Gergely Csurka, FINA Media Committee Member (HUN)

Australia lost one title by 0.02sec (in the women’s 50m back) but captured another by 0.04sec (in the women’s 4x100m free) and still leads the medal count ahead of the USA. Day 5 saw three more nations earning their respective first titles: Italy, New Zealand and Ukraine – and two more World Junior Records bettered.Two Championship Records fell in succession to start the penultimate final session in style. First, Italy’s Simona Quadarella earned a clean win over the 1500m free, gaining more than 7 seconds on runner-up Sierra Schmidt of the USA – her time (16:05.61) was way better than the previous CR (by 18sec). It was also the first title for Italy here in Singapore.“Oh, I’m so happy and proud of this gold medal” Quadarella said after the race. “The time is really great, I didn’t expect that good. It was a hard swim, not an easy one, and winning feels really fantastic!”

Soon Brazil’s Pedro Spajari brought down the 100m free’s CR by clocking 48.87 in the semis.

Ukraine also captured its first gold here – Andrii Khloptsov returned to the roots, so to speak, as the nation’s first junior world title also came in the 50m fly (among the girls, in the first edition in 2006, by Lyubov Korol). Since the championships’ most versatile athlete, Michael Andrew (USA) swam beside him, Khloptsov had to produce his very best, which he did, hitting the wall 0.2sec ahead of the American.

“I can’t translate my feelings into English words… I can just say now: Oh my God!” said the young Ukrainian while grasping for air. “There is no secret behind this. In 50m, your task only is to swim. And add a little talent. This is my best time ever, it’s really nice!”

Andrii Khloptsov (UKR) ©Andrea Masini / Deepbluemedia

In the meantime, Andrew is now stands with 1 gold and 2 silver in the 50m events but he can complete his unprecedented mission on Sunday when he takes his marks in the 50m breast final. Just minutes after his swim in the fly, he clocked the 5th fastest time in the breast semis, so anything can happen tomorrow.

The session’s third dash event well could be labelled as ShowDownUnder: Australia’s Minna Atherton and New Zealand’s Gabrielle Fa’Amausili had a face-to-face clash for the first time in the 50m back, though previously they had a special play of “Who betters the World Junior Record more times?”. During the heats and the semis Atherton got a 2-1 lead in record-beating, but when the title was at stake it was the New Zealander who got the upper hand. Well, the margin wasn’t even a finger between the two, Fa’Amausili clocked 27.81 (a new WJR, for 2-2), reaching the wall just 0.02sec earlier than Atherton.

“To see my name on the board with the number 1, it’s just crazy and I’m just super happy now” Fa’Amausili said. “I’ve never raced with Minna at international meets until now so it was great to see her here. When I saw her setting a new junior world record in the semis I was a bit scared, but I came out tonight, not thinking of anything else, just tried to swim as fast as I could.”

Gabrielle Fa’Amausili (NZL) ©Andrea Masini / Deepbluemedia

Next came the gladiators’ fight, the men’s 400m IM. It was a tremendous battle, Brazil’s Brandonn Almeida went out really fast, he was way ahead for most of the time, but the fast start began to take its toll in the second part and Sean Grieshop of the US was closing up metre by metre. He trailed by more than 3sec at the half-way mark behind Almeida, but that was cut to 1.26sec with 100m to go and only 0.35sec separated the two before the last lap. With the Brazilian running out of gas, Grieshop switched into the 5th gear and passed his rival with ease, gaining 1.76sec on him just in the last 50m (4:15.76).

Brandonn Almeida photo credit: Andrea Masini / Deepbluemedia

“It was a great effort from all the competitors, a lot of fun” Grieshop said. “One of my best stroke is freestyle and I just felt I really needed to hit the freestyle as hard as I could, harder than any other 50s and it paid off. It’s so amazing to be on the podium, hold the hand and my heart, see raising the flag.”

One more World Junior Record swim was ahead – and it turned out to be the thriller of the day in the women’s 4x100m free relay. The Russians led the field during almost the entire race, boosted by outstanding takeover times (0.18, 0.09, 0.17), however, the chasers caught them perhaps in the last 20cm and Australia’s Lucy McJannett just out-touched Daria Ustinova by 0.04sec for a new WJR (3:39.87).

With this brilliant win the Aussies have held their ‘2-gold lead’ over the US at the medal table before the last day, a gap they are maintaining since Day 2.

Medal table after Day 4

AUS    8    6    0
USA    6    9    4
RUS    4    1    9
TUR    3    0    0
CAN    2    5    3
CHN    2    2    1
GBR    1    1    5
ITA    1    1    3
JPN    1    0    1
NZL    1    0    1
ROU    1    0    0
UKR    1    0    0
BRA    0    2    0
SWE    0    2    0
ESP    0    1    2
HUN    0    1    0
EGY    0    0    1
LTU    0    0    1
VEN    0    0    1


Follow the competition live stream free of charge worldwide on FINAtv.

Daily Highlights are available on FINAtv from 17:00-17:15 GMT and then on VOD.