WOMEN’S 50 BREASTSTROKE: 2015 WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP PREVIEW
- Day 6, Fri August 7th
- 2013 World Champion: Yuliya Efimova, RUS – 2:19.41 (SEE RACE VIDEO ABOVE)
- 2013 Silver Medalist: Rikke Pedersen, DEN – 2:20.08
- 2013 Bronze Medalist: Micah Lawrence, USA – 2:22.37
For many years Australian Leisel Jones, who won both the 2005 and 2007 world championships by over four seconds, dominated the women’s 200 breastroke. Jones suffered her first major loss in three years at the 2008 Olympics at the hands of Rebecca Soni who broke her world record. In 2009 the rest of the world caught up with Soni and Jones, with the fastest field in history having all medalists go 2:21. Soni was the first women to break the 2:20 barrier at the 2012 Olympics, where she won her second consecutive Olympic gold. Soni has since retired, and a few other women have joined her in the sub-2:20 club. Rikke Pedersen and Yuliya Efimova have both been 2:19, and will look to do so again this summer. This has the potential to be the fastest championship ever, with four swimmers with a shot at going sub-2:21.
Rikke Pedersen of Denmark has emerged as the top 200 breastroker in the world the last few years. After a 4th place finish at the 2012 Olympics, she broke Rebecca Soni’s world record at the 2013 world championships going 2:19.11 in the semi-final. She wasn’t quite able to recreate the same performance in the final, ultimately winding up with the silver medal. That was definitely a disappointment for her, as her world record time would have won the gold medal. That marked the second time in three world championships the women’s 200 breastroke world record was set in the semi-final, only to have a different women win in a slower time in the final. Annamay Pierse did the same thing in 2009, and her career never really recovered from it. Pedersen on the other hand has seen lots of success since her disappointing final in 2013. In 2014 she came away with the European title as well as the top time in the world of 2:19.61. Pedersen had four sub-2:20 performances in 2014, which no one had ever done once until 2012. She is currently ranked 2nd in the world for 2015, and is looking like the women to beat, owning four of the top six times ever recorded.
Kanako Watanabe of Japan has really come into her own the last two years. After a 12th place finish at the 2012 Olympics, Watanabe failed to qualify for the 2013 world championships. She showed incredible improvement throughout 2013, swimming only a 2:29 at the Japanese championships in April, and then swimming a personal best of 2:23.42 by September. However, 2014 was really where she hit her stride. She came away with titles at the Pan Pacific championships as well as the short course world championships. She was ranked 2nd behind Pedersen for 2014 and now is ranked 1st in the world for 2015 with a time of 2:20.90. She is a major threat and shouldn’t be taken lightly by world record holder Pedersen and defending champion Yuliya Efimova.
Yuliya Efimova of Russia has been incredibly successful throughout her world championship career in the 200 breastroke. She is the defending champion from 2013, and won silver in 2011. She currently holds the world record in the short course 200 breastroke, and also won bronze at the 2012 Olympics. However, she endured a doping ban that held her out of competition for 2014, so it is hard to tell what she is capable of tapered in a 200 breastroke, as we didn’t see it last year. She has been a 5th ranked 2:22.12 this season, and with the Russian crowd behind her, will be capable of a faster performance than that. However, with Pedersen and Watanabe being so consistently fast the last 12 months, it will be a tall task of her to defend her title.
Rie Kaneto has been one of the top 200 breastrokers in the world the last three years. After a 4th place finish at the 2013 world championships, she followed up with a pair of silvers in 2014 from the Pan Pacific championships and the short course world championships. She was ranked 3rd in the world for 2014, and is again in 2015 with a time of 2:21.90. Her personal best is 2:21.58 from 2014, and based on her past performances she will be a major factor and in the hunt for a medal.
In 2013 Shi Jinglin finished 9th in the 200 breastroke at the world championship, a good result, but being so close to the final had to sting a little bit for the Chinese breastroker. She rebounded well in 2014, improving from a 2:25.52 in 2013 to a 2:22.90, ranking her 5th. In 2015 she has improved again, ranked 4th in the world with a 2:22.08. She will be a good bet to final, but will be hard pressed to medal with such great talent in the field. However, if she can make take off a little time again this summer, she certainly has a chance.
Taylor McKeown of Australia has emerged as a top contender in the 200m breastroke in the last year. After a surprise win at the US Open in 2013 winning in 2:24.92, last summer she came away with a pair of international medals. She won gold at the Commonwealth games with a new personal best of 2:22.36, and then won bronze at the Pan Pacific championships. After a world ranking of 4th last year, she currently sits 11th in the world for 2015. If she can swim like she did last summer, she will almost certainly be there in the final.
Micah Lawrence has become the top American in this event ever since Rebecca Soni retired from the sport. After finishing 6th at the 2012 Olympics, she had a breakout performance at the 2013 world championships winning the bronze medal. She had a solid 2014, with the 6th fastest time in the world of 2:23.05. However, she had a disappointing Pan Pacific championships placing just 5th, and this year is ranked 15th in the world. The US swimmers haven’t had a tapered meet yet in 2015, so we can’t tell where they are at based solely on their 2015 performances. Lawrence should be expected to return to her 2013 form, as she has been training with Swim Mac and David Marsh, one of the top coaches in the country. She has a good chance at making the final, but a second consecutive world championship medal will be hard to come by.
Viktoriya Gunes of Turkey is an extremely exciting talent in the swimming world. Formerly a Ukrainian athlete and under the name Viktoriya Solnceva, Gunes burst onto the scene in 2013. She came away with a gold, silver and bronze from the 2013 world junior championships in the breastroke events (gold in the 200m), and two golds and a silver from the European junior championships (gold in the 50m and 200m). Not only that, she competed at the 2013 world championships, finishing 5th in the 200 and 6th in the 100, along with a 21st place finish in the 50. She is ranked 6th in the world for 2015 with a time of 2:22.69, and is a rapidly rising star. Expect her to challenge the big names and make the final once again.
Australian breastroker Tessa Wallace is one who could surprise in Kazan. After a silver medal at the 2010 Commonwealth games and a 2012 Olympic semi-final appearance, she has had a breakout 2015 swimming an 8th ranked 2:23.34. If she can swim a similar time in Kazan, she will be in the hunt for a spot in the final.
Others to watch for in this event include Maria Astashkina of Russia, Molly Renshaw of Great Britain, Jessica Vall Montero of Spain and Martha McCabe of Canada.
- Rikke Pedersen, DEN 2:18.97
- Kanako Watanabe, JPN 2:19.86
- Yuliya Efimova, RUS 2:20.29
- Rie Kaneto, JPN 2:20.78
- Shi Jinglin, CHN 2:21.69
- Taylor McKeown, AUS 2:22.18
- Micah Lawrence, USA 2:22.26
- Viktoria Gunes, TUR 2:22.84
Darkhorse: Jessica Vall Montero, ESP 2:23.39
SCHEDULE (POOL SWIMMING STARTS ON DAY 9)
SWIMMING FINALS SCHEDULE:
Day 1, Sun August 2nd (Day 9)
Day 2, Mon August 3rd (Day 10)
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)
Day 8, Sun August 9th (Day 16)