Tunisian swimmer Ahmed Hafnaoui made history by winning the men’s 1,500m freestyle title at swimming’s world championships on Sunday. Hafnaoui’s incredible performance saw him finish in 14 minutes and 31.54 seconds, just ahead of American Bobby Finke on 14:31.59 and Australia’s Sam Short on 14:37.28. His time was less than a second off the world record set by China’s Sun Yang in 2012, showcasing his remarkable talent and potential.
Reflecting on the race, Hafnaoui acknowledged the tough competition and the support from his rivals, especially Finke. The close race and near-world-record time added to the excitement and drama of the event, making it an unforgettable moment in swimming history. Hafnaoui’s triumph is even more impressive as he was able to secure the victory against tough competitors like Finke and Short.
This victory comes as a sweet revenge for Hafnaoui, who had previously narrowly missed out on the 400m freestyle title, losing to Short earlier in the week. However, he managed to turn the tables in the 800m freestyle final, edging out Short in an epic battle to claim the gold. His consistent performances at the world championships demonstrate his potential as a rising star in the world of swimming.
Meanwhile, Italian swimmer Gregorio Paltrinieri, who won the 1,500m freestyle race at the previous world championships in Budapest, decided not to defend his title. This decision paved the way for Hafnaoui to showcase his talents and emerge victorious in the prestigious event.
In the women’s 50 meters breaststroke, Lithuania’s Ruta Meilutyte set her second world record in as many days, showcasing her dominance in the event. Her incredible time of 29.16 seconds in the final secured the gold medal for her, surpassing her previous record of 29.30 seconds that she had jointly held with Italy’s Benedetta Pilato. Meilutyte’s performance sends a clear message to her rivals ahead of the Paris Olympics, indicating that she will be a strong contender in the upcoming games.
Lilly King from the United States secured the silver medal in the 50 meters breaststroke, finishing 0.78 seconds behind Meilutyte. Benedetta Pilato from Italy, the joint record-holder with Meilutyte before the championships, clinched the bronze medal with a time of 30.04 seconds.
Another swimmer who made headlines was Sweden’s Sarah Sjoestroem, who won the gold medal in the women’s 50m freestyle. Sjoestroem had broken her own world record in the event during the semifinals with a time of 23.61 seconds. Although she narrowly missed repeating that record in the final, her time of 23.62 seconds secured her the gold medal, just one-hundredth of a second away from her previous record. Shayna Jack from Australia finished second with a time of 24.10 seconds, while China’s Zhang Yufei secured the bronze medal with a time of 24.15 seconds.
Sjoestroem’s victory in the 50m freestyle marked her 21st individual medal at the world championships, surpassing American swimming legend Michael Phelps’s record. The 29-year-old swimmer’s consistent performances and dominance in the freestyle events have solidified her status as one of the sport’s all-time greats.
In the men’s 50m backstroke, American swimmer Hunter Armstrong secured his first individual crown with a time of 24.05 seconds. Armstrong’s impressive performance put him ahead of his compatriot Justin Ress, who finished 0.19 seconds behind, and China’s Xu Jiayu, who claimed the bronze medal with a time of 24.50 seconds.
Canadian swimmer Summer McIntosh showcased her talent in the women’s 400m individual medley, claiming the gold medal in a championship record time of 4:27.11. The 14-year-old prodigy’s remarkable victory adds to her growing list of achievements at the world championships, where she has already secured multiple titles. American swimmer Katie Grimes finished in second place, more than four seconds behind McIntosh, while Australia’s Jenna Forrester settled for the bronze medal.
The United States teams dominated the 4x100m medley relays, ending the championships on a high note. The American men’s team, composed of Ryan Murphy, Nic Fink, Dare Rose, and Jack Alexy, secured the gold medal with a time of 3:27.20. The American women’s team, comprising Regan Smith, Lilly King, Gretchen Walsh, and Kate Douglass, cruised to victory with a time of 3:52.08.
Australia finished the championships on top of the medal table with an impressive tally of 13 gold medals. The United States secured seven gold medals, while China secured five, showcasing their prowess in the world of swimming.
As the swimming world championships come to a close, the focus now shifts to the next edition, which will be hosted by Doha in February 2024. With the outstanding performances and record-breaking feats witnessed during this championship, fans and athletes alike eagerly anticipate the upcoming events, where new talents and rivalries will undoubtedly emerge.