After Caeleb Dressel, one of the veteran swimmers expected to dominate the FINA World Championships, quit the competition on Wednesday, two teenagers — David Popovici, 17, and Summer McIntosh, 15 — commanded the top step of the podium.
Dressel, a seven-time Olympic gold medalist, had withdrawn for “medical reasons,” Lindsay Mintenko, swimming managing director for the US, told reporters at the start of the evening session.
“He’s just not fit to compete right now,” Mintenko added.
Popovici claimed victory in one of Dressel’s events, the men’s 100m freestyle, while McIntosh won the women’s 200m butterfly.
In the other individual finals, France’s Leon Marchand, 20, completed the men’s medley double in the 200m, while Kylie Masse won a second Canadian gold when she took the 50m women’s backstroke.
The evening ended with another of the US’ veteran stars, Katie Ledecky, carving a place in the record books with the winning women’s 200m relay team.
It was Ledecky’s 21st world championship medal, more than any other woman.
Australia took silver, while Canada — with McIntosh collecting a second medal of the day — held on for bronze.
Dressel had won two golds in Budapest before swimming his last race on Tuesday morning, which was a heat of the 100m freestyle. The Olympic champion qualified only second-fastest behind Popovici.
The teenager was asked after the final if he had scared off Dressel.
“I don’t think so. I think he is too big of a boy to be running away from someone like myself — or frankly anyone — but I hope he’s OK and I hope he’ll come back stronger,” Popovici said.
The Romanian — who had become the first man in his country to win a world title when he won the 200m freestyle — became the first man to compete in both the 100m and 200m freestyle events at the world championships since the US’ Jim Montgomery in 1973.
“I’m glad we got to write a small page in swimming history,” Popovici said, smiling. “Some would say a huge page, but we like to keep it low key.”
“I’m glad to have got two golds now. I think it will be pretty heavy carrying them,” he added.
Popovici edged Maxime Grousset of France by 0.6 seconds and Canada’s Joshua Liendo by 0.13 seconds.
US artistic swimmer Anita Alvarez, 25, was in danger of drowning on Wednesday after losing consciousness in the pool at the FINA World Championships in Budapest before being rescued by her coach, Andrea Fuentes.
Fuentes, a four-time Olympic medalist in synchronized swimming, jumped into the pool after she saw Alvarez sink to the bottom at the end of her solo free final routine.
Alvarez was given medical attention beside the pool before being taken away on a stretcher.
It was the second time Fuentes has had to rescue Alvarez after she leaped into the pool during an Olympic qualification event last year and pulled her to safety along with Alvarez’s swim partner, Lindi Schroeder.
“Anita is much better. She is already at her best. It was a good scare, to be honest,” Fuentes told Spanish newspaper Marca on Wednesday.
“I jumped into the water again because I saw that no one, no lifeguard, was jumping in. I got a little scared because she wasn’t breathing, but now she’s fine. She has to rest,” Fuentes added.
In a statement on Instagram, Fuentes said Alvarez was to be assessed by doctors yesterday before a decision would be made on her participation in today’s team event.
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