Gergely Csurka, FINA Media Committee Member

To highlight the importance of this event, the 5th FINA World Junior Swimming Championships was declared open by the President of Singapore, Tony Tan. Then FINA President Dr. Julio C. Maglione held his opening speech, greeting all young swimmers and recalling the fond memories from 2010 when the swimming competitions of the 1st Youth Olympic Games were hosted in this pool. Lee Kok Choy, President of the Singapore Swimming Association also welcomed the participating young talents, appearing in record numbers: 686 swimmers compete here this week, representing 88 nations.The atmosphere in the wonderful swimming complex was outstanding, for obvious reasons. One can say, better thing couldn’t have happened to the Singapore’s swimming and this FINA World Junior Swimming Championships than Joseph Schooling’s bronze medal winning performance in the 100m fly at the Kazan Worlds.

This historic medal – first of its kind for Singapore – channelled the nation’s attention towards this event which could be measured by the great attendance of the opening day’s sessions. Schooling even talked to the crowd on his Kazan experience before the finals started and wished good luck for best teenage swimmers.

However, the first pieces of big news came earlier, in the morning session when two World Junior Records were brought down in the heats. First Russia’s Anton Chupkov beat the junior global mark in the men’s 100m breast (1:00.12), then Australia’s Minna Atherton did the same in the women’s 100m back (59.83) – the latter was even more remarkable, considering that Atherton is just 15 years old (the age limit is 17 among the girls).


Anton Chupkov (RUS) ©Andrea Masini / Deepbluemedia


The evening session saw the first title going to the US: Grant Shoults did a clean job, began to leave behind the others after passing the half-way mark and at 300m it was clear that his win would no longer be endangered (clocked 3:48.91). China had its two entrants on the podium, Yang Jintong and Qiu Ziao, the latter out-touched Australia’s Joshua Parrish by 0.01sec, Britain’s Kurle Cameron came a further 0.02sec behind…

I’m very happy with my time, especially because of my nationals were a bit disappointing” Shoults said. “It’s a great start for Team USA, as a captain I’m very excited to get the first win, this can serve a momentum for the team. In the race everything went perfectly, all my splits were as good as I wanted to be and I’m pretty happy with my last hundred.


Grant Shoults (USA) ©Andrea Masini / Deepbluemedia


Next came a British 1-2, with Rosie Rudin achieving a crystal clear win in the women’s 400m IM and setting a new World Junior Record (4:39.01). She gained 0.93sec on compatriot Georgia Coates, who just finished ahead of Spain’s Africa Zamorano.

“I had a good morning swim, still didn’t expect swimming so fast” Rudin said with a huge smile on her face. “I knew I had to go out fast to be in the mix. To have a one-two finish is amazing, we didn’t expect that either.


Rosie Rudin (GBR) ©Andrea Masini / Deepbluemedia

As for the highlights of the semis in this session, Chupkov and Atherton couldn’t improve their respective morning times, but Romania’s Robert Glinta set a new Championship Record in the men’s 100m back (54.56) which had already been lowered twice in the heats by others.

Towards the end of the day, the Anglo-Saxons’ golden evening just continued: after a title for the US and GB, Australia clinched two fine wins in the relays. First their men’s 4x100m free relay was more than a second faster to the US quartet (3:17.39), then the women’s 4x200m free relay triumphed in a tremendous race, with a new World Junior Record (7:56.68) – just beating Canada. Worth mentioning that the Canadians’ anchor girl, Taylor Ruck offered an amazing 1:56.71min leg which would have been fitted to any medal winning relay at the Kazan Worlds; there, for instance, two members of the champion US quartet clocked weaker splits than Ruck’s missile-like swim here in Singapore.

And this was just the conclusion of the first day at this six-day meet – plenty to follow until Sunday.


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