Young swimmers Ruta Meilutyte of Lithuania and Chad Le Clos of South Africa were the "most valuable swimmers" on the second day of the 11th FINA World Swimming Championships (25m) in Istanbul as both of them won gold medals with new event's records here on Thursday.
In the women's 50m breaststroke, the Lithuanian revelation of 2012, who won the 100m breaststroke at the London Games, proved her present superiority in the distance, getting the gold in 29.44, a new Championships record and giving her country the first medal ever in the history of these Championships.
Jamaica's Alia Atkinson took the silver in 29.67. Australian Sarah Katsoulis claimed bronze in 29.94. Jessica Hardy of the United States, world record holder and winner of the distance in 2008, took fifth in 30.01.
"I really didn't expect it. At the moment it feels just like I have swum a normal race, but it will start sinking in. It's crazy," said the 15-year-old.
In the men's 100m butterfly, Le Clos, winner of the Olympic 200m butterfly, also swam fast, clocking a new event's best mark in 48.82.
With a very strong field including Laszlo Cseh of Hungary, Ryan Lochte and Tom Shields from USA, Rafael Munoz of Spain and Nikolay Skvortsov of Russia, the 100m fly was a one-way final. The Olympic champion confirmed his excellent season and was even under world record pace at the 50m mark. Shields touched the wall in 49.54 for second while Lochte earned bronze in 49.59.
"The FINA Swimming World Cup was a good preparation for me. After the Olympics, I did not want to be known as a one-day hit, so I'm pretty happy with my race tonight. That was my immediate goal after Olympics to come to the world short course, it was important to come here and win a gold medal," said Le Clos.
Looking ahead, he added: "I was a breaststroke swimmer in the beginning when I was 16, I never swam butterfly. For the next two years, I'll train my breaststroke, keep butterfly and also freestyle."
In the men's 400m IM, with Lochte out of the race for a fourth consecutive win - the North American star decided not to include this event in his program for these championships - the obvious candidate for gold was Daiya Seto of Japan, the best in the heats and the swiftest this season. His main challenger was Hungary's Laszlo Cseh. In the final, Seto perfectly controlled the race, touching first and establishing a new best performance of the season in 3:59.15. Cseh picked up silver in 4:00.50 while the second Magyar of the final, David Verraszto, earned bronze in 4:02.87.
The men's 100m back gold was claimed by Olympic champion Matt Grevers of the United States in 49.89, 0.02 seconds faster than Russian Stanislav Donets, who touched for silver in 49.91. The bronze went to Brazil's Guilherme Guido in 50.50.
Surprises happened in the women's 100m backstroke as the triumph came unexpectedly from Olivia Smoliga of the United States. At her first senior major international competition, the 18-year-old swimmer got the gold in 56.64, followed by Denmark's Mie Nielsen in 57.07 and Simona Baumrtova of Czech Republic, bronze medallist in 57.18.
With South Africa's Cameron van der Burgh absent,the men's 100m breaststroke title was claimed by Fabio Scozzoli of Italy. The 24-year-old touched the wall first in 57.10, a new best mark of the year. The silver medal went to Damir Dugonjic of Slovenia in 57.32 while American Kevin Cordes got the bronze in 57.83.
In other events Thursday, Lauren Boyle of New Zealand won the women's 800m free in 8:08.62, while Ryan Lochte gave a decisive lead for his team in the 4X200m free relay and helped the United States win the relay in 6:51.40. The silver went to Australia in 6:52.29 while Germany, led by Paul Biedermann, earned bronze in 6:53.22.