By John Lohn
BEIJING, China, August 12. BY Thursday morning, one of the primary names in the event might be on the top step of the podium when the medals are presented in the women's 200 butterfly. For now, the Chinese are loving the fact that Liu Zige is the top qualifier after the preliminary round. Swimming in the third of five heats, Liu was time in 2:06.46.
Five athletes managed to break 2:07 with France's Aurore Mongel finishing in the second position behind a time of 2:06.49. Japan's Yuko Nakanishi was next with an effort of 2:06.62 and China's Jiao Liuyang kept the Asian roll going by checking in at 2:06.89. Otylia Jedrzejczak, the defending champion from Poland, was fifth in 2:06.91.
Japan's Natsumi Hoshi gave her country two individuals in the top six as she stopped the clock in 2:07.02. Occupying the next two positions were American Kathleen Hersey (2:07.65) and Denmark's Micha Jensen (2:07.77). The United States' Elaine Breeden was ninth in 2:07.92 and will need to move up a place to land in the championship final.
Great Britain's Jemma Lowe was 10th in 2:08.07 and reigning world champion and world-record holder Jessicah Schipper of Australia was next in 2:08.11. Schipper won the bronze medal in the 100 butterfly and will undoubtedly be among the leading gold-medal contenders. The rest of the semifinal field will include Audrey Lacroix of Canada in 2:08.54, Australia's Samantha Hamill (2:08.83), Petra Granlund of Sweden in 2:08.97, Great Britain's Ellen Gandy (2:08.98) and South Africa's Katheryn Meaklim (2:09.41).