European Championships Preview – Women’s 200 and 400 Freestyle

200 freestyle

Swedish star Sarah Sjostrom has been having a magnificant year and comes into the Berlin with the top ranked time in the world in the women’s 200 freestyle. Sjostrom posted a 1:55.04 at the Swim Cup in April eclipsing her previous lifetime best of 1:55.23 which she recorded in 2012.

Sjostrom finished fourth at both the 2011 and 2013 World Championships.

After the Olympic Games in London Italian Federica Pellegrini made a decision to take her attention away from the 200 freestyle and focus on the backstroke events. That did not last long, as the world record holder decided to participate in the event at the 2013 Italian trials and went on to collect the silver at the World Championships in Barcelona.

She comes into the games with a lifetime best time of 1:52.98 which she posted in 2009. Pellegrini is the most decorated swimmer in the event having won gold in the event at the 2009 and 2011 World Championships and the 2010 and 2012 European games.

There may not be another swimmer who has seen more improved this season than Siobhan-Marie O’Connor of Great Britain. The 18 year old posted a 1:55.69 claiming the silver medal at the Commonwealth Games. Coming into the year O’Connor’s lifetime best time in the event was a 1:59.50 and going into Glasgow she had a season’s best of 1:56.59. She has shown that she can step up her game when it matters.

Russian Veronika Popova comes into the competition with the next fastest time of 1:55.93. Popova improved on her lifetime best of 1:56.83 by almost a full second in the last year. She had a strong Universiade last summer collecting the silver medal in the event, but peaked too earlier and did not have the same kind of performance in Barcelona missing out on the semi-finals posting a time of 1:59.31 in the prelims.

Many have called Hungarian Katinka Hosszu the ironwoman of swimming, a title that is well deserved, a nickname she will once again earn in Berlin as she is set to race in 10 events. Hosszu comes into the competition with the fourth fastest time in Europe having posted a 1:56.30 at the Charlotte Grand Prix in May. The time is also a lifetime best improving on the 1:56.73 which she posted in the prelims of the 2013 World Championships.

Femke Heemskerk of the Netherlands posted a 1:56.39 in April at the Swim Cup. Heemskerk has a lifetime best of 1:55.54 which she recorded in 2011 in the prelims of the World Championships. Although Feemskerk has had a lot of success in relay events at the highest level she has not been able to replicate that success in individual events.

Charlotte Bonnet of France comes into the championships with a season’s best of 1:57.00. Bonnet posted a lifetime best of 1:56.63 in the semi-final of the 2013 World Championships.

Jazz Carlin of Great Britain has posted a season and lifetime best time of 1:57.26. Carlin has fine tuned her game in the distance events over the last year and will have a hard time finding the speed to stay competitive in the 200.

My top six:

  1. Sarah Sjostrom (SWE) – 1:55.04 (2014)
  2. Federica Pellegrini (ITA) – 1:52.98 (2009)
  3. Siohbhan-Marie O’Connor (GBR) – 1:55.82 (2014)
  4. Katinka Hosszu (HUN) – 1:56.30 (2014)
  5. Veronika Popova (RUS) – 1:55.93 (2014)
  6. Femke Heemskerk (NED) – 1:55.54 (2011)

400 freestyle

Mireia Belmonte of Spain comes in with the top ranked time in Europe having posted a 4:03.84 in April. Belmonte’s time is not only a season’s best, but a lifetime best improving on the 4:05.45 which she posted in 2012 to win the silver medal at the European Championships. Belmonte had a fantastic 2013 World Championships, but missed out on the final in the 400 freestyle finishing ninth in the prelims.

Jazz Carlin finished fourth in this event at last year’s World Championships posting a lifetime best of 4:04.03. Carlin matched that time in June. She had a stellar 800 freestyle at the Commonwealth Games walking away with gold, but her 400 freestyle was not up to that standard. Although she did collect the silver, finishing second to Lauren Boyle of New Zealand, she finished in a time of 4:05.16.

Federica Pellegrini is the former world record in this event, having posted a 3:59.15 to win the 2009 World Championships. Pellegrini won the 2009 and 2011 World Championships in the event, but did not swim the 400 freestyle at the World Championships last summer.

Pellegrini put up a 4:04.56 at the Italian National Championships in April, the only competition she has swum the event in this year.

Katinka Hosszu comes into Berlin with the next fastest time of 4:05.51. Hosszu really only started competing seriously in this event in 2013. It should be interesting to see how she will fair against such a strong field.

Sarah Sjostrom recorded a 4:06.04 in March, before the competition her best time in the event was a 4:12.24. The 400 freestyle is the final individual event of the competition so it is hard to say whether Sjostrom will race the event or not.

Hungarian Boglarka Kapas posted a season’s best 4:06.55 in July and has a lifetime best of 4:05.61, which she posted in the prelims of the World Championships last summer.

Lotte Friis comes into the competition with a season’s best of 4:06.83 and a lifetime best of 4:03.98, which she recorded finishing fourth at the Olympic Games in London. Friis took the bronze in this event at the 2010 European Championships and took the silver at the 2013 European Short Course Championships. Expect Friis to be at the top of her game in Berlin and challenge for the top spot on the medal podium.

Spaniard Melanie Costa Schmidt comes into Berlin with a lifetime best of 4:02.47 which she posted taking the 400 freestyle silver in Barcelona last summer. Costa has posted a season’s best of 4:07.24. She made incredible improvements in 2013 shaving off over four seconds from her life time best of 4:06.75.

My top six:

  1. Mireia Belmonte (ESP) – 4:03.84 (2014)
  2. Lotte Friis (DEN) – 4:03.98 (2012)
  3. Federica Pellegrini (ITA) – 3:59.15 (2009)
  4. Melanie Costa Schmidt (ESP) – 4:02.47 (2013)
  5. Jazz Carlin (GBR) – 4:04.03 (2014)
  6. Boglarka Kapas (HUN) – 4:05.61 (2012)

In This Story

Leave a Reply

7 Comment threads
30 Thread replies
Most reacted comment
Hottest comment thread
17 Comment authors
newest oldest most voted
bobo gigi

Go Charlotte in the 200 free! Why not a little bronze medal behind Pellegrini and Sjöström?

What is the textile PB of Pellegrini in the 400 free?
Good battle with Belmonte in perspective.
You didn’t mention Costa Schmidt who was a brilliant second in Barcelona last year behind Miss Ledecky. Doesn’t she swim in Berlin or is she out of shape?
And I expect at least a final from Coralie Balmy. She can swim 4.04 there.


Pellegrini swam 4:01.97 in 2011 Shanghai.

I definitely think she could have swum 4:00 in her peak in textile.

bobo gigi

Thanks. I had forgotten that race in Shanghai. I didn’t see her so fast in textile.


I don’t think so. At her peak she swam 1.52.98 and 3.59.15 with the super suits (2009). Without them she has PB of 1.55.14 and 4.01.97 (2011). If you add more than 2 sec. in the 200 then the time in the 400 is even better. During her long career she has been only once under 4.03 in a textile suit.


shiny suits’ effects were different from one swimmer to another. That’s why it was not fair.

For Pellegrini who already had great conditioning, body position, and technique, the shiny suit may not have given her as much as advantage as it did to Shiori Tsurusaki who swam 4:00.21 in 2009, for example.

“During her long career she has been only once under 4.03 in a textile suit.”

That’s because her physical peak coincided with the shiny suit years.
Or are saying that swimmers like Kirsty Coventry would never have swum 200 back in under 2:06 in textile just because in her long career her textile PB is only 2:06.83?


Who on earth is that? I was not aware a Japanese swimmer swam a 4:00…



2 TSURUSAKI Shiori JPN 1991 04:00.21 Japan High School Competition Osaka, JPN 17-08-2009


I can’t find that performance anywhere. It’s not listed here:


It is certainly listed in FINA website for the 2009 archived results:

1 PELLEGRINI Federica ITA 1988 03:59.15 QUAL YOG 2010 / 13th FINA World Championships Roma, ITA 26-07-2009
2 TSURUSAKI Shiori JPN 1991 04:00.21 Japan High School Competition Osaka, JPN 17-08-2009
3 JACKSON Joanne GBR 1986 04:00.60 QUAL YOG 2010 / 13th FINA World Championships Roma, ITA 26-07-2009
4 ADLINGTON Rebecca GBR 1989 04:00.79 QUAL YOG 2010 / 13th FINA World Championships Roma, ITA 26-07-2009
5 CHEN Qian CHN 1995 04:02.35 QUAL YOG 2010 / Swimming Competition Of 11th National Sport Games Jinan, CHN 18-10-2009
6 SCHMITT Allison USA 1990 04:02.51 QUAL YOG 2010 / 13th FINA World Championships Roma, ITA 26-07-2009

aswimfan – While I can’t prove it, I have to believe that this is a mistake. Simply because the swimmer has not shown up in results for any other big competitions since. I found a start list with her name on it in about a 2nd heat out of 10, and that’s it.

I will get with FINA and see if they can verify or expunge that result from their data.


I believe Pellegrini PB is 4.01.97 from Shangai 2011. She might not swim the 400, but she is the favorite to win the 200 since Sjöström has too many events to swim.


I agree with this.
I am still a bit skeptical that Sjoestrom will be able to surpass or even replicate her best times this seasons if she has too many events to swim (I am guessing 50/100/200 free and 50/100 fly). No matter, this european championships is the perfect venue for Sjoestrom to experiment and swim as many events as her heart desires.

Meanwhile, Pellegrini is one of the greatest 200 female freestylers ever. I know you cannot win on reputation alone, but 2013 worlds showed how incredible Pellegrini is despite limited training.

bobo gigi

Miss Pellegrini is in good hands now with Philippe Lucas. She can swim 1.54 high in Berlin.
The 200 free in Rio will be insane with Missy Franklin, Katie Ledecky, Federica Pellegrini, Emma McKeon, Sarah Sjöström and Charlotte Bonnet! 😎
And at the pace she improves her speed, I’d pick today Miss Ledecky for the gold medal.


I wouldn’t be surprise that by Rio Ledecky swims close to 1.53 ! she will be the most improved 200 meter swimmer to watch very soon .

Two weeks ago a 12 year old Hungarian girl swam 2.01 in 200 m freestyle, 2 sec faster than the NAG record in the USA, I hope she will be able to be in that insane final too 🙂 Her name is Fanni Gyurinovics.


Sjostrom is not expected to swim the 200 free at the euros. Sweden have a great chance in all relays, plus her individual events in 50/100 free, 50/100 fly. Those are her expected events. She doesn’t like the 200.


What I am most curious of is Friis’ (and Agnel’s of course) progress after training with Bowman.
The 400 free final at the euros will be incredible racing. I hope there will be some free livestreaming for non europeans to see.

bobo gigi

Yes. I don’t know at all what to expect from Agnel! 😆
It will be the surprise. Hopefully a good surprise.
If everything goes well, he should easily win the 200 free. 1.44 low would be a good thing.
The big question is the 400 free. It can be 1st in 3.43 or not qualified in the final! :mrgreen:


Yes, I too am interested to see how Lotte and Agnel do in Berlin and if their training with Bowman is paying off.

About Jeff Grace

Jeff Grace

Jeff is a 500 hour registered yoga teacher who holds diplomas in Coaching (Douglas College) and High Performance Coaching (National Coaching Institute - Calgary). He has a background of over 20 years in the coaching profession, where he has used a unique and proven teaching methodology to help many achieve their …

Read More »

Don't want to miss anything?

Subscribe to our newsletter and receive our latest updates!