x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 19 January 2018

Life in the Dubai fast lanes at World Junior Swimming Championships

A fitting finale as Mackenzie Horton and Ruta Meilutyte top the tables after more records fall, reports Ahmed Rizvi.

Mackenzie Horton of Australia wins the boys 1,500 metre final.
Mackenzie Horton of Australia wins the boys 1,500 metre final.

DUBAI // The World Junior Swimming Championships came to a close with a major splash on Saturday night, with new championships records in eight of the 11 events on the final evening at the Hamdan bin Mohammed Sports Complex.

Mackenzie Horton – winner of the championships' opening event – Caeleb Dressel, Andrew Seliskar, Luca Mencarini, Viktoriya Solnceva and Svetlana Chimrova were among those to rewrite the record books on the final evening.

Australia's Horton also topped the list of individual winners among the boys with five gold medals, while the 50m and 100m breaststroke world-record holder Ruta Meilutyte of Lithuania took the honours among the girls with four gold and two silver.

The United States bagged the team honours for their haul of 28 medals – nine gold, seven silver and 12 bronze. Australia, however, won the most gold – 10 – and five of them came through Horton.

The 17 year old, who came to Dubai disappointed after missing out on a trip with the Australian senior team to the World Aquatics Championships in Barcelona last month, returns home with the 400m freestyle, 4x100m freestyle, 200m freestyle, 800m freestyle and 1,500m freestyle gold.

"This meet gives me a lot of experience because at Barcelona [World Aquatics Championships] I would have done only one race," he said. "Here I am able to race throughout the week and it's more beneficial in the long run than going to Barcelona."

Among his five gold medals, Horton cherishes the one from the 200m most, describing that win as his "biggest surprise" of the championship.

"I knew that was going to be the toughest race, so I am really excited about that one," he said. "Success here, particularly in the shorter events, definitely boosts my confidence because I never really thought I was good at them. I posted some decent times, so happy with that."

Meilutyte was also happy with her performance over the six days after choosing to "challenge" herself in nine events here. And now she is looking forward to a week off at home in Lithuania.

"It was amazing for me this season," the reigning 100m breaststroke Olympic and World champion said. "I am very, very pleased with all my performances this year. Winning the 50m freestyle in the end [on Saturday], I wasn't expecting. So yeah, really happy.

"I train hard enough to be able to do other events. It's just like I never give it a try. I have just proven to myself I am capable of doing other events and it's been fun trying out new stuff.

"It's been a really busy week. It's been really good, really enjoyed it. Holiday time now. Just happy to finish this season finally."

Dressel got the evening off with a record-breaking effort in the 100m freestyle. Winner of two silver and three bronze over the first five days, the American finally hit gold, erasing Luke Percy's time of 49.14 seconds from the record books by winning in 48.97.

The second race of the evening – the girls' 200m breaststroke – also brought a new championship record when Ukraine's Solnceva powered her way to victory in a time of 2 minutes, 23.12 seconds.

Russian Olga Detenyuk was the owner of the previous mark of 2:25.19, set at the inaugural World Youth Championships in 2008.

Mencarini of Italy kept the spree going with a new mark in the boys' 200m backstroke, his time of 1:57.92 eclipsing Jacob Pebley's 2011 record of 1:58.73.

Chimrova, winner of the 4x100m mixed medley and 50m butterfly gold here, then improved on her own 100m butterfly mark of 58.75 with a time of 58.34 in the final.

Chimrova was also part of the Russian team, who won the girls' 4x100m medley in a record time of 4:04.48. The boys' 4x100m medley also saw a new record with Japan winning in 3:38.13.

arizvi@thenational.ae

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