FINA World Championships editorial coverage is proudly sponsored by SpeedoUSA. For all the latest coverage, check out our event coverage page.
BARCELONA, Spain, August 1. WITH former champion Rebecca Soni currently in the midst of a sabbatical year, and only in attendance as an Arena Brand Ambassador, there’s plenty of opportunity for someone else to step up in the women’s 200-meter breaststroke at the FINA World Championships.
USA’s Micah Lawrence stepped right into that void with a strong 2:21.74 to lead prelims. That thrust her to second in the world this year behind only Rikke Moeller Pedersen’s 2:20.53 from March. Lawrence, a member of the 2012 Olympic team who finished sixth in the event last summer, is looking for an international medal breakthrough this year.
If Lawrence pulls off the win, it’d be just the third win for the U.S. in the event. Amanda Beard (2003) and Soni (2011) are the only other victors to wear the Stars and Stripes.
Pedersen, meanwhile, cruised to second in 2:22.20 and should have plenty in the tank heading into the semifinal heats. Russia’s Yuliya Efimova, the 2011 runner-up to Soni, qualified third in 2:23.13, while Japan’s Rie Kaneto checked in fourth in 2:23.91.
Spain’s Marina Garcia Urzainqui raced to fifth in 2:24.21 to the delight of the partisan crowd, while Ukraine’s Viktoriya Solnceva placed sixth in 2:24.65. China’s Shi Jinglin (2:25.73) and Canada’s Martha McCabe (2:25.91) finished seventh and eighth.
Spain’s Jessica Vall Montero (2:26.62), USA’s Breeja Larson (2:26.90), Japan’s Satomi Suzuki (2:27.31), Australia’s Sally Foster (2:27.41), South Korea’s Suyeon Back (2:27.47), South Korea’s Jiwon Yang (2:27.78), Finland’s Jenna Laukkanen (2:28.04) and Iceland’s Hilda Luthersdottir (2:28.12) also made their way into the semifinal heats.