By John Lohn
BEIJING, China, August 13. A few days after producing a poor showing in the final of the 400 freestyle, Italy's Federica Pellegrini came through in the clutch. The Italian scorched her four laps of the 200 freestyle in 1:54.82, breaking her world record of 1:55.45 from the preliminary. And Pellegrini needed every bit of that quickness.
Three women broke Pellegrini's former standard, but it was the Italian who chopped the most time off the standard. She was second at the 50-meter mark, then took a lead she would not relinquish. Grabbing the silver medal, Slovenia's Sara Isakovic became the second woman in history to break 1:55, turning in a time of 1:54.97.
"What came into my mind when I won, I was saying, `Finally. Finally.' I have been expecting to win the last four years."
China's Pang Jiaying pressed the pace from the start, leading after the first lap, and overtook American Katie Hoff over the final 50 meters to pick up the bronze medal. Pang was timed in 1:55.05 with Hoff next in 1:55.78, good for an American record. It was the first of two finals for Hoff, who later had work in the 200 individual medley.
The defending champion from Athens, where the 200 breast was probably the weakest event on the female program, Romania's Camelia Potec took fifth in 1:56.87. Finishing sixth was Great Britain's Caitlin McClatchey in 1:57.65. Tying for seventh were Australian Bronte Barratt and France's Ophelie-Cyrielle Etienne in 1:57.83. All eight times were faster than the winning mark from Athens.