At the London Olympics, the rest of the world was introduced to Spain’s Mireia Belmonte Garcia as she captured a pair of silver medals in the 800 meter freestyle and the 200 meter butterfly and also posted two more top 10 finishes in both the 200 meter IM and 400 meter IM. Then, at the 2013 FINA World Championships in her hometown of Barcelona, Belmonte Gacia showed off her improved ability in the non-freestyle events with silvers in the 200 meter butterfly and 400 individual medley, while she still was able to grab a bronze in the 200 individual medley. She would also post a 5th place time of 8:21.99 in the 800 meter freestyle that was just about 3 seconds off her best from London.
Just a few days after the World Championships concluded, Belmonte Garcia flew 700 miles north to Eindhoven to participate in the FINA World Cup Series, where she continued to exhibit her stamina and versatility. Competing in four events, Garcia secured a second place finish in the 800 SCM Free with a lifetime best of 8:01.43, which was just .37 off the WR by Camille Muffat set last November. Great Britain’s Lauren Boyle would take the title in 8:01.22. Belmonte Garcia would also add a third place finish in the 400 meter freestyle (3:58.21), a fourth place finish in the 200 meter fly (2:05.12), and a seventh place finish in the 200 meter individual medley (2:09.72).
Then as if to save the best for last, Garcia flew another 350 miles northeast to compete in the very next stop of the FINA World Cup series in Berlin, Germany, where she blasted right through Muffat’s 800 meter freestyle record with a 7:59.34. Leading from the 350 meter mark onwards, Garcia touched the wall 3 seconds ahead of Boyle (8:02.53), and became the first woman to break both 8:01 and 8:00. The comparative 100 splits between her swim and Muffat’s previous record are below:
Muffat: 57.34, 1:58.39 (1:01.05), 2:59.60 (1:01.21), 4:00.85 (1:01.25), 5:01.37 (1:00.52), 6:01.78 (1:00.41), 7:01.53 (59.75), 8:01.06 (58.53)
Belmonte Garcia: 58.62, 1:59.38 (1:00.76), 2:59.74 (1:00.36), 3:59.80 (1:00.06), 4:59.39 (59.59), 5:59.38 (59.99), 6:59.38 (1:00.00), 7:59.34 (59.96)
Though Belmonte Garcia started off a little slower than Muffat, it was her closing speed that allowed her to overhaul the record and take top honors in the race. With the win, she continues her impressive run since the London Olympics, and also effortlessly demonstrates her incredible resilience in the pool. She also swam the 200 meter individual medley, and improved on her time from Eindhoven with a 2:09.39 (5th).
Belmonte Garcia still has the 200 meter butterfly left to swim tomorrow. She is the seventh seed overall.