pinit fg en rect gray 28 European Championships Preview   Womens 200 and 400 Freestyle

200 freestyle

Swedish star Sarah Sjostrom has been having a magnificant year and comes into the Berlin with the top ranked time in the world in the women’s 200 freestyle. Sjostrom posted a 1:55.04 at the Swim Cup in April eclipsing her previous lifetime best of 1:55.23 which she recorded in 2012.

Sjostrom finished fourth at both the 2011 and 2013 World Championships.

After the Olympic Games in London Italian Federica Pellegrini made a decision to take her attention away from the 200 freestyle and focus on the backstroke events. That did not last long, as the world record holder decided to participate in the event at the 2013 Italian trials and went on to collect the silver at the World Championships in Barcelona.

She comes into the games with a lifetime best time of 1:52.98 which she posted in 2009. Pellegrini is the most decorated swimmer in the event having won gold in the event at the 2009 and 2011 World Championships and the 2010 and 2012 European games.

There may not be another swimmer who has seen more improved this season than Siobhan-Marie O’Connor of Great Britain. The 18 year old posted a 1:55.69 claiming the silver medal at the Commonwealth Games. Coming into the year O’Connor’s lifetime best time in the event was a 1:59.50 and going into Glasgow she had a season’s best of 1:56.59. She has shown that she can step up her game when it matters.

Russian Veronika Popova comes into the competition with the next fastest time of 1:55.93. Popova improved on her lifetime best of 1:56.83 by almost a full second in the last year. She had a strong Universiade last summer collecting the silver medal in the event, but peaked too earlier and did not have the same kind of performance in Barcelona missing out on the semi-finals posting a time of 1:59.31 in the prelims.

Many have called Hungarian Katinka Hosszu the ironwoman of swimming, a title that is well deserved, a nickname she will once again earn in Berlin as she is set to race in 10 events. Hosszu comes into the competition with the fourth fastest time in Europe having posted a 1:56.30 at the Charlotte Grand Prix in May. The time is also a lifetime best improving on the 1:56.73 which she posted in the prelims of the 2013 World Championships.

Femke Heemskerk of the Netherlands posted a 1:56.39 in April at the Swim Cup. Heemskerk has a lifetime best of 1:55.54 which she recorded in 2011 in the prelims of the World Championships. Although Feemskerk has had a lot of success in relay events at the highest level she has not been able to replicate that success in individual events.

Charlotte Bonnet of France comes into the championships with a season’s best of 1:57.00. Bonnet posted a lifetime best of 1:56.63 in the semi-final of the 2013 World Championships.

Jazz Carlin of Great Britain has posted a season and lifetime best time of 1:57.26. Carlin has fine tuned her game in the distance events over the last year and will have a hard time finding the speed to stay competitive in the 200.

My top six:

  1. Sarah Sjostrom (SWE) – 1:55.04 (2014)
  2. Federica Pellegrini (ITA) – 1:52.98 (2009)
  3. Siohbhan-Marie O’Connor (GBR) – 1:55.82 (2014)
  4. Katinka Hosszu (HUN) – 1:56.30 (2014)
  5. Veronika Popova (RUS) – 1:55.93 (2014)
  6. Femke Heemskerk (NED) – 1:55.54 (2011)

400 freestyle

Mireia Belmonte of Spain comes in with the top ranked time in Europe having posted a 4:03.84 in April. Belmonte’s time is not only a season’s best, but a lifetime best improving on the 4:05.45 which she posted in 2012 to win the silver medal at the European Championships. Belmonte had a fantastic 2013 World Championships, but missed out on the final in the 400 freestyle finishing ninth in the prelims.

Jazz Carlin finished fourth in this event at last year’s World Championships posting a lifetime best of 4:04.03. Carlin matched that time in June. She had a stellar 800 freestyle at the Commonwealth Games walking away with gold, but her 400 freestyle was not up to that standard. Although she did collect the silver, finishing second to Lauren Boyle of New Zealand, she finished in a time of 4:05.16.

Federica Pellegrini is the former world record in this event, having posted a 3:59.15 to win the 2009 World Championships. Pellegrini won the 2009 and 2011 World Championships in the event, but did not swim the 400 freestyle at the World Championships last summer.

Pellegrini put up a 4:04.56 at the Italian National Championships in April, the only competition she has swum the event in this year.

Katinka Hosszu comes into Berlin with the next fastest time of 4:05.51. Hosszu really only started competing seriously in this event in 2013. It should be interesting to see how she will fair against such a strong field.

Sarah Sjostrom recorded a 4:06.04 in March, before the competition her best time in the event was a 4:12.24. The 400 freestyle is the final individual event of the competition so it is hard to say whether Sjostrom will race the event or not.

Hungarian Boglarka Kapas posted a season’s best 4:06.55 in July and has a lifetime best of 4:05.61, which she posted in the prelims of the World Championships last summer.

Lotte Friis comes into the competition with a season’s best of 4:06.83 and a lifetime best of 4:03.98, which she recorded finishing fourth at the Olympic Games in London. Friis took the bronze in this event at the 2010 European Championships and took the silver at the 2013 European Short Course Championships. Expect Friis to be at the top of her game in Berlin and challenge for the top spot on the medal podium.

Spaniard Melanie Costa Schmidt comes into Berlin with a lifetime best of 4:02.47 which she posted taking the 400 freestyle silver in Barcelona last summer. Costa has posted a season’s best of 4:07.24. She made incredible improvements in 2013 shaving off over four seconds from her life time best of 4:06.75.

My top six:

  1. Mireia Belmonte (ESP) – 4:03.84 (2014)
  2. Lotte Friis (DEN) – 4:03.98 (2012)
  3. Federica Pellegrini (ITA) – 3:59.15 (2009)
  4. Melanie Costa Schmidt (ESP) – 4:02.47 (2013)
  5. Jazz Carlin (GBR) – 4:04.03 (2014)
  6. Boglarka Kapas (HUN) – 4:05.61 (2012)

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