DOHA – Ruta Meilutyte’s title defence in the women’s 100 metres breaststroke ended at the first hurdle as the Lithuanian failed to reach the semi-finals of the World Swimming Championships in Doha.
The Lithuanian swimmer, who took gold in the event at the 2012 London Olympics as a 15-year-old, was 17th quickest in the heats with a time of one minute and 7.79 seconds, more than three seconds off her gold medal swim in Fukuoka last July.
Meilutyte’s setback followed Olympic champion Ahmed Fahnaoui’s failure to make the men’s 400m freestyle final on opening day in a major shock, Reuters reported.
China’s Tang Qiantang is seeded top for the women’s semis after swimming 1:06.16, three-tenths of a second quicker than Dutch second seed Tes Schouten at the Aspire Dome pool.
With title-holder Katie Ledecky skipping Doha, Italy’s former world champion Simona Quadarella is in the box seat to win a second 1 500m gold.
The 2019 winner qualified fastest for the final with a time of 16:02.96 in her heat. Fukuoka bronze medallist Li Bingjie qualified third behind German second seed Isabel Gose.
German Lukas Maertens, who won a second 400m freestyle bronze, topped qualifying for the men’s 200m semifinals in a field missing Britain’s defending champion Matt Richards and Fukuoka runner-up Tom Dean.
Claire Curzan, who agonisingly missed out on the United States’ Fukuoka team after battling illness before the trials, was the fastest qualifier for the women’s 100m backstroke semi-finals (59.72 seconds).
South Africa’s Pieter Coetze took top seed for the men’s semifinals after swimming 53.32 in the heats.
Three-time Olympic champion Adam Peaty qualified fastest for the 100 metres breaststroke final at the World Championships in Doha.
Peaty, who was absent from the championships in 2022 with a foot injury and also missed out last year after stepping away from the sport to prioritise his mental health, clocked a time of 58.60 seconds to reach the final.
“I feel good,” the 29-year-old said.
“My objective for this meet was to progress through the rounds, progress physically and in results, but also progress mentally and see what strategies are working, what isn’t working.
“It’s more of a test event for us, but obviously we’re going to put our best foot forward and put a good fight on.
“After the heats I was like, ‘OK, I know what I’m working with and I know what I’m capable of’.
Great Britain’s men finished fourth in the final of the 4x100m freestyle relay behind China, Italy and the United States, but the quartet of Jacob Whittle, Tom Dean, Duncan Scott and Matt Richards qualified for an Olympic quota spot with their performance in the heats.