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Stars to look out for at the FINA Championships

July 13,2019
Caeleb Dressel, Katie Ledecky, Svetlana Romashina, Marc-Antoine Olivier, Gary Hunt, Shi Tingmao, Hungarian water polo team
Caeleb Dressel and Katie Ledecky of the United States (Swimming)

Team USA is hoping to continue its streak of dominance in swimming at the 18th FINA World Championships Gwangju 2019. The United States will have the most swimmers competing this year, and Katie Ledecky and Caeleb Dressel, who hold multiple world records, are getting much of the attention.

Dressel won seven gold medals at the 2017 World Aquatics Championships in Budapest, becoming the second male swimmer to win seven gold medals at a single World Championships after Michael Phelps in 2007. In addition to his wins, Dressel also set three national records during the 2017 Championships in the 50-meter butterfly and 50-meter and 100-meter freestyle.

If Dressel wins another seven medals in Gwangju, he will become the first swimmer to achieve such a feat for the second-straight World Championships. The United States is also looking good for women’s swimming with Ledecky. At 22, Ledecky already has an outstanding resume, including five Olympic gold medals and 14 World Championships gold medals. Ledecky’s record of 14 World Championships is the most among female swimmers and is also good enough to be ranked fifth in all-time medal standing at the World Championships. During the 2017 Championships, Ledecky won four gold medals and a silver.

Ledecky is also the current world record holder in the 400-meter, 800-meter and 1,500-meter freestyle.



Svetlana Romashina of Russia (Artistic swimming)

Svetlana Romashina makes her return to the World Championships as one of the likely candidates to medal in artistic swimming. Following a gold at the Rio Olympics, Romashina took a maternity leave and returned to the sport this year to great success. Partnering with Svetlana Kolesnichenko at the third leg of the FINA Artistic Swimming World Series 2019 in Kazan, Russia, the pair won the women’s duet free and duet technical.

By making her return to the World Championships for the first time since 2015, Romashina has a chance at making history. The five-time Olympic gold medalist in artistic swimming has won 18 gold medals at the World Championships. If she adds another gold in Gwangju, she will tie her former duet partner Natalia Ishchenko for the most World Championships medals in artistic swimming.

In Gwangju, as well as performing solo, Romashina will team up for duets with Kolesnichenko, who has won 13 golds at the World Championships throughout her career.



Marc-Antoine Olivier of France (Open water swimming)

Marc-Antoine Olivier is set to repeat his success from the 2017 World Championships in Budapest. The long-distance swimmer won two golds - 5-kilometers open water and the 5-kilometers team event. By winning gold, Olivier became the first French male open water swimmer to win gold at the World Championships.

At this year’s Championships, Olivier will not compete in the men’s 5-kilometers and will instead compete in the men’s 10-kilometers, 25-kilometers and 5-kilometers team event.

Ferry Weertman of the Netherlands is expected to be Olivier’s biggest rival. Weertman won gold in 10-kilometers open water swimming during the 2017 Championships.

A total of seven medal events will be held in open water swimming and will be held from July 12 to 19 at Yeosu EXPO Ocean Park Open Water Swimming Competition Venue.



Gary Hunt of Britain (High diving)

Gary Hunt is in Gwangju to pick up another World Championships gold in high diving, the latest addition to the Championships. High diving was added in the 2013 World Championships and Hunt managed to win silver in the event during the 2013 Championships and a gold in the 2015 Championships.

Looking at Hunt’s career achievements, he is the most dominant currently-active high diver, as he is a seven-time Red Bull Cliff Diving World Series winner and the winner of the FINA High Diving World Cup in 2016, 2018 and 2019.

Apart for Hunt, defending champion Steve LoBue of the United States will be another strong contender to take gold.



Shi Tingmao of China (Diving)

There’s no doubt that China is the all-time powerhouse in diving at the World Championships, as it’s won a total of 83 golds. This year, its team, led by Shi Tingmao, is hoping to continue that tradition.

Shi has been a dominant diver in women’s 3-meter synchronized springboard and 3-meter springboard. Since the 2013 World Championships, Shi won gold in 3-meter synchronized springboard alongside Wu Minxia. Although Shi had to compete with Chang Yani, another teammate, starting from the 2017 Championships, that didn’t prevent her from winning gold. She added another achievement to her list by winning the 3-meter springboard at the 2015 and 2017 World Championships.

If Shi tops the two events again, she’ll be defending her title in synchronized springboard for the fourth time while it’ll be the third straight time winning gold in the 3-meter springboard. Cao Yuan is expected to lead the men’s team in diving.



Hungary (Water polo)

Water polo is normally dominated by European countries and that’s no exception this year. Hungary enters the championships as a powerhouse in men’s water polo this year. Looking at the all-time medal record at the World Championships in men’s water polo, Serbia has a dominant record with five wins. Yet Hungary is close behind the team as it’s won three golds, tied with Italy.

Most recently, during the 2017 Championships, Hungary walked away with a silver medal, but this year, it is looking solid as they won the 2019 FINA Water Polo World League Europa Cup by defeating Croatia in the final. Unlike men’s water polo, which is dominated by European countries, women’s is dominated by the United States. It’s won the most golds at the World Championships at five and has set its sights on winning its third straight World Championships gold in Gwangju.

BY KANG YOO-RIM [kang.yoorim@joongang.co.kr]


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