The first day of the Swimming World Championships split four gold medals between four nations. Katie Ledecky crushed the competition in the women’s 400 meters freestyle, Sun Yang narrowly beat James Guy for the gold in the men’s 400 meters freestyle, the Australian women (Emily Seebohm, Emma McKeon, Bronte Campbell and Cate Campbell) took gold in the women’s 4×100 meters freestyle relay while France (Florent Manaudou, Fabien Gilot, Mehdy Metella and Jérémy Stravius) took advantage of the American and Australian absence to win the men’s 4×100 meters freestyle relay.
Men’s 400 meters freestyle – Sun Yang (3:42.58) won the gold medal for the second consecutive time, while James Guy (3:43.75) of Great Britain finished second to pick up the silver medal while Ryan Cochrane (3:44.59), who tends to finish second behind Yang for the last few years, picked up the bronze medal. Yang, the Olympic champion in this event as well, hung back for the first 300 meters before bursting past Guy, who is probably more than happy with the second place finish. Yang was suspended for three months last year. He tested positive for the banned stimulant trimetazidine.
Women’s 400 meters freestyle – Katie Ledecky continued her dominance of the event, winning the second consecutive gold medal in this event, finishing with a 3:59.13, setting a new championship record, way ahead of Sharon Van Rouwendaal (4:03.02) of the Netherlands and Jessica Ashwood of Australia (4:03.34). This is Ledecky’s fifth gold medal in the World Championships (four back in 2013), and she’s taken one more event (the 200 meters freestyle) to make things a bit more difficult this time.
Women’s 4×100 meters freestyle relay – Australia surprised with a fantastic final three legs of the relay race to leave the United States (bronze) and the Netherlands (silver) behind, despite the brilliant first leg from Ranomi Kromowidjojo who gave the Dutch a nice lead they managed to squander later on. Australia set a new championship record with a 3:31.48 [Emily Seebohm (53.92), Emma McKeon (53.57), Bronte Campbell (51.77), Cate Campbell (52.22)]. The Dutch posted a 3:36.67 and had a 3:34.61. Femke Heemskerk, the closer for the Dutch, swam an incredible 51.99, just a tad slower than B. Campbell’s leg.
Men’s 4×100 meters freestyle relay – With no United States or Australia, the path was clear for France to repeat as champions, and so they did, finishing with a3:10.74, just ahead of Russia at 3:11.19, and Italy at3:12.53. The French team, consisting of Florent Manaudou, Fabien Gilot, Mehdy Metella and Jérémy Stravius was almost identical to the one that barely took gold from the Americans in 2013, except Metella wasn’t on the podium then, it was Yannick Agnel.
Sarah Sjöström set a new world record in the semifinals of the women’s 100 meters butterfly, finishing with a stunning 55.74 to break Dana Vollmer’s 55.98 from 2012.