Gold for teenage stars McIntosh, Popovici at swimming worlds

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Gold medalist David Popovici of Romania poses with his medal after the Men 100m Freestyle final at the 19th FINA World Championships in Budapest, Hungary, Wednesday, June 22, 2022. (AP Photo/Petr David Josek)

BUDAPEST – The kids are all right.

Canadian teenager Summer McIntosh won the women’s 200 butterfly for her first title at the world swimming championships on Wednesday before 17-year-old Romanian David Popovici claimed his second.

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They still have some way to go to match Katie Ledecky, who claimed her 18th gold at a worlds by helping the United States win the women's 4x200 freestyle. The 25-year-old Ledecky now has 21 medals, extending her record for the most among female swimmers in the competition.

Popovici won the men‘s 100 freestyle to add to the 200 freestyle he won on Monday. He is just the second man to achieve the double at a worlds, after American swimmer Jim Montgomery in 1973, and he's the first Romanian swimmer to win two golds at a worlds.

“The airport is going to be chaotic but I am ready for it,” Popovici said of his return to Bucharest. “For Romania it means a lot and I love the feelings, even though I cannot explain it really well, I am very happy.”

The 15-year-old McIntosh clocked 2:05.20 – a world junior record – in the 200 butterfly to pip the three Olympic medalists to the title.

“It’s one of my biggest dreams in the swimming world to become world champion, and especially to do it in 200 fly is something I have always wanted to do because this is one of my favorite events,” said McIntosh, who finished 0.88 seconds ahead of American Hali Flickinger and 1.12 ahead of China’s Zhang Yufei. American Regan Smith was 1.59 behind in fourth.

Popovici, who set a world junior record of 47.13 in qualifying for the 100, had to fight hard to edge France’s Maxime Grousset by 0.06 seconds in the final with a time of 47.58.

Canada’s Joshua Liendo Edwards, who was leading at the halfway stage, took the bronze.

Two-time defending champion Caeleb Dressel didn’t race after withdrawing from the rest of the competition with an unspecified medical condition earlier Wednesday.

The Americans had to wait until the women's 4x200 freestyle for their 11th gold of the championships as Claire Weinstein, Leah Smith, Ledecky and Bella Sims finished 2.41 seconds ahead of the Australian team and 3.31 ahead of the Canadians.

McIntosh showed no ill effects from the 200 butterfly earlier as she set a junior record of 1:54.79 over her 200 meters. Only Ledecky and Sims were faster on the night.

“I am so proud,” Ledecky said. “I think I realized when we were on the medal podium it had been a while since we had all been up there singing the national anthem together; trying to hit those high-pitched notes together. So that was a lot of fun.”

Alex Walsh and Flickinger will also get gold medals for their swims on the relay during prelims.

Only the U.S. (11 gold, six silver, nine bronze) and Australia (two gold, five silver, one bronze) have won at least one medal on each of the five nights of the swimming competition.

Kylie Masse claimed Canada’s second gold of the night by winning the women’s 50 backstroke in 27.31 – 0.08 ahead of American Katharine Berkoff and 0.09 ahead of French swimmer Analia Pigree.

Masse became the first swimmer from Canada, male or female, to win three golds at a worlds.

The 20-year-old Léon Marchand then continued his remarkable competition by winning the men’s 200 individual medley in 1:55.22, lowering the French record he set in the semifinals.

Marchand finished 0.49 ahead of American Carson Foster, 1.00 ahead of Japan’s Daiya Seto and 1.21 ahead of Chase Kalisz.

It was Marchand's second gold at this worlds after the men’s 400 medley on Saturday, when he almost took Michael Phelps’ world record, and his third medal after silver in the 200 butterfly on Tuesday.

“I was a little tired this morning,” Marchand told journalists.


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