Aussie swimming veteran Cameron McEvoy is primed to defend his 50m freestyle world title after claiming an unexpected medal in what was essentially a warm-up event.
McEvoy, 29, snatched a bronze in the men’s 50m butterfly at the World Aquatics World Swimming Championships in Doha on Tuesday morning (AEDT) — despite only entering the event to tune up for the one-lap freestyle dash.
McEvoy was quickest of the blocks in the 50m butterfly final and touched the wall in 23.08 to finish behind Portugal’s Diogo Matos Ribeiro (22.97) and USA’s Michael Andrew (23.07) in the non-Olympic event.
“I didn’t expect a medal coming into this competition, I was 18th in Fukuoka (World Champs) and I just wanted to go better, so to make the semi final was great, and then the final … to win a medal makes me excited about what’s to come,” McEvoy said.
“These World Championships are a blessing from a sprinting point of view, having the meet so close to Paris against a stacked field with depth is perfect.
“From my personal perspective, I couldn’t ask for a better set up.”
McEvoy is bidding to become only the fourth swimmer to win back-to-back 50m freestyle world titles alongside Tom Jager (1986, 1991), Ceser Cielo (2009, 2011, 2013) and Caleb Dressel (2017, 2019), with the event starting on Friday.
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Meanwhile, US swimmer Nic Fink claimed gold in the men’s 100m breaststroke as legendary British star Adam Peaty claimed a bronze on his world championships return.
Fink, a silver and bronze medallist at the past two editions, won in 58.57 seconds, with Italy’s 2022 world champion Nicolo Martinenghi taking silver, 0.27sec adrift.
Double Olympic champion and world record holder Peaty rounded out the podium, clocking 59.10sec.
The 29-year-old is appearing at the world championships for the first time since 2019. He took time out of the sport last year to concentrate on his mental health.
In Peaty’s absence, China’s Qin Haiyang swept the 50m, 100m and 200m breaststroke events in Fukuoka, Japan last year, emerging as a serious threat to Peaty at the Paris Olympics.
The 24-year-old Qin did not travel to Qatar for these world championships. Peaty described his bronze medal performance as “bittersweet”.
“The swimming speed is fine, over the next five months, I know that is only going to improve and that is my thing, but the skills are just not good enough at this moment,” he commented.
“So it is bittersweet because we did not come here for medals, I wasn’t really to fuss about aiming for a medal here because that is just not the target, we’ve come off a hard bank of work and last night gave me a glimmer of hope thinking I could get faster even today.”
Fink’s fellow American Kate Douglass defended her 200m individual medley title in a time of 2min 7.05sec, less than a second outside the world record.
Canada’s Sydney Pickrem took silver with China’s Yu Yiting completing the podium.
The women’s 100m butterfly title went to German Angelina Kohler in 56.28. She came in clear of American Claire Curzan and Swede Louise Hansson.
Kohler lined up in the final as the top qualifier and duly bagged her first world medal of any colour at her fourth championships.