2012 London Olympics: China’s Ye Shiwen Matches Textile Best With Blazing 200 IM Preliminary Swim, Leverenz Comfortably in Third

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LONDON, England, July 30. CHINA's Ye Shiwen, who blasted the world record in the women's 400 IM on the first night, is looking for an IM sweep after blistering the field in the women's 200-meter IM this morning at the 2012 London Olympics.

Ye turned in a sterling time of 2:08.90, matching her textile best posted at the 2011 World Championships. She posted splits of 28.16, 1:00.54, 1:38.17, 2:08.90, closing in 30.73 on the final freestyle leg. That effort matched her 10th-best time of all time, and puts her in position to join the likes of Stephanie Rice and Yana Klochkova as IM sweep artists. Her time also undercut the Olympic textile best of 2:10.68 posted by Klochkova at the 2000 Sydney Olympics, and just missed Rice's overall Olympic mark of 2:08.45 from Beijing.

“I'm quite satisfied and I was quite surprised (with the result),” Ye said. “There's absolutely no problem with the doping [when asked about doping claims]. The Chinese team has always had a firm policy about anti-doping.”

Ye stunned the world on night one with a 4:28.43 to set the women's 400 IM global standard, including a blazing fast final 28.93 dash to the finish. The 16-year-old burst onto the international scene in 2010 by sweeping the IMs at the Asian Games, before winning the 200 IM at the 2011 World Championships last summer.

“I think I am now, but there will be people who will be more successful than me,” Ye said when asked if she was the best female swimmer in China. “I like the weather in Australia [when asked about training Down Under]. I always go to the seaside and enjoy the barbeque.”

Defending silver medalist Kirsty Coventry of Zimbabwe, who has mostly been quiet internationally as she trained back in Texas with personal coach Kim Brackin, qualified second in 2:10.51. She fell to Stephanie Rice in the 2008 Beijing Games by .14 seconds, 2:08.45 to 2:08.59, in the closest finals swim in Olympic history in the event. Coventry has an impressive resume with seven Olympic medals, including a pair of golds in the 200-meter backstroke.

“It was a much better race than yesterday's races,” Coventry said. “I just felt a lot more comfortable and controlled my nerves a lot better so that was good. I just was looking for a good solid race and I felt like I got it this morning so that was good.”

Qualifying third is USA's Caitlin who won the penultimate heat of the morning with a 2:10.63, and will be looking to better her sixth-place finish in the women's 400 IM from night one. She finished fifth in this event at the 2011 World Championships, and needs a podium for her first Olympic medal.

Hungary's Katinka Hosszu (2:10.68), Australia's Alicia Coutts (2:10.74) and Spain's Mireia Belmonte Garcia (2:11.73) qualified fourth through sixth, while world-record holder Ariana Kukors of the USA took seventh in 2:11.94. Hungary's Evelyn Verraszto snared the eighth spot with a 2:12.17. Defending gold medalist Stephanie Rice wound up qualifying ninth in 2:12.23 to keep hopes alive of a repeat.

Great Britain's Hannah Miley (2:12.27), Germany's Theresa Michalak (2:12.75), Israel's Amit Ivry (2:13.29), China's Li Jiaxing (2:13.43), Japan's Izumi Kato (2:13.85), Spain's Beatriz Gomez Cortes (2:13.93) and Brazil's Joanna Melo (2:14.26) also made their way into the semifinal heats.

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