Day 3-Heats: WR for Pellegrini 1:55.45, Phelps easy at 1:53.70
Beijing-After the blazing morning, I was unsure how the swimmers would come back tonight for a heats session. We didn't have to wait long for the answer; after a dismal 400 free, Federica Pellegrini (ITA) turned it around for a new World Record in the 200. Hopefully, she won't make the same mistake twice.
Women's 200 Free
After 52.83 and 52.69 splits in the 4x100 free relay Jiayang Pang (CHN) was one to watch in the 100, but she dropped over a second off her best in the 200 as well to win the first seeded heat. Her time was a new Olympic Record of 1:57.37, besting the mark set by Heike Friedrich (GDR) of 1:57.65 in 1988. "I didn't expect to swim so fast," said Pang. "It is my personal best and my expectation was 1:58. Maybe it is because I am in better shape at night than in the morning. And also because my preparation was good."
The record was short-lived, in the next heat Sara Isakovic (SLO) lowered it by almost 2 seconds to a 1:55.97. "It was a great race," said Isakovic, "a lot of very good swimmers. I swam my own race…I expected a result around my best. I was really well-prepared, really excited to race."
Then along came Pellegrini. After finishing 4th in the 400, an event where she is the World Record holder, Pellegrini came back with a vengeance, beating Katie Hoff (USA) by over a bodylength to win in a new World Record of 1:55.45 to Hoff's 1:57.20.
Stephanie Horner (CAN) broke the National Record with a 1:58.35, but just missed the semi with her 17th place finish. Defending Olympic Champion Camelia Potec (ROM) did advance with her 1:57.65 as did Commonwealth Champ Caitlin McClatchey (GBR) in 1:56.97.
Men's 200 Fly
400IM silver medalist Laszlo Cseh (HUN) dropped 2 seconds off his best for a near Olympic Record of 1:54.48 to win the first seeded heat. Only Michael Phelps (USA) in the last heat was faster with a 1:53.70, which was a new Olympic Record. Phelps came from behind at the 150 and as usual only turned it on during the last 50 when he powered past Kaio Almeida (BRA) who finished in 1:54.65.
Gil Stovall (USA) was out-touched in his heat by Wu Peng (CHN) who got the crowd going with his 1:55.39 to Stovall's 1:55.42. Michael Rock (GBR) was third in 1:55.55. "It felt pretty easy," said Stovall. "People kept telling me, 'It's going to be really loud, you've got to beat the Chinese guy.' I was closer to him than I thought I'd be. This morning I thought he'd murder me." Peng however, seemed preoccupied not with Stovall, but Cseh. "I have strong competitors," said Peng, "for example, Laszlo Cseh performs so well in IM, and now he comes for the men's 200 butterfly. He is one of my strongest rivals."
SwimNews contributor, Adam Sioui (CAN) lowered his Canadian Record with his 1:57.45 in the first seeded heat.
World ranked number 3, Ioannis Drymonakos (GRE) is absent from Beijing after testing positive for a banned steroid in May, but the race will still be tight for the silver and bronze.
Less than 30 minutes after her 200 free and the same day as her 400 free final, Katie Hoff was back in the water. She was second in her heat with a 2:11.58, just getting out-touched by Alicia Coutts (AUS) in 2:11.55.
Natalie Coughlin (USA) won the first seeded heat in 2:11.63. She was on World Record pace at the 100 and just .40 over at the 150, but totally shut it down on the free leg, and cruised in for the win. Julia Wilkinson (CAN) lowered the Canadian Record to 2:12.56 and sits in 13th spot for the semi-final tomorrow.
All eyes were on Kirsty Coventry (ZIM) who broke a World Record this morning in the 100 back semi-final and Stephanie Rice (AUS) who won the 400IM, but they were both taken down by Hannah Miley (GBR) who must have been inspired by her countrywomen's swims this morning. Miley won the final heat in 2:11.72 to Rice's 2:12.07 and Coventry's 2:12.18.