 100 breast – Prelims
- Men’s 200 free – Prelims
- Women’s 1500 free – Prelims
Day 2 Top Storylines to Follow:
- It’s rare for the three fastest performers in history to be peaking at the same time, but that’s been the case recently in the women’s 100 back. At the top of the entry list is defending Olympic champion Kaylee McKeown, who broke the world record with a 57.45 at last year’s Australian trials. Then there’s Kylie Masse, the two-time defending world champion from Canada, along with Regan Smith, who boasts the only sub-58 swim in the world this year with a U.S. Open record time of 57.76 from April’s International Team Trials. If any of those three juggernauts slip up, 17-year-old rising star Claire Curzan could sneak in and steal a podium spot as owner of the third-fastest time this year (58.39).
- The men’s 100 back is perhaps the race most impacted by the current ban on Russian swimmers, which prevented reigning Olympic gold medalist Evgeny Rylov and reigning Olympic silver medalist Kliment Kolesnikov from competing. All eyes will be on Hunter Armstrong, who’s making his Worlds debut following his recent world record in the 50 back at U.S. trials. Fellow American Ryan Murphy will attempt to avenge his runner-up finish to Armstrong in the 100 back at the same meet while Italian record holder Thomas Ceccon will also try to take advantage of the Russians’ absence here.
- The women’s 100 breast is headlined by two swimmers seeking to rebound following disappointing performances last summer in Tokyo. World record holder and two-time defending world champion Lilly King took Olympic bronze behind fellow American Lydia Jacoby, who didn’t qualify for the event this year. King’s toughest challenge might come from Japan’s Reona Aoki, who has the fastest time in the world this year (1:05.19), more than two seconds faster than her 19th-place finish at the Tokyo Olympics.
- A stacked men’s 200 free field got slightly less crowded when Great Britain’s Duncan Scott dropped out due to post-COVID-19 training struggles, but it’s still a wide-open race. Kieran Smith’s 1:45.25 from U.S. trials ranks as the fastest time in the world this year. South African teen Matt Sates had been on a tear following his decision to turn pro, taking down Olympic champ Tom Dean at the recent Mare Nostrum Tour stop in Barcelona with a personal-best 1:45.91. Another young speedster to watch is Romanian teen David Popovici, who missed an Olympic medal by just .02 seconds in Tokyo. Now 17 years old, Popovici could make a splash at his first Worlds despite a season-best time of 1:46.28 coming into Budapest.
- Unlike the previous toss-up, there’s little doubt about the final race of Sunday’s morning session, the women’s 1500 free. The question isn’t whether superstar Katie Ledecky will win, but by how much. She has the 12 fastest times in the history of the event and is 18.4 seconds faster than any other woman in history. Although she hasn’t been under 15:30 since March of 2020, her 15:38.99 from April’s U.S. trials is still the fastest in the world by a 12-second margin. The battle for silver figures to be an exciting one between up-and-coming distance stars Katie Grimes and Lani Pallister, both of whom clocked personal bests at trials.
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