Heading into the World Championships the 200 IM looks to resemble what we saw in London with four Olympic finalist posting the four fastest times in the world this year.
In London Alicia Coutts, the brightest star of an embattled Australian Olympic team, took the silver in the 200 IM, posting a life time best of 2:08.15. Coutts is going into the World Championships with the world’s top ranked time in the event, winning the Australian Trials in April in a time of 2:08.63. She had an outstanding meet, where she also posted the world’s top ranked time in the 100 butterfly of 57.18 and the second fastest 50 butterfly time in the world this year of 25.78.
Ye Shiwen was the story of the Olympics in the women’s individual medley events, winning both the 200 and 400 distances and is heading into Barcelona with the second fastest time in both events. Ye has only swum the 200 IM twice this year, but both times went under 2:10; 2:09.08 in April at the Chinese Nationals and 2:09.67 at the BHP Billiton Super Series in January. She also had a successful short course campaign winning the 200 IM at the short course world championships in a championship record time of 2:04.64.
It is shaping up to be another head to head battle between the Ye and Coutts for the top two spots in Barcelona. The two women have found themselves in this position many times. At the 2011 World Championships in Shanghai Ye won the event in a time of 2:08.90 just ahead of Coutts who finished second in a time of 2:09.00, at the Olympics Ye finished in a time of 2:07.57 ahead of Coutts’ who posted a time of 2:08.15 and in their latest meeting at the BHP Billiton Super Series in January Ye beat Coutts handily winning in a time of 2:09.67 with Coutts finishing second recording a time of 2:11.92.
Of course a meet in January is not a good indication of what is to come when both swimmers are completely prepared for Barcelona, but it is of note that Ye is making it a habit to get the best of Coutts each time they meet.
Without doing the exact math, it is safe to say that no swimmer in the world has raced as much this year as Hungarian Katinka Hosszu. It is not
only impressive how much Hosszu has raced, but how she has raced has been impressive as well. She dominated the World Cup series, then at the short course world championships won the 200 butterfly and 100 IM, came second to Shiwen in the 200 IM by only eight one-hundredths of a second and finished third in the 400 IM and most recently has strung together an impressive list of swims at the Mare Nostrum series. Hosszu currently
ranks third in the world with a life time best (textile) of 2:09.75.
Olympic bronze medalist American Caitlin Leverenz went a season’s best of 2:10.13 to qualify for the American team a week ago. Earlier in the year Leverenz defended her NCAA title in the 200 yard IM winning in a time of 1:53.39 (she was battling illness at the time), which was over two seconds slower than her winning time from 2012 of 1:51.77, which is both an NCAA and American record. Although she was not at the same level as she was heading into the Olympics in the yards event, she is ahead of where she was after the US Olympic trials last year where she posted a 2:10.22 and went on to win Olympic bronze in a life time best of 2:08.95. She is one of only six women who will competing in Barcelona who have gone under 2:10 (textile) (this list includes Coutts, Shiwen, Hosszu, Leverenz and Emily Seebohm).
Hungarian Zsuzsanna Jakabos, who came seventh in the 200 butterfly in London, currently ranks fifth in the world in the 200 IM. Jakabos has made a significant improvement in the 200 IM this year dropping over a second and half off her personal best of 2:11.98 posting a time of 2:10.27. She was also a contender in the event at the short course world championships, finishing fourth in a time of 2:07.36.
Sophie Allen won the British trials last week in a time 2:11.34 ahead of her teammate of Siobhan-Marie O’Connor who recorded a time 2:12.12. Having said that O’Connor swam a much faster 2:10.53 in March at the British Gas International and still looks to be the best shot Great Britain has in the 200 IM.
Spaniard Mireia Belmonte Garcia holds down the seventh spot in the world rankings having posted a time of 2:10.67 in March. Belmonte Garcia’s life time best is 2:10.26, which she has not bettered in two years.
Emily Seebohm rounds out the top eight in world. Seebohm finished second to Coutts at the Australian trials in a time of 2:11.11, which is the fastest she has been since the 2010 Pan Pacific Championships where she won the event in a time of 2:09.93.
Top 8 Predictions, with best time from January 1, 2010 forward:
1. Alicia Coutts – 2:08.15
2. Ye Shiwen – 2:07.57
3. Caitlin Leverenz – 2:08.95
4. Katinka Hosszu – 2:09.75
5. Zsuzsanna Jakabos – 2:10.27
6. Mireia Belmonte Garcia – 2:10.26
7. Emily Seebohm – 2:09.93
8. Siobhan-Marie O’Connor – 2:10.53