Gregorio Paltrinieri

Michael Phelps world record shattered by 19-year-old at swimming worlds

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Michael Phelps‘ world record in his signature event was emphatically wiped away by 19-year-old Hungarian Kristof Milak at the world championships in Gwangju, South Korea on Wednesday.

Milak clocked 1:50.73, taking .78 off Phelps’ mark from the 2009 World Championships, where since-banned high-tech swimsuits contributed to a bevy of fast times.

“As frustrated as I am to see that record go down, I couldn’t be happier to see how he did it,” Phelps said after watching the race online, according to The New York Times. “That kid’s last 100m was incredible. He put together a great 200 fly from start to finish.”

Phelps held the world record since 2001, his streak of 18 years the longest for one men’s event in swimming history, according to Olympic historians Bill Mallon and Hilary Evans.

Milak was a backstroker until age 14, but even when he devoted to the butterfly, he focused on the 100m because he lacked strength. Milak broke out in 2018 by lowering his 200m personal best to 1:52.71, the sixth-fastest time in history behind four from Phelps and one from countryman Laszlo Cseh.

“I tried to switch off everything, and I tried not to think of swimming at all before the race,” he said. “It’s a tremendous honor to set such a great record.”

Phelps won eight combined Olympic and world titles in the 200m fly, the event where he made his Olympic debut in 2000 (placing fifth).

Phelps broke his first of 39 world records across all events in the 200m fly in March 2001 at a meet where he listened to “Perfect Gentleman” by Wyclef Jean on a CD player on repeat before races. At 15, Phelps was the youngest man to break a world record.

He won his first world title in the 200m fly, later in 2001, and lowered the world record eight times overall.

Phelps, who retired after his record 28th Olympic medal in Rio and has brushed off comeback questions for the last three years, still owns world records in the 100m butterfly and 400m individual medley.

Milak became the first man to break a Phelps world record since Milorad Cavic took the 100m fly mark at the 2009 Worlds, where Phelps snatched the record back the following day.

SWIM WORLDS: TV Schedule | Results

Also Wednesday, Caeleb Dressel‘s bid for a Phelps-record-breaking eight golds at a single worlds may have ended as Australia edged the U.S. by .02 in the mixed-gender 4x100m medley. Dressel made up a 7.21-second deficit on the third leg, the butterfly, because two women and two men were scattered across the four spots for each team. But Australian Cate Campbell made up a 1.25-second deficit on Simone Manuel on anchor.

Dressel matched Phelps’ record seven golds at a single worlds two years ago with the help of two mixed-gender relays that weren’t on the program in Phelps’ heyday. Dressel can still get to seven as he’s expected to race in five more finals this week, but to reach eight, he must be added to the men’s 4x200m free, which he was not part of in 2017.

Controversial Chinese Sun Yang was sixth in the 800m freestyle, a final that went off without an American for the first time in 12 years. Italian Gregorio Paltrinieri, the Olympic 1500m champion, prevailed by 2.01 seconds in 7:39.27.

Sun won the 800m in 2011, 2013 and 2015 but has in recent years shifted toward the 200m and 400m frees, which he won earlier this week and faced podium protests from Australian and British medalists. The 800m marked the last individual event for Sun at this meet.

Italian Federica Pellegrini earned her fourth world title in the 200m free and her eight straight medal dating to 2005. Pellegrini, a 30-year-old who next year will be older than any individual female Olympic swimming champion, surged past 18-year-old Australian Ariarne Titmus in the last 50 meters to win by .44 in 1:54.22.

Two years ago, Pellegrini handed Katie Ledecky her first major international final loss in any individual event. Ledecky, plus medal contenders Emma McKeon of Australia and Taylor Ruck of Canada, withdrew before Tuesday’s 200m free heats, with Ledecky and McKeon citing illness. Ledecky was still under the weather on Wednesday, dampening her hopes of starting her last two events of the meet — Thursday’s 4x200m free and the 800m free Friday and Saturday.

Brit Adam Peaty completed a sweep of the 50m and 100m breaststrokes for a third straight worlds, clocking 26.06 seconds. Peaty owns the seven fastest times in history in the non-Olympic event, including the world record of 25.95.

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Sun Yang afraid of losing to me, Gregorio Paltrinieri says

AP
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ROME (AP) — Gregorio Paltrinieri won’t be surprised again by Sun Yang.

The Italian swimmer recovered from his initial shock over his Chinese rival’s last-minute no-show to win the longest race in the pool at this year’s World Championships.

For next year’s Rio de Janeiro Olympics, Paltrinieri is already considering the possibility that Sun won’t enter the 1500m freestyle at all.

“It would be great if for once I could really race him stroke for stroke. I’m not afraid of a showdown with him. In fact I would relish that,” Paltrinieri said in a recent interview with The Associated Press.

“But I’ve also got to realize that he might not enter,” Paltrinieri added. “I’ve got to keep the option open in my mind that if he doesn’t race I’m going to be the favorite in an Olympic final and all eyes are going to be on me just like everyone was watching Sun Yang before.”

At the World Championships in Kazan, Russia, in August, Sun created chaos in the ready room when he failed to show up for the final of an event that he had dominated for five years.

Sun attributed the no-show to a heart problem but he also got into an altercation with a Brazilian swimmer in the warmup pool on the day of the final.

There were already questions over Sun’s form since he served a three-month doping suspension last year for a banned stimulant. And he didn’t dominate as usual in the 800 free, coming from behind over the last two laps to narrowly edge Paltrinieri for gold.

Three months later, Paltrinieri suspects Sun was afraid of losing.

“It could have been that he was ill. I’m not doubting that. But he was definitely tense and nervous. I had finished this close to him in the 800,” Paltrinieri said, holding his hands less than a meter (yard) apart. “And in the 1500 heats I had beat him by a lot. So I think he just wasn’t so sure anymore that he could win the 1500. And that must have been a factor.”

Since neither Sun nor the Chinese team told organizers that he wasn’t racing, his lane remained empty for the final and reserve Pal Joensen of the Faeroe Islands was denied a chance to compete.

“I still don’t understand what happened and I don’t think we ever will,” said Stefano Morini, Paltrinieri’s coach. “The Chinese are a fairly enigmatic people and they don’t really express themselves too much. And that can be a good thing. We Italians talk too much.”

The talk about the 21-year-old Paltrinieri is that he’s one of Italy’s biggest medal hopefuls for Rio.

Since the 800m is not an Olympic event for men, the 1500m will be Paltrinieri’s only race in Rio. It will be his second Olympics, having finished fifth in the 1500m as a 17-year-old at the 2012 London Games.

Paltrinieri’s grueling workout regimen consists of 14 to 18 kilometers (9 to 11 miles) of swimming per day. His training group includes another medal hopeful, Gabriele Detti, who missed worlds due to a urinary infection.

It’s easy to spot Paltrinieri, though, because he’s the one with the frenetic stroke style.

In an Olympic-sized 50-meter pool, Paltrinieri often requires more than 40 strokes per lap. To an untrained eye, that might appear like a big waste of energy compared to Sun’s more fluid and long strokes which usually total less than 30 per lap.

But the much smaller Paltrinieri is able to produce speed by rapidly rotating the trunk of his body, much like how American standout Katie Ledecky has come to dominate the women’s events in freestyle.

“It’s like a surfer who’s always on top of the wave,” Paltrinieri said.

Another comparison could be made to the way Tour de France winner Chris Froome pedals much more rapidly up mountains than traditional climbers.

“Everyone has their own style. Mine is an extreme one and so is Froome’s. But they’re effective,” Paltrinieri said. “The more you swim above the water the faster you go. It’s like when you’re on a motor boat bouncing up and down. Sun Yang swims underwater more than anybody else, like [Ian] Thorpe. He has enormous strength. It’s great to watch but it’s not the most effective way to swim.”

Still, Morini is working on lengthening Paltrinieri’s strokes, and they have plenty of time to discuss their plans since both coach and athlete sleep at the Italian federation’s training facility in Ostia, the Roman seaside, from Monday to Friday.

On the weekends, Paltrinieri usually goes home to Carpi, a town near Modena that was also the hometown of Dorando Pietri, the runner who was denied victory in the marathon at the 1908 London Games because officials helped him up when he collapsed just before the finish.

A century later, a statue of Pietri was erected in Carpi.

Depending on how things go for Paltrinieri in Rio, another statue might be in order – whether or not Sun races.

MORE SWIMMING: Missy Franklin embraces recent ‘disappointments’

U.S. finishes World Swimming Championships atop medal standings

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The U.S. won five medals Sunday to finish the World Swimming Championships atop the gold and overall medal standings, albeit with its fewest medals in Olympic events at an Olympics or Worlds in 50 years.

The medals Sunday came from the men’s medley relay (gold); silvers from Connor Jaeger (1500m freestyle), Maya DiRado (400m individual medley) and Matt Grevers (50m backstroke); and bronze from Chase Kalisz (400m individual medley). The U.S. women’s medley relay with Missy Franklin finished fourth.

The U.S. won 23 medals and eight golds over eight days in Kazan, Russia.

It surpassed its fewest overall medals won at an Olympics or World Championships in the last 50 years, the 21 it won at the 1994 World Championships (not counting the boycotted Moscow 1980 Olympics).

However, the U.S. earned 18 medals counting only Olympic events, which marked its lowest output in that category at an Olympics or Worlds in 50 years. The previous low was 20 at the 2009 World Championships.

The U.S. won 29 overall medals at the 2011 and 2013 Worlds, with 24 and 25 in Olympic events those years, respectively. The last time it didn’t have the most gold medals was the 2001 Worlds (Australia). The last time it didn’t have the most overall medals was the 1986 Worlds (East Germany).

The U.S. also matched its fewest swimmers to win individual Olympic or World Championships titles in the last 50 years — two, Katie Ledecky and Ryan Lochte. In 1994, Janet Evans and Tom Dolan were the two World champions.

Ledecky, with five golds in five events, earned FINA’s Female Swimmer of the Meet for a second straight Worlds. As did China’s Sun Yang on the men’s side, after he won the 400m and 800m frees*.

The U.S. missed Michael Phelps, who sat out the meet as punishment for his Sept. 30 DUI arrest, and Franklin was not quite in her 2013 form that saw her win six gold medals in Barcelona.

But also, Australia had a resurgence, sweeping the men’s and women’s 100m and 200m backstrokes. Australia took 16 medals with seven golds overall. Its seven golds were more than its total from the 2011 Worlds, 2012 Olympics and 2013 Worlds combined.

China continued its rise over the last decade, finishing with 13 medals and five golds.

World Swimming Championships: Full meet results

In Sunday’s events, the U.S. men’s medley relay team prevailed with Ryan MurphyKevin CordesTom Shields and Nathan Adrian holding off Australia by .15.

The U.S. women with Franklin, Jessica HardyKendyl Stewart and Simone Manuel finished 2.35 seconds behind winner China. Sweden took silver and Australia bronze.

Earlier in the men’s 1500m freestyle, Chinese Olympic and World champion Sun shockingly did not show up for the final. Sun said in a post-meet press conference that it was due to a heart problem and declined to comment when asked about a reported warm-up altercation with a Brazilian swimmer, according to reporters on site.

Italy’s Gregorio Paltrinieri won in his absence, followed by Jaeger in an American record for silver and Canada’s Ryan Cochrane getting bronze.

Hungary’s Katinka Hosszu swept the individual medleys for a second straight Worlds. DiRado won her first individual Worlds medal, a silver, 1.32 seconds behind. Canada’s Emily Overholt took bronze.

Japan’s Daiya Seto repeated as World champion in the grueling 400m individual medley. Kalisz, who earned silver behind Seto in his World Championships debut in 2013, took bronze behind Hungary’s David Verraszto this year.

Australian Bronte Campbell followed her 100m free title with gold in the 50m freestyle in 24.12 seconds, beating the reigning Dutch Olympic and World champion Ranomi Kromowidjojo by one tenth. Swede Sarah Sjostrom took bronze for her fourth individual medal of the meet.

In the non-Olympic men’s 50m backstroke, France’s Camille Lacourt won in 24.23, followed by Grevers in 24.61 and Australian Ben Treffers snagging bronze. Australian Mitch Larkin, attempting to sweep the backstrokes, finished fourth.

Grevers, the 2012 Olympic 100m back champion, finished third behind Larkin and Lacourt in the 100m back in Kazan.

In the non-Olympic women’s 50m breaststroke, Sweden’s Jennie Johansson edged Jamaica’s Alia Atkinson by .06, with Russian Yulia Efimova snagging bronze. Atkinson, who took bronze in the 100m breast earlier, is the first Jamaican to win a World Swimming Championships medal.

Michael Phelps answers Chad le Clos with world’s top 100m butterfly

Men’s 400m Individual Medley
Gold: Daiya Seto (JPN) — 4:08.50
Silver: David Verraszto (HUN) — 4:09.90
Bronze: Chase Kalisz (USA) — 4:10.05
4. Tyler Clary (USA) — 4:11.71
5. Jacob Heidtmann (GER) — 4:12.08
6. Dan Wallace (GBR) — 4:13.77
7. Roberto Pavoni (ITA) — 4:13.81
8. Yang Zhixian (CHN) — 4:16.74

Women’s 50m Freestyle
Gold: Bronte Campbell (AUS) — 24.12
Silver: Ranomi Kromowidjojo (NED) — 24.22
Bronze: Sarah Sjostrom (SWE) — 24.31
4. Cate Campbell (AUS) — 24.36
5. Chantal Van Landeghem (CAN) — 24.39
6. Arianna Vanderpool-Wallace (BAH) — 24.44
7. Francesca Halsall (GBR) — 24.51
8. Simone Manuel (USA) — 24.57

Men’s 1500m Freestyle
Gold: Gregorio Paltrinieri (ITA) — 14:39.67
Silver: Connor Jaeger (USA) — 14:41.20
Bronze: Ryan Cochrane (CAN) — 14:51.08
4. Akram Ahmed (EGY) — 14:53.66
5. Stephen Milne (GBR) — 14:58.62
6. Michael McBroom (USA) — 15:06.81
7. Mykhailo Romanchuk (UKR) — 15:09.77
DNS. Sun Yang (CHN)

Women’s 400m Individual Medley
Gold: Katinka Hosszu (HUN) — 4:30.39
Silver: Maya DiRado (USA) — 4:31.77
Bronze: Emily Overholt (CAN) — 4:32.52
4. Hannah Miley (GBR) — 4:34.79
5. Barbora Zavadova (CZE) — 4:36.73
6. Sakiko Shimizu (JPN) — 4:37.19
7. Aimee Willmott (GBR) — 4:38.75
8. Lara Grangeon (FRA) — 4:40.98

Men’s 4x100m Medley Relay
Gold: USA — 3:29.93
Silver: Australia — 3:30.08
Bronze: France — 3:30.50
4. Great Britain — 3:30.67
5. Russia — 3:30.90
6. Japan — 3:31.10
7. Germany — 3:32.16
8. Poland — 3:34.34

Women’s 4x100m Medley Relay
Gold: China — 3:54.41
Silver: Sweden — 3:55.24
Bronze: Australia — 3:55.56
4. U.S. — 3:56.76
5. Denmark — 3:57.61
6. Canada — 3:57.96
DQ. Great Britain
DQ. Japan

*Correction: An earlier version of this article incorrectly stated that Sun Yang won the 400m and 1500m freestyles. He won the 400m and 800m freestyles.