Mollie O’Callaghan Knocks Down Pellegrini’s Legendary 200 Free World Record With 1:52.85


On day four of the 2023 World Championships, Mollie O’Callaghan broke Federica Pellegrini‘s world record of 1:52.98 in the 200 freestyle, swimming a time of 1:52.85. Pellegrini’s record has been threatened a few times over the years, but O’Callaghan has officially taken out the legendary mark with this massive swim.

O’Callaghan is now just the second woman to swim under 1:53.00 in the women’s 200 freestyle. With her world record swim, O’Callaghan has shaved nearly a full second off her best time coming into this meet of 1:53.83 from June 2023. Before this year, she hadn’t yet cracked 1:54.

Split Comparison:

O’Callaghan – 2023 Pellegrini – 2009
50 26.93 27.34
100 55.94 (29.01) 55.60 (28.26)
150 1:24.74 (28.80) 1:24.38 (28.78)
200 1:52.85 (28.11) 1:52.98 (28.60)

O’Callaghan opened the race faster on the first lap, splitting  26.93 to Pellegrini’s 27.34, but Pellegrini actually had the quicker 100 split of 55.60, compared to O’Callaghan’s 55.94. O’Callaghan managed to run down the world record pace, however, and closed with 28.11 to seal the deal.

Freestyle greats over the past decade such as Allison Schmitt, Katie Ledecky, and Ariarne Titmus have all taken aim at this record, but none of them were able to crack 1:53 and reset the mark. Notably, Ariarne Titmus had her fastest-ever swim in the same heat as O’Callaghan here, hitting 1:53.01 to nearly get into the 1:52 range herself.

All-time Performances – Women’s 200 Freestyle

  1. Mollie O’Callaghan – 1:52.85
  2. Federica Pellegrini – 1:52.98
  3. Ariarne Titmus – 1:53.01
  4. Ariarne Titmus – 1:53.09
  5. Ariarne Titmus – 1:53.31
  6. Ariarne Titmus – 1:53.50
  7. Allison Schmitt – 1:53.61
  8. Summer McIntosh – 1:53.65

Summer McIntosh improved upon her own time and world junior record of 1:53.91 to deliver a time of 1:53.65 for bronze, giving her the 8th-fastest performance ever. Siobhan Haughey swam a 1:53.96 to near her own best time and Asian record of 1:53.92.

O’Callaghan won her first world title in the 200 freestyle here at Fukuoka 2023, improving upon her silver medal finish in 2023. She now has two gold medals at this meet, having also swum a world record as a member of Australia’s women’s 4×100 freestyle relay (3:27.96).

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4 months ago

I remembered to do a 50/100/200 add up:

MOC: 24.52+52.08+1:52.85=3:09.45
Sjostrom: 23.67+51.71+1:54.08=3:09.46

I cannot believe it.

Reply to  23/51/1:52
4 months ago

The 200 is weighted too heavily in these kinds of add up comparisons.

Last edited 4 months ago by Troyy
Reply to  Troyy
4 months ago

Of course, but Sjostrom had the fastest aggregate time anyway until yesterday.
She is still all by herself in the 50/100 and in other metrics like all time fastest performer average.

4 months ago

Her reaction is just my favorite. The surprise and pure joy on her face. What an incredible effort. We’ve all been waiting for this record to be taken down and what a deserving victor!

Big T
4 months ago

It’s mind boggling that Shayna Jack isn’t top 2 freestyle in Australia. Fina should find a way to let her compete 100m

Joshua Liendo-Edwards-Smith
Reply to  Big T
4 months ago

Lol that would destroy the entire rule system. But yeah, will be very disappointing if Emma doesn’t do well considering Jack would likely be favourite for gold.

4 months ago

One hellava race. DO legitmately feel for both McIntosh & Haughey; both have outstanding swims and break 1.54 but one misses the podium !

Here”s hoping coaches don’t overthink 4×200 order

Reply to  commonwombat
4 months ago

Mollie to lead off, Arnie to anchor and the order of the middle legs doesn’t matter.

4 months ago

Oh, i want mollie to get 100 free wr too, but am really excited for 4x 200 free, hopefully Madi gets a spot in the final
MOC, Shayna, Madi, Arnie
I expect Throssell in the heats

Reply to  Skip
4 months ago

MOC, Arnie and Jack are all clearly on. Unless all of Wilson, Melverton, Harris and Pallister are looking bad, it’s hard not to see this WR going down.

Nick the biased Aussie
4 months ago

Different group. Ariarne in the middle distance group, Mollie in the sprint group.
Sounds like they don’t cross over very often.

Reply to  Nick the biased Aussie
4 months ago

It’s still gotta hurt to have your coach train another swimmer to victory over you.

Awsi Dooger
4 months ago

Mollie won because of bathtub efficiency. Check the final wall. Titmus came up after 5 meters while Mollie was underwater twice as long. That was all the difference. Mollie cut the deficit in half via the underwater plus she had greater momentum and fresher arms.

As great as the Australian women are, they’d be even better with more short course training and therefore better turns and underwaters. When Titmus rallied to defeat Comerford at short course worlds 200 many years ago, it was glaring that Titmus prevailed despite far inferior turns and underwaters. Titmus in that race came up immediately on the final 25. It worked for her then but I took note of it. Some day she’s going to… Read more »

Joshua Liendo-Edwards-Smith
Reply to  Awsi Dooger
4 months ago

Mollie was well behind Titmus with 30 to go and made up the difference over the water.

But yes, Mollie’s underwaters are fantastic.

Titmus seems like she’s doing pretty well. Doubt she ever has been or ever would be beaten in a race by Mallory Comerford.

4 months ago

If they go 1-2 in Paris I couldn’t care less who wins