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BARCELONA, Spain, July 29. The men’s 200-meter freestyle finale is loaded with some unbelievable talent, and Russia’s Danila Izotov has set the table to stand atop that podium at the FINA World Championships when all is said and done.
Izotov, who leads the world this year with a smoking 1:44.87 from the World University Games in Kazan just a few weeks ago, posted the top time in semis with a 1:45.84. He’s going to have his work cut out for him as quite a few grizzled veterans will be vying for the top spot.
Defending world champion Ryan Lochte qualified second in 1:46.06 and is looking to become the fourth man to claim the title twice along with Michael Gross, Ian Thorpe and Michael Phelps. That’s not bad considering Lochte barely returned to full-time training just a few months ago after completing his reality television obligations for the E! series What Would Ryan Lochte Do?
Japan’s Kosuke Hagino, who is undertaking a Phelps/Lochte level event schedule this week, qualified third in 1:46.87 to set up a difficult 100 back/200 free double tomorrow night. Prelim leader Robert Renwick of Great Britain placed fourth in 1:46.95 to conclude the sub-1:47 finishers.
Reigning Olympic champ Yannick Agnel (1:47.01) and new North Baltimore training partner Conor Dwyer (1:47.05) mirrored each other in semifinal one as the two qualified fifth and sixth heading into the finale. Agnel made some huge news earlier this year when he left France to training under the master Bob Bowman in Baltimore.
Australia’s Thomas Fraser-Holmes finished seventh in 1:47.21, while Australia’s Cameron McEvoy and The Netherlands’ Sebastiaan Verschuren set up a swimoff with matching 1:47.31s for eighth place overall.
Update: Verschuren has decided to cede the eighth spot to McEvoy.