After the golden days in the open water, the German swimmers can also cheer at the start of the pool competitions: Lukas Märtens secured bronze in a spectacular race over 400 meters freestyle at the World Championships. Last year he drew attention to himself with gold at the European Championships and silver at the World Championships. Now the 21-year-old came third in Fukuoka (Japan) after 3:42.20 minutes. The new world champion is the Australian Samuel Short, with Olympic champion Ahmed Hafnaoui (Tunisia) coming in second.
“I’m very happy for Lukas and his success,” says 400-meter world record holder Paul Biedermann WELT. “He still has a lot of potential!” From a German perspective, the 400-meter race was not only exciting because of Märtens’ fight for the medal, but also because Biedermann’s world record was shaky. In the end, however, the Halle native could breathe a sigh of relief.
With his success, Märtens gave the German swimmers their sixth medal in these title fights. Previously, Leonie Beck and Olympic champion Florian Wellbrock had each won the open water races over five and ten kilometers, Oliver Klemet had won bronze. In the second week of the World Cup, the competitions in the pool have been on since Sunday. Wellbrock will swim over 800 and 1500 meters freestyle for gold – and then meet his Magdeburg training partner Märtens, who also wants to intervene in the fight for the medals, maybe even for victory.
In a controlled heat on Sunday morning, the youngster qualified fifth for the final with a time of 3:44.42 minutes. Short had put in a remarkable performance there: the Australian had stayed below the throughput times of Biedermann’s world record from 2009 (3:40.07) up to the 300-metre mark, before he then slowed down a bit and finished after 3:42.44 minutes. In the final he therefore started on lane 4, Märtens on lane two.
After 200 meters, the young German was in sixth place, after 300 meters he had fought his way to the medal position, which he no longer relinquished. Up front, the first two were well below Biedermann’s record up to the 350-meter mark, and the changing of the guard seemed possible. With his times over the 200 and 400 meter freestyle, the Halle native is the only German swimmer who currently holds world records.
Back then, at the 2009 World Championships in Rome, he had made a last turn of the extra class and a splendid last track – easily recognizable by the imaginary world record line that was now shown in the TV picture of the World Championship race. Little by little, Short lost on Biedermann’s time of yore – in the end the German’s best time survived the attack of a new generation once again. Short clocked in at 3:40.68 minutes, Hafnaoui at 3:40.70 minutes. “I’m pleased that my record still stands,” says Biedermann, “but it will probably be broken next year.” Then the Olympic Games in Paris are coming up.
The heats on this Sunday morning had already gone well for the German swimmers: Isabel Gose completed the 400 meter freestyle after 4:03.02 minutes and was thus 19 hundredths of a second faster than her own previous record. The 21-year-old qualified for the final in fourth place, but did not come close to her time from the morning: 4:05.27 minutes and seventh place. The Australian Ariarne Titmus celebrated the first world record of this World Championship with her winning time of 3:55.38 minutes.
Breaststroke swimmer Lucas Matzerath set another German record on Sunday. The 23-year-old swam the 100-meter course in 58.74 seconds, beating Fabian Schwingenschlögl’s previous best time from 2021. Matzerath reached the semi-finals third fastest, where he again set a world-class time, staying just a hundredth above his record. He is a medal candidate in the final on Monday (from 1 p.m. on the ZDF live stream).
Angelina Köhler delivered the third German record of the day. The 22-year-old finished in 57.05 seconds in the 100-meter butterfly, remaining 17 hundredths under her own best time, and entered the final on Monday in fifth place.