By John Lohn
BEIJING, China, August 12. MAYBE the morning session of finals and semifinals is have an effect on Italy's Federica Pellegrini. About 15 hours after she set a world record in the preliminary heats of the 200 freestyle, Pellegrini was nearly two seconds slower in her semifinal performance, an effort of 1:57.23.
Although Pellegrini fell short of her global standard of 1:55.45, she did enough to win her semifinal and advance to the championship heat as the third seed. Pellegrini finished fifth in the 400 freestyle earlier in the meet and is surely trying to make amends for that performance. Whether she can pull it off will be determined by getting things together in the morning.
Leading the field into the championship final was Slovenia's Sara Isakovic, who prevailed in the first semifinal in 1:56.50. That time was also slower than her prelim swim of 1:55.86. Isakovic has been consistently rising up the international charts and is in position to capture the gold medal in what should be a sterling final.
American Katie Hoff, handling a difficult double that also included a morning swim in the semifinals of the 200 individual medley, was second into the semifinals in 1:57.01. Hoff has already won silver in the 400 freestyle and bronze in the 400 individual medley. She was followed in fourth by China's Pang Jiaying in 1:57.34.
Rounding out the field for the final of the 200 freestyle are Australian Bronte Barratt (1:57.55), Romania's Camelia Potec (1:57.71), the defending champ, Great Britain's Caitlin McClatchey (1:57.73) and France's Ophelie-Cyrielle Etienne (1:58.00). American Allison Schmitt (1:58.01) just missed making the final.