By John Lohn
MONTREAL, Canada, July 29. A second championship appears just around the corner for Zimbabwe’s Kirsty Coventry. The Olympic champion in the event, Coventry posted the top semifinal time in the 200-meter backstroke on Friday night, using a 2:09.88 effort to power her into the final as the top seed. Coventry earlier won the 100 back at these World Champs and also took silver in the 200 individual medley.
Coventry heads into the final in comfortable fashion, as she was the only swimmer to dip under 2:11. Japan’s Reiko Nakamura was second-fastest in the semifinal round, as she covered the distance in 2:11.17. The United States’ Margaret Hoelzer, who won silver at the 2003 World Champs, will be contending for a medal after advancing to the final as the third seed, thanks to a time of 2:11.32.
Russia’s Stanislava Komarova earned the fourth seed for the final in 2:11.58 and finished the slightest bit quicker than Denmark’s Louise Ornstedt, who posted a mark of 2:11.59. The other qualifiers for the final were Japan’s Hanae Ito (2:12.05), Italy’s Alessia Filippi (2:12.16) and China’s Zhao Jing (2:12.55). New Zealand’s Hannah McLean was ninth in 2:12.57 and just missed the championship heat.