200m Freestyle World Championship Preview: Franklin, Ledecky Looking To Sweep Podium


  • Day 4, Wednesday, August 4th
  • 2013 World Champion: Missy Franklin, USA – 1:54.81 (SEE RACE VIDEO ABOVE)
  • 2013 Silver Medalist: Federica Pellegrini, ITA – 1:55.14
  • 2013 Bronze Medalist: Camille Muffat, FRA – 1:55.72

The women’s 200 freestyle had big time drops at three consecutive championship meets starting in from 2005-2009. A 1:58 to a 1:55 all the way down to a world record 1:52.98 saw the event see almost a six second differential from the winning time in a span of only four years. Since 2009, the event has returned to around the level of the 2007 championship, with a 1:55 and a 1:54 winning in 2011 and 2013. The event has stayed at around speed since then, and if someone was able to crack the 1:54 mark this summer it would be a bit of a surprise, however there are a few women who could possibly pull it off.

James Sutherland womens 200 freestyle 2015 world championship preview

The women’s 200 freestyle has the potential to be a very, very close race with so many big names at the top. Take a look at the top times from around the world below:

2014-2015 LCM Women 200 Free

View Top 26»

Missy Franklin is the defending world champion, and will look to make it two in a row in Kazan. Despite her lack of long course racing this season, the fact that her 200 yard freestyle victory at NCAA’s was so astonishingly fast leads me to believe she will win the world title once again. She swam a 1:39.10 to break her own NCAA, American and US open record that was set at 1:40.31 from the year prior. She will have a tough double with her 100 back final and the 200 free semi final landing on the same night, but she has proven she can handle the load in the past. She trained at altitude before the 2012 Olympics and 2013 World Championships, and is now back in Colorado with Todd Schmiz training as a professional. Missy will have tons of competition however, and the race really could go to any one of seven different women.

Katie Ledecky has been a distance freestyle revelation, as she is the defending world champion and world record holder in the 400, 800 and 1500 freestyles. This summer she will look to add the 200 to her already outstanding world championship resume. She beat Franklin at both US nationals and Pan Pacs last summer and put up the second fastest time in the world. Ledecky has shown a fierce tenacity to go after races with no fear and to do absolutely whatever it takes to win. Both Franklin and Ledecky will be in for a challenge however, as they both will have a final the same night as the 200 semi final (Franklin 100 back, Ledecky 1500 free). Both should be up for the challenge.

After the Americans, there is Sarah Sjostrom who was the fastest in the race in 2014 and currently sits second this year at 1:54.77. Sjostrom also broke the world record at the short course world championships on her way to a gold medal going 1:50.78.  She will be in the fight of things as will Femke Heemskerk, who is coming off a victory in the 200 at the Santa Clara Pro Swim (beating some big names in the process) and sits atop the world rankings with a 1:54.68. She has seen consistent improvements the last three years, and would certainly be considered the favourite by some considering what she has done this season.

Emma McKeon of Australia will also be in the mix, coming off a victory at the Commonwealth Games and a bronze at the Pan Pacs in 2014. She currently sits third in the world, but getting a medal in this event will be no easy task.

Federica Pellegrini is the world record holder 2-time world champion, and has not gone a world championships without medalling in the 200 freestlyle in her career. However, she will be in tough to do so again this summer. She has been ranked 5th in the world the last two years, but will require a fantastic performance to go for a sixth straight podium finish.

Katinka Hosszu will be a contender in this event, as she will be in all of the events she swims. She has not said what events she will be competing in, but it is safe to assume she’ll be in the 200 free since we saw her there at both the 2013 worlds and the 2014 short course worlds. The biggest issue for her will obviously be juggling all of her events, as there is a good chance she will have the 200 free semi-final the same night as the 100 back final, and then the 200 free final the same night as the 200 fly and/or 50 back semi. It will be a difficult balancing act for her, but if she can get through to the final, she will certainly be a threat. She was second to Sjostrom at the short course championships going 1:51.18 and has been a 4th ranked 1:55.89 this year.

Veronika Popova of Russia is by far the smallest name in the projected final. After finishing 20th at the 2013 world championships, she swam a 7th ranked 1:55.93 last year and finished 4th in the event at the short course championships (beating Pellegrini in the process).

Britain’s Jazmin Carlin is my darkhorse pick. Carlin has had most of her international success in the distance events, with a Commonwealth Games title in the 800 and European titles in the 400 and 800 a year ago. However, she is starting to see success in the 200 as well, as she finished 6th at the Commonwealth Games last year and this year has swum a personal best 1:56.88 in April. Being a distance swimmer, she has one of the fastest closing 50’s in the field, and will have a shot at the final. Others to watch for in this event include Charlotte Bonnet of France, Michelle Coleman of Sweden, and Bronte Barratt of Australia, who is the likely replacement for Kylie Palmer who recently withdrew due to doping allegations.


  1. Missy Franklin, USA                     1:54.24
  2. Katie Ledecky ,USA                       1:54.41
  3. Sarah Sjostrom, SWE                   1:54.53
  4. Femke Heemskerk, NED             1:54.57
  5. Emma McKeon, AUS                     1:55.21
  6. Federica Pellegrini, ITA               1:55.47
  7. Katinka Hosszu, HUN                   1:55.57
  8. Veronika Popova, RUS                 1:55.64

Darkhorse: Jazmin Carlin,GBR       1:56.48


Day 1, Sun August 2nd (Day 9)

  • M 400 Free
  • M 400 Free
  • W 4×100 Free Relay
  • M 4×100 Free Relay

Day 2, Mon August 3rd (Day 10)

  • M 100 Breast
  • W 100 Fly
  • M 50 Fly
  • W 200 IM

Day 3, Tue August 4th (Day 11)

  • M 200 Free
  • W 100 Back
  • W 1500 Free
  • M 100 Back
  • W 100 Breast

Day 4, Wed August 5th (Day 12)

Day 5, Thur August 6th (Day 13)

  • M 200 IM
  • M 100 Free
  • W 200 Fly
  • W 50 Back
  • W 4×200 Free Relay

Day 6, Fri August 7th (Day 14)

  • W 100 Free
  • M 200 Back
  • W 200 Breast
  • M 200 Breast
  • M 4×200 Free Relay

Day 7, Sat August 8th (Day 15)

  • W 50 Fly
  • M 50 Free
  • W 200 Back
  • M 100 Fly
  • W 800 Free
  • MIXED 4×100 Free Relay

Day 8, Sun August 9th (Day 16)

  • M 50 Back
  • W 50 Breast
  • M 400 IM
  • W 50 Free
  • M 1500 Free
  • W 400 IM
  • M 4×100 Medley Relay
  • W 4×100 Medley Relay

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Captain Awesome
8 years ago

For the sake of discussion I’ll go out and dismiss Franklin from the race. Yes, to many of us non-Americans yards times don’t mean much if anything at all. And there’s a good reason for this. Many many swimmers perform very well in yards and are not up to the same standard when it comes to LCM. Take David Nolan for example, fastest by a long way in SCY in the 200 IM and has done nothing notable in comparison in LC. Simon Burnett is another, his 200 free record is ridiculously fast. And while not exactly slow in LCM, never came close to getting to those levels.

Obviously this is just a couple of swimmers, and there are… Read more »

M Palota
8 years ago

No idea on this one.

I like Floppy’s comment: The race could get really tactical with everyone trying to outguess everyone else. I have a feeling it won’t but it might.

If I were betting – and I wouldn’t be betting much – I’d go with Ledecky. She doesn’t strike me as someone with an overly tactical race plan. She just grabs the race by the throat and goes. That might pay off in this case.

8 years ago

Wow, I hadn’t realize there were already 8 women between 1:54 and 1:55! This looks like it could be anyone’s race if they swim it gutsy enough and hold on.

In a lot of these loaded 200 finals, everyone is tentative and the whole heat goes slower than expected.

For my money, if there is someone I count on to attack a race like they are the only in the pool, and hold on, it is Katie Ledecky.

8 years ago

I predict Missy dropping a 1:53 high, I think some of you are forgetting just how good she is. 1:39 low is no joke. I’m kind of amazed how dismissive people are of her. One inconveniently timed injury last year and suddenly everyone thinks she’s an also-ran… Sjostrom will be right there with Missy and Ledecky will not be far behind.

Reply to  Dave
8 years ago

Not dismissive but when we haven’t got anything tangible to go on in “real word terms” (ie LCM); we ignorant foreigners tend to be cautious. People are not dismissing Franklin from calculations in this event, far from it, but her 1.54 was 2 years ago. Sorry but nobody’s ever really been able to quantity NCAA SCY times to LCM so we outsiders tend to just take note of the names ….. and see if they can do the business in LCM.

Anyway, back to Ms Franklin; we know how good she, and respect her immensely, but on her career so far the evidence has been that she is a great back-stroker; potentially an all time great esp over 200.… Read more »

Reply to  Dave
8 years ago

Who has been dismissive? Every comment bar one has predicted her to medal, my prediction being the exception. Is it the case that anybody who disagrees that Missy will go 1.53 and streak ’em is “dismissive”?

Time-wise, I am going..

Heemskerk – 1.54.6
Ledecky – 1.54.6
Pellegrini – 1.55.2
Franklin – 1.55.3

Reply to  Dave
8 years ago

On one hand you’re saying that you’re not dismissing Franklin, on the other you’re predicting a time almost a full second slower than a time she swam two years ago. This despite the fact that she’s been doing nothing but getting faster in the NCAAs. I think non-US people somehow assume SCY “isn’t real swimming”. A 1:39.10 is dismissed as they don’t understand it. This is more a reflection of their own biases than of reality.

Reply to  Dave
8 years ago

As many (many) swimmers have said, you can “cheat” short course swimming, because it is an entirely different sport, the same goes for yards. It simply does not correlate with LC swimming. So, yes, I choose to ignore yards times, not because I am ignorant, but because they mean diddly-squat, zilch, nothing.

I am going on what I have seen this LC season – I just don’t see her going from 1.57s to 1.53s as you do, getting well beaten by Heemskerk in the US to streaking her by almost a full second in Kazan. I respect US swimmers are only peaking for Kazan, but you are asking a lot of Missy. Expecting her not to get into the… Read more »

Reply to  Dave
8 years ago

Dave is right. Non-Americans unfamiliar with NCAA scy’s can’t grasp what an epic 200 free final Franklin swam. When I saw her jawdropping splits I knew right then she was going be the one to beat in Kagan. Turns aren’t Franklin’s strong suit and 3 of them in a lcm 200 instead of the 7 in scy, will actually work in her favor by not bringing her back to the field after each turn and any improvement in her turns between now and Kazan will be all the better.

Victor P
8 years ago

Sjostrom – 1:53.7
Heemskerk – 1:54.2
Franklin – 1:54.4
Ledecky – 1:54.5

I think Franklin has a low 1:53, but she won’t swim til Rio, and it will be a race for gold with Sjostrom there. Both Heemskerk & Ledecky will go 1:53 high in Rio.

Interested in knowing what kind of time Cate Campbell could produce if she swam this event.

8 years ago

This race looks like 2004 olympics one for the men. Big meet of extraordinary swimmers with different profiles.

5th place for McKeon seems the safest odd…

8 years ago

US 1-2… Are we seeing a little bias here, James? 😉

I can’t look past Heemskerk right now as I am fairly certain Sjöström will scratch. Pellegrini was fast at Sette Colli which is heartening, I’d say she’ll be in 2013 shape, so 1.55 low is what I expect… I expect that to steal a medal.

1. Heemskerk
2. Ledecky
3. Pellegrini

Reply to  Dee
8 years ago

“US 1-2… Are we seeing a little bias here, James? ”

That awkward moment when the author is Canadian, not American lol

Reply to  Tony Carroll
8 years ago

He must just be a bit confused then haha 😉

8 years ago

Sjostrom – 1:54.0
She has looked so good this year and is starting to really focus on the 2 free. She has to most potential to dip under 1:54.
Heemskerk and Ledecky -1:54.3
Heemskerk swam very well in Santa Clara and is very experienced.
Ledecky can definitely beat her time from Pan Pacs which was in a terrible environment and without much competition.
Franklin – 1:54.8
I’d be happy if Franklin can match her time from Barcelona, based off her NCAA peformance I would say she can go faster but switching back to Todd before Kazan might cost her.

About James Sutherland

James Sutherland

James swam five years at Laurentian University in Sudbury, Ontario, specializing in the 200 free, back and IM. He finished up his collegiate swimming career in 2018, graduating with a bachelor's degree in economics. In 2019 he completed his graduate degree in sports journalism. Prior to going to Laurentian, James swam …

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