Ye Shiwen
Courtesy of: Rob Schumacher - USA Today Sports
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By guest writer Julia Wilkinson-Minks (2008 & 2012 Canadian Olympian)

With the first session of prelims at World Championships already completed, the first question that I have is who has showed us everything they've got and who is still waiting in the weeds?


There are not very many swimmers that can afford to take their foot off the accelerator in a preliminary swim and still qualify for the next round. And even if a swimmer is fast enough, it takes an extra level of confidence to follow through with a risky plan of that nature, especially on day one when the taper waters are tested.

The women's 200 IM is the perfect example: 16 swimmers move on, and it took 2:13.98 to qualify for the semi-finals, which gives athletes significantly more wiggle room than the 400 freestyle. Plus, there is more reward to outweigh the risk of backing off in the 200, as opposed to an event like the 100 butterfly.

Last summer at the Olympics, Ye Shiwen worked her way through prelims and semi-finals without showing us her final gear, but she managed to grab the top seed each time. This morning, she took the second seed behind Katinka Hosszu in 2:10.20, significantly slower than the 2:08.90 she posted in prelims at the Olympics.

She is going to be faster tonight, and likely even faster tomorrow, but could this slower preliminary time predict that she is not quite where she was at a year ago? Could someone, like Hosszu or Alicia Coutts, sweep in and end her medley reign? Or maybe this is an indicator of the opposite, and Ye is cruising until the final to make a run at the world record. That would be a very impressive feat to take down Ariana Kukors' 2:06.15 set back in Rome during the polyurethane suit era, but I would not put it past Ye. I have to keep reminding myself that this double Olympic gold medalist and medley favorite is only 17 years of age, which still gives her room for improvement on top of her already impressive resume. Maybe her newest trick will be dropping over four seconds from prelims to the final, but we will have to wait until tomorrow night to find out.

Julia Wilkinson-Minks is a two-time Olympian for Canada and was a finalist in the 200-meter IM at the 2008 Beijing Games. In 2010, she became Texas A&M's first ever NCAA champion in swimming when she won the 100-yard freestyle. She graduated from Texas A&M with a degree in Speech Communication. Julia retired from competitive swimming following the London Olympic Games and now lives in Texas with her husband Shane.

Follow her on twitter @juliah2o