Women’s 200 IM
- 2012 Olympic Champion: Ye Shiwen (CHN), 2:07.57
- 2015 World Champion: Katinka Hosszu (HUN), 2:06.12
- World Record Holder: Katinka Hosszu (HUN), 2:06.12
Iron Lady Katinka Hosszu may need to rebrand herself with a new element after the Olympics, which kick off this Friday, August 5th, in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Hosszu, already the SwimSwam favorite in the 400 IM, is heavily favored to reap gold again in the 200 IM. After lowering Ariana Kukors‘ world record by 0.03 last summer in a dominant performance in Kazan, Hosszu has shown no signs of slowing down. Also the world record holder in the 100, 200, and 400 short course meters IMs (and the 100 and 200 SCM backstrokes), Hosszu is light-years ahead of the rest of the world in the medleys. In 2012 Hosszu placed 8th in the 200 IM, nearly 7 seconds behind the double-gold-medalist in the IMs, Ye Shiwen of China. Ye is entered in the 200 IM in Rio, but was not on the podium in either the 2013 or 2015 World Championships, placing 4th and 8th, respectively. In 2013 Hosszu was world champion with a time that would have gotten her the silver medal in London just one year earlier.
The 200 is, however, a short enough distance that even Hosszu probably won’t pull so far ahead that the camera has to pan back just to get the other swimmers in the shot. Siobhan-Marie O’Connor of Great Britain is the likely silver-medalist in this spectacular field. O’Connor, who currently sits at 2nd in world rankings behind Hosszu in the 200 IM in both short course and long course has improved immensely over the past three years. After placing 8th in the 2013 World Championships in Barcelona, O’Connor went on to win gold at the 2014 Commonwealth Games, setting a new competition record in the event with a 2:08.21.
Maya DiRado of Team USA stands a great shot at making the podium in this event, after an amazing Trials where she qualified for Rio in three races, winning each one by a wide margin. DiRado, with her excellent freestyle, will keep the race thrilling until the end. Teammate Melanie Margalis also has a good shot at making the finals in the 200 IM. Margalis narrowly edged 2012 Olympic bronze-medalist Caitlin Leverenz for the opportunity to swim this event in Rio. An elite breaststroker and an alternate for the Team USA’s 800 freestyle relay, Margalis will have the resources to finish the race exceptionally well. But even with her phenomenal second-half and after knocking out Leverenz, Margalis will have to pick up the pace in Rio to stand a chance at making the podium.
Spain’s multitalented Mireia Belmonte will swim the finals of the 200 IM shortly after she swims the semifinals of the 200 fly. Belmonte is not the only swimmer in the field who will take on this double–Hosszu, the 2013 world bronze-medalist in the 200 fly–will also try her hand with this grueling double barring any scratches. Belmonte placed 3rd in the 200 IM at the World Championships in 2013, but chose not to contest it in Kazan last summer. Due to her long and rigorous schedule, Belmonte, who is better at butterfly and distance freestyle, may have trouble getting on the podium in this shorter and more speed-oriented event.
2012 Olympic silver-medalist Alicia Coutts has maintained a spot on the podium at various large international competitions since London, including the 2013 World Championships (silver), 2014 Pan Pacs in her native Australia (silver), and at at the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, Scottland (silver). However, Coutts has not bettered her time since London 2012. Now 28-years-old, Coutts will likely be the oldest woman in the finals of this event.
Storming onto the scene in 2016 is Russia’s Viktoriya Andreeva. Andreeva, who did not even make the semifinals at the World Championships last summer in her native Russia (2:16.85), blasted a 2:09.56 this year, taking nearly 2 seconds off the previous Russian record. Now ranked 4th in the world going into Rio, Andreeva will have to prove herself on swimming’s largest stage. Also a talented butterflyer and freestyler, expect Andreeva to take it out fast and have the resources to finish well.
Finally, Miho Teramura of Japan is going to be a major contender for a spot in the finals in the women’s 200 IM. While she is ranked 5th in the world in this event, she possesses significantly less experience on the major international stage than the other 7 women mentioned above.
Teramura will try to carry on the legacy of 2015 World silver medalist Kanako Watanabe, who won’t contest this event in Rio, instead focusing solely on the breaststroke races.
Also keep an eye on young Japanese swimmer Runa Imai, who could challenge the junior world record. That record (though not yet confirmed by FINA) is held by China’s Zhou Min, who is also in the race.
One more name to keep an eye on is Canada’s Sydney Pickrem, who had a great 2015 but hasn’t been at her best yet this year. For what it’s worth Pickrem trains at Texas A&M University in the U.S. alongside Bethany Galat, who has blown up domestically this summer – that could hint at some Galat-like explosion for Pickrem on the big stage.
|Place||Swimmer||Country||Best Time Since 2012||Predicted Time in Rio|
|1||Katinka Hosszu||Hungary||2:06.12||2:05.9 (WR)|
|2||Siobhan-Marie O’Connor||Great Britain||2:08.21||2:07.9|
Dark Horse: Hannah Miley of Great Britain will also contend for a spot in the finals of the women’s 200 IM. Though 5th in last year’s World Championships and 7th in the London Games in 2012 (and 5th in the 400 IM in London), Miley has not been at her best so far in 2016. Going into Rio Miley sits at 19th in the world with a 2:11.84 swum at the 2016 LEN European Championships. If she can get back to near her best time (2:10.19), she will be a finalist, and a drop from there could give her an outside shot at some hardware.