2022 FINA WORLD AQUATICS CHAMPIONSHIPS
- June 18-25, 2022 (pool swimming)
- Budapest, Hungary
- Duna Arena
- LCM (50-meter format)
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- Full Aquatics Schedule
By The Numbers:
- World Record: 2:01.81, Liu Zige (CHN) – 2009 Chinese National Games
- Championship Record: 2:03.41, Jessica Schipper (AUS) – 2009 World Championships
- 2021 Olympic Champion: Zhang Yufei (CHN) – 2:03.86
- 2019 World Champion: Boglarka Kapas (HUN) – 2:06.78
- FINA ‘A’ Cut: 2:09.21
Zhang Yufei of China is the 3rd-fastest woman in history in the 200 butterfly and the fastest active woman in the event. Her 2:03.86 from the Tokyo 2020 Games is 3rd to world record-holder Liu Zige who holds a 2:01.81 and 2nd-best Jessicah Schipper who swam a 2:03.41.
While a handful of women have cracked the 2:04 barrier in history, Zhang is the only one who has done it since the beginning of 2020 and is the clear favorite in this event. In addition to being the only sub-2:04 swimmer in this field, Zhang’s 2:03.86 from 2021 is more than a second faster than the #2 performer in the event since January 2020, Regan Smith.
Smith is the reigning Olympic runner-up in this event, having placed second to Zhang in Tokyo with a 2:05.30. The last time Smith raced at a World Championships in 2019, she was the talk of the town in the backstroke events but this time around she will also be a contender in the 200 butterfly. Smith reset the world record in both the 100 and 200 backstrokes at Gwangju 2019 but this time around she will race the 100 backstroke and 200 butterfly.
Smith placed 2nd in this event at Olympic Trials with a 2:07.93 to teammate Hali Flickinger’s 2:06.35. Flickinger has been a 200 butterfly mainstay on the US national team for many years, having raced the event at the 2016 Olympics, 2017 World Championships, 2019 World Championships, and the Tokyo 2020 Olympics. She won silver in 2019 with a 2:06.95 and followed up with a bronze at the Olympics in 2021 with a 2:05.65, which is her current PB in the event.
It’s entirely conceivable that Smith and Flickinger could end up hitting the podium alongside Zhang again in 2022, but there’s one more swimmer in the 2:05 range that we must consider first. In March 2022, Summer McIntosh delivered a Canadian record-breaking swim of 2:05.81 in Toronto to assert herself as a contender in yet another event.
McIntosh is in the conversation as a medal contender in many events including the 200 free, 400 free, 400 IM, and, if she swims it, the 200 butterfly. McIntosh’s swim makes her the fastest woman in the event worldwide this season. She followed up the 2:05.81 with a 2:07.60 at Canadian Trials to qualify for the event in Budapest. The 200 fly will be after she races the 400 freestyle and 200 freestyle but before the 400 IM, meaning that the final won’t conflict with any other events that she has qualified for.
McIntosh has potential here considering her recent sub-2:06 swim but we’ll leave her off the podium in favor of the Americans who have more experience racing this event at the highest level.
While Zhang, Smith, Flickinger, and McIntosh make up our top 4 selections, it’s very possible that someone else will be able to disrupt that group and break into the top 4 or even top 3 and Boglarka Kapas seems like the prime candidate to do so.
Kapas recently placed 4th in this event in Tokyo with a 2:06.53 and she is most notably the reigning world champion in this event. The reigning world champion would normally be a near-lock to make the podium in an event, but since 2019 both Flickinger and Yufei have improved upon their times in Gwangju (and surpassed Kapas’ time) while Smith and McIntosh have come onto the scene and have already surpassed Kapas’ PB.
Kapas swam a 2:06.78 to win gold in 2019 and has since established a best time in the event of 2:06.50 back in May 2021. Kapas will likely need to shave some more time off and reach the 2:05 range in order to get into medal-worthy range, but with a home advantage in Budapest this summer, will surely be in the mix.
The second-fastest woman in this event in history who has not yet retired is Katinka Hosszu who swam a PB of 2:04.27 all the way back in 2009. Hosszu hasn’t gotten close to that, however, in years and had shifted her focus away from the 200 butterfly recently.
Hosszu is also listed on the Hungarian roster for this meet in the 200 butterfly, meaning that she might be racing it this summer. She was entered to race at Tokyo 2020 but was a DNS at the meet. The fastest that Hosszu has swum since 2019 is a 2:07.68 and she put up a 2:08.14 in May 2021. Hosszu won’t need to be at her best to make the final here but she likely won’t get down to the 2:05 it will take to land on the podium.
There’s a newcomer to this 200 butterfly scene who is worth mentioning next as another potential top 4 finisher. Japan’s Hayashi Kina raced to victory in this event in March 2022 at the Japanese selection meet for 2022, delivering a 2:06.41 to qualify for Budapest. She followed up that swim a few weeks later with a quartet of swims at the Mare Nostrum series, with the fastest being a 2:07.27.
A 2:06.41 easily gets her into the conversation to make the final and if Hayashi can keep taking off time in the 200 fly she might be able to get into the top 3.
Something that’s notable is that while the top 4 finishers in this event in Tokyo will be racing in Budapest, the 5th – 8th place finishers are not expected to swim this summer at Worlds. 5th place’s Svetlana Chimrova can’t race because of Russia’s ban. 6th place finisher Yu Liyan wasn’t on the leaked Chinese roster, while Alys Thomas wasn’t on the British roster and didn’t race the event at Trials. Finally, Australia’s Brianna Throssell placed 3rd in the event to Elizabeth Dekkers and Abbey Connors.
Without those 4, the field is fairly wide open for another 3 women to join Zhang, Smith, Flickinger, McIntosh, and Hayashi in the final.
The aforementioned Australian national champion Elizabeth Dekkers swam a 2:07.62 at the meet to get onto the team for Budapest. Dekkers’ PB in the event is a bit quicker than that, sitting at a 2:07.25 from 2021. Laura Stephens is in similar territory for Great Britain with a PB of 2:07.04 and a season-best of 2:07.12. A third 2:07-low contender is China’s Zhu Jiaming who put up a 2:07.24 in October 2021 and was listed as a member of the leaked Chinese roster for Budapest 2022.
That trio of women will fill out our predicted top 8 considering their recent speed and the clear potential to get into 2:06 range this summer. Beyond our picks here, other swimmers who will be in the mix are Olympic semi-finalists Ana Monteiro of Portugal and Helena Rosendahl Bach of Denmark.
Dark Horse: Lana Pudar (BIH) – It’s unclear whether Lana Pudar will be racing this event at the 2022 World Championships because she has never actually swum under the current FINA A cut of 2:09.21. Her best time in the event is 2:09.59 from 2021 and this season her quickest swim is a 2:11.91 in April. Pudar broke all 6 butterfly national records for Bosnia and Herzegovina in 2021 and got down to a 2:04.88 in the short course version of this event at the 2021 Short Course World Championships to claim a bronze medal. Pudar will need to translate that short course speed into long course if she wants a shot in Budapest, making her a strong dark horse contender.