Florian Wellbrock won the silver medal at the swimming world championships and brought the German team their third medal in Budapest. The 24-year-old swam the 800-meter freestyle on Tuesday after 7:39.63 minutes – a German swimmer has never been so fast over this distance.
Wellbrock only had to admit defeat to the victorious Bobby Finke from the USA. Bronze went to Mikhailo Romanchuk of Ukraine. The last three World Cup podiums for the German pool team were in 2015, when freestyle ace Paul Biedermann was still active.
For exceptional swimmer Wellbrock it was the first medal at the Olympic Games or World Championships on this route. Born in Bremen, who trains with national coach Bernd Berkhahn in Magdeburg, he surprisingly lost the 800-meter run at the last World Cup in South Korea.
At the Tokyo Olympics, he finished fourth. A place on the podium was his “aspiration”, Wellbrock had formulated as a goal. For the final he qualified as the second fastest.
In the final, Romanchuk took the lead about halfway through the race. Wellbrock, Gregorio Paltrinieri and Finke formed the chasing trio. In the final sprint, Finke was the strongest, as in his Olympic victory last summer, but Wellbrock also swam well.
Wellbrock has a special relationship with bronze winner Romantschuk. The two are not only colleagues and competitors, but also friends. After consultation with Berkhahn, Wellbrock included the Ukrainian in his training group because of the war in his home country. “If a German team hadn’t invited me, I wouldn’t be here,” said Romantschuk in Budapest.