Kazan, Russia (AP) – Australia dominated the 100-meter backstroke events at the world swimming championships Tuesday, winning the men’s title and going 1-2 in the women’s final.
Two more world records fell on the third night of swimming at Kazan Arena, where a cool breeze swept through the soccer stadium.
Mitchell Larkin won the men’s 100 back in 52.40 seconds.
He came into the championships with the top time in the world this year, having emerged at last year’s Commonwealth Games, where he earned silver in the 100 and gold in the 200 back.
Australia’s Mitchell Larkin starts in the men’s 100m backstroke final at the Swimming World Championships in Kazan, Russia, Tuesday, Aug. 4. (AP Photo/Michael Sohn)
“The first thing that came into my head was, ‘Wow. This is the moment. This is what you’ve dreamt of for so many years,'” Larkin said.
“You can just get caught up in the circus, the lights, the sounds, the atmosphere, and here I sort of just took it in and enjoyed it, rather than thinking, ‘Oh my god, this is a world championships.'”
Camille Lacourt of France was second in 52.48 and current Olympic champion Matt Grevers of the United States finished third in 52.66. Grevers won the world title two years ago.
Emily Seebohm led a 1-2 finish for the Aussies in the women’s final, with all eight swimmers going under 1 minute. She won in 58.26 to earn her first individual gold at the worlds, having finished second to American Missy Franklin two years ago in Barcelona.
“I touched the wall and I was just so excited,” Seebohm said. “I was like, ‘Oh my god, is that my name with a one? Yes it is! Oh my god, I did it! I finally did it!'”
Seebohm sang a country song in her head as she churned through the water.
“It’s just about kicking arse and being a girl, so I thought it was very appropriate,” she said.
Seebohm’s teammate, Madison Wilson, was second in 58.75 and Mie Oe Nielsen of Denmark was third in 58.86.
Seebohm whipped out her camera phone to take a selfie of her and Wilson on deck with their medals.
Franklin finished fifth in 59.40.
“Definitely disappointed with the 100. Obviously, that’s not what I wanted to go,” she said. “But that’s where I am right now.”
Britain enjoyed a banner night in the pool, too.
James Guy defeated a strong field to win the 200 freestyle, outsprinting his idol Sun Yang of China to the finish.
Guy, the youngest swimmer in the final at age 19, touched first in 1 minute, 45.14 seconds.
Sun settled for silver in 1:45.20 and world record holder Paul Biedermann of Germany earned bronze in 1:45.38.
“He’s one of my heroes, so to race him head-to-head was amazing,” Guy said. “To touch my hand on the wall first and be world champion, it hasn’t sunk in yet, but I’m so happy.”
It was Guy’s first career gold medal at the worlds. He earned silver in the 400 freestyle on Sunday.
American Ryan Lochte, the 2011 world champion, finished fourth in the first of his two individual events.
Another Brit, Adam Peaty, followed Guy’s glory with a feat of his own.
Peaty set a world record in the 50 breaststroke, winning the first semifinal heat in 26.42. He bettered the mark of 26.62 set by Cameron van der Burgh of South Africa in the morning preliminaries.
“Between me and Cameron it’s an amazing rivalry,” Peaty said. “We push each other to the limits.”
It was the second men’s world record to fall at the worlds. Katie Ledecky of the United States made it five world records on the women’s side after taking down her own mark in winning the 1,500 freestyle final.
“There are very few, if anyone, in the world who can do what Katie did just did,” Franklin said. “It’s awesome to be here and be a witness.”
Peaty also swam 26.62 at the European Championships in Berlin last August but that mark was not approved by world governing body FINA because he wasn’t tested for the blood-booster EPO.
“I’m not going to go into politics about it,” Peaty said. “Hopefully tomorrow it’s going to be a really great race. All I got to do is get my start right.”
Van der Burgh won the second semifinal in 26.74, setting up Peaty and the South African for a head-to-head duel in Wednesday’s final of the non-Olympic event.
Peaty already has gold from these championships, winning the 100 breast on Monday.
Ledecky lowered her own world record by 2.23 seconds in defending her 1,500 free title. She touched in 15:25.48, improving her mark of 15:27.71 set in the preliminaries of the non-Olympic event on Monday.
She and Franklin had tight turnarounds, with both women coming back to swim the 200 free semifinals. Franklin qualified second-fastest and Ledecky was sixth for Wednesday’s final.
“It did hurt a lot but I got the job done and it feels really, really good right now,” Ledecky said. “I’ve always kind of had that mental toughness. I just wanted to race them both and see what I can do.”
Lauren Boyle of New Zealand finished second in 15:40.14. Boglarka Kapas of Hungary took third in 15:47.09.
The loudest cheers of the night were reserved for Yulia Efimova, who gave the host country its first gold of these championships in the 100 breast.
Efimova won in 1:05.66 to beat Ruta Meilutyte of Lithuania in a reversal of their results two years ago, when Efimova finished second.
“I knew I couldn’t afford to lose,” said Efimova, who returned in March having serving a 6½-month doping ban after failing a drug test for DHEA, a banned steroid.
Meilutyte was timed in 1:06.36. Alia Atkinson of Jamaica took third in 1:06.42 to earn her country’s first medal in the 16-year history of the long-course worlds.
Fans roared and banged white plastic ThunderStix as Efimova raced down the stretch.
Russia finished second in the men’s 4×100 free relay on Sunday.