by Rokur Jakupsstovu, Swimming World European Correspondent
At the Danish Open / European Trials in March, Rikke Møller Pedersen was only 0.83 sec from the 200 meter breaststroke world record, that she set at the Barcelona 2014 World Championships. She wasn’t fully rested at the trials, but is that now at the Swim Cup Eindhoven 2014, with a declared mission to take down the world record sometimes between tomorrow and the European Championships in Berlin in August.
It was in the Barcelona 2013 World Championships semifinals, that Pedersen broke the world record, and became the first Danish swimmer to hold a world record in an Olympic event, since Ragnhild Hveger lost her 400 free standard to Australia’s Lorraine Crapp in August 1956. She was beaten by Yuliya Efimova in the Barcelona 2013 final, 2.19.41 to Rikke’s 2:20.08, but kept the world record.
In December 2013, Efimova and Pedersen battled again at the European Short Course Championships in Herning, Efimova then ending up denying Pedersen a home win in the final, 2:14.39 to Pedersen’s 2:15.21. Efimova broke Rebecca Soni’s 2:14.57 from the 2009 US vs Europe Duel in the Pool, but then in January the news broke that Efimova in October had tested positive for dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA), bringing her Herning 2013 European short course titles and records in serious doubt.
Fueled by the successes in Barcelona and Herning, Rikke Møller Pedersen in January proclaimed that she had literally put a lid on sweets and other cravings, admitting that she had not only one but ‘a mouth filled with sweet teeth’. She bought a plastic box to stuff it all in, and wrote a big sign on it saying ‘Rikke control yourself! 2:19.11 going down”. The goal according to her Facebook profile to take down the world record at the Berlin 2014 European Championships. The box went behind locks in the loft, Pedersen joking that it was ‘an idiot proof plan’, as she usually is too lazy to walk the stairs.
Already at the 2014 Danish Open / European Trials in March, Pedersen surprised herself with a world-leading time of 1:06.19 in the 100 meter breaststroke, and a 2:19.94 and second-best result ever in the 200 breaststroke. Several seconds ahead of the world competition this year, with 12 days to go before the full taper that they plan for now at the Swim Cup Eindhoven 2014. She indulged herself in two wine gums, in celebration.
On her personal blog rikkemoller.com, she notes that the new and healthier lifestyle has already given a tremendous boost to her career, with improved results both in physical tests and in swimming times. By cutting down on unhealthy junk food, her appetite for ‘real food’ has improved, resulting in improved energy levels in the pool and daily life. Her body composition has improved, and the benefits from training has resulted in improvements also where it matters the most: in races.
Now at the Swim Cup Eindhoven 2014, Rikke Møller Pedersen clocked 1:06.42 in the 100 meter breaststroke, noting on Facebook that it was ‘not the time that I had hoped for, but still the second best time swum this year, meaning that I have the 2 world best times for now in 2014’. She repeats that she is tapered for this event, and looks forwards to the 50 and 200 meter events. If all goes well, she might have to change the text on the box.