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BARCELONA, Spain, July 30. WITH only four heats vying for 16 spots, the top butterfliers in the world all had a conservative approach to prelims in the men’s 200-meter fly at the FINA World Championships.
One can’t help but wonder whether the rest of the world is still trying to settle in during the absence of the Greatest of All Time Michael Phelps. This was Phelps’ signature event during his incredible career, as he won the world title five times and had a three-meet winning streak at Worlds before retiring last summer after the 2012 London Olympics. Yes, South Africa’s Chad Le Clos managed a huge upset over Phelps in this event at the Olympics, but this is the first year without the proverbial dragon out there to be slain.
USA’s Tyler Clary, who broke a bit out of the Phelps shadow last summer with an Olympic gold medal of his own, topped qualifying in 1:56.03. That’s outside of the top 10 in the world this year, and definitely demonstrates the conservative nature of this morning’s swims.
Le Clos, meanwhile, posted a second-seeded time of 1:56.21, while USA’s Tom Luchsinger touched third in 1:56.32. Overall, the top 10 swimmers all broke 1:57 as no single swimmer made a serious move this morning.
Russia’s Nikolay Skvortsov (1:56.47), China’s Chen Yin (1:56.48), Brazil’s Leonardo De Deus (1:56.52), Poland’s Pawel Korzeniowski (1:56.61), Japan’s Yuki Kobori (1:56.64), Hungary’s Bence Biczo (1:56.70) and China’s Wu Peng (1:56.96) all managed to break 1:57 this morning to secure spots in the semifinal rounds.
Japan’s Takeshi Matsuda (1:57.14), Australia’s Grant Irvine (1:57.18), France’s Jordan Coelho (1:57.19), Singapore’s Joseph Schooling (1:57.23), Serbia’s Velimir Stjepanovic (1:57.34) and Great Britain’s Roberto Pavoni (1:57.37) also made their way into the next round.