Vilnius 2024: Kuzey Tuncelli demolishes World Junior Record in 1500 free to rattle rankings ahead of Paris 2024

Credit to: European Aquatics

Kuzey Tuncelli of Türkiye had the crowd at the Lazdynai Pool on its feet as he powered to a 1500m freestyle World Junior Record of 14:41.89 on day three of the European Junior Swimming Championships in Vilnius, Lithuania.

The 16-year-old led throughout in what was essentially a race against the clock before coming home to take 4.2secs off the previous standard of 14:46.09 held by Croatian Franko Grgic since 2019.

Tuncelli’s time was a World and European junior record, new Championship standard and a Turkish mark.

With that he retained the title he won at Belgrade 2023, little more than a fortnight after taking the crown at the European Aquatics Championships Belgrade 2024.

Sara Curtis claimed her fourth gold medal of the meet after retaining her title in the women’s 50m freestyle.

Italy head the medal standings after three days of competition with five golds and four silvers followed by Hungary (three golds and three bronzes) and hosts Lithuania with three gold medals.

Credit to: European Aquatics

Tuncelli arrived in the Lithuanian capital with a best of 14:54.16 from the European Youth Olympic Festival in Maribor, Slovenia, in July 2023.

His second best was 14:54.98 en-route to making the final at the World Championships in Doha in February where he finished eighth.

On Thursday, he went through the first 100m in 55.39 and thereafter was metronomic in his splits, ranging from 29.33 to 30.09, before unleashing a 27.43 final 50.

He will now travel to make his Olympic debut in Paris trailing only World champion Daniel Wiffen and Olympic gold medallist Bobby Finke in the rankings.

Johannes Liebmann was second in 15:04.04 with Muhammed Yusuf Ozden making it a Turkish 1-3 in 15:19.56.

Credit to: European Aquatics

Curtis set a Championship record of 24.67 in the prelims on Wednesday to go within 0.11 of her 24.56 Italian standard and European junior mark from March.

Come Thursday and the Italian took the title in 24.68 for her third successive trip to the European Junior podium following gold at Belgrade 2023 and bronze in Otopeni the previous year.

The 17-year-old, who will make her Olympic debut at Paris 2024 later this month, added the 50 free crown to the golds she has collected in the 50m backstroke and the women’s and mixed 4x100m freestyle relays.

Croatian Jana Pavalin – who was fifth at the European Aquatics Championships Belgrade 2024 – clocked 24.92 for silver, three years after finishing second at Roma 2021.

Great Britain’s Skye Carter replicated her bronze from Belgrade 2023 in 25.24, a day after her sister Jasmine was second in the 50m breaststroke.

Credit to: European Aquatics

Robert-Andrei Badea claimed Romania’s second title in as many days after a tussle with Nil Cadevall Micolau in the men’s 200m individual medley.

Cadevall Micolau, of Spain, was 0.11 ahead after the opening butterfly leg before Badea took the lead on the backstroke.

The Spaniard ate into the deficit on the final 50 but Badea held firm to touch in 2:00.05, 0.10secs inside his Romanian record of 2:00.15 from the national championships in April.

It followed teammate Vlad-Stefan Mihalache‘s victory in the 200m butterfly on Wednesday with Romania ending day three fifth in the standings.

Cadevall was second in 2:00.34 with Germany’s Finn Hammer taking bronze in 2:01.68.

Credit to: European Aquatics

Martine Damborg powered away on the second 50 to upgrade her 2023 silver to gold in the women’s 100m butterfly.

The Danish swimmer was 0.01 behind leader Emmy Hallkvist of Sweden at halfway but came home in 58.75 for a clear victory.

Caterina Santambrogio came from sixth at the turn to move through the field to take silver in 59.11, adding to her gold with the women’s 4x100m freestyle relay.

Hollie Widdows of Great Britain won bronze in 59.16.

Credit to: European Aquatics

Italy had won all the relays so far in Vilnius and they led at the final changeover of the women’s 4x200m freestyle relay with Hungary and Germany in pursuit.

The Hungarians had individual champion Minna Abraham on anchor and she immediately ate into the deficit.

Italy, with Lucrezia Domina on anchor, were 0.07 up at 700m but Abraham steered Hungary into the wall for gold with a 1:57.05 final leg.

The quartet of Lilla Szabo (2:02.87), Dora Molnar (1:59.97), Vivien Jackl (2:01.22) and Abraham took the title in 8:01.11, 0.60 ahead of Italy who clocked 8:01.71.

Germany was third in 8:04.60.

In semifinal action, Lorenzo Ballarati of Italy booked lane four for his 50 free defence in 22.37, Ireland’s John Shortt headed the men’s 200m backstroke in 1:58.28 and Ethan Dumesnil led the 100m butterfly in 52.38.

Aissia-Claudia Prisecariu of Romania led the way in the women’s 200m backstroke in 2:11.45 with Hannah Schneider of Germany top seed in the 200m breaststroke in 2:29.00.

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