BUDAPEST – Hungary’s Kristóf Milák thrilled home fans by lowering his own world record in the men’s 200 butterfly at the swimming world championships on Tuesday, when American swimmers claimed another three gold medals.
The 22-year-old Milák produced a stunning swim to clock 1 minute, 50.34 seconds and earn Hungary its first gold medal of the competition.
“Now it hurts a lot, I don’t feel my legs,” said Milák, who shaved 0.39 seconds off the previous record he set at the last worlds. “I think I pushed a bit harder over the first 100 meters, that’s why it was so painful at the end but I really wanted this world record, wanted it more than anything.”
Milák was 3.03 quicker than Léon Marchand, who improved on the French record he set in the semifinals. Japan’s Tomoru Honda was third.
The 20-year-old Marchand later set another national record of 1:55.75 as he was fastest in the semifinals of the men’s 200 individual medley.
“Two great times today!” Marchand said.
American swimmer Bobby Finke also set a national record of 7:39.36 as he produced a sizzling finish to win the first gold of the evening in the men’s 800 freestyle.
Ukrainian swimmer Mykhailo Romanchuk looked headed for victory but Finke, who was fourth going into the last 50 meters, swam it in only 25.93 seconds to overtake both Romanchuk and Germany’s Florian Wellbrock for the victory.
“I was just thinking in my head it is just a 50 left. It is only like 26 seconds of pain and if I can pull off a win, it is worth it. I’ll settle through the pain,” Finke said.
Third-place Romanchuk finished just 0.69 seconds behind. He nearly didn't make it to Budapest and spoke afterward about his father fighting in Ukraine.
China’s Yang Junxuan won the women’s 200 freestyle, clocking 1:54.92 to finish just ahead of Australia’s Mollie O’Callaghan, who claimed her first individual medal at a worlds. Another Chinese swimmer, Tang Muhan, was third.
Nic Fink then took advantage of Adam Peaty’s injury-enforced absence to win the men’s 50 breaststroke in an American record of 26.45 seconds, edging Italy’s Nicolo Martinenghi and American compatriot Michael Andrew.
“I didn’t see anything over the last five meters,” Fink said.
Fink later claimed his second gold of the night by helping American teammates Hunter Armstrong, Torri Huske and Claire Curzan to victory in the mixed 4x100 medley relay ahead of the Australian and Dutch teams.
It was the 10th gold for the United States at this worlds, where American swimmers have also claimed three silver and nine bronze.
Up-and-coming Romanian star David Popovici set a junior world record in the semifinals of the men’s 100 freestyle – 47.13 seconds – though he rued defending champion Caeleb Dressel’s surprise late absence.
It’s unclear what’s ailing Dressel and if he’ll be able to take part in 50 freestyle and 100 butterfly races later in the worlds.
Another rising star, 15-year-old Canadian Summer McIntosh, was fastest with a junior world record of 2:05.79 in the semifinals of the women’s 200 butterfly.
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