First it was Spain to have the privilege of welcoming top aquatic athletes for the third time. After 1986 Madrid and 2003 Barcelona the Catalonian capital saw the arrival of world class athletes in 2013. The 15th FINA World Championships took place in Barcelona between 19 July and 4 August. All synchronised swimming events saw Russian victory similarly to Fukuoka two years before. High diving debuted at the Championships this time. The most successful nation was the US again. Dániel Gyurta claimed his third world champion title in a row in 200m breaststroke.
Although the number of countries attending the World Championships increased from 178 to 177, the number of athletes was somewhat higher (2195) than before. Events were staged in four venues. Swimmers and synchronised swimmers competed in Palau Sant Jordi established for the 1992 Olympics, high divers and long course swimmers went to Port Vell, divers were hosted by Montjuic pool and water polo players raced in Bernat Picornell Pools.
Although in July, 2009 Dubai won the right to host the World Championships in May, 2010 they withdrew from hosting for financial reasons. Five cities submitted their tenders to host the event and in September, 2010 Barcelona was chosen as the host from the candidate cities including Hamburg, Moscow, Sydney and Seoul.
The medal table was again topped by the US clinching 15 gold, 10 silver and 9 bronze. Chinese finished second, in contrast with their result 2 years earlier (when they claimed more bronze and silver) they claimed fewer medals than their American rivals this time, totalling 14 gold, 8 silver and 4 bronze in the end. Russia finished third again with 9 gold, 6 silver and 4 bronze.
Team Hungary collected 4 gold, 1 silver and 2 bronze finishing 5 in the medal table. Katinka Hosszú topped the podium twice, in 200 and 400m medley. Dániel Gyurta defended his world champion title in 200m breaststroke for the second time. Men’s water polo team proved to be the best again for the third time, in the final Montenegro went down against Hungary 7-8. László Cseh claimed silver in 100m butterfly. Two bronze medals went to Katinka Hosszú (200m butterfly) and the women’s water polo team.
Swimming: Six world records by ladies
This time men’s swimming events were dominated by Chinese Sun Yang who was unbeatable in the 3 longest solo freestyle events (400, 800 and 1500m). A year earlier he set the 1500m record (still prevailing) by 14:31.02 at the London Olympics. In Barcelona the question was not who would claim more gold but who would defend their world champion title.
Sun Yang could defend his throne in 800m and 1500m alike, while American swimmer Ryan Lochte did so in 200m medley and 200m backstroke. He did not break the world record this time, still he could clinch gold in medley for the third consecutive time. In addition, he claimed a gold and a silver in relay making him the most successful contender in this field since Chinese rival clinched „only” one bronze in relay beside his 3 solo gold medals.
Dániel Gyurta swept in 200m breaststroke for the third time in a row and so did Brazilian swimmer César Cielo in 50m freestyle, moreover, he defended his title in 50m butterfly for the first time. South-African swimmer Chad le Clos clinched gold in 100 and 200m butterfly, beating László Cseh in the shorter course. Although solo events were dominated by champions as expected, two relay events saw new winners. French teams topped the podium in both, beating Australians in 4x100m freestyle relay and Americans in 4x100m medley relay.
All six world records were set by ladies at the World Championships. Let us take a look at these 6 brilliant performances. The first record is attached to Lithuanian swimmer Rüta Meilutyté touching in 1:04.35 at the 100m breaststroke semi-final. Then Katie Ledecky (US) achieved 15:36.53 in 1500m freestyle followed by Danish Rikke Møller Pedersen finishing in 2:19.11 in 200m breaststroke semi-final. In the 50m breaststroke prelims Julia Efimova broke the world record by her result of 29.78 and the same day in the semi-final of the same event Rüta Meilutyté excelled again touching in 29.48. In the end the final was won by the Russian lady beating Lithuanian rival with a somewhat slower time than previously (29.52).
The sixth world record was breached by Katie Ledecky (8:13.86) in the 800m freestyle final. The records set in the 3 breaststroke events this time are still prevailing. American ladies claimed 6 solo titles, 3-3 by Ledecky and Missy Franklin and relays were dominated by them, also. Julia Efimova (50 and 200m breaststroke) and Katinka Hosszú (200 and 400m medley) could double.
Open water swimming: farewell of German icon
German swimmer Thomas Lurz crowned his outstanding career in Barcelona. He won his first World Championships gold in 2004 in 10k, since then he had claimed at least one gold at each World Championship. In 5k, the shortest course, he topped the podium altogether 7 times in a row. In the Catalonian capital he swept the 25k and the team event, he claimed silver in 10k and bronze in 5k. Men’s 10k winner Greek Spyridon Gianniotis touched in about 3 seconds faster than Lurz, defending his world champion title of Shanghai. Most medals were claimed by Germans (2 gold, 2 silver and 2 bronze) closely approached by Brazilians claiming only one gold fewer and finishing second in the medal table.
Synchronised swimming: Russian dominance continued
Russian synchronised swimming proved its power in Barcelona, 2013 when they claimed 7 out of 7 gold medals as they did 2 years earlier in Shanghai, however, this time they could do so without Nathalia Ischchenko, queen of synchro. Solo and duet events were this time claimed by Svetlana Romashina. Back in 2005 she was in the world champion team and Barcelona marked the peak of her career clinching 4 medals after two gold at the London Olympics. As for individual events, silver medals went to China while bronze medals were claimed by Spain. In team events hosting nation finished second in 3 events while the third place went to the Ukraine.
Diving: speck of dust in the Chinese machine
Following their perfect performance in Shanghai Chinese divers could not continue their dominance in Barcelona. Men’s synchro diving was won by German duet Sasha Klein and Patrick Hausding, while London Olympic gold medallist duet Cao Yuan, Zhang Yanquan finished third only, Russian Minibaev-Chesakov duet proved to be better and finished second. As a matter of fact, the German duet was a quite experienced one, since they are 8-time European champions, yet they had always finished second when Chinese appeared. In Barcelona they managed to take advantage of the momentary weakness of Yuan and Yanquan. As for ladies, He Zi managed to double, she became champion in 1 and 3m as well. In men’s individual events all three Chinese contenders Li Shixin (1 m), He Chong (3 m) and Qiu Bo (10 m) defended their world champion title claimed 2 years earlier.
High diving: new discipline debuting
The programme of World Championships featured high diving for the first time. Men jumped from 27m while women performed their routines from 20m. The first historic gold by men went to Columbian Orlando Duque, whereas American diver Cesilie Carlton was the first woman to clinch gold in high diving at the World Championships.
Water polo: Hungary men’s water polo team victorious again after 10 years
Apparently Barcelona was a lucky place for Hungary’s national water polo team. Exactly 10 years after claiming their second World Champs gold they topped the podium in Barcelona again, for the third time now. After head coach, Dénes Kemény left, Tibor Benedek took over the team earlier that year and now they proved to be the best team again for the third time so far. In fact, the kick off was not so smooth, the team qualified for the shootout stage from the second place in group C, however, from that time on Hungarians played excellently and defeated Montenegro 8-7in the final. The bronze match saw the victory of Croatia beating title defender Italy 10-8.
Concerning women, Hungary did a great job again, the team of András Merész finished third. In contrast with the men’s team ladies did not lose a match as long as the semi-finals, where they went down against hosting team 13-12 (having defeated Australia). The team beat Russia in the bronze match 10-8.