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BARCELONA, Spain, August 1. WITH world-record holder Rebecca Soni in attendance as an Arena Brand Ambassador during her break from the sport, Denmark’s Rikke Moller Pedersen certainly gave her some serious motivation by dashing her world record in the women’s 200-meter breaststroke at the FINA World Championships.
Just 364 days after Soni shocked with world with the sport’s first 2:19 in the event, two more swimmers joined the club tonight with Pedersen undercutting the previous world record. Pedersen rocked a 2:19.11 to win semifinal 1 as she became the first swimmer for Denmark to hold a world record since Ragnhild Hveger lost the 400 free world record in 1956. That’s actually the second Dane under a world record this week with Lotte Friis finishing second to Katie Ledecky in the masterful women’s 1500-meter freestyle event.
Pedersen took a much more aggressive split strategy than Soni did in the first 2:19, going out under 32 seconds. Soni started off with a 32.49 in her previous world record mark. Pedersen kept pushing the pace at the 100 with a 1:07.27, nearly a second under Soni, before holding on for the world record in the backhalf.
31.80, 1:07.27 (35.47), 1:42.89 (35.62), 2:19.11 (36.22)
32.49, 1:08.10 (35.61), 1:43.95 (35.85), 2:19.59 (35.64)
Incidentally, Pedersen also broke the meet record of 2:20.12 set by Annamay Pierse at the 2009 World Championships, and lowered her own European record of 2:20.53 from the Danish Open in March of this year.
Meanwhile, Russia’s Yuliya Efimova became the third-fastest swimmer of all time with her smoking time of 2:19.85 to win semifinal two. That’s just the third sub-2:20 in the history of the sport, and put Efimova in line for a serious shot at some hardware in the finale.
Spain’s Marina Garcia Urzainqui (2:22.88), USA’s Micah Lawrence (2:23.23), Japan’s Rie Kaneto (2:23.28), Australia’s Sally Foster (2:24.14), Ukraine’s Viktoriya Solnceva (2:24.19) and Canada’s Martha McCabe (2:24.68) will join the top two in what should be a finale filled with fireworks.