Georgia Davies of Great Britain had a strong Commonwealth Games taking the 50 backstroke in a games record time of 27.56. Davies time is also a lifetime best and makes her the fastest qualifier. The Welsh swimmer placed sixth at the 2013 World Championships in the event finishing in a time of 27.96.
Danish teenager Mie Nielsen has had to deal with her fair share of injuries over the past couple of years, missing out on the 2013 World Championships in Barcelona due to a knee injury. Nielsen has been healthy throughout the 2013-14 season and showed that she was back on form when she won the 100 backstroke at the European Short Championships.
In April Nielsen posted a 27.76 improving on her lifetime best of 28.51 coming into the season.
Aliaksandra Herasimenia of Belarus comes in with the season’s third fastest time of 27.96. Herasimenia has a textile best of 27.64, which she posted en route to winning gold at the 2010 European Championships.
Fran Halsall is the next fastest qualifier in the event having posted a 28.04 at the Commonwealth Games. This was the first time that Halsall chose to swim this event at a major international competition and it will be interesting to see if she includes in her schedule for Berlin.
Mercedes Peris Minguet of Spain was the top European finisher in this event at the 2013 World Championships placing fifth. Peris is also the defending European Champion in the event after taking the gold in 2012. She comes into the championships with a lifetime best of 27.71.
Daria Ustinova of Russia, who is much more of a 200 specialist, comes into the competition with a season and lifetime best of 28.18.
Hungarian Katinka Hosszu will also be swimming this event. Although Hosszu’s season and lifetime best of 28.52 is not impressive she did post a 59.40 in Barcelona last summer in the prelims of the 100 backstroke.
My top six:
- Mie Nielsen (DEN) – 27.76 (2014)
- Georgia Davies (GBR) – 27.56 (2014)
- Aliaksandra Herasimenia (BEL)- 27.57 (2009)
- Mercedes Peris Minguet (ESP) – 27.71 (2013)
- Katinka Hosszu (HUN) – 28.52 (2014)
- Daria Ustinova (RUS) – 28.18 (2014)
Mie Nielsen comes into Berlin as the fastest qualifier having posted a time of 59.36, which is also the quickest lifetime best of all the entrants.
Nielsen, who won the 100 backstroke at the European Short Championships in December, does not have a lot of international experience having represented Denmark for the first time at the 2012 London Olympics.
Georgia Davies, who like Nielsen focuses on the shorter backstroke events, posted a season and lifetime best of 59.58 at the Commonwealth Games. In Glasgow Davies picked up the silver finishing second to Australian Emily Seebohm. She had an extremely poor showing in the 100 at the 2013 World Championships missing the semi-final after recording a 1:01.61 in the prelims.
Hungarian superstar Katinka Hosszu will be swimming all three backstroke events in Berlin. She has recorded a season’s best of 59.64 in the 100 backstroke. She posted her lifetime best of 59.40 in the prelims of the 2013 World Championships eventually pulling out of the semi-finals electing to focus on the 200 IM.
Daria Ustinova posted a season and lifetime best of 59.78 at the Russian National Championships. Ustinova’s time was also a new junior world record. The 15 year old does not have a lot of experience as a senior swimmer on the international stage, competing at her first major championships in Barcelona last year.
She has had success as a junior winning the 100 backstroke at the 2013 Junior World Championships.
Elizabeth Simmonds of Great Britain has the next fastest time. Simmonds, who has a best time of 59.43, comes into Berlin with a season’s best of 59.98, which she posted in the semi-final in Glasgow.
Daryna Zevina of the Ukraine finished seventh in the 100 backstroke at last year’s World Championships and comes into the championships with a season’s best of 1:00.15. Zevina posted her lifetime best of 59.90 in the semi-finals in Barcelona.
Two other swimmers to watch in this event are Simona Baumrtova of the Czech Republic and Jenny Mensing of Germany. Baumrtova has a season’s best of 1:00.58, but was the top European at the 2013 World Championships, finishing sixth with a lifetime best of 59.84. Mensing is the reigning European Champion and comes into the event with a season’s best of 1:00.50, but has a lifetime best of 59.85.
My top six:
- Mie Nielsen (DEN) – 59.36 (2014)
- Katinka Hosszu (HUN) – 59.40 (2013)
- Georgia Davies (GBR) – 59.58 (2014)
- Daria Ustinova (RUS) – 59.78 (2014)
- Daryna Zevina (UKR) – 59.90 (2013)
- Elizabeth Simmonds (GBR) – 59.43 (2010)
Daria Ustinova set the 200 backstroke junior world record at the Russian Championships in May posting a 2:08.02. With that time she comes into Berlin as the top qualifier. At her first major international competition in Barcelona last summer Ustinova had a fantastic swim in the prelims of recording a time of 2:08.69, but unfortunately she was not able to repeat that type of performance in the final ultimately finishing eighth in a time of 2:11.30.
Ustinova is a buddying star, it will be interesting to see how she holds up to the tough competition she will be facing.
Elizabeth Simmonds has the second fastest time of the season having posted a 2:08.91. Simmonds finished just outside of the medals in Glasgow posting a time of 2:09.29. She comes into Berlin with the fastest lifetime best of the field having recorded a 2:07.26 at the 2012 Olympics.
She also took gold in the event at the 2010 European Championships.
Katinka Hosszu has a season’s best of 2:10.12, but comes into Berlin with a lifetime best of 2:08.93, which she posted in Barcelona last year. There is no doubt that she will be a medal threat in the event.
Jenny Mensing took silver in this event at the 2012 European Championships and comes into the championships with a season’s best of 2:09.25. Mensing has a lifetime best of 2:08.30 which she posted in 2012.
Italian star Federica Pellegrini enters the competition with the next fastest time of the season having posted a 2:09.27 in April at the Italian Championships. Pellegini has a lifetime best of 2:08.05 which she recorded in 2013. This has been a new event for Pellegrini who only started to compete in the 200 backstroke over the last two seasons.
Daryna Zevina comes into the event with a season’s best of 2:10.79, but was the top European at the 2013 World Championships finishing fourth in a time of 2:08.72. Zevina also has a lifetime best of 2:07.82.
My top six:
- Daria Ustinova (RUS) – 2:08.02 (2014)
- Daryna Zevina (UKR) – 2:07.82 (2012)
- Elizabeth Simmonds (GBR) – 2:07.26 (2012)
- Katinka Hosszu (HUN) – 2:08.93 (2013)
- Federica Pellegrini (ITA) – 2:08.05 (2013)
- Jenny Mensing (GER) – 2:08.30 (2012)