PHOENIX, Arizona, April 15. IT’S not unusual for swimmers to chase world records this time of the year. We’ve seen it happen many times, so Rikke Moller Pedersen’s 2:19.61 in the 200 long course breaststroke last week is not exceptional because it came within five tenths of her own world record, but because it’s her second time under the hallowed 2:20 barrier.
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After Rebecca Soni became the first under 2:20 in 2012, many were saying it would take many years for someone else to join that elite club. I will admit I was one of those people. But Pedersen wasn’t waiting that long, and at last year’s world championships, she smashed through the barrier with a 2:19.11 for the world record in the semifinals. She couldn’t get under 2:20 again in finals, but it made her hungry for this year, and now she joins Yuliya Efimova as the only two swimmers who have gone under 2:20 twice.
Soni has retired and Efimova is currently under provisional suspension for a positive drug test, so Pedersen is the only one carrying the flag for the women’s 200 breaststroke at the moment. While it’s a strong likelihood that she’ll get under 2:20 at the European championships this summer, will she post a 2:18? That’s too fast to imagine, but then again, 2:19 was otherworldly this time two years ago and now we have five performances in the 2:19 range.
So congratulations, Rikke, you have earned the Speedo Performance of the Week.