By Jim Rusnak//Director of Media Properties | Wednesday, July 10, 2019
The United States closed out the final night of swimming Wednesday at the World University Games in Naples, Italy with eight medals – five gold, two silver and a bronze. The Americans led all teams over the course of the seven-day competition with a final medal tally of 40 – 19 gold, 12 silver and nine bronze.
After such a dominant team performance, it was only fitting that the last two gold medals for the U.S. came in the women’s and men’s 400m medley relays. But it wasn’t a walk in the park for either team.
In the women’s 400m medley, backstroker Katharine Berkoff and breaststroker Emily Escobedo built and maintained a body-length lead through the first two legs. Butterflyer Dakota Luther kept the U.S. out front, but Japan narrowed the gap to two-hundredths of a second at 300 meters. From there, Gabby DeLoof finished strong for the win, the Americans out-touching Japan, 3:59.77 to 4:00.07. Canada was third in 4:03.32.
The U.S. men jumped out to about a half-second lead with Justin Ress in the backstroke, but trailed Russia by about the same margin after both Ian Finnerty’s leg in the breaststroke and John Shebat’s leg in the butterfly. Anchor Zach Apple slowly reeled in Ivan Kuzmenko of Russia, trailing by 32-hundredths of a second at the final wall. Apple surged in the final 15 meters to pull out the win in 3:33.02. Russia finished seven-tenths of a second behind in 3:33.72, followed by Brazil in 3:35.33.
For Apple and DeLoof, the win in Wednesday’s medley was their fifth gold medal of the meet. Both swimmers also won gold in the 100m and 200m freestyles, and each of the three relays. Apple also competed in the finals of the men’s 50m freestyle Wednesday, finishing sixth in 22.50.
Earlier in the night, Luther and teammate Olivia Carter went 1-2 in the women’s 200m butterfly in 2:07.92 and 2:09.05. Sachi Mochido of Japan was third in 2:09.38. In addition to her gold in this event and the medley relay, Luther also won silver in the 100m fly on Monday.
Kaersten Meitz dominated the women’s 400m freestyle, building her lead at each turn throughout the race and touching almost five seconds ahead of the rest of the field in 4:05.80. Loretta Caponi won the race for second, beating American Sierra Schmidt to the wall in 4:10.53. Schmidt took Bronze in 4:11.37.
Meitz’s time was the 10th-fastest in the world this year, and tied her with Brooke Bennett as the 10th-fastest American of all time in this event. It was her second gold of the meet after swimming on the Americans’ 800m free relay on Sunday.
Ky-Lee Perry won the first gold of the night for the U.S., holding off a tight field in the women’s 50m freestyle with a time of 25.08. Jessica Felsner of Germany was second in 25.12, followed by Emily Barclay of Great Britain in 25.15. American Grace Ariola was fifth in 25.27.
Sean Grieshop was the top seed heading into tonight’s finals of the men’s 400m IM, but found himself trailing Yuki Ikari of Japan by about two seconds at the end of the breaststroke leg. It was a deficit he couldn’t make up, and Grieshop settled for silver in 4:13.90. Ikari won gold in 4:12.54, while Maxim Stupin of Russia was third in 4:15.37.