By Jim Rusnak//Director of Media Properties | Tuesday, July 23, 2019
GWANGJU, South Korea – Coming off a slow night in terms of medals, the United States is looking to regroup on day 3 of the 18th FINA World Championships.
Swimmers competed in the prelims of the men’s 50m breaststroke, women’s 200m freestyle, men’s 200m butterfly and men’s 800m freestyle.
The top eight swimmers in the men’s 800m freestyle advance to swim in tomorrow night’s finals. The top 16 swimmers in the rest of the prelims advance to swim in tonight’s semifinals.
American swimmers competing in this morning’s prelims were Michael Andrew in the men’s 50m breaststroke (11th, 27.02); Allison Schmitt in the women’s 200m freestyle (14th, 1:58.73); Zach Harting in the men’s 200m butterfly (8th, 1:56.42); Justin Wright in the men’s 200m butterfly (18th, 1:57.18); Zane Grothe in the men’s 800m freestyle (11th, 7:50.14) and Jordan Wilimovsky in the men’s 800m freestyle (16th, 7:53.11).
One big name was missing from the prelims this morning for the Americans. Katie Ledecky scratched from the women’s 200m freestyle. Later, USA Swimming officials made the decision to withdraw Ledecky from this evening’s 1500m free final.
National Team Managing Director Lindsay Mintenko, released the following statement regarding Ledecky’s participation in today’s events:
“A decision has been made by Team USA in consultation with Katie, her coach and the team’s medical staff for her to withdraw from the 200-meter freestyle event (and 1500m free) on medical grounds.
“Katie has not been feeling well since arriving to Gwangju on July 17 and these precautionary measures are being taken to ensure her well-being and proper recovery, and to allow her to focus her energy on an abbreviated schedule.”
Looking ahead to tonight, medals are on the line in the finals of the men’s 200m freestyle, women’s 1500m freestyle, women’s 100m backstroke, men’s 100m backstroke and women’s 100m breaststroke.
Here’s a look at those events:
Men’s 200m Freestyle
No Americans qualified for the finals of the men’s 200m freestyle. Clyde Lewis of Australia is the top seed, followed by Sun Yang of China. Yang is the defending world champ in this event.
Women’s 1500m Freestyle
With Ledecky out of tonight’s finals, Ashley Twichell will be the only American in the field. She qualified as the fourth seed. Twichell qualified for the 2020 U.S. Olympic Team last week, finishing sixth in the 10k race at the open water competition. Now a veteran of four World Championships, this is the first time she is competing in both open water and pool.
Women’s 100m Backstroke
World record-holder Kathleen Baker qualified as the fourth seed in last night’s semifinals. Baker won silver in this event at the 2016 Olympic Games and 2017 World Championships. Her world record is 58.00, which she set at last year’s Phillips 66 National Championships in Irvine.
Teammate Olivia Smoliga joins baker in tonight’s finals as the sixth seed. Smoliga was sixth in the 100 back at the 2016 Olympics and fourth at the 2017 World Championships.
The top seed is defending World Champion Kylie Masse of Canada.
Men’s 100m Backstroke
Ryan Murphy is the top American qualifier for the men’s 100m back, tying Russian Evgeny Rylov for the second sed.. Murphy is the reigning Olympic champion and world record-holder (51.85). He won bronze in this event at the 2017 World Championships.
Teammate Matt Grevers is the fourth seed. At 34, Grevers is the oldest member of the U.S. team. He has won a medal in this event at every World Championships since 2013, including the last American gold in 2013, a bronze in 2015 and a silver in 2017. He was also the Olympic champ in the 100m back in 2012.
Xu Jiayu of China is the top seed.
Women’s 100m Breaststroke
Once again, rivals Lilly King and Yuliya Efimova of Russia will face off in the center of the pool. The two qualified a tenth of a second apart in last night’s semifinals, with Efimova taking the No. 1 spot.
King is the reigning world and Olympic champion in this event, and the world record-holder. She has come out on top of the rivalry with Efimova at their last two meetings – at the Olympic Games in Rio and at the 2017 World Championships in Budapest.