World Championships Preview: Women’s 400 IM


  • Day 8, Sun August 9th
  • 2013 World Champion: Katinka Hosszu, HUN – 4:30.41
  • 2013 Silver Medalist: Mireia Belmonte, ESP – 4:31.21
  • 2013 Bronze Medalist: Elizabeth Beisel, USA – 4:31.69

The women’s 400 IM in Kazan should be an extremely exciting event as it is full of athletes who have experience winning on the international stage.

Unlike many races, that have seen tons of swimmers drop out, the 400 IM champion from every major international competition over the last six years will be vying for gold in Russia.

Olympic champion Ye Shiwen of China ended last year with the world’s top time of 4:30.84, which she posted at the Chinese National Championships. She then went on to the win the event at the 2014 Asian Games.

After having an incredible Olympics in London Ye did not perform well at the 2013 World Championships in Barcelona, finishing out of the medals in both the 200 and 400 IM.

Although she did not come close to her lifetime best in 2013 Ye did have a season’s best of 4:31.59, which put her third in the world rankings after both Katinka Hosszu and Mireia Belmonte.

Coming off of a strong 2014 season Ye will have the chance to race against the world’s best for the first since Barcelona. With Rio only a year away she will be motivated to show that she is ready to win the event at consecutive Olympics.

Hosszu will be looking for her third World Championship gold in this event. The Hungarian won the 400 IM at both the 2009 and 2013 World Championships.

She posted her lifetime best of 4:30.31 in Rome and has a textile best of 4:30.41 in Barcelona.

She once again had a strong summer in 2014 winning the event at the European Championships in a time of 4:31.03.

Hosszu has the upper hand on many of her competitors having beaten most of the women in contention in more than once at major international competitions.

Hannah Miley of Great Britain has won this event at the 2010 and 2014 Commonwealth Games and European Championships, but has never been able to collect gold at a competition where the entire world is present.

She has competed in the final at the 2008 and 2012 Olympics as well as the 2009, 2011 and 2013 World Championships, but the closest she has been to winning is a second place finish to American Elizabeth Beisel at the 2011 World Championships.

Miley has a lifetime best of 4:31.33, which she posted in 2009 and has a textile best of 4:31.76, which she recorded at the 2014 Commonwealth Games.

Miley has a season’s best of 4:32.15, which is the fastest that she has been in the spring in her career. With that performance she is showing that she may be ready to put up a performance that may be good enough to win in Kazan.

Beisel is one of the most decorated swimmers in the event. She won the 2010 and 2014 Pan Pacific Championships as well as the 2011 World Championships. Along with those gold medal performances she collected silver at the 2012 Olympics, bronze at the 2013 World Championships and has finished in the top eight in all of the major international meets she has competed in since 2009.

She comes into the event with a lifetime best time of 4:31.27, which she posted at the 2012 Olympics.

When healthy Beisel is hard to beat, but as different athletes improve and put themselves in contention to win she will have to find a way to dip down under the 4:31 mark if she hopes to win gold in Kazan. Her groin injury from earlier this year could still be holding her back. We haven’t seen her seriously race since before her injury.

Maya DiRado is the second American in the field. DiRado made a name for herself on the international stage for the first time at the 2011 World University Games where she took the gold in the 400 IM.

Since that time she has gone from a lifetime best of 4:40.79 to a 4:32.70, which she posted at the 2013 World Championships where she finished fourth.

Even though she did not record a lifetime best in 2014 she made her way onto the medal podium at the Pan Pacific Championships finishing second to Beisel.

DiRado is one of the swimmers in the field that has improved the most since 2012 and if she can continue to build on her 2013 performance she could have an outside shot a medal.

Aimee Willmott of Great Britain had a great summer in 2014 reaching the podium at both the Commonwealth Games and European Championships. Willmott first took the silver in Glasgow and followed that up with a bronze in Berlin.

Since she finished 11th at the 2012 Olympics Willmott has gone from a 4:37.48 to a 4:33.01, which is the time she posted at the Commonwealth Games.

The improvements that she has made in the event and her ability to swim well at major international competitions will have her in the final in Kazan.


Hungarian Zsuzsanna Jakabos finished sixth at the 2013 World Championships posting a lifetime best time of 4:34.50. Jakabos finished third at the 2010 European Championships and qualified for the finals at the 2011 and 2013 World Championships.

Zhou Min of China has put up times that have ranked in the world’s top ten recording a 4:33.50 in 2013 and a 4:35.69 in 2014. With those performances Zhou has put herself among the world’s best, but she has very little experience at top international competitions, which may have a negative affect on her swims in Kazan.


  1. Katinka Hosszu, HUN – 4:30.90
  2. Ye Shiwen, CHN – 4:31.38
  3. Hannah Miley, GBR – 4:31.73
  4. Maya DiRado, USA – 4:33.42
  5. Elizabeth Beisel, USA – 4:33.55
  6. Aimee Willmott, GBR – 4:35.52
  7. Zsuzsanna Jakabos, HUN – 4:36.21
  8. Zhou Min, CHN – 4:36.38

Dark Horse: Sakiko Shimizu, JPN



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)

Day 6, Fri August 7th (Day 14)

Day 7, Sat August 8th (Day 15)

Day 8, Sun August 9th (Day 16)

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Jim C
7 years ago

Except for 2012, Ye Shiwen’s best times in the 400IM seem to have all come in races where she did not need to put up a fast time in the heats. As far as 2014 is concerned, I judge her based upon her Pan Pac performance where she was a no show.

7 years ago

Given the doping talk, who’s going to wear the darker hat, Hosszu or Ye?

Victor P
7 years ago

I’ve got Hosszu winning this and the 200IM: 4:28.34/2:07.25

2.6 & 1.4 second time drops from in-season best.

Sean S
7 years ago

I’m not sure what we can expect from Beisel. She is one of my favorites, but considering her health issues this year 4:33 would be a great time. Also a little disappointing with Mireia Belmonte out, looks like this will be the Hosszu and Ye Shiwen show.

Lane Four
7 years ago

I am writing to anyone who will not be able to watch the World Championships because they are not able to get Universal Sports from their cable company. Last week, one of SwimSwam’s posters mentioned something called He said that they carry Universal Sports and that this is a live-streaming web-site offering television channels from our computer or smart phone. I was tired of missing the World Championships (and anything else dealing with swimming that could only be seen on Universal). I went to sling tv and am now signed up and will be able to watch the Worlds without having to wait or depend on the SwimSwam fans for a live report. It is just a suggestion, but… Read more »

Reply to  Lane Four
7 years ago

I believe if language is a non issue, there is a ton of channel transmitting World Champs.In Brazil, SportTv.In Europe, Eurosports.

Lane Four
Reply to  DDias
7 years ago

I remember last time I tried to get Eurosport but was unable because I am not in Europe and was locked out of the cable feed. I did not know about SportTv for Brazil but that is definitely a great idea.

7 years ago

I am a Dirado fan

Rick Mears
Reply to  TA
7 years ago

OK, we’ll note that for the record.

7 years ago

I think Hosszu will take it unless Ye is in top form, (which, who knows? because..China). I haven’t heard any updates on Beisel’s condition and her last couple meets were not good. If she somehow manages to be at top form, which I doubt, she could get 2nd or 3rd. DiRado is having a good year so it wouldn’t be a shock if she medaled, either.

7 years ago

While I agree that Overholt should have probably been mentioned based on her time from Pan Ams, I wouldn’t really consider her for much more than a dark horse at this point seeing as she’s still relatively new to the international scene. I can see her either having an amazing worlds swim and shocking everyone or getting too caught up in nerves and totally bomb things.

M Palota
Reply to  Splash
7 years ago

Emily Overholt is one tough kid – she’s only 17 – and she’s as cool as the proverbial cucumber. The occasion will not overawe her. What might cause problems, though, is holding her taper. The PanAms were the main focus for the Canadian team, save Ryan Cochrane.

She’s my dark-horse pick.

About Jeff Grace

Jeff Grace

Jeff is a 500 hour registered yoga teacher who holds diplomas in Coaching (Douglas College) and High Performance Coaching (National Coaching Institute - Calgary). He has a background of over 20 years in the coaching profession, where he has used a unique and proven teaching methodology to help many achieve their …

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