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BARCELONA, Spain, July 30. SHE’s been on top of the world for the bulk of the season this year, and France’s Camille Muffat is looking to keep it that way in the women’s 200-meter freestyle as she paced preliminaries at the FINA World Championships.
Muffat, out under world-record pace at the 50-meter mark with a 26.76 split, eased off as she clocked a top-seeded time of 1:56.53. She’s been faster this year with a top-ranked 1:55.48 from French Nationals in Rennes, but is looking to move up from her bronze finish in 2011.
Hungary’s Katinka Hosszu, already a victor in the 200-meter IM, is looking for more hardware after qualifying second with a 1:56.73. That’s just a bit off Agnes Mutina’s Hungarian record of 1:56.47 from the 2009 World Championships, and is within reach for the Iron Lady of Swimming.
Two-time defending champion Federica Pellegrini continues to turn heads even with a busy life outside of the pool as one of the top celebrities in her home nation of Italy. She qualified third in 1:56.79 and is looking to become a three-time winner in the event.
France’s Charlotte Bonnet (1:56.82), USA’s Missy Franklin (1:56.90), Spain’s Melanie Costa Schmid (1:57.01), Australia’s Bronte Barratt (1:57.14) and The Netherlands’ Femke Heemskerk (1:57.44) are the other likely title contenders in the top eight.
Meanwhile, Sweden’s Sarah Sjostrom (1:57.64), Australia’s Kylie Palmer (1:57.67), USA’s Shannon Vreeland (1:58.08), Italy’s Alice Mizzau (1:58.10), Sweden’s Michelle Coleman (1:58.17), China’s Qiu Yuhan (1:58.38), New Zealand’s Samantha Lucie-Smith (1:58.87) and Canada’s Barbara Rojas-Jardin (1:58.93) also raced their way into the semifinal heats.