CLAY COUNTY — Four finals, three golds.
Torri Huske, Caeleb Dressel and Alex Walsh all won for the United States on the second day of racing at the world swimming championships on Sunday.
Only Nicolò Martinenghi prevented an American clean sweep as the 22-year-old claimed Italy’s first-ever gold medal in the men’s 100 breaststroke.
“My first medal, a gold medal in my first final at the world championship is something special,” said Martinenghi, who also set a national record.
The 19-year-old Huske improved on her own American record in the women’s 100 butterfly, clocking 55.64 seconds to finish ahead of French swimmer Marie Wattel and China’s Zhang Yufei.
“It’s kind of surreal. I feel like I haven’t really processed it yet,” said Huske, who was 0.29 seconds under the world-record pace at the 50-meter mark. “I’m just happy I went a best time more than the place. At the end of the day, I just want to see that I’m improving myself.”
Wattel’s 56.14 is a French record. Canada’s Maggie Mac Neil, who won in 2019, and Sweden’s Sarah Sjöström, the 2017 winner, both skipped the race.
Dressel was a half-second off the world record as he took gold in the men’s 50 butterfly with 22.57, ahead of Brazilian Nicholas Santos and American teammate Michael Andrew.
“Feels good to get the first individual (gold) out of the way. It’s always the most nerve-racking,” said Dressel, who became the first American to win back-to-back world titles in the event.
Andrew posted a personal best time to gain his first medal, and he reflected on Dressel’s dominance.
“As much as he’s a teammate, I always want to beat him. It’s nice having a guy like him in a lot of the events I race because it pushes me to work that much harder,” Andrew said.
Britain’s Benjamin Proud, who was quickest in qualifying, finished 0.51 off the pace in seventh.
Walsh clocked 2:07.13 in the women’s 200 medley, the fifth fastest time ever posted. The 20-year-old American finished 1.44 seconds ahead Australia’s Kaylee McKeown, and 1.78 ahead of 16-year-old teammate Leah Hayes, whose time of 2:08.91 is a junior world record.
“I’ve had my eyes on that record for a while now and I’m so happy to finally get it,” Hayes said.
It brought the Americans’ medal tally to 12 altogether – five gold, one silver and six bronze.
“I forgot what it’s like to have so many people in the crowd and I was shocked, honestly, looking up from my race and seeing the stadium was full of people,” Walsh said.
The biggest cheers of the evening were for hometown favorite Katinka Hosszú, the 2017 and 2019 champion, who placed seventh in what could be her last worlds at home. Hosszú will be 38 when Budapest next hosts the event in 2027.
“It’s just such an honor to race Katinka. I’ve really looked up to her all of these years and it was fun,” Walsh said.
Martinenghi took the first gold of the evening in the men’s 100 breaststroke, clocking 58.26 seconds ahead of Dutch swimmer Arno Kamminga and American Nic Fink. Fink was fastest over the first 50 meters but finished 0.39 seconds behind Martinenghi.
Apostolos Christou of Greece set a championship record with 52.09 in the 100 backstroke semifinals. Thomas Ceccon of Italy and Hunter Armstrong of the U.S. were next fastest.
Germany’s Anna Elendt was fastest in the women’s breaststroke semifinals, where world record holder Lilly King qualified in eighth place for Monday’s final.
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