Tokyo 2020 Olympic Swimming Previews: Veterans Yufei & Flickinger Lead W 200 FL

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Women’s 200 butterfly

  • World Record: Liu Zige (CHN) – 2:01.81 (2009)
  • Olympic Record: Jiao Liuyang (CHN) – 2:04.06 (2012)
  • World Junior Record: Suzuka Hasegawa (JPN) – 2:06.29 (2017)
  • 2016 Olympic Champion: Mireia Belmonte Garcia (ESP) – 2:04.85

China’s Zhang Yufei leads the charge in the women’s 200 fly heading into the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games. She posted a 2:05.44 at the first Chinese Olympic Trials, the top time in the world this year.

This time is nearly 2 seconds faster than the time that earned her 6th at the Rio Olympics. 

Sprint free and fly specialist Zhang has been on fire in this event this season. She broke 2:06.00 for the first time in January and crushed that lifetime best at the Chinese Olympic Trials in May.

Zhang Yufei

Zhang Yufei 100 butterfly pro swim series Austin (photo: Mike Lewis)

Team USA’s Hali Flickinger is the only other woman to crack 2:06.00 in the event this season. She posted a lifetime best time of 2:05.85 at the U.S. Olympic Trials, also nearly 2 seconds faster than the time she posted in the 2016 Olympic final.

She placed 7th in the event in Rio.

2019 World Champion Boglarka Kapas of Hungary swam a lifetime best 2:06.50 at the 2021 European Championships to win gold. This time ranks her 3rd in the event in the world this season. 

The 200 fly was a new focus for Kapas in 2018, as she competed in distance freestyle at the last three Olympic Games.

She won gold at the European Championships in the event and expressed her love for the 200 fly in her post-race interview, calling it “short” compared to her usual specialty event. This will be her first time racing the event on an Olympic stage.

Boglarka Kapas

Boglarka Kapas,
XXXV LEN European Aquatic Championships
(photo: Giorgio Scala / Deepbluemedia / Insidefoto)

19-year-old Regan Smith of Team USA is also towards the top of this season’s world rankings, sitting in 5th. Her season-best time is 2:06.99 from the U.S. Olympic Trials, but Smith swam a 2:06.39 at the Pro Swim Series in 2020.

The 200 back World Record holder will have a lighter event lineup than expected after she placed 3rd in the 200 back final at the U.S. Olympic Trials. She qualified for the U.S. Olympic team in the 100 back and 200 fly.

China’s duo of Yu Liyan and Zhang Yifan posted their fastest 200 fly times since Rio in October 2020 at the China National Championships, 2:06.83 and 2:06.99, respectively.

Both have officially made the Chinese Olympic team, but the roster does not post the events of each swimmer. It will most likely be Liyan who joins Zhang in representing China in this event after she placed second at the Chinese Olympic Trials.

Keep your eye on Great Britain’s Laura Stephens, though. 21-year-old Stephens posted a lifetime best 200 fly time of 2:07.04 in June to become the 4th all-time fastest British performer. This ranks her 7th in the world this season.

Brianna Throssell of Australia is one of three women from the 2016 Olympic final who are among the top 8 in the world this season (including Zhang and Flickinger.) She finished 8th in 2016, and is ranked 8th in the world this season with a time of 2:07.20.

Brianna Throssell 2017 World Championships  (photo: Mike Lewis)

That time is right on her lifetime best, 2:07.19, from the 2016 Olympic semifinal.

2020-2021 LCM Women 200 Fly

View Top 26»

2016 Olympic Champion Mireia Belmonte of Spain recently dropped out of the European Championships in May to avoid “taking steps back” in her shoulder recovery according to EFE.

Mireia Belmonte

Mireia Belmonte Garcia – 2016 Rio Olympics/photo credit Simone Castrovillari

At the 2019 World Championships, she placed 8th in the 800 and 1500 free, while she missed the final in the 400 free, 400 IM and 200 fly. 

Belmonte has qualified for the Tokyo Games in the 800 free and 1500 free. She could still add the 400 IM or 200 fly to her event lineup, pending approval from the Royal Spanish Swimming Federation (RFEN) selectors.

The top two fastest 200 fly times since Rio are from the 2017 World Championships where Belmonte won gold (2:05.26) ahead of silver medallist Franziska Hentke of Germany (2:05.39). 

Hentke‘s best time this year is 2:09.68 from April.

Franziska Hentke, Olympiaqualifikation Beckenschwimmen, (photo: JoKleindl)

Also in that top five is Great Britain’s Alys Thomas who swam a season-best time of 2:08.09 in April. She won the event at the 2018 Commonwealth Games with a time of 2:05.45.

Alys Thomas, 2016 British Swimming Championships (photo: Craig Watson/PA Wire)

Japan’s Suzuka Hasegawa posted a blistering 2:06.29 back in 2017, the 7th fastest time in the world since Rio, but her season-best time stands at 2:07.24. This ranks her 9th in the world this season. 

But, Hasegawa still has a solid chance of placing well in the finals. She is undefeated in the 200 short course meter fly in her ISL career. She will also be competing in her home country and time zone.

Hasegawa made the semifinals in Rio, but placed 9th  with a time of 2:07.33 and missed the final.

Suzuka Hasegawa (photo: Mine Kasapoglu)

Top Times During 2016-2021 Olympic Cycle

Rank Swimmer Country Time Meet
1 Mireia Belmonte ESP 2:05.26 2017 World Championships
2 Franziska Hentke GER 2:05.39 2017 World Championships
3 Zhang Yufei CHN 2:05.44 2021 Chinese National Championships
4 Alys Thomas GBR 2:05.45 2018 Commonwealth Games
5 Hali Flickinger USA 2:05.85 U.S. Olympic Trials

SwimSwam’s Top 8

Place Swimmer Country Best Time Since 2016 Olympics
1 Zhang Yufei CHN 2:05.44
2 Hali Flickinger USA 2:05.85
3 Boglarka Kapas HUN 2:06.50
4 Regan Smith USA 2:06.39
5 Yu Liyan CHN 2:06.83
6 Laura Stephens GBR 2:07.04
7 Suzuka Hasegawa JPN 2:06.29
8 Brianna Throssell AUS 2:07.20


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2 months ago

I hope that SWIMSWAM’S TOP 8 is not a prediction for the final as there are 3 swimmers from CHN. Kapás will swim a new PB, almost surely under 2:06.

2 months ago

Dekkers ain’t going to Tokyo.

Reply to  Troyy
2 months ago

The ultimate dark horse

Ol' Longhorn
Reply to  Gerdy
2 months ago

Speaking of dark horse, how’s that Tusup woman doing?

Reply to  Troyy
2 months ago

Will be interesting to see what she throws down at the domestic swim meet swimming Australia has set up for the world junior and world uni games team swimmers that have had their international meets cancelled. I got a funny feeling there will be more than a little motivation to show what a mistake it was no to take her to Tokyo.

Same Same
Reply to  Troyy
2 months ago

Isn’t that because she didn’t get the qualifying time tho?

Reply to  Same Same
2 months ago

I’m not an expert but watched the Australian trials and my understanding is this …

She has the QT but was marginally outside it in the trials.

It’s complicated further in that the QT for most events at the Australian trials was 8th in the last world champs. But for the 200 fly – unusually – the A standard is faster than it took to make 8th in 2019. So at trials she was inside 8th from the 2019 champs but outside the A standard. In any event, she has done the A standard before but the Australian system is very strict. Or more accurately, it’s very strict in some ways as they’ve been more forgiving for some others. They’re… Read more »

Reply to  Troyy
2 months ago

I am still curious to know how many will swim the heats of this event in Tokyo.

Reply to  Guest
2 months ago

Will there be 16 even.

Texas Tap Water
2 months ago

If the past championships is any indication, Hali Flickinger will set PB in the semis only to lose to Zhang Yufei in the final in slower time.

Reply to  Texas Tap Water
2 months ago


Reply to  Texas Tap Water
2 months ago

And then look for a new coach?

Reply to  Texas Tap Water
2 months ago

Trolls be trolls but in truth… morning finals is a good look for her. Not everyone is used to shaking things out in the morning.

2 months ago

I don’t think Dekkers is on the team. She didn’t meet the Aus qualifying time.

My money is on Zhang but looks like there are a few contenders.

2 months ago

Dekkers is a very dark horse as she didn’t qualify. I’m not Australian but think that it’s a real shame they didn’t give her a chance.

2 months ago

Flickinger had a pb also in the 400im at trials which bodes well for her ability to back up in Tokyo

Ol' Longhorn
Reply to  PanPacs99
2 months ago

And she won’t have one round of 200 free and two rounds of 200 back to wear her out.

2 months ago

Regan Smith won’t make the final.

Drama King
2 months ago

Gold – Zhang Yufei – 2.05.12
Silver – Hali Flickinger – 2.05.49
Bronze – Boglarka Kapas – 2.05.96

4. Hasegawa – 2.06.13
5. Smith – 2.06.24
6. Liyan – 2.06.53
7. Throssel – 2.06.74
8. Stephens – 2.07.08

Dark Horse – Alys Thomas