2020 Olympic Previews: Youth Hunting Hosszu in Women’s 200 IM

2020 TOKYO SUMMER OLYMPIC GAMES

Women’s 200 IM

At the 2016 Olympic Games, Katinka Hosszu dominated the IM events, sweeping the gold medals and setting a new world record in the 400 IM. Hosszu, who was 27-years-old at the time, also broke the Olympic record in the 200 IM and won the 100m backstroke at the games. Since then, Hosszu has been almost untouchable in the 200 IM, winning gold medals at the 2017 World Championships, 2018 European Championships, and 2019 World Championships. 

Katinka Hosszu 58th Settecolli Trophy, Rome, Italy Courtesy of Mine Kasapoglu

Katinka Hosszu
58th Settecolli Trophy, Rome, Italy Courtesy of Mine Kasapoglu

In Tokyo, Hosszu should remain on top in this event. Her best time stands nearly 2 seconds ahead of every other swimmer in the field. In addition, the women’s 200 IM is one of the first events of the meet, falling on Day 3. With Hosszu’s busy schedule, this could be a huge benefit for her, especially considering she’s 32-years-old. If she is able to repeat as the champion in this event, she will become the oldest swimmer to ever win the event at the Olympics.

Hosszu’s biggest obstacle in this event will be overcoming a field filled with young contenders, including Americans Alex Walsh and Kate Douglass, along with China’s Yu Yiting, all of whom have had explosive performances since the coronavirus restrictions were lifted. 

Both Walsh and Douglass have risen through the IM ranks both nationally and internationally over the past year. The University of Virginia duo are currently ranked as two of the fastest performers of all time in the short course version of this event, holding personal bests of 1:51.53 and 1:50.92, respectively. At the US Olympic Trials meet, Walsh managed to get her hand to the wall first in a time of 2:09.30, while Douglass touched in a time of 2:09.32. Although Walsh was slightly off of her personal best of 2:08.87, Douglass’ performance marked a huge personal best. Also, both athletes are only 19-years-old (although Walsh turns 20 during the Olympics), meaning that they may very well have room to improve upon their best times at the Olympic Games. 

Yiting, at only 15-years-old, recently shattered the world junior record in this event at the Chinese Olympic Trials, posting a time of 2:09.88 to cut a tenth off of Rikako Ikee’s previous record. Unlike McKeown, Walsh, and Douglass, Yiting has raced this event at the senior international level, swimming at the 2019 World Championships when she was only 13-years-old. Although she only ranks 10th in the event going into Tokyo, Yiting is at the age where many swimmers begin to develop and take large chunks of time off of their personal bests. With a 1 second drop, Yiting could find herself on the podium in Tokyo. 

Sydney Pickrem, 200 breast final. Courtesy Joseph Kleindl

Canadian Sydney Pickrem is another threat to Hosszu in this event, as she is one of the only women to have beaten Hosszu in an international event since Rio. After choking on water  and getting out of the pool during the final of the 200 IM at the 2017 World Championships, Pickrem came back with vengeance, claiming a bronze medal in the event at the 2019 World Championships. With her personal best of 2:08.61, Pickrem ranks as the 3rd fastest performer entered in the event in Tokyo, putting her in a prime position to claim another international medal, and her first Olympic medal. However, Pickrem has only been 2:10.29 this season, leaving some doubts as to her fitness level following the pandemic, as Canadian training centers were closed several times throughout the year. 

Abbie Wood has slowly risen through the ranks to become one of the world’s top IM swimmers since the pandemic began. Wood experienced her international breakout during the 2020 ISL season, when she shattered the British record in the 200 IM SCM, posting a time of 2:04.77. Wood later followed up her ISL performances with major drops in the long course pool, swimming a personal best of 2:09.23 at the British Selection Trials. Wood’s time currently ranks her as the 4th fastest performer in the world for 2021, and the 3rd fastest this season amongst swimmers who will be competing in Tokyo. However, Wood has never competed at a major international competition, and the time difference between Tokyo and England may be difficult to adjust to. Despite this, she still has a strong chance of finaling at the Olympics. 

Japanese swimmers Miho Teramura and Yui Ohashi will have a huge advantage with the time zone difference, competing at their home Olympic Games. The pair currently rank 6th and 7th in the world for the 2021 season with their personal bests of 2:09.55 and 2:09.59, respectively. 

Ohashi, in particular, will be a strong contender in this race. After posting a 2:07.91 back in 2017, Ohashi struggled to match her personal best in 2018 and 2019, not even going under 2:10 in 2020. Since covid restrictions have eased, however, Ohashi has been swimming very strongly, posting a time of 2:09.59 already this season. Currently, Ohashi is ranked as a favorite to medal in the women’s 400 IM, which occurs on Day 1 of the meet. If she is able to live up to expectations and earn a medal, momentum may help her climb the rankings in the 200 IM as well. 

Termura, the 9th place finisher in this event at the Rio Olympics, holds valuable international and Olympic experience that many of the other competitors lack. At the Japanese Olympic Trials, Termura posted a personal best in this event for the first time since 2018. With this, it seems that she is peaking at the right time to make a big jump at her second Olympic Games. 

Great Britain has another strong entrant in Alicia Wilson, who set her personal best of 2:09.61 this year. Wilson is the reigning World University Games gold medalist in this event and made a huge jump to qualify for Tokyo. South Korea’s Kim Seo-Yeong is also in the position to final here, having placed 6th overall at the 2019 World Championships. Although she has only been 2:10.66 in 2021, Seo-Yeong holds a personal best of 2:08.34, which places her right in the thick of things. 

SwimSwam’s Picks:

Place Swimmer Country
Best Time Since 2016 Olympics
1 Katinka Hosszu HUN 2:07.00
2 Sydney Pickrem CAN 2:08.61
3 Yui Ohashi JPN 2:07.91
4 Alex Walsh USA 2:08.87
5 Abbie Wood GBR 2:09.23
6 Kate Douglass USA 2:09.32
7 Miho Teramura JPN 2:09.55
8 Yu Yiting CHN 2:09.64

Dark horse Pick: 17-year-old Anastasia Gorbenko has dropped almost 3 seconds in this event since 2018, going from 2:12.88 to 2:09.99. Gorbenko is currently ranked 12th overall in the event going into Tokyo. However, she is coming off of a huge European Championships victory over Hosszu, and is young enough to drop a significant amount of time in Tokyo. 

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Lex Soft
1 year ago

If Anastasia Gorbenko is on the podium, it will be the 1st time for Israel’s swimmer at the Olympic, right ? When was the last time Israel’s swimmer reach the final in swimming at Olympic ?

Bobo Gigi
1 year ago

I’ve picked Sydney Pickrem to win both IM races.
And go Alex Walsh!

Brownish
Reply to  Bobo Gigi
1 year ago

400 not. 200 might be.

Jamie5678
Reply to  Bobo Gigi
1 year ago

Yes. I’ve just put a bet on Pickrem at 20-1 in both medleys. On the FamCam at trials her mum said she wasn’t tapered and she still went 2.09.

There’s a lot of hot air about tapering at trials; but I’m going with Sydney’s mum.

Brownish
Reply to  Jamie5678
1 year ago

Never went close to 4:30. Do you really think that with 4:32.88 anybody can win it? Me not.

Jamie5678
Reply to  Brownish
1 year ago

I’d be v. surprised if she won the 400 to be honest. But if I only backed her in the 200, and she won the 400 instead, I’d feel miffed. So I had to do both. And it will give me a bit more investment in the first session. I’ve not put any money on swimmers from my own country or any real favourites so it’s just a random bunch of swimmers I like and swimmers where I think the odds were longer than I think they should be.

I know it doesn’t make a whole lot of sense but that’s the way my mind works I’m afraid.

Last edited 1 year ago by Jamie5678
Brownish
Reply to  Jamie5678
1 year ago

Sorry, who? Pickrem or Hosszú? Hosszú will win the 400 IMHO. And the 200 🙂

DJTrockstoYMCA
Reply to  Bobo Gigi
1 year ago

Hosszu wins both – Pickrem does not medal in either.

Swimmka
1 year ago

No doubt that Hosszu will win. She is 1 second ahead of the field and even in the current season she did not show her best she remains capable. Interestingly when it comes to an American ( ie Dressel) he is counted the key favorite even though there are two prominent talented young guys are ahead of him in the season, but when it is about a European swimmer only the last few months that count.

DMSWIM
Reply to  Swimmka
1 year ago

I think Hosszu’s age plays into it. She hasn’t been at her best since 2016, and she’s 32 years old. As a fellow 32 year old, I can attest to how different your body feels compared to when you are 24 like Dressel. It’s a lot easier to bounce back at 24 than it is at 32. Dressel also threw down some very strong times at Trials and made it look easy indicating he has more in the tank.

Swimmka
Reply to  DMSWIM
1 year ago

She hasn’t been at her best since 2016 when she won both IM in 2017 and 2019 world championships???? And still her time listed on the nomination is more than 2 seconds ahead of the next one? Dressel has far less margin in any of his swim…

Pacific Whirl
1 year ago

Morphologically, the title “youth hunting” reads like the competitor “Yu Yiting”‘s name.

Drew Dweetzer
1 year ago

Another gold for the Iron Lady!

Drama King
1 year ago

Gold – Sydney Pickrem – 2.08.04
Silver – Yui Ohashi – 2.08.17
Bronze – Alex Walsh – 2.08.32

4. Kate Dougless – 2.08.51
5. Katinka Hosszu – 2.08.64
6. Miha Teremura – 2.09.01
7. Abbie Wood – 2.09.14
8. Kim Seo-Yeong – 2.09.33

Dark Horse – Yu Yiting

Deepblue
1 year ago

I expect this race to play out extremely similarly to the U.S. trials race. It’ll come down to the last 15m, and Rowdy will probably be super disappointed that his pre-race favorite got touched out.

Swimmerj
1 year ago

WAHOOWA

About Nicole Miller

Nicole Miller

Nicole has been with SwimSwam since April 2020, as both a reporter and social media contributor. Prior to joining the SwimSwam platform, Nicole also managed a successful Instagram platform, amassing over 20,000 followers. Currently, Nicole is pursuing her B.S. in Biomedical Engineering at Worcester Polytechnic Institute. After competing for the swim …

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