Nic Fink And Bobby Finke Both Win First Swimming World Titles
by Paul D. Bowker
(L-R) Nic Fink, Hunter Armstrong, Torri Huske and Claire Curzan pose with their medals during the medal ceremony for the mixed 4x100-meter medley relay final at the 2022 FINA World Championships on June 21, 2022 in Budapest, Hungary.
Fink and Finke delivered gold Tuesday.
Nic Fink, a 2020 Olympian, claimed the first two world titles of his career while Bobby Finke, a two-time Olympic champion in Tokyo, won his first Tuesday at the FINA World Championships in Budapest, Hungary.
Their performances highlighted a day in which the U.S. won four medals, including a gold medal in the mixed 4x100-meter medley relay from which seven-time Olympic champion Caeleb Dressel withdrew, citing a medical decision.
Finke, who charged from behind to win a pair of freestyle distance gold medals in the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020, pulled out another dramatic finish in the men’s 800-meter freestyle final.
Entering the final 50 meters in fourth place, Finke blasted through the water in the final stretch and overtook all three swimmers that had been in front of him. His win in 7 minutes, 39.36 seconds broke the American record that he had set in Tokyo. Fink covered the last 50 meters in 25.93 seconds, more than a full second faster than any other 50 meters during the race.
“It’s only like 26 seconds of pain,” Finke said in a post-event interview with NBC Sports.
Finke, 22, overtook Germany’s Florian Wellbrock, Mykhailo Romanchuk of Ukraine and Gregorio Paltrinieri of Italy in Tokyo for a gold medal victory. Tuesday, virtually the same thing happened except Wellbrock and Paltrinieri switched places, as Wellbrock finished second and Paltrinieri was fourth.
The win was Finke’s first in the world championships and his third straight in a major international meet after he won gold medals in the 800 and 1,500 in Tokyo. The 1,500 is coming up Saturday on the last day of swimming finals in Budapest.
“This whole past season is pretty successful,” the Clearwater, Florida, native said. “Coming off of Tokyo and just my expectations for myself, this one means a little bit more.”
Fink won his first world title in the men’s 50-meter breaststroke, leading a 1-3 American finish in the event. Fink won in a time of 26.45 seconds, beating Italy’s Nicolo Martinenghi to the wall by three-hundredths of a second. Fellow American Michael Andrew won his second bronze medal of the week, placing third in the 50 breast in 26.72 seconds.
Nic Fink celebrates after winning gold in the men's 50-meter breaststroke final at the 2022 FINA World Championships on June 21, 2022 in Budapest, Hungary.
The 28-year-old Fink, a Morristown, New Jersey, native, also swam the second leg in the mixed 4x100 medley relay, giving him his second and third medals of the world championships. He won bronze in the 100 breaststroke Sunday.
Olympic teammates Hunter Armstrong, Fink, Torri Huske and Claire Curzan teamed up to win the mixed 4x100 medley relay, leading virtually from start to finish. After not medaling in the event in the Olympic Games in Tokyo, the Americans won with a time of 3:38.79, defeating runner-up Australia by nearly three seconds.
“I was super grateful for the lead. I knew they were going to kill it,” said Curzan, who swam the anchor freestyle and won her third medal of the week, as did Huske. “I was just hoping to carry the momentum. It’s always a tough race, the 100 free, but I just think hearing the crowd and getting that energy before the race carried me home.”
Dressel, who had been seeking to become the first male swimmer to win three consecutive world titles in the same three events, pulled out of the relay final and also the men’s 100 free semifinals for medical reasons. He had posted the second-fastest 100 time in the preliminary heats with a time of 47.95 seconds.
Dressel won gold medals in his first two finals in Budapest. He was on the winning men’s 4x100 free relay team Saturday and won the 50 fly Sunday.
Brooks Curry, a 2020 Olympic relay gold medalist, qualified for Wednesday’s final in the 100 free with a time of 47.90 seconds and sixth-place finish in his semifinal heat.
Luca Orlando missed a podium spot in the men’s 200 fly by a little more than a second, finishing fifth in a race that featured a world record set by host nation Hungary’s Kristof Milak (1:50.34). Orlando finished in 1:54.92.
Three-time Olympic medalist Regan Smith, who has already won one gold medal this week in the 100-meter backstroke, reached Wednesday’s finals in both the 50 backstroke and 200 butterfly with first- and second-place finishes, respectively, in Tuesday’s semifinals.
“Definitely just trying to soak in every moment,” Smith said. “Kind of in the moment sometimes, I just get really nervous and I want this to be over as quick as possible. So I really just want to slow down and take the time to enjoy this. Remember that one day I’m going to look back at this and it’s going to be a memory and I’m never going to get to do it again.”