AQUATICS: 18th World Aquatics Championships start Friday in Gwangju with Diving, Artistic and Open Water events

Once every two years, the entire competitive aquatics community comes together for the World Aquatics Championships, including Swimming, Diving, Artistic Swimming, Open Water, High Diving and Water Polo.

FINA’s 18th edition of the Worlds is getting set to start in Gwangju (KOR), beginning on Friday and running for two weeks through the 28th. The overall schedule breaks the disciplines into two groups:

Week 1: 12-20 July
● Artistic Swimming: 10 events
● Diving: 13 events
● Open Water: 7 events
● Water Polo: preliminary matches

Week 2: 21-28 July
(Preview coming next week!)
● Swimming: 42 events
● High Diving: 2 events
● Water Polo: preliminary and medal matches

There is some serious prize money available at the FINA Worlds, by far the most in any swimming or diving event:

Artistic: $20,000-1,000 for places 1-8 (Solo and Duet); $50,000-5,000 (Teams 1-8)
Diving: $20,000-1,000 for places 1-8
Open Water: $20,000-1,000 for places 1-8
Swimming: $20,000-1,000 for places 1-8
High Diving: $20,000-500 for places 1-14
Water Polo: $80,000-10,000 for teams 1-8

In all, the prize purse totals $5,847,800 with the largest share going to swimming at $2.73 million. Beyond the prize money in swimming, there is a $30,000 bonus available for each world record set.

All of the disciplines are on the Olympic program except High Diving, although there are more events at the Aquatics Worlds than in the Games. A closer look at the first week’s events:


Russia has been the dominant force in this discipline and 2019 promises to be no different. Event in Solo (Technical and Free), Duet (Technical and Free), Team (Technical, Free, Combination, Highlight) and Mixed Duet (Technical and Free) will be held. The leading contenders:

● Svetlana Kolesnichenko (RUS) ~ 2017 World Champion in Technical and Free
● Onna Carbonell (ESP) ~ 2017 Worlds silver in Technical and Free
● Yukiko Inui (JPN) ~ 2017 Worlds Technical 4th; Free 4th
● Jacqueline Simoneau (CAN) ~ 2017 Worlds Technical 5th; Free 6th
● Linda Cerruti (ITA) ~ 2017 Worlds Technical 6th; Free 5th
● Marta Fiedina (UKR)

Kolesnichenko has shown no signs of weakness and is the clear favorite. Inui has been exceptional during the FINA World Series events and with the Olympic Games in Tokyo next year, will be at her peak for the Worlds. Carbonell owns a staggering 20 World Championships medals, dating back to Spanish team medals in 2007. She has won Solo medals in 2013-15-17.

● Svetlana Kolesnicheko/Svetlana Romashina (RUS) ~ Kolesnichenko: 2017 golds
● Claudia Holzner/Jacqueline Simoneau (CAN) ~ 2017: Technical 7th; Free 7th
● Linda Cerruti/Costanza Ferro (ITA) ~ 2017: Technical 6th; Free 6th
● Yelyzaveta Yakhno/Anastasiya Savchuk (UKR) ~ Yakhno: 2017 bronzes
● Yukiko Inui/Megumu Yoshida (JPN) ~ Inui: 2017 Technical 4th; Free 4th

Kolesnichenko teamed up with Alexandra Patskevich to win the Duet Technical and Free in 2017; Romashina owns 18 Worlds gold medals (no silvers or bronzes) and won the Duet Technical and Free at the World Championships in 2009-11-13-15. Now she’s back and teaming up with Kolesnichenko!

Yakhno also has a new partner; she and Anna Voloshyna won Duet bronzes in both events two years ago. Inui won a bronze (with Risako Mitsui) in the 2015 Technical event; she was fourth in both events in 2017 with two different partners, but she and Yoshida have been sharp in the World Series events. The Italian and Canadian pairs both scored well in 2017 and are back again.

The Russians won the Technical and Free events in 2017 and did not enter the Team Combination, won by China. This time they are in all three and favored. China, Japan, Ukraine and Canada will also be strong.

The Team Highlight event is new and wide open as neither Russia or China entered.

Bill May/Natalia Vega Figueroa (USA) ~ May: 2015 Free gold; Tech silver
● Pau Ribes/Emma Garcia (ESP) ~ Ribes: 2017 Technical 5th; Free 5th
● Aleksandr Maltsev/Mayya Gurbanberdieva (RUS) ~ Maltsev: 2015-17 Free gold
● Giorgio Minisini/Manila Flamini (ITA) ~ 2015 Technical bronze; 2017 Technical gold
● Atsushi Abe/Yumi Adachi (JPN) ~ 2017 Technical 4th; Free 4th

Pairs change quite a lot in these events, but Maltsev has been a steady medal winner in 2015 and 2017, sometimes exchanging places with the Italian pair of Minisini and Flamini. The Russians were the best during the 2019 World Series, but look out for the U.S. pair of May and Vega Figueroa, as May has been a medal winner in both 2015 and 2017.


The question here is how many medals will the Chinese win. They took eight golds (in 13 events) and 15 total medals in 2017, 10 golds and 15 medals in 13 events in 2015 and 13 medals with nine golds in 10 events in 2013.

How dominant will they be in 2019?

● Jianfeng Peng (CHN) ~ 2017 1 m Champion
● Giovanni Tocci (ITA) ~ 2017 1 m bronze medalist
● Patrick Hausding (GER) ~ 2017 1 m fourth; 2016 Olympic 3 m bronze; 2017 3 m silver
Michael Hixon (USA) ~ 2017 1 m fifth; 2015 1 m bronze
● Oleg Kolodiy (UKR) ~ 2017 1 m sixth; 2017 3 m seventh
● Yuan Cao (CHN) ~ 2016 Olympic 3m Champion
● Siyi Xie (CHN) ~ 2017 World 3 m Champion
● Evgenii Kuznetsov (RUS) ~ 2017 3 m eighth
● Rommel Pacheco (MEX) ~ 2017 3 m fourth
● Jack Laugher (GBR) ~ 2016 Olympic 3 m silver; 2015 Worlds 3 m bronze
David Boudia (USA) ~ 2015 10 m silver; 2016 Olympic 10 m bronze

● Hao Yang (CHN) ~ 2014 Youth Olympic 3 m & 10 m Champion
● Jian Yang (CHN) ~ 2017 Worlds 10 m bronze
● Tom Daley (GBR) ~ 2017 World 10 m Champion; 2015 Worlds 10 m silver
David Dinsmore (USA) ~ 2017 Worlds 10 m sixth
● Aleksandr Bondar (RUS) ~ 2017 Worlds 10 m fourth

The Chinese are clear favorites in the Springboard events, returning the reigning Olympic and World Champions. The 10 m is more open, especially with Jian Yang and Hao Yang each having won two World Series events this year, but Daley also won one. If any of these slip, Bondar and Dinsmore should be right there to contend for medals.

● Yuan Cao/Siyi Xie (CHN) ~ 2017 Worlds 3 m Synchro silver
● Nikita Shleiker/Evgenii Kuznetsov (RUS) ~ Kuznetsov: 2017 3 m Synchro Champion
● Oleksandr Gorshkovozov/Oleg Kolodiy (UKR) ~ Kolodiy: 2017 3 m Synchro bronze
● Jack Laugher/Daniel Goodfellow (GBR) ~ 2016 Olympic 3 m Synchro Champions
Mike Hixon/Andrew Capobianco (USA) ~ Hixon: 2016 Olympic 3m Synchro silver
● Patrick Dausding/Lars Rudiger (GER) ~ Hausding: 2017 Worlds 3 m Synchro fifth

● Aisen Chen/Yuan Cao (CHN) ~ 2016 Olympic 10m Synchro Champions
● Tom Daley/Matt Lee (GBR) ~ Daley: 2016 Olympic 10 m Synchro bronze
Steele Johnson/Benjamin Bramley (USA) ~ Johnson: 2016 OG 10 m Synchro silver
● Viktor Minibaev/Aleksandr Bondar (RUS) ~ 2017 Worlds 10 m Synchro silver

The 3 m Synchro event appears fairly open based on past performances, but Cao and Xie won all three of their appearances in the World Series in 2019 and are solid favorites. But behind them, Britain’s Laugher and Goodfellow appear to be the best challengers, but the Ukrainian and Russian pairs should contend for medals.

Olympic champs Chen and Cao are formidable obstacles for any other pair in the 10 m Synchro, but could be challenged by Daley and Lee (GBR) and Minibaev and Bondar (RUS).

● Yiwen Chen (CHN) ~ 2017 World 1 m fourth
● Esther Qin (AUS) ~ 2017 World 1 m seventh; 2016 Olympic 3 m sixth
● Elena Bertocchi (ITA) ~ 2017 World 1 m bronze
● Mariia Polyakova (RUS) ~ 2017 World 1 m fifth

● Maddison Keeney (AUS) ~ 2016 Olympic 3 m fifth; 2017 Worlds 3 m fifth
● Pamela Ware (CAN) ~ 2013 Worlds 3 m bronze; 2016 Olympic 3 m seventh
● Jennifer Abel (CAN) ~ 2016 Olympic 3 m fourth; 2017 Worlds 3 m bronze
● Han Wang (CHN) ~ 2013 & 2017 World 3 m silver
● Tingmao Shi (CHN) ~ 2016 Olympic 3 m Champion, 2015-17 3m World Champion
● Grace Reid (GBR) ~ 2016 Olympic 3 m eighth; 2017 Worlds 3 m fourth

The 1 m Springboard is not an Olympic event and Australia’s Keeney is not defending her title there. In 3 m, China has gone 1-2 in the 2012 and 2016 Olympics and 2013-15-17 Worlds. And they are favored to do so again. The fight for bronze is wide open.

● Yuxi Chen (CHN) ~ 2019 London World Series 10 m winner
● Wei Lu (CHN) ~ 2019 Montreal World Series 10 m winner
● Meaghan Benfeito (CAN) ~ 2016 Olympic 10 m bronze; 2017 Worlds 10 m eighth
● Pandelela Pamg (INA) ~ 2015 Worlds 10 m bronze
● Melissa Wu (AUS) ~ 2017 Worlds 10 m fifth

This is another event in which China has been 1-2 in the last three World Championships and the 2016 Olympic Games, but the players have changed. Chen and Lu are certainly favored for medals, especially with the excellent North Korean divers skipping this event. Perhaps an opening for Benfeito, who was second and third in her appearances in the 2019 World Series.

● Annabelle Smith/Maddison Keeney (AUS) ~ 2016 Olympic 3 m Synchro bronze
● Katherine Torrance/Grace Reid (GBR) ~ 2017 Worlds 3 m Synchro fourth
● Tingmao Shi/Han Wang (CHN) ~ Shi: 2013-15-17 Worlds 3 m Syn. gold; 2016 OG gold
● Melissa Citrini Beaulieu/Jennifer Abel (CAN) ~ 2017 Worlds 3 m Synchro silver
● Kristina Ilinykh/Mariia Polyakova (RUS) ~ Ilinykh: 2017 Worlds 3 m Synchro bronze
● Yan Yee Ng/Nur Dhabitah Sabri (MAS) ~ 2017 Worlds 3 m Synchro sixth

● Jiaqi Zhang/Wei Lu (CHN) ~ Two 2019 World Series wins, one bronze
● Eden Cheng/Lois Toulson (GBR) ~ 2017 Worlds 10 m Synchro seventh
● Meaghan Benfeito/Caeli McKay (CAN) ~ Benfeito: 2016 Olympic 10 m Synchro bronze
● Iullia Timoshinina/Ekaterina Beliaeva (RUS) ~ Timoshinina: 2017 Worlds 10 m Syn. 8th
● Mun Yee Leong/Pandelela Pamg (MAS) ~ Pamg: 2017 Worlds 10 m Synchro bronze
● Melissa Wu/Emily Chinnock (AUS) ~ Wu: 2017 Worlds 10 m Synchro fifth

In the 3 m Synchro, China’s Shi is one of the most decorated divers ever and figures to win with Wang. But after that. It’s anyone’s guess how the medals will come out.

In the 10 m Synchro, China has a new pair who went 1-1-3 in the three 2019 World Series events they competed in. Canada’s McKay and Benfeito beat them once and might be the strongest challengers.

Mixed 10 m Synchro:
● Junjie Lian/Yajie Si (CHN) ~ Lian: 2017 Worlds Mixed 10 m Champion
● Viktor Minibaev/Ekaterina Beliaeva (RUS) ~ Minibaev: 2018 Worlds Mixed 10 m fourth

A very weak field in the Mixed 10 m, with the Chinese and Russians with the most experience, but anything could happen.

We’d like to say something about the 3 m Mixed, but no entries were provided!


Of all the athletes in the FINA Worlds, the open-water swimmers have to be the most fit and the most insane. Swimming in a lake or ocean, with wind and waves? These folks are nuts, but they are to be admired for their fitness, for sure.

Competitions are held at 5 km, 10 km and 25 km (15 1/2 miles!!!), but since the 10 km is the only one held in the Olympic Games, let’s concentrate on that:

Men/10 km:
● Ferry Weertman (NED) ~ 2016 Olympic Champion; 2017 World Champion
● Gregorio Paltrinieri (ITA) ~ 2016 Olympic 1,500 m (pool) Champion
Jordan Wilimovsky (USA) ~ 2016 Olympic fifth; 2015 Worlds gold; 17 Worlds silver
● Ous Mellouli (TUR) ~ 2013 Worlds bronze
● Allan Do Carmo (BRA) ~ 2013 Worlds seventh; 2015 Worlds ninth
● Jack Burnell (GBR) ~ 2017 Worlds fourth
● Kristof Rasovszky (HUN) ~ 2017 Worlds fifth
● Marc-Antoine Olivier (FRA) ~ 2016 Olympic bronze; 2017 Worlds silver

Women/10 km:
● Sharon van Rouwendaal (NED) ~ 2016 Olympic Champion; 2015 Worlds silver
Ashley Twichell (USA) ~ 2017 Worlds 5 km Champion
Haley Anderson (USA) ~ 2012 Olympic silver; 2013-15 World 5 km Champion
● Anna Olasz (HUN) ~ 2015 Worlds 25 km silver medalist
● Rachele Bruni (ITA) ~ 2016 Olympic silver medalist
● Ana Marcela Cunha (BRA) ~ 2017 Worlds co-bronze, 2015-17 Worlds 25 km gold
● Samantha Arevalo (ECU) ~ 2017 Worlds silver medalist
● Aurelie Muller (FRA) ~ 2015-17 World Champion
● Finnia Wunram (GER) ~ 2015 Worlds 5 km bronze medalist
● Arianna Bridi (ITA) ~ 2017 Worlds co-bronze medalist

Weertman has been the best when the races are the biggest, as has van Rouwendaal. The Americans have a formidable team with Wilimovsky, Anderson and Twichell all capable of medals, and four World Championships wins among them.

Three women to watch are Italy’s Bridi and Bruni and the amazing Cunha from Brazil. Still just 27, Cunha has won the 2011-15-17 Worlds 25 golds, bronze medals in the 2013-17 5 km races and the 2013 silver and 2015-17 bronzes in the 10 km. She plans to – once again – race all three distances in Korea. Wow!

NBC’s Olympic Channel has a heavy schedule of the FINA Worlds in all disciplines; check the full schedule here. Look for results on FINA’s Web site here.