Chalmers 47.15 Stubs Out Alexy’s Outside Smoker With Blast Back From 7th At Turn

2023-07-27 Reading Time: 5 minutes
Kyle Chalmers celebrates his first 100m free World title 7 years after Olympic gold as a 17 year old in Rio and two years after silver in Tokyo (Photo by Patrick B. Kraemer / MAGICPBK)

Kyle Chalmers, 17 when he claimed Olympic gold in the 100m freestyle and 22 when the Covid-delayed Games delivered silver, celebrated his first World title in the blue-riband event in 47.15sec after turning seventh and fixing a firefighter’s eye on the outside smoker.

Out in lane 8, American Jack Alexy, intent on taking the crown back for the USA in the absence of Olympic champion and 2017/19 World champion Caeleb Dressel, sped to the turn like a bat out of hell: 22.48.

Compare that to Chalmer’s 23.04 in seventh at the turn and we have a tale of two clubs, explained below but highlighted in the balance of these splits:

46.86 – 22.74; 24.12 – David Popovici WR 2022 (European Title)

46.96 – 22.29, 24.67 – Caeleb Dressel USA 2019 (World title)
47.08 – 22.79, 24.29 – Kyle Chamlers AUS (Worlds, Silver) 2019
47.08 – 22.71, 24.37 – Chalmers (Olympic silver) 2021

Kyle Chalmers – king of the 100 in Fukuoka, Japan (Photo by Patrick B. Kraemer / MAGICPBK)

Today, it went like this:

47.15 – 23.04, 24.11 – Chalmers Gold
47.31 – 22.48; 24.83 Alexy Silver
47.42 – 22.67; 24.75 Maxime Grousset (FRA) Bronze
47.43 – 23.04; 24.39 Pan (CHN)
47.45 – 22.85; 24.60 Richards (GBR)

Australia’s women owned the pool at the Tokyo 2020ne Olympics but it takes two sexes to deliver a championship and Chalmers made a big contribution today towards what could turn out to be history repeated with an Australian victory over the United States on gold count for the first time since the last time the showcase was held in Tokyo, in Fukuoka. That was the only time Australia pipped the USA to the top of the table at World long-course champs.

Young Brit Matt Richards, buoyed by the 200m World title he lifted on Tuesday and the British records he’d set in the 100m rounds, a 47.47 granting him a ticket to lane 4, was fastest responder: 0.59sec reaction off the blocks and fourth closest to Alexy at the turn in fifth, France’s silver medallist from a year ago in Budapest, Maxime Grousset closest to the American and heading to the podium with him. China’s Pan Zhanle was a match with Chalmers at the turn but the Australian had the 200 work, the experience and confidence of speed achieved in plenty of previous battles with him.

Defending champion and World record holder David Popovici finished sixth off a 22.73 there and 25.10 back for 47.83. No sign of the monumental might we witnessed in 2022. Swimmer and coach Adrian Radulescu will know why. Could be illness, other setback, any number of things … but if one were to guess, it looked like an untapered swim in a moment of challenge built into a longer-term plan, the moment perhaps as important en route to Paris as if he had won. Think stoicism for understanding.

The History In The Heat Of Gold For Chalmers

In victory, Chalmers became the second Dolphin 100m world champion in history and elevated Australia to second place on the all-time medals table after the dominant USA. James Magnussen, champion in 2011 and 2013, had been the only Australian winner since 1973. 

In the absence of Dressel, who missed the cut for the championships at his first trials since making a return to training after a break following sudden withdrawal from the 2022 Championships, Alexy was the sole contender for the nation that has dominated the 100m podium count since 1973, the USA, with seven titles, eight silvers and five bronzes. 

Kyle Chalmers by Joel Spear, courtesy of arena

Dressel remains the only man to race inside 47sec in textile in. World-Championship waters, Popovici having cracked the World record dating back to shiny suited Rome 2009 Worlds with a crushing 46.86 at the 2022 European Championships in the same magnificent pool at the Foro Italico’s Stadio del Nuoto.

Richards, who set British records of 47.59 in heats and 47.47 in his semi for a ticket to lane 4 in the final, is the first British swimmer to rise as high as fifth in the 100m freestyle, while no British man has claimed Olympic gold back to 1896, the last medallist in the event Bobby McGregor in 1964 behind American Don Schollander, the Phelps and Spitz of his era with the first four-gold-medal success in the pool on his way to being tapped to join the Skull and Bones secret society at Yale in 1967, the year further U.S. President George W. Bush (the first one) was also signed in. So it goes.

Chalmers’ 0.16sec win left the Melbourne 2007 final with the tightest podium in history: Filippo Magnini (ITA) and Brent Hayden (CAN) shared gold 0.04sec ahead of Eamonn Sullivan (AUS).

The Result in full

Paris Poser: Questions Of Balance To The Wall & Back

Where’s the 100 headed as the sprint crew sprints towards Paris 2024? Popovici is not where he was nor where he’s likely to be.

In Rome last year, Popovici raced his 46.86 shiny suit slayer of a swim in 22.74 out 24.12 home. Sensational. A poser for the ‘pure sprint club’, too: Popovici would have been 0.57sec behind Cielo at the turn in this same pool in 2009; 0.45sec behind Dressel at the turn at his 2019 swiftest over 100m, the world textile best until the Romanian’s 2022 blast. At 24.12 coming home, only Chalmers, at 24.29 returning to a 47.08 chasing Dressel down for Olympic silver 0.06 from his goal, gets close. 

Chalmers is in the Popovici club, Dressel and Alexy belong to the comets from the launch pad club. Which club will win in Paris? Here’s the canvas deep and wide, the battle lines of balance in the 100m ranks now and then:

The Balance Of There-And-Back In Top-Flight 100m Club:

David Popovici – by Matei Buta, courtesy of arena

A study of splits:

46.86 – 22.74; 24.12 – David Popovici WR 2022 (European Title)

46.91 – 22.17; 24.74 – Cesar Cielo BRA 2009 (World title)
46.94 – 22.35, 24.59 – Alain Bernard FRA 2009
46.96 – 22.29, 24.67 – Caeleb Dressel USA 2019 (World title)
46.98 – 22.93, 24.05 – David Popovici ROU 2022
47.02 – 22.39, 24.63 – Dressel 2021 (Olympic title)
47.04 – 22.54, 24.50 – Cameron McEvoy AUS 2016
47.05 – 22.44, 23.61 – Eamon Sullivan AUS 2008
47.08 – 22.79, 24.29 – Kyle Chamlers AUS (Worlds, Silver) 2019
47.08 – 22.71, 24.37 – Chalmers (Olympic silver)
47.09 – 22.53, 24.56 – Cielo 2009
47.10 – 22.63, 24.37 – James Magnussen AUS 2012
47.11 – 22.49, 24.62 – Kliment Kolesnikov RUS 2021
47.12 – 22.22, 24.90 – Bernard 2009
47.13 – 22.82; 24.32 – Popovici (Worlds, semi) 2022
47.13 – 22.67, 24.46 – Cielo 2009
47.15 – 22.33, 24.82 – Fred Bousquet FRA 2009
47.17 – 22.31, 24.86 – Dressel 2017 (World title)

David Popovici – by Matei Buta, courtesy of arena

Other telling swims:

47.22 – 22.46, 24.76 – Dressel 2017
47.26 – 22.29, 24.97 – Dressel 2017
47.27 – 22.43, 24.84 – Brent Hayden CAN 2009
47.51 – 23.31, 24.20 – Michael Phelps USA 2008
47.52 – 22.64, 24.88 – Nathan Adrian, USA 2008 (Olympic title)
47.58 – 22.72; 24.86 – Popovici 2022 (World title)
47.75 – 23.25, 25.50 – Pieter van den Hoogenband NED 2008
47.84 – 23.16, 24.68 – Van den Hoogenband (Olympics, sf) 2000
47.86 – 23.34, 47.86 – van den Hoogenband 2002 (European title)
48.17 – 23.37, 24.80 – van den Hoogenband 2004 (Olympic title)
48.30 – 23.32, 24.98 – van den Hoogenband 2000 (Olympic title)

Expectations are great when it comes to prospects of a challenge to the established order in the Paris 2024 Olympic 100m. Asked ‘what’s the difference between you, Dressel and Chalmers’, Popovici said:

“Well, they’re bigger than me. Dressel has a whole different strategy in the 100, for example. Our common ground is the 100 for us three. Me and Chalmers have a similar 100 strategy so when all three of us are almost as good as each other and are all more or less as close to the World record, I think what differentiates us in a race is who’s hungry…. That’s really what it’s about.”

David Popovici – by Mine Kasapoglu, courtesy of arena

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