Visualizing The Splits In The Epic Women’s 200 Freestyle Final


Not unlike the twists and turns we saw in yesterday’s final in the men’s 200 freestyle, the women’s event presented its own roller-coaster race on Wednesday morning in Tokyo.

Some of the more sprint-oriented swimmers took it out fast, with reigning 100-meter gold medalist Penny Oleksiak leading the field at the 50 in 26.40.

Siobhan Haughey, also a premier 100m swimmer, then assumed control on the second length, and was a half-second under world record pace at the halfway mark in 55.10.

Ariarne Titmus, fresh off winning gold in the 400 free, didn’t panic when the others went out hard, and began to make her way through the field, producing the only sub-29 split in the field to move into third at the final turn.

Titmus then did the same thing coming home, producing a 28.80 down the stretch to win gold in a new Olympic Record of 1:53.50, with Haughey having an unbelievable performance in her own right, winning silver in an Asian Record of 1:53.92.

Oleksiak found herself locked in a battle with China’s Yang Junxuan for bronze, and managed to keep all four of her 50s sub-30 to get on the podium in 1:54.75. Yang closed in 30.36 to end up fourth in 1:55.01.

2016 Olympic champion Katie Ledecky was never really in the race—not far behind Titmus at the 100, but when the Australian made her move on the third length, Ledecky couldn’t pick it up.

Here’s a visual breakdown of the race’s splits:

Compared to her splits when putting up her Australian Record and personal best time of 1:53.09, Titmus was three tenths slower here at the 100, and closed 35 one-hundredths slower as well. She was, however, stronger on that third 50 (28.85 to 29.09).

Haughey and Oleksiak tend to swim their races in the aggressive fashion they did here, leaning on their speed, while Ledecky’s pacing was consistent with what she normally does as well. Ledecky’s always very steady over the last 150, but the reason she landed off the podium is because she wasn’t able to go any faster than we’ve seen her go so many times in-season.

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1 month ago

Superb analysis. Titmus is extraordinarily disciplined in strategy and tactics. She does not panic under pressure, is patient, and executes with precision. A study in emotional intelligence.

1 month ago

Last 50m of Titmus is a deadly asset, even if she finds an opponent as fast as her, she still may win those WCH/OG races due to her finish alone. Obviously, she’s a perfect strategist as well.

Reply to  Piotr
1 month ago

She finished faster than Apple did on that relay!

1 month ago

I knew that 28.45 at last 50 shown by Titmus at Trials was the outliner and hardly can be repeated.
I wouldn’t call Titmus’ performance in this race a disciplined in strategy. Her splits were very weird. I saw a similar one done only by Sarah Sjostrom in Rio:
26.84 – 29.02 – 29.09 – 29.13
I thought then: these are splits of strong sprinter who treats 200m event as long distance.
And now we see exactly the same from Titmus:
27.04 – 28.81 – 28.85 -28.80 (1:53 50)
No variations at all. But she isn’t the sprinter to swim this way.
Look how different were her splits at Trials:
26.81 –… Read more »

About James Sutherland

James Sutherland

James swam five years at Laurentian University in Sudbury, Ontario, specializing in the 200 free, back and IM. He finished up his collegiate swimming career in 2018, graduating with a bachelor's degree in economics. In 2019 he completed his graduate degree in sports journalism. Prior to going to Laurentian, James swam …

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