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BARCELONA, Spain, August 2. RUSSIA’s Yuliya Efimova utilized a superior final 50 meters to overhaul world-record holder Rikke Moller Pedersen for the women’s 200-meter breaststroke victory at the FINA World Championships.
After Pedersen threw down a scintillating world record time of 2:19.11 during semis of the event, no one thought anyone would be able to catch her tonight, with dreams of a 2:18 in the heads of the swimming community. That pressure likely got to Pedersen a bit, allowing Efimova to close the distance at the wall.
32.86, 1:08.30 (35.44), 1:43.60 (35.30), 2:19.41 (35.81)
32.43, 1:07.55 (35.12), 1:43.33 (35.78), 2:20.08 (36.75)
Efimova finished the finale with a 2:19.41 for the win, and is now the first swimmer to ever break 2:20 twice. Pedersen owns the world record with a 2:19.11, while Rebecca Soni has a 2:19.59 from the 2012 London Olympics as the first person to break 2:20. Efimova now stands second all time, and the only person with a pair of 2:19s after her 2:19.85 from semifinals this week. That’s Efimova’s second world title ever, as she’d previously topped the 50 breast in 2009. She now owns six career world medals with two golds and four silvers.
Pedersen’s 2:20.08 from tonight stands as the sixth-fastest time ever, but missing both the world record and the gold medal will likely haunt Pedersen as she begins to refocus on the 2016 Rio Olympics with former world-record holder Soni jumping back into training shortly after this week.
USA’s Micah Lawrence finally broke through at the international level with a bronze-winning 2:22.37. That’s her first international medal, a step up from her sixth-place finish in the event at the 2012 London Olympics.
Japan’s Rie Kaneto (2:22.96), Ukraine’s Viktoriya Solnceva (2:23.01), Spain’s Marina Garcia Urzainqui (2:23.55), Australia’s Sally Foster (2:24.01) and Canada’s Martha McCabe (2:25.21) wrapped up the rest of the championship finale.