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10 July 2019 | in Swimming

USA complete domination of the pool on final day

NAPOLI, 10 July – The United States team finished the swimming competition at Napoli 2019 the same way they started it – in dominant fashion. As Zachary Apple led the American team to victory in the 4 x 100m medley, it marked the culmination of a week of scintillating action at Piscina Scandone.

On the final night of swimming, the programme had a lineup of eight finals. The women’s 50m freestyle kicked things off and it was Ky-Lee Perry of USA (above, centre) who clocked 25.08 to beat fastest qualifier Jessica Felsner of Germany to gold. Felsner settled for silver with 25.12 and bronze went to Emily Barclay of Great Britain, with a time of 25.15.

 

In the blink of an eye the first race was over and set the tone for the rest of the evening, where final followed final almost without a break, barely allowing the spectators to come up for air in between.

 

“Going into the race I try not to think about it too much otherwise I tend to psych myself out and get really nervous,” Perry laughed, later. “So, when I went on that block, I cleared my mind and just went for it.”

 

“Going into this meet I really wanted to shoot for below 25 as I’m looking ahead to Tokyo 2020,” she continued. “But I trust my coaches and the work I’ve put in and I know it will eventually play out. It takes time.”

 

In the men’s 50m freestyle, Perry’s compatriot Zachary Apple was going for what could have been his fifth gold medal of Napoli 2019, but it was not to be just yet. Fastest qualifier David Cumberlidge (left) of Great Britain kept up his form to win gold, while silver went to Japan’s Kosuke Matsui and Russian Daniil Markov won bronze.

 

There was a thrilling win for Brazilian Jhennifer Alves in the women’s 50m breaststroke final. Even though Britain’s Sarah Marie Vasey looked like she might win it for the first 25m, Alves powered ahead to take gold. Chelsea Hodges of Australia won bronze, while double medallist Tatjana Schoenmaker of South Africa was left out of the medals.

 

After the race, a visibly delighted Alves said “It’s good to be here and I’m very happy to win the gold medal. I am now working towards the Pan American Games (starting July 26) and this is a good build up. I’m very happy to win for Brazil.”

 

It was a one-two finish for USA in the women’s 200m butterfly, courtesy Dakota Luther and Olivia Carter and another gold for the Americans in the women’s 400m freestyle, thanks to Kaersten Meitz.

 

The American run was halted somewhat by Japan’s Yuki Ikari in the men’s 400m individual medley. As the race began, the lead went back and forth between Ikari, Russia’s Maxim Stupin and USA’s Sean Thomas Grieshop. While Stupin led after the first split and Grieshop took charge after the first 100m, Ikari’s breaststroke was so much stronger than the rest of the field, that he pulled into the lead after the first 50m of the stoke and stretched it to a two-second advantage after the 100m. That was enough to seal gold, even though Grieshop challenged hard in the last 100m of freestyle.

The final races of the swimming competition – the men’s and women’s 4 x 100m medley relays – were both won convincingly by the USA teams. Emily Escobedo made the difference for the American women, going into the breaststroke with only a very slight advantage but turning it into a body length distance by the time she handed over to Dakota Luther for butterfly. A really spirited charge from Ai Soma brought Japan very close to USA, but in the end, Gabrielle DeLoof knew how to wrap up gold once more, here in Napoli.

 

USA's Zachary Apple won 5 gold medals at Napoli 2019The final race took place in a party-like atmosphere at Piscina Scandone, with crowds cheering, music blaring and an electric buzz in the air. It was neck and neck for USA and Russia until the 300m metre mark when Ivan Kuzmenko’s dive in took a split second longer than Zachary Apple’s and it was all Apple needed to finally win his fifth gold of the Universiade.

 

With that, the Americans concluded their domination of the pool with 19 gold, 12 silver and 9 bronze. Japan finished second, with 6 gold, 7 silver and 7 bronze while Russia were third with 6 of each colour.

 

And with that, the wonderful Piscina Scandone will be switched over for the water-polo semifinals and finals that begin in two days’ time.

 

Results

Women’s 50m Freestyle

Gold: K Perry (USA)

Silver: J Felsner (GER)

Bronze: E Barclay (GBR)

 

Men’s 50m Freestyle

Gold: D Cumberlidge (GBR)

Silver: K Matsui (JPN)

Bronze: D Markov (RUS)

 

Women’s 50m Breaststroke

Gold: J Alves (BRA)

Silver: S Vasey (GBR)

Bronze: C Hodges (AUS)

 

Women’s 200m Butterfly

Gold: D Luther (USA)

Silver: O Carter (USA)

Bronze: S Mochida (JPN)

 

Men’s 400m Individual Medley

Gold: Y Ikari (JPN)

Silver: S Grieshop (USA)

Bronze: M Stupin (RUS)

 

Women’s 400m Freestyle

Gold: K Meitz (USA)

Silver: L Caponi (ITA)

Bronze: S Schmidt (USA)

 

Women’s 4 x 100m Medley

Gold: USA

Silver: Japan  

Bronze: Canada

 

Men’s 4 x 100m Medley

Gold: USA

Silver: Russia

Bronze: Brazil

 

NAPOLI, 9 July - Four men’s finals and three women’s finals were on show in another thrilling night of action at Piscina Scandone as the home crowd were in full voice thanks to their athletes’ performances in the pool.

 

Claiming the first gold medal of the night was Japan’s Waka Kobori, who took the top spot in the women’s 800m Freestyle. Silver went to Russia’s Irina Prikhodko, with Kobori’s teammate Chinatsu Sato picking up bronze.

 
Standing room only crowds continued at the Piscine Scandone for the swimming competitions of the 30th Summer Universiade

Gold medallist Kobori spoke to FISU after taking the top prize.

 

“I feel happy, but I still feel not so great because my time could be better,” said the Nihon University student.

 

“I could see the one second lead for the first 100m, so from then on I felt I could win.

 

And on how she will celebrate the achievement, the 18-year-old added: “I’ll tell my friends, family and everyone how it feels to win.”

 

The men’s 100m Butterfly followed, an event producing a stunning outcome as Japan’s Shinnosuke Ishikawa and Russia’s Egor Kuimov both finished in 52.05 to share the top step of the podium. The two could not be separated in a thrilling race, with Coleman Stewart of the USA finishing just 0.06 seconds behind to take bronze.

 

Ishikawa told FISU his thoughts on the bizarre ending to an exhilarating 100m battle.

 

“I’m very, very happy. This is the first time I’ve experienced this,” he said. “I’d liked to have made my personal best, but I’m still happy.

 

“I have no idea how we are so successful right now,” added the 18-year-old. “But I think we are all driven on by the Tokyo Olympic Games next year.”


Go time for Italy's Silvia Scalia, who took the Women’s 50m Backstroke title to go along with the 100m silver she won earlier at the Piscina Scandone during the 30th Summer Universiade
 

The event producing the loudest chear, however, was the women’s 50m Backstroke as a packed Piscina Scandone roared Italy’s Silvia Scalia to gold. She just edged out USA's Elise Haan and Australia’s Calypso McDonnell in second and third respectively. The 50m gold added to the 24-year old’s medal tally for Napoli as she picked up bronze in the 100m equivalent on Sunday.

 

“Maybe the home crowd gave me more strength,” Scalia said. “Swimming here in Naples was the perfect reason to give my best.”

 

“I have never experienced something like this,” she added. “My achievement today was to win, and I made it with all my heart. It’s a very nice experience. Maybe I still haven’t realised it yet!”

 

Four other finals also took place this evening, with Russia and USA dominating in charasteristic fashion. To wit: the two countries have claimed all six medals in the women’s 50m Backstroke and the men’s 200m Breaststroke, with USA’s Gabby De Loof taking gold in the former and her teammate Austin Katz winning the latter.

 

Russia then went on to win gold in the men’s 50m Breaststroke thanks to Kirill Prigoda, with USA securing the gold medal in a hugely competitive men’s 4x200m final, with Italy finishing just inches behind in second and Australia taking third.

 
Team USA continued their unassailable run through the relay, taking the Men's 4x200m with Italy finishing just inches behind in second and Australia taking third

There were also several semifinals interspersed throughout the evening, where eight different athletes qualified for both the women’s 50m Breaststroke final and the men’s 50m Freestyle. Italians Alessia Polieri and Ilaria Cusinato gave the home crowd further reason to cheer as they qualified for the women’s 200m Butterfly final, with their teammate Nicoletta Ruberti then making it through her women’s 50m Freestyle semifinal.

 
Silvia Scalia upon the top step of the podium at the 30th Summer Universiade

The swimming comes to an end tomorrow, with the morning heats to be followed by a much-anticipated session later in the day, with eight successive finals guaranteed to draw a huge crowd to Piscina Scandone.

 

Results

 
Women's 50m podium

Women’s

 

800m Freestyle

 

Gold: Waka Kobori (JPN)

Silver: Irina Prikhodko (RUS)

Bronze: Chinatsu Sato (JPN)

 

Men’s 100m Butterfly

 

Gold: Shinnosuke Ishikawa (JPN)/Egor Kuimov (RUS)

Silver: N/A

Bronze: Coleman Stewart (USA)

 

Women’s 200m Freestyle

 

Gold: Gabby De Loof (USA)

Silver: Paige Madden (USA)

Bronze: Mariia Baklakova (RUS)

 

Women’s 50m Backstroke

 

Gold: Silvia Scalia (ITA)

Silver: Elise Haan (USA)

Bronze: Calypso McDonnell (AUS)

 

 

Men’s

 

 

Men’s 200m Backstroke

 

Gold: Austin Katz (USA)

Silver: Grigory Tarasevich (RUS)

Bronze: Clark Beach (USA)

 

Men’s 50m Breaststroke

 

Gold: Kirill Prigoda (RUS)

Silver: Michael Houlie (RSA)

Bronze: Ian Finnerty (USA)

 

Men’s 4x200m Freestyle

 

Gold: USA

Silver: ITA

Bronze: AUS

NAPOLI, 8 July - Swimming continued this evening at Piscina Scandone, and it was several familiar faces who were simply adding to their medal tallies for Napoli 2019. In a busy night of action, South Africa’s Tatjana Schoenmaker and Tayla Lovemore claimed gold in the two women’s finals, with Russia’s Anton Nikitn and USA’s Zachary Apple winning gold in the two men’s medal events.

 

First up was the men’s 800m Freestyle, and it was Anton Nikitin of Russia who claimed gold in a stunning opening race. Despite falling behind USA’s Nicholas Norman for the majority of the competition, Nikitin produced a powerful burst in the last 200m to steal first place from the American. Filip Zaborowski of Poland secured bronze.

 

Nikitin, who had already picked up bronze in the 400m freestyle a couple of days ago, spoke to FISU Media after today’s victory.

 

“It’s a very good feeling,” he said. “I feel very happy.”

 

“It was very difficult out there,” added the 18-year-old.

 

Up next was the first of the women’s finals, with South Africa’s Tatjana Schoenmaker winning gold in the 200m Breaststroke. Having already taken gold in the 100m breaststroke two days ago, the 2018 Commonwealth Games double gold medallist stormed home to another victory, with Emily Escobedo of the USA clinching silver, closely followed by Japan’s Kanako Watanabe in third.

 

“I was ready for the final and I gave it my best shot,” said the gold medal winner. “It’s my second time swimming at 2.22 and I’m very happy.

 

“I just wanted to see where I am at the moment, and clearly I’m in a very good place.”

 
In the first of the night's two women’s finals, South Africa’s Tatjana Schoenmaker winning gold in the 200m Breaststroke. This comes in addition to the gold she won in the 100m breaststroke two days earlier.

The 100m Freestyle was the second men’s final of the evening, and it was unsurprisingly dominated by the USA, with Zachary Apple taking gold ahead of teammate Tate Jackson. Brazil’s Marco Ferreira clinched bronze.

 

Apple - who along with Jackson - had already helped his country to gold in the 4x100m Freestyle last Thursday. Today Apple added claimed a more personal victory in the individual event.

 

“It’s feels pretty good,” he said. “I knew I had a good chance of coming out on top.”

 

“It’s great to go one-two with my teammate, so yeah, I can’t complain.”

 

On whether the huge USA support drove him on, Apple added: “It was fun. The crowd and the atmosphere was great.

 

“Everything just came together.”

 
Italians have been showing strong support throughout the Napoli 2019 Summer Universiade, particularly for the student-athletes competing in the Piscina Scandone complex

The evening session concluded with the Women’s 100m Butterfly, where South Africa claimed their second gold of the night thanks to speedy exploits of Tayla Lovemore.

 

In a thrilling race, Lovemore finished with a time of 58.74, just 0.08 seconds ahead of USA’s Dakota Luther in second. Germany’s Lisa Hoepink was just a further 5/100ths of a seconds behind Luther to take bronze.

 

Lovemore told FISU just how tough it was to seal the gold medal.

 

“I’m very, very sore!” she said. “It’s been a long week, lot’s of racing. My body isn’t used to a week’s worth of racing, so maintaining that constant effort has been a lot.”

 

And on the support from her teammates and coaches in the crowd, Lovemore added: “I think all of us are really running on this, and even the guys are ranking high and taking medals.”

 

There was also some important semifinal action taking place this evening, with the men’s 50m Breaststroke and the women’s 200m Freestyle the pick of the events, with both witnessing the inevitable progression of numerous athletes from Russia and the USA.

 

The Italian team also gave the home crowd plenty to cheer about, and they will be in full voice once again with the finals for those events due to take place tomorrow evening.

 

The fifth successive day of swimming finals, semifinals and crucial heats certainly didn’t disappoint, and there will be plenty more twists and turns in the next few days, with the event coming to a close on Wednesday.

 

Results

 

Men’s 800m Freestyle

Gold: Anton Nikitin (RUS)

Silver: Nicholas Norman (USA)

Bronze: Filip Zaborowski (POL)

 

Women’s 200m Breaststroke

Gold: Tatjana Schoenmaker (RSA)

Silver: Emily Escobedo (USA)

Bronze: Kanako Watanabe (JPN)

 

Men’s 100m Freestyle

Gold: Zachary Apple (USA)

Silver: Tate Jackson (USA)

Bronze: Marco Ferreira (BRA)

 

Women’s 100m Butterfly 

Gold: Tayla Lovemore (RSA)

Silver: Dakota Luther (USA)

Bronze: Lisa Hoepink (GER)

 

 

NAPOLI, 7 July - Katharine Berkoff’s Universiade record in the women’s 100 metres backstroke was the highlight of a highly-successful Sunday night for the United States swimming team, which racked up an impressive seven medals in as many finals at the Scandone Pool.

 

The three gold, two silver and two bronze medals upped the USA’s haul to a Games-leading 19 podium finishes after four days of swimming competition at Napoli 2019, including 10 triumphs.

 

Berkoff, who turned 18 in January, had already sent a strong message to her competitors on Saturday when she first broke the FISU Games mark with a time of 59.57 seconds in the preliminaries. In the final, she trailed USA teammate Elise Haan by .08 at the turn but was lightning fast coming home and touched the wall in 59.29.

 

Haan claimed silver in 59.62, while Italy’s Silvia Scalia delighted the raucous local crowd with a bronze-medal performance (1:00.43).

 

Other Universiade champions crowned Sunday evening included Justin Ress of the USA and Zane Waddell of South Africa, who shared gold in the men’s 50 backstroke after they both clocked 24.48; Waka Kobori of Japan in the women’s 1500 freestyle (16:16.33); Alicia Wilson of Great Britain in the women’s 200 individual medley (2:11.35); Kirill Prigoda of Russia in the men’s 200 breaststroke (2:08.88); Russian teammate Aleksandr Kudashev in the men’s 200 butterfly (1:55.63); and the United States women’s 4 x 200 freestyle relay of Kaersten Meitz, Paige Madden, Claire Rasmus and Gabby DeLoof.

 

Adding another twist to Berkoff’s win in the 50 back is the fact she was competing alongside Haan, who just graduated from North Carolina State University, where Berkoff will be a freshman this fall.

 

“We just missed attending school together but we still know each other through that connection, and swimming of course. We have a fun rivalry in the pool. She’s just a very nice and fun person to be around,” said Berkoff.

 

“I’m very excited about this win. Tonight, I didn’t go out too fast. Last night in the semis, I went out way too fast and I definitely died a little coming home. I wanted to make sure I finished the race well this time.”

 

There was also a friendly NCAA rivalry in the thrilling men’s 50 back final as Ress attends NC State University, while Waddell studies at the University of Alabama. Both finished .46 seconds ahead of Russian bronze medallist Grigory Tarasevich (24.94).

 

Waddell had already made waves in Friday’s semifinal round with a Universiade-record swim of 24.46.

 

“I’ve shared a gold medal before but not on a stage like this,” said Waddell, making his second straight Universiade appearance. “The FISU Games are, in a sense, the second biggest Games after the Olympics. It’s an unbelievable experience and to have the chance to share a gold medal with an American really shows that anything is possible at these Games. Justin and I have raced against each other before but not on a big stage like this.”

 

“I think I could have gone a little faster tonight but it’s always fun to get a gold medal,” added Ress, who captured bronze in the 100 back earlier in the meet and was one of the stars of Taipei 2017 with four medals, three of them gold. “There are things I wish I would have done a little better tonight but it’s fine. I knew Zane was going to be fast, obviously, after his record in the semis.”

 

In the women’s 1500 free final, Kobori, a three-time medallist at the 2018 Asian Games, finished with a comfortable cushion over Australia’s Moesha Johnson (16:20.00) and the United States’ Molly Ann Kowal (16:20.94).

 

“I’m very happy with my race,” said Kobori. “The 1500 is a long race and I think I managed it very well. I tried to go out fast and then keep a good rhythm throughout.”

 

In the women’s 200 IM, Wilson trailed silver medallist Ella Eastin (2:12.44) by .44 seconds at the halfway mark but was .13 ahead of her USA rival after 150 metres thanks to a great breaststroke. Runa Imai of Japan was third in 2:12.25.


Women's 200m Individual Medley podium
“It was fast from the start. A little faster than I’m used to but I managed to hold on, so I’m really happy about that. It’s definitely the biggest achievement of my swimming career so far,” said the 19-year-old Wilson.

 

In the men’s 200 breaststroke, Prigoda added a victory to his second-place finish earlier in the meet in the 100 breast, an event he competed in at the 2016 Rio Olympics. He shared the podium with teammate Ilia Khomenko (2:09.42) and the USA’s Daniel Roy (2:09.63).

 

“It was a good final. I’m happy with my time. I want to congratulate my teammate Ilia, who was very fast as well,” said Prigoda, whose father was a four-time Olympic medallist. “We have a strong team here and I’m looking forward to more great races.”

 

Kudashev made his teammate proud moments later when edged Japanese rivals Nao Horomura (1:55.94) and Takumi Terada (1:55.99) in a hotly-contested men’s 200 butterfly final.

 

“Some of my opponents got off to great starts. I was fourth after the first turn so I had to finish strong,” explained Kudashev.

 

The Americans then dominated the last event of the night, the women’s 4 x 200 free relay, from start to finish, clocking 7:53.90, only .02 seconds off the Universiade record. Italy (7:59.68) and Russia (8:03.85) rounded out the podium.

 

RESULTS:
Women’s 1500m Freestyle

Gold: Waka Kobori (JPN)

Silver: Moesha Johnson (AUS)

Bronze: Molly Ann Kowal (USA)

 

Women’s 200m Individual Medley

Gold: Alicia Wilson (GBR)

Silver: Ella Eastin (USA)

Bronze: Runa Imai (JPN)

 

Men’s 200m Breaststroke

Gold: Kirill Prigoda (RUS)

Silver: Ilia Khomenko (RUS)

Bronze: Daniel Roy (USA)

 

Women’s 100m Backstroke

Gold: Katharine Berkoff (USA)

Silver: Elise Haan (USA)

Bronze: Silvia Scalia (ITA)

 

Men’s 200m Butterfly

Gold: Aleksandr Kudashev (RUS)

Silver: Nao Horomura (JPN)

Bronze: Takumi Terada (JPN)

 

Men’s 50m Backstroke

Gold: Justin Ress (USA)

Gold: Zane Waddell (RSA)

Bronze: Grigory Tarasevich (RUS)

 

Women’s 4 x 200m Freestyle

Gold: USA

Silver: Italy

Bronze: Russia

6 July

NAPOLI – On a night of five finals at a packed Piscina Scandone, Viktor Johansson stole the show with such a dominant win that it made the superhuman task of swimming 1500m in 15 minutes look effortless. It also set the tone for an evening in the pool that was not completely dominated by Americans.

The evening session opened with what is the longest and undoubtedly the most arduous race in the pool, the 1500m freestyle. The 20-year-old Swede, who studies and trains at University of Southern California, had also clocked the fastest time going into the final.

 

For the first 250m it was USA’s Nicholas Norman who took the lead by half a body length and set the pace. At the 350m mark, Albert Escrits Manosa of Spain was a close second, followed by Atsuya Yoshida of Japan. But by the 400m mark, Johansson had moved into second and remained comfortably on Norman’s heels until 650m.

 

At around this time, Italy’s Alessio Occhipinti moved into medal contention, setting off a wave of excitement among the boisterous crowd.With 500m to go, it was Johansson, Norman and Occhipinti in that order, although the Spaniard was not out of it yet.

 

American Norman gave himself a big push off the wall at 1000m but Johansson immediately sensed the threat and surged further ahead, leading by more than a body length at 1200m. From then on, he extended his lead at every turn and sped away as though he’d only just got started. By the time he clocked in at 15:01.76, the imposing win was inevitable. The crowd roared for Occhipinti as he beat Norman to silver.

 

As Johansson stepped out of the pool, he signalled to his teammates in the stands that he had just missed out on something by a whisker. It wasn’t the Universiade record though, as he was about 3 seconds off.

 

“I’ve always wanted to go under 15 minutes, so basically that was the goal,” he later revealed to FISU. “Although I haven’t actually swum that fast since last year in April though, so I’m still really happy about it.”  

 

Tatjana Schoenmaker, South Africa’s flag-bearer to open the 30th Summer Universiade, set a new African and South African record in the Women's 100m BreaststrokeThe women’s 100m breaststroke final was one of the most closely contested races of the evening. In fact at the split, there was nothing much between three women: South African Tatjana Schoenmaker who had won silver in the same event in Taipei two years ago, and two Japanese Mai Fukasawa and Kanako Watanabe. A searing second 50m swum in 31.7 seconds by Schoenmaker was what made the difference as she took gold.

 

“It’s really nice to come back to where I first started off, where I had my first breakthrough,” said the 2018 Commonwealth Games double gold medallist. “It’s nice to come here and have a little more confidence than last time.

 

Meanwhile it was regular service in the men’s 200m freestyle final and the women’s 100m freestyle where Americans Zach Apple and Gabrielle DeLoof picked up their second gold medals of the Summer Universiade 2019. In last final of the night, the men’s 200m individual medley, Juran Mizohata displayed astounding power in the last 50m to take gold over Britain’s Joe Richard Litchfield and Chinese Taipei’s Hsing-Hao Wang.

There were a number of semi-finals too that took place on Saturday evening, including in the men’s 200m breaststroke, the women’s and men’s 200m individual medley and the men’s 200 butterfly. These finals will be held on Sunday night in what will surely be another electric night at Piscina Scandone.

 

Final Results:

Men’s 1500m Freestyle

Gold: V Johansson (SWE)

Silver: A Occhipinti (ITA)

Bronze: N Norman (USA)

 

Men’s 200m Freestyle

Gold: Z Apple (USA)

Silver: N Snegirev (RUS)

Bronze: S Di Cola (ITA)

 

Women’s 100m Breaststroke

Gold: T Schoenmaker (RSA)

Silver: M Fukasawa (JPN)

Bronze: K Watanabe (JPN)

 

Women’s 100m Freestyle

Gold: G DeLoof (USA)

Silver: L Hoepink (GER)

Bronze: V Burchill (USA)

 

Men’s 200m Individual Medley

Gold: J Mizohata (JPN)

Silver: J Litchfield (GBR)

Bronze: H Wang (TPE)

 

5 July


The Australian UniRoos supporters are a steady sight in the event stands of Napoli, particularly at the Piscine Scandone swimming complex

NAPOLI, 5 July – Nine times out of ten, the story in sport is one of an athlete progressing through the ranks over years and years of competition. For Australia’s William Yang, he’s an outlier in the swimming pool.

 

The Ravenswood youngster admitted to feeling the pressure in his first international event here at the Napoli 2019 Summer Universiade, but with several different competitions here at the Piscine Scandone swimming complex, he knew he’d better not let those nerves get the better of him. In one of the most closely contested sports at this Universiade, Yang has proved himself among the podium regulars of this year’s competition, sharing the steps with emerging swimming stars from the United States, Russia and Japan.

 

His stunning time of 23.32 was 3/100th of a second fast enough to clinch gold in the Men’s 50m Butterfly, the evening session’s first medal event. It came as quite a shock considering his somewhat short career to date as Yang only took up competitive swimming in the past couple of years.

 

If his preceding rounds in the pool were anything to go by, however, it was certainly no fluke.The University of Sydney athlete was second only to Poland’s Pawel Sendyk in both the preliminary rounds and semifinals. In the final, it was Yang on the top stop with Sendyk finishing in fourth in the final.

 

Yan cut his time down from 23.81 to 23.39 in the preliminaries and semi, before posting 23.32 in the final. He 20-year-old needed every bit of that progression to edge out Yuya Tanaka of Japan.

 

In a photo finish, the Australian came out on top, fully aware of just how close he was to missing out on first place.

 

“Right out of the start, my breakout wasn’t the best, so I just swam my first stroke underwater,” said Yang, who was 3/100th of a second back out of the blocks. “But I just kept going.”

 

In an extremely rowdy venue, the support for Yang was clear to see, and perhaps even more obvious to hear. The large Australian contingent of fans, athletes and coaches alike had fierce competition from their Italian and American counterparts in the crowded arena, but it may just have been those in green and gold whose roars went that one bit further.

 

“I heard the crowd screaming, my teammates, my coaches. It all got me really energised,” Yang said. “They pushed me on for sure.”

 
Australian William Yang takes the 50m Butterfly in a photo finish to edge out Yuya Tanaka of Japan for Universiade gold. “I heard the crowd screaming, my teammates, my coaches," Yang said. "It all got me really energised. They pushed me on for sure.”

With a beaming smile and a glowing pride, success means a huge deal to the swimmer, in what was arguably the race of the evening.

 

“I feel pretty excited,” Yang added. “My first international medal obviously, and in a different environment, so there was a lot of pressure.

 

“It’s very cool. I think it’s definitely very different to World Cups that I’ve done in the past, they are more individualised.”

 

And despite Napoli 2019 still very much in its early stages, the swimmer is already feeling the positive effects of the event.

 

“I’ve really enjoyed the experience,” he said. “I move between living in Sydney and China, so both are really hot environments, so I quite enjoy the heat. I think I swim better in the heat.”

 

Of his current residency abooard a luxury cruise ships at the downtown Napoli port of Stazione Marittima, Yang added: “And for the experience in the athlete’s village, on the boat, it’s also very nice, and there’s western food so I really enjoy that.”


Despite the success, he’s chosen wisely and decided to take on one step at a time, turning his attention on the coming days, with the rest of the year inevitably creeping into the back of his mind.

 

“I think I’ll just concentrate on the rest of the week,” said the New South Wales athlete. “I’ve got a big preparation for next year obviously for trials.”

 

And with those events coming thick and fast, it’s no wonder Yang has made the decision to look only to the near future. With his 50m Backstroke preliminary race tomorrow, followed by his participation in the much-anticipated Team Medley on Wednesday, the 20-year-old certainly hasn’t got time to relax, never mind ponder his future. That event will undoubtedly be a close call with Australia competing in a heat against the swimming powerhouses of the USA, but luckily Yang will have a few lengths in the tank, having already narrowly missed out on a place in the 100m Backstroke finals last night.

 

It’s been a busy few days for the young athlete, and unsurprisingly Australian Swimming Head Youth Coach Leigh Nugent was thrilled to see Yang secure the nation’s first medal in the sport at this Universiade.

 

“We’re very happy for him, he’s someone who has only swam the school competitions, and in recent times he’s only gone into competitive swimming,” said Nugent. “He’s a bit of a late starter”.

 

“I think the 50s are a place to start, but the Olympic events are 100m events, so he’s got to transition to that, and hopefully he’ll be able to make that change over the next few years.

 

As Head Coach of the Australian swimming team for the 2004 Athens Olympics, Nugent certainly knows a thing or two about success, having guided the country to its best ever medal tally for an Olympics outside of Australia, with seven gold, five silver and three bronze.


So, does he think Yang can make that all-important progression to the very top?

 

“I think so. He’s malleable, a young bloke that’s keen,” the Australian coach said. “He hasn’t been overexposed, so hopefully he’ll be able to embrace that step up.”

 

Nugent’s crucial tutelage hasn’t been the only significant experience that Yang has been exposed to in his brief career to date, having competed alongside the likes of fellow Australian and double Olympic athlete Mitch Larkin. Add to that his recent learning curves at events closer to home in the Hancock Prospecting Swimming Trials and the NSW Senior State Age Championships, and the FINA Swimming World Cup slightly further afield in Kazan last year, and Yang has already built up quite an impressive CV in the pool.

 

The University of Sydney have enjoyed their rank as first in Australia for the School of Architecture, Design and Planning for quite some time, and can now boast a first ranking athlete among their books, with Yang taking home a gold medal to his fellow Bachelor of Design in Architecture classmates.

 

 

NAPOLI, 4 July -- The first lengths of the pool were completed today as the much-anticipated swimming competition got underway at Piscina Scandone, thus launching the first of seven successive days of non-stop action in the water. Multiple finals will take place over the coming days, with a total of 40 medals up for grabs.

In boisterous atmosphere, thanks to the supporters of the USA making much of the noise, the Americans found many reasons to celebrate this 4th July thanks to the efforts of their athletes in the pool.

 

With an array of both men’s and women’s competitions on the agenda, there was no time to waste, with multiple heats taking place this morning, followed by five semifinals and four finals later in the day.

 

And what better way to kick off those finals than with a thrilling men’s 400m freestyle final, where Japan’s Keisuke Yoshida took gold. His time of 3.49.48 was just about quick enough to claim victory, finishing 0.56 seconds ahead of Matteo Ciampi in second. Russia’s Anton Nikitin meanwhile clinched bronze.

 

“I am really happy to win, I feel great,” gold medalist Yoshida told FISU. But despite the fantastic achievement, he believes there is still room for improvement. “I want more speed next time around. The time is two seconds behind my PB, so I need to train more to become faster.”

 

Not long after, it was the female athletes taking to the arena for their 400m individual medley final, in which the USA's Makayla Sargent won gold with a time of 4.37.95. Her national teammate Genevieve Pfeifer followed closely behind in second, with Italian Ilaria Cusinato coming in third.

 

“I’m really excited,” said Sargent. “This is my first time representing the US, so just having the crowd behind me made it all the better."

 

“It was awesome. And when I touched the wall and saw Evie (Pfeifer) get second, it just made it even better,” she added.

 

“It was definitely different to what I’ve been used to, always just racing people in the US, so a lot of different names were there and I didn’t know what to expect. I just tried to keep my head forward and focus on my race, so if there’s someone next to me who wants to race, I’ll race them.”

 

There was a fitting end to an evening of gripping Independence Day action with the finals of both the men’s and women’s 4x100m freestyle ending in glory for the USA.

 

The women’s team clinched gold and set a new Universiade Record of 3.37.99 in the process, with Japan and Italy second and third respectively. The Men’s team meanwhile edged out Brazil in second and Italy in third to seal a remarkable day of success for the nation’s swimmers.

 

Gabby Deloof of the USA expressed her delight at having helped clinched gold: “It’s the 4th of July so it’s great. We knew that we were going to have a really good race but we didn’t know if we were going to win or not, so it was awesome.”

 

“It’s my first time in Naples and it’s really cool," she added. "I love the water, and everyone is so nice here.”

 

USA’s Tate Jackson meanwhile finished the race for the men’s team, and he told FISU just how much it meant to him. “It was incredible. On the 4th July, it was beautiful."

 

"I have to swim again in two days, so I’ll celebrate with a lot of warming down,” he joked.

  

Earlier in the day - not to be overshadowed by the subsequent finals - the heats certainly threw up some surprises, not least a major upset in the men’s 100m backstroke, where Korean athlete Youngjun Won somehow failed to reach the semifinals despite winning his heat. Won held top spot for the National Trials held for the 2019 Universiade, and won bronze at the 50m backstroke in Taipei 2017, but his qualifying time wasn’t good enough to make the next stage.

 

The athletes progressing through from that semi final include duos from Brazil, Russia and the USA, with the women’s 200m semifinal similarly seeing two athletes from the USA and two from Great Britain making it to the final. In this semifinal, American Asia Seidt set a new Universiade record of 2:08:81.

 

The men’s 100m breaststroke also saw semifinal action, remarkably with athletes from eight different nations making it through to the final, in a race which included yet another Universiade Record thanks to USA swimmer Ian Finnerty’s time of 59.51.

 

Completing the semifinal action was the women’s and men’s 50m butterfly, with the Asian nations dominating the qualifying positions in both categories.

 

It was easy to get lost among all the splashing and thrashing, but the semifinals played a significant role in the evening’s action, and with all five finals for those events taking place tomorrow evening, there is quite simply no time to rest.

 

In a similar setup tomorrow, there are several heats once again on show in the morning session, yet it will be those finals in the evening - along with an important range of semifinals scattered among them - that will be the main attraction at Piscina Scandone.

 

 

 

Sizzling action in the pool at Piscina Scandone

 

NAPOLI, Italy – Among the 649 swimmers hoping to make a splash at the Piscina Scandone in Napoli, is rising star Zach Yeadon of USA (below left), from the University of Notre Dame. He recently earned a qualifying mark in the 400 free for the 2020 U.S. Olympic Team Trials, touching the wall in 3:55.12.

 

“It was another great moment for Zach, and one that solidified his participation at the US Olympic Trials,” said University head coach Mike Litzinger. “But his focus right now is representing the United States at the Summer Universiade."


The two-time All-American Honorable Mention in 2018-19, Yeadon holds three school records (500 free, 1000 free, 1650 free) and is looking to make the podium in Napoli. He won’t be alone with

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