Day three of the swimming competition at the Youth Olympic Games Buenos Aires 2018 was one of Eastern European domination, as swimmers from Russia, Hungary, Moldova and Czech Republic snared the golds.
The first medal race of the day at a packed Natatorium came in the women’s 800m freestyle, with Hungary’s Ajna Kesely claiming victory in a time of 8:27.60. To the delight of the 1,900 fans watching from the stands, Argentina’s Delfina Narella Pignatiello came in just under five seconds behind her to win the silver, with Austria’s Marlene Kahler touching home for the bronze.
Pignatiello’s silver was an emotional one, as she later explained: “My grandmother passed away last week, before I started swimming at this championships, so this is for her.”
The result was a reverse of the meeting between the Hungarian and the Argentinian at the 2017 World Junior Swimming Championships, where Pignatiello came home first.
Tatiana Salcutan of Moldova was the next to claim gold, after she won the women’s 200m backstroke in a time of 2:10.13. Canada’s Madison Broad came in 0.19 seconds behind her in silver, with the bronze going to Australia’s Kaylee McKeown, her third medal of Buenos Aires 2018.
The men’s 100m butterfly final saw Russia’s Andrei Minakov score a slightly unexpected win over Hungary’s Kristof Milak. A silver medallist in the event at last year’s world championships and a two-time gold medallist at Buenos Aires already, Milak was tipped to add another title here. Minakov had not read the script, however, and clocked a personal best of 51.12 to claim the gold.
Milak had to be content with silver, 0.38 seconds behind the Russian, while Federico Burdisso of Italy won the bronze.
“Actually, my main idea was not to swim fast, just to beat Milak, because we have a battle going on. We battle each other at every competition and finally I’ve beaten him. I’m surprised. Even my coaches are surprised,” said Minakov after winning his second gold of the YOG, the first having come in the mixed 4x100m freestyle relay on Sunday 7 October.
In the next final, Barbora Seemanova of Czech Republic stopped the clock in 54.19 to win the women’s 100m freestyle from China’s Junxuan Yang and Slovenia’s Neza Klancar.
“It means a lot. I don’t have any words,” said a delighted Seemanova. “I’m a Youth Olympic champion and it’s an amazing feeling. This is my happiest moment of the last eight years.”
In the final event of the evening, Russia’s Minakov picked up his third gold of the Games as he helped his country to victory in the men’s 4x100m freestyle. Joining him at the top of the podium were Kliment Kolesnikov, Daniil Markov and Vladislav Gerasimenko. Minakov swam the anchor leg as the Russians touched home in a time of 3:18.11, some 2.88 seconds clear Brazil, with Italy taking third place.