2019 FINA WORLD AQUATICS CHAMPIONSHIPS
- All sports: Friday, July 12 – Sunday, July 28, 2019
- Pool swimming: Sunday, July 21 – Sunday, July 28, 2019
- The Nambu University Municipal Aquatics Center, Gwangju, Korea
- Meet site
- FinaTV Live Stream
- Live results
Women’s 200 Freestyle
- World Record: 1:52.98, Federica Pellegrini (ITA), 2009
- World Championship Record: 1:52.98, Federica Pellegrini (ITA), 2019
- World Junior Record: 1:55.16, Katie Ledecky (USA), 2014
- Defending World Champion: Federica Pellegrini (ITA), 1:54.73
Similar to what she had done in the 400, 800 and 1500 freestyle, Katie Ledecky appeared to have taken complete control over the women’s 200 freestyle.
After a historic performance at the 2013 World Championships where she won gold in the those three aforementioned events, along with the 4×200 relay, the now 22-year-old added the individual 200 to her program at the 2014 Pan Pacific Championships.
Then, at the 2015 Worlds, after advancing to the final shortly after dominating the 1500, she won by fending off world record holder Federica Pellegrini and defending champ Missy Franklin.
The 2016 Olympics were more of the same. Facing off with the über-talented Sarah Sjostrom, she came through again to win the gold medal.
Just like the three longer freestyle events, the Nation’s Capital product appeared unstoppable in the 200 free.
But since Rio, we’ve seen some chinks in the armor.
An epic final 50 from Pellegrini gave her the victory in Budapest over Ledecky, who tied with Australia’s Emma McKeon for silver.
The 2018 Pan Pacs saw the final contested not long after she swam the 800, and Canadian youngster Taylor Ruck took full advantage as she won gold in 1:54.44. Rikako Ikee (1:54.85) of Japan also got by Ledecky on the last 50, leaving her with bronze in 1:55.15.
This year the schedule remains the same from previous World Championships.
Ledecky will race the 1500 shortly before the 200 semis, probably an hour, and if all goes well, her schedule is clear the day of the final.
It puts her in a much better position than she was in Tokyo, but she’ll still have 4300 meters of racing under her belt heading into the race (accounting for one swim on the 400 free relay).
A wide array of up-and-coming stars and experienced veterans are among the challengers to keep Ledecky off the top of the podium once again:
THE YOUNG STARS
- Really blossomed during 2018, winning the 200 free at both the Commonwealth Games and Pan Pacs, taking out Australian Ariarne Titmus and Ledecky back-to-back.
- Her 1:54.44 in Tokyo proved to be the #1 time in the world for the year, and she followed it up with a seamless transition to the NCAA where she tied Simone Manuel for fourth all-time in the yards version of the event (1:40.37).
- Ledecky won’t be the only one impacted by a busy schedule in Gwangju, as Ruck is slated to have the 100 back final just two events before the 200 semis. She’s shown an ability to handle back-to-backs well and has stated she intends to use this meet as a ‘test drive’ for next summer’s Olympics.
- Similar to Ruck, Titmus had a phenomenal 2018, hitting a PB on the Gold Coast in 1:54.85. She then proceeded to drop the event at Pan Pacs in favor of the 800, but led off the Australian relay in 1:55.27.
- The 18-year-old brought her best down to 1:54.30 in April, setting a new Commonwealth Record and taking over the top spot in the world rankings. She followed up with a solid 1:55.09 at Aussie Trials in June, and is set up to take a run at gold after placing just 17th two years ago in Budapest.
- She has yet to open up her swims under 27 at the first wall. She might be the best swimmer on the back 150, but opening a bit quicker could push her over the edge.
- McKeon has consistently been amongst the world’s best 200 freestylers for some time now. After winning Commonwealth gold in 2014, the now 25-year-old broke 1:55 twice in 2016, including winning the Olympic bronze, and then followed up with a World silver in 2017.
- Last year, after taking bronze behind Ruck and Titmus at the Commonwealth Games, she dropped the 200 free at Pan Pacs due to a busy schedule over a short four-day meet.
- Last month at World Trials McKeon threw down a new best time in 1:54.55, putting her #2 in the world to Titmus while beating her head-to-head. She was actually out-split by the teen on the second, third and fourth 50s, but her opening split of 26.18 is what got it done.
- Pellegrini appeared to end her historic 200 freestyle career two years ago in Budapest, claiming she was done with the event after winning gold in epic fashion. That was her record seventh consecutive medal in the event at a World Championship, dating back to 2005, and it looks as though the streak may be extended in Gwangju.
- She stayed true to her word last summer, only swimming the 100 at Euros, but has relented and started swimming the 200 again this year. After a 1:56.60 to qualify for Worlds at the Italian Championships in April, the 30-year-old dropped a 1:55.42 at the Sette Colli Trophy in June. That is her fastest swim since winning that world title two years ago and ranks her fifth in the world for the year.
- The 2012 Olympic champion had a successful return to the sport in 2018, asserting herself as the #2 American in the event with a 1:55.82 runner-up finish to Ledecky at U.S. Nationals. She followed that with a pair of 1:56s at Pan Pacs, finishing fourth in the final.
- This year she has shown solid form, including a 1:57.7 at the Des Moines PSS in March, which is quicker than she was at that point last year.
- Schmitt is a good bet to final and has an outside shot to snag a medal.
OTHERS IN THE MIX
- Siobhan Haughey
- Shortly after closing out her senior year at Michigan, Haughey kicked off her pro career with a bang, setting Hong Kong National Records in the 50 and 100 free at the Monte-Carlo stop of the Mare Nostrum Tour. In the 200, she finished less than a tenth off her best from the 2017 World Championships (where she was fifth) in 1:56.05, setting herself up to take a run at a spot on the podium this year.
- Charlotte Bonnet
- Bonnet exploded to win the European title last summer in 1:54.95 after placing eighth in Budapest. If she can re-create that type of swim she’s right there.
- Femke Heemskerk
- Heemskerk has been swimming at the highest level dating back to 2007 and continues to put herself in the running with fast swims. However, she has had trouble putting it all together on the big stage (individually).
- Penny Oleksiak
- A so-so performance at the Canadian Trials was salvaged by Oleksiak’s win and PB in the 200 free, out-touching Ruck in a time of 1:56.92. While this event hasn’t been a primary focus thus far in her young career, she has the ability to be a contender having split 1:54.9 on the relay in Rio.
- Katinka Hosszu
- The 200 free isn’t among the top priorities for Hosszu in her busy schedule, but she has opted to swim it through to the final in both Kazan and Budapest. Given the stacked field here it wouldn’t be a surprise to see her drop it with the 100 back and 200 fly nearby, but if she’s in she’ll probably final. She has 33 career swims sub-1:57, but none in 2019.
Other potential finalists include Qiu Yuhan and Yang Junxuan of China, and Veronika Andrusenko of Russia.
SJOSTROM WILL SWIM
Update: Upon learning that Sarah Sjostrom will indeed swim this event in Gwangju, she has been added to the top-8 predictions.
After not even swimming the event at the 2015 World Championships individually, she led off Sweden’s 800 free relay in a time (1:54.31) that would’ve won the gold medal by eight-tenths. The following summer in Rio she took silver behind Ledecky in what remains her lifetime best at 1:54.08, and has already been 1:55.39 and 1:55.44 this season. We’re slotting her in for silver, just behind Titmus, but it would not be a surprise to see her claim gold.
|Place||Swimmer||Country||Season Best||Lifetime Best|
|7||Siobhan Haughey||Hong Kong||1:56.05||1:55.96|