Russian star Yulia Efimova won 3 events at the second stop of the FINA Champions Swim Series, earning a total of 32,000$. The Olympic silver medalist won the three breaststroke distances, setting world’s season best times in all of them. Her times in the 200, 100 and 50 breast were 2:22.52, 1:05.99 and 30.26, respectively.
Efimova has been the most consistent 200 meter breaststroker over the last years. She is two-time world champion in the event (2013 and 2017) and Olympic silver (2016) and bronze medalist (2012) in the same event, in addition to world champion titles in 100 breast (2015) and 50 breast (2013).
Unexpectedly, the 27-year-old missed the qualification for the Gwangju World Championships in 200 breast at the Russian Championships, by placing 3rd in the final of the event in a time of 2:23.88. Teen phenom Evgenia Chikunova, born in 2004, won the event in an astonishing time of 2:22.67, while Maria Temnikova finished 2nd in 2:23.45. Nevertheless, Efimova won the 50 and 100 breaststroke, qualifying in both events for Worlds.
After the Russian Championships, there were rumors that 14-year-old Chikunova would skip the World Championships to focus on World Juniors. However, Chikunova’s name did appear on Russia’s roster for the World Championships in Gwangju.
The head coach of the Russian National Team, Sergei Chepik, explained later that Chikunova was included in the team as potential reserve, and would swim only if another breaststroker had to withdraw from the meet. So her focus will be on the World Junior and European Junior Championship meets instead. This decision would then allow Efimova to swim the 200 at Worlds.
When SwimSwam asked Efimova if she would swim the event at Worlds, this is what she answered: “I don’t know, it depends on the head coaches, I’m fine with the 50 and 100, I made the World Championships team and I will swim there. And if the head coaches and others tell me to swim the 200, I will swim the 200. If not, I’m ok with it because I swim 200 here, I have one more in Indianapolis and I have three Mare Nostrum, so I swim enough 200s and I think there should be good times, but I accept the head coaches’ decision“.
Therefore, it seems Efimova is still waiting for the Russian National Team head coaches to communicate her their decision.