WOMEN’S 100 BREASTSTROKE: 2015 FINA WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS PREVIEW
- Day 3, Tuesday, August 4th, 2015
- 2013 World Champion: Ruta Meilutyte, LTU – 1:04.42 (SEE RACE VIDEO ABOVE)
- 2013 Silver Medalist: Yulia Efimova, RUS – 1:05.02
- 2013 Bronze Medalist: Jessica Hardy, USA – 1:05.52
The women’s 100 breastroke is an event that has seen some large improvements in terms of time over the past ten years. In 2005 the winning time was a 1:06.25, and in 2013 it had dropped down almost two full seconds down to 1:04.42. The 2013 championships were the fastest world championships ever, including 2009 which featured the polyurethane suits which helped swimmers take off large chunks of time from their performances. Based off of performances we have seen the last two years, the final this year should be very fast and hotly contested, but don’t expect it to get much faster than two years ago.
Ruta Meilutye burst onto the scene at the 2012 Olympics, shocking everyone winning the gold medal in the 100 breastroke defeating pre-race favourite Rebecca Soni and defending Olympic champion Leisel Jones in the process. At the 2013 world championships she proved that performance was no fluke as she broke the shiny suit record of 1:04.45 set in 2009 going 1:04.35 in the semi-finals. She went onto win gold by over half a second in 1:04.42. She is the undisputed favourite in the event, being the defending Olympic and world champion. She also has held the top time in the world for 2014 and 2015. The only hiccup Meilutyte has experienced was getting clipped at the wall by Alia Atkinson for the 2014 short course title, but so far in her career she has been all but immortal in long course and will look to prove herself once again this summer.
Yuliya Efimova has seen great success over her career at the world championships. She has twice been the world champion in the 50 breastroke (2009 & 2013) and once in the 200 (2013). The 100m title has eluded her thus far, as she won silver in the event in both 2009 and 2013 and was 4th in 2011. Efimova is coming off a 16-month ban for a doping violation, and is looking to prove herself once again. The ban held her off the world rankings for 2014, but she has quickly established herself this year posting the 2nd fastest time in the world at 1:05.89. It will be tough for her to get by Meilutyte in this race, but I see her having the best chance of anyone to challenge the Lithuanian.
Kanako Watanabe of Japan has recently established herself as one of the top breastrokers in the world. Still just 18 years of age, Watanabe made her first Olympic appearance at 15 in 2012 and went onto a bronze medal at the 2012 short course championships, both done in the 200 breastroke. She has since established herself in the 100 as well, winning silver last summer at the Pan Pacific Championships, as well as being 2nd ranked in the world for 2014 (1:05.88) and 3rd ranked this year (1:06.45). She will certainly be in the hunt for a medal.
Rikke Pedersen of Denmark has seen the majority of her success come in the 200m breastroke. She is the world record holder in that event and has a total of four world championship medals in the 200 (3 short course, 1 long course). She has also shown prowess in the 100m breast, especially recently as she is coming off a European title in the event. She finished fourth at the last world championships, becoming one of only a handful of women to ever crack the 1:06 barrier. She was ranked 3rd in the world in 2014 and sits 9th for 2015. She has proven her ability to challenge for a medal on the world stage and will look to do so again in Kazan.
Jessica Hardy has been a mainstay on the international scene for the last ten years. She broke out and won silver at the 2005 world championships in both the 50 & 100 breastrokes, and then went onto win gold in 2007 in the 50. She had a positive test after qualifying for the 2008 Olympic team and thus relinquished her spot. Since that setback, Hardy has come back stronger than ever. She broke the world record in the 100 breastroke going 1:04.45 in 2009, a record that stood for four years. She also won the bronze medal at the 2013 world championships. She will look to back up that performance with another medal this summer. She’ll have her work cut out for her as she is ranked just 8th in the world this year. Hardy will be a good bet to make the final and be an outside shot at a minor medal.
Alia Atkinson of Jamaica has been gradually making her way onto the international swimming scene over the last number of years, and has produced some incredible performances. At the 2012 Olympics she had to win a swim-off just to get into the final, and then went onto finish fourth in the final. After a disappointing 2013 world championship where she just missed the final finishing 9th, she had a fantastic 2014. She picked up 2 medals at the Commonwealth Games (silver in the 50 and bronze in the 100), but her best was yet to come. At the 2014 short course world championships in Doha, Atkinson was going into the final of the 100 breastroke as the second seed, but over a second behind world record holder and favourite Ruta Meilutyte. In the final Atkinson shocked everyone, including herself, defeating Meilutyte by a tenth of a second and equaling the world record. Heading into the 2015 championships this summer, Atkinson’s confidence will be at an all-time high and will look to make the final 8 and make a push for a medal. She currently sits 6th in the world for 2015 with a time of 1:06.79.
Sophie Taylor of Great Britain is another swimmer who had a breakout performance in 2014. At just 18 years of age, she won the gold medal at the Commonwealth Games in the 100 breastroke posting a time of 1:06.35, winning by almost a full second. Now a full year older and more experienced, she will look to prove herself on an even bigger international stage at the world championships. She won silver at the 2013 world junior championships in the 100, along with another silver in the medley relay and a bronze in the 200 breastroke. Taylor will be in a tight battle to qualify for the final, because despite being ranked 4th in the world for 2014, a total of 13 different women swam a sub-1:07, so the event is very close. She is ranked 16th in the world this year but will be in peak form come the world championships.
Micah Lawrence of the United States has seen most of her success come in the 200m distance, like a few of the other top contenders in the 100. She finished 6th at the 2012 Olympics in the 200 and followed up with a bronze medal performance at the 2013 world championships. At the US Nationals last summer she showed she has ability in the 100m distance as well, tying Jessica Hardy for the national title going a 1:06.51. That performance had them tied at 6th best in the world for 2014. She is slated to swim the 50m event as well in Kazan, so we can expect to see an improvement in her opening speed, and her 200 background will give her some of the best closing ability in the field. She is ranked 17th in the world this year.
For a darkhorse pick, Shi Jinglin of China has quietly been making steady improvements the last few years. After a 20th place finish at the 2013 world championships, she made huge improvements in 2014. She swam an 8th ranked 1:06.67, as well as a 4th place finish at the short course championships. She will challenge the more established names this summer for a berth in the final. Jinglin sits 10th in the world for 2015.
If you’re looking for 2013 15-year old finalist Viktoria Solnceva, who finaled in 2013 and holds the Ukrainian Record in the 100 and 200 breaststrokes, you’ll now instead have to seek out 17-year old Viktoria Gunes. She has changed her sporting citizenship and now competes for Turkey, and has been swimming solidly (1:08.30 season best) all year long.
Others to watch for in this event include Taylor McKeown and Lorna Tonks of Australia, Jennie Johansson of Sweden, Moniek Nijhuis of the Netherlands, and Rie Kaneto of Japan.
Note: nearly simultaneously with this posting, we received news that Sophie Taylor of GB was scratching the meet. Selections below have been updated, as we originally had her pegged 7th.
- Ruta Meilutyte, LTU 1:04.57
- Yuliya Efimova, RUS 1:05.17
- Kanako Watanabe, JPN 1:05.69
- Rikke Pedersen, DEN 1:05.87
- Jessica Hardy, USA 1:06.14
- Alia Atkinson, JAM 1:06.26
- Micah Lawrence, USA 1:06.57
- Marina Garcia, ESP 1:06.81
Darkhorse: Shi Jinglin, CHN 1:06.80
SCHEDULE (POOL SWIMMING STARTS ON DAY 9)
SWIMMING FINALS SCHEDULE:
Day 1, Sun August 2nd (Day 9)
Day 2, Mon August 3rd (Day 10)
- M 100 Breast
- W 100 Fly
- M 50 Fly
- W 200 IM
Day 3, Tue August 4th (Day 11)
Day 4, Wed August 5th (Day 12)
Day 5, Thur August 6th (Day 13)
- M 200 IM
- M 100 Free
- W 200 Fly
- W 50 Back
- W 4×200 Free Relay
Day 6, Fri August 7th (Day 14)
- W 100 Free
- M 200 Back
- W 200 Breast
- M 200 Breast
- M 4×200 Free Relay
Day 7, Sat August 8th (Day 15)
- W 50 Fly
- M 50 Free
- W 200 Back
- M 100 Fly
- W 800 Free
- MIXED 4×100 Free Relay
Day 8, Sun August 9th (Day 16)