Headed To Hangzhou: Dutch Dames Dominant in Women’s Sprint Freestyles


  • Tuesday, December 11th – Sunday, December 16th
  • Tennis Centre, Hangzhou Olympic & International Expo Center, Hangzhou, China
  • SCM
  • Provisional Entry List

The fastest 50m and 100m freestyler in the world on the women’s side, Sarah Sjostrom, has opted out of the 2018 Short Course World Championships, which leaves the door wide open for any would-be competitors to take on a possible double.

The Dutch squad is coming in hot with 2012 Olympic double champion Ranomi Kromowidjojo and her World Cup racing teammate Femke Heemskerk. But, the Americans are taking also bringing Olympians in the form of Kelsi Dahlia, Lia Neal, Melanie Margalis and Leah Smith, among others, to spread the stars n’ stripes talent around the sprint freestyle events.

The Chinese contingency also looks loaded, with young guns Wang Jianjiahe, Li Bingjie and Junxuan Yang all appearing on the provisional start lists for their home-country hosted championships.

Women’s 50 Freestyle

Throughout the World Cup, Kromowidjojo kept pace with Sjostrom, ultimately carrying a season-best effort of 23.23. That mark already beat what it took the 28-year-old to top the 50 free podium at the 2016 Short Course World Championships in Windsor. In her storied career, Kromo has been as fast as 22.93, the current World Record she set last year.

The next 2 competitors in the current world rankings who will be in Hangzhou are also Dutch, with Heemskerk holding a season-fastest mark of 23.67, while Kim Busch has also been under 24 seconds in 23.99. Heemskerk may take on the treble of freestyle races, threatening to claim a medal across this 50m, as well as both the 100m and 200m events. Her 23.67 time checks-in as her own personal best, which bodes well momentum-wise heading into China if she keeps this event on her schedule.

Dahlia is the quickest American this season coming into Hangzhou, ranked 8th in the world in this furiously fast event with a time of 24.02, her newly-minted personal best. Another American, Madison Kennedyproved this weekend that she is always read to race, nailing a LCM 50 freestyle silver at U.S. Winter Nationals, sans warm-up or warm-down.  Her time of 24.87 converts to a 24.0 in SCM and puts her in the minor medal category.

Russia’s Maria KamenevaBrazil’s Etiene Medeiros and China’s Zhu Menghui are also contenders for a minor medal in what appears to be Kromo’s race to lose.

Prediction for Women’s 50 Freestyle:

Place Swimmer Country 2018 Best All-Time Best
1 Ranomi Kromowidjojo NED 23.23 22.93* WR
2 Femke Heemskerk NED 23.67 23.67
3 Kelsi Dahlia USA 24.02 24.02
4 Zhu Menghui CHN 24.04 24.00
5 Madison Kennedy USA 24.28 23.86
6 Maria Kameneva RUS 24.07 23.88
7 Etiene Medeiros BRA 24.24 24.24
8 Anika Apostalon CZE 24.09 24.09

Women’s 100 Freestyle

  • World Record – 50.25, Cate Campbell (AUS), 2017
  • SC World Championships Record – 51.37, Femke Heemskerk (NED), 2014
  • 2016 Champion – 51.81, Brittany Elmslie (AUS)

The women’s 100m freestyle is also an event in which Kromo has been dominant throughout the World Cup, bringing a season-best effort of 51.01 into these Championships. Again that time would have outdone the winning effort of 51.81 thrown down by Australia’s Brittany Elmslie for the title back in 2016. At those Championships, Kromo settled for silver in 51.92.

Heemskerk may make it a 1-2 punch for the Dutch this year, holding a season-best of 51.29. That also represents the 31-year-old’s career-fastest as well, continuing to make Heemskerk’s momentum build into Hangzhou. She still holds the Short Course World Championships record with her 2nd fastest career time of 51.37 from 2014.

Sweden’s Sarah Sjostrom may not be in the race, but her teammate Michelle Coleman may make things happen in her stead. Coleman clocked a time of 52.56 this season, but has been as fast as 51.92 in her career.

Expect America’s Kelsi Dahlia and China’s Zhu Menghui to also put up a fight, while Italy’s Federica Pellegrini can never be counted out of a race.

We may see Mallory Comerford of the United States also enter this event, however, she hasn’t swum SCM since 2016 where she put up a mark of 55.22. She’s grown exponentially as a swimmer since then, so, should she compete in this event, Comerford is one to watch.

Prediction for Women’s 100 Freestyle:

Place Swimmer Country 2018 Best All-Time Best
1 Ranomi Kromowidjojo NED 51.01 50.95
2 Femke Heemskerk NED 51.29 51.29
3 Michelle Coleman SWE 52.56 51.92
4 Kelsi Dahlia USA 52.56 52.46
5 Federica Pellegrini ITA 52.70 52.17
6 Zhu Menghui CHN 52.66 52.55
7 Anika Apostalon CZE 52.64 52.62
8 Tomomi Aoki JPN 53.20 53.20

Women’s 200 Freestyle:

The reigning Short Course champion Pellegrini has waffled on whether or not she’d continue competing in the women’s 200m freestyle event. The question is simply whether or not she’ll stick to what she’s said publicly about bidding adieu to this event. We’ve kept the stalwart in the rankings just in case. Pellegrini’s fastest mark this season of 1:54.30 places her as the 11th fastest swimmer in the world, but she threw down a near personal best of 1:51.63 just last year.

Heemskerk, however, has situated herself as the woman to beat, holding the only 2018 time under 1:53 of those competing in Hangzhou. She clocked a monster 1:51.91 in Tokyo and, if she’s able to replicate it, will be very difficult to beat in Hangzhou.

But, on-fire Chinese swimmer Wang Jianjiahe has been turning heads throughout the World Cup series, taking down a 400m freestyle World Record in the process. She’s proven mighty capable in this 200m event as well, producing a season-best of 1:53.48.

Iron Lady Katinka Hosszu is the reigning silver medalist in this event and will be hungry for gold if she keeps this event on her racing portfolio, whle USA’s Melanie Margalis is also a threat to at least capture a minor medal in this long sprint event.

Australia’s Ariarne Titmus admits she’s still ‘figuring out short course racing’, but has been under 1:54 already this season and relishes racing.

Predictions for Women’s 200 Freestyle:

Place Swimmer Country 2018 Best All-Time Best
1 Femke Heemskerk NED 1:51.91 1:51.69
2 Federica Pellegrini ITA 1:54.30 1:51.17
3 Katinka Hosszu HUN N/A 1:51.18
4 Mallory Comerford USA N/A 1:53.71
5 Wang Jianjiahe CHN 1:53.31 1:53.31
6 Li Bingjie CHN 1:53.48 1:53.48
7 Ariarne Titmus AUS 1:53.99 1:53.99
8 Melanie Margalis USA 1:53.57 1:53.57


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1 year ago

Comerford will crush.

Reply to  sven
1 year ago

Don’t think she can challenge Kromo but she is a medal threat no doubt. She is both an excellent yards swimmer and LC swimmer— she has the skills and details.

Reply to  sven
1 year ago

Agreed @sven I feel like SCM is good for her because she has improved a lot in LCM and has insane underwaters, she also finishes the 200 free well in SCY meaning a little more distance might just be perfect for her

Reply to  sven
1 year ago

I think she wins 200. and challenges a top 3 in 100. I don’t think she makes top 5 in the 50

1 year ago

Li Bingjie didn’t enter 200 FR, according to their entry list.

1 year ago

Fede said she’ll only swim 100 free and relays in Hangzhou.

About Retta Race

Retta Race

After 16 years at a Fortune 1000 financial company, long-time swimmer Retta Race decided to change lanes and pursue her sporting passion. She currently is Coach for the Northern KY Swordfish Masters, a team she started up in December 2013, while also offering private coaching. Retta is also an MBA …

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