Two-Time Defending Champion Federica Pellegrini Cruises Through Semis

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BARCELONA, Spain, July 30. ITALY’s Federica Pellegrini is looking to join a Mount Rushmore of elite athletes to have pulled off a threepeat, and she’s in good position heading into the women’s 200-meter freestyle finale at the FINA World Championships.

Pellegrini captured this title in 2009 (1:52.98) and 2011 (1:55.58) and is looking for her third win in a row. If she pulls off the amazing accomplishment, she’d joined the likes of Michael Phelps, Ian Thorpe, Grant Hackett and Aaron Peirsol as threepeat winners at Worlds. Tonight, Pellegrini definitely put herself in the right spot to pull off the feat with a 1:55.78 to lead semifinal swims. That’s nearly the same time she used to win the event outright in 2011.

Pellegrini has been wearing a black stripe on her left bicep this week in honor of victims of a bus crash in Italy this week. Pellegrini flew under the radar this year with the rest of the world putting up fast times throughout the year, Pellegrini made sure she had her cut and came prepared to do damage here in Barcelona.

Missy Franklin, however, will be a tough nut to crack for Pellegrini in the finale. Coming off her win in the 100 back earlier in the night, Franklin checked in with a 1:56.05 to qualify second. She’s already won a pair of golds with victories in the 100 back and 400 free relay, and she easily could earn a third with a more focused 200 free tomorrow night.

Spain’s Melanie Costa Schmid posted another Spanish record with a 1:56.19 for third heading into finals, while France’s Camille Muffat, the early favorite in the event, qualified fourth in 1:56.28.

Sweden’s Sarah Sjostrom (1:56.38), Australia’s Kylie Palmer (1:56.53), France’s Charlotte Bonnet (1:56.63) and USA’s Shannon Vreeland (1:56.76) rounded out what is a loaded finale. Hungary’s Katinka Hosszu, however, faltered a bit in her aggressive schedule with a ninth-place time of 1:56.80 as she missed her first final of the week.

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