European Championships Preview – Women’s 200 and 400 Freestyle

  37 Jeff Grace | August 12th, 2014 | Europe, European Championships, International, News, Previews & Recaps

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)

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37 Comments on "European Championships Preview – Women’s 200 and 400 Freestyle"

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I think agnel can break the 200 free world record. He’s pretty skinny. If he bulks a bit and develops those phelps or lochte underwaters, he’s a really good chance to break 200 free world record.


If I had to guess I’d say the record is ripe for breaking by around 2028 ± 5 years. It would need another 1.2 seconds. So far Thorpe’s mark has been improved by 0.9 in the past decade, I would say it needs easily that long for us to expect a 1:41.

Agnel has just 1.16s to win. 😆
It’s another world! And I compare with the PB of Agnel in 2012 in London when he was at his best. He must first prove under Bowman that he can swim again 1.43.
But the times are less important than the titles.and if he wins the gold in Kazan and in Rio, then he can retire with the sense of accomplishment.

Melani Costa? She will take part in 400 free…As the Bobo Gigi says was second in Barcelona…She has this year 4:07, but I think can do more and better…her best performance is 4:02.47, spanish record.

Federica also swam 4.01.53 in Bejing. Not in the same suit as 2009 Rome i think. She never was a suit swimmer. She was already a silver medalist in the 200 free in Athens! And that’s because she was breathing the wrong side and an unknown swimmer came out of nothing from lane 7 or 8. I want to add my thoughts on the supersuits issue. When these supersuits first came out, the then coach of the Italian team, the late Castagnetti, was a very outspoken opponent. He called them “technological doping”. But he was laughed at or ignored at best. And good swimmers like Magnini, who did not have access to those suits, fell behind. Then in 2009 Arena… Read more »

Bieldermann was helped a lot by suits, but he was never a mediocre swimmer.. someone who can swim 1:44 high textile is not mediocre… Medicore are guys like Rafa Munoz and Dave Walters who never did anything withouth suits..

Rafael: Rafa Muñoz is a good swimmer ill-treated by spanish federation…Remember: Muñoz is the current European champion of 50 fly… Mediocre swimmer??

Rafa had its best moment in 2009 with the World Record in the 50fly and bronzes in Rome… And yes, he is the current European champion in this event, but at world level, he has not done anything. What matters at international level is Olympic Games, where you can only swim 100m butterfly, and after that, Worlds; and since Rome he has not been able to make the cuts in the 100 and the best thing he has done is 9th in 50m last year in BCN. He is always complaining about the treatment that he receives from Federation but… he can’t live forever from something he did 5 years ago with the magic swimsuits. Last year in BCN, he… Read more »

We can discuss if Muñoz is better or worse, but to say that he is mediocre I think that this is unfair. Remember again: current european champion 50 fly 😉

I stand corrected. You are right, mediocre is an unfair definition. He is a good or even very good swimmer. But nowhere near the stellar level he reached with the suit.

Don’t talk to me about Biedermann!
I still make nightmares 5 years later when I remember these races in Rome! 😆
Hopefully Sun Yang will break his 400 free world record in the next 2 years.
Unfortunately, unless a human robot is allowed to swim, his crazy stupid awful 200 free world record will last at least 200 years.


Dang it 2020. Not 2010.


Maybe when the record is still standing and Biedermann has retired in 2010 he will petition FINA to remove it. He knows it, we know it, FINA ought to know it. The swim was not Kosher, so to speak.

I have nightmares when I remember Biedermann in Rome but I recognize he’s a good swimmer. No doubt about that. He’s among the 8 best 200 free swimmers in the world.
But that week, he made me feel angry because he would have never won the 200 free without his magical suit. It seems obvious. The idiot world record was just icing on the cake. But a cake very hard to digest! 🙂


About Jeff Grace

Writer Jeff Grace brings a wealth of experience in the sport, including the most relevant as a feature-writer for Swim News Magazine. As a former Nationally-ranked age group swimmer in Canada, Grace has been deeply immersed in the sport for decades. In addition to his time as a writer and a swimmer, …

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