2019 FINA World Championships Predictions: Can Lilly King Take Down Yulia Efimova in 200 Breast?

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Lilly King is searching for her first medal in the 200 breast on the world level. Photo Courtesy: Peter H. Bick

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Much like the women’s 100 breaststroke, the women’s 200 breast is expected to come down to USA’s Lilly King and Russia’s Yulia Efimova. The two have built up quite the rivalry in the 100 breast over the years, but don’t have as much of a history in the 200. Efimova is the reigning World Champion from 2017, where King placed fourth. Efimova also won the silver in Rio and King didn’t make it out of semifinals.

But King has shown she is going to be a force within this event. She was a 2:21.39 earlier this year at the FINA Champions Series in Indianapolis, which was the first time she had ever beaten Efimova head to head in a 200. Efimova was second in that race at 2:21.59, as those two have the fastest times in the world behind Annie Lazor, who will be swimming at the Pan American Games in August. Russia’s Evgeniia Chikunova was also a 2:21.07 at the European Juniors this year, but it doesn’t appear she will be swimming the 200 breast at Worlds. That second spot for Russia in the 200 will belong to Mariia Temnikova, who was a 2:23 in April.

The women’s 200 breast is missing two of the fastest swimmers, but that doesn’t mean it won’t be a good race. King and Efimova are the class of the field, but Canada’s Sydney Pickrem, who finished her career at Texas A&M this year, was a 2:22.63 two weeks after Women’s NCAAs. Pickrem had a big breakthrough at the 2017 Worlds when she won a bronze in the 400 IM. She has never swum the 200 breast at the Worlds or Olympics but she will definitely be a contender for a medal. The 200 breast comes before the 400 IM in the Worlds schedule, whereas the 200 breast comes after both IMs in the Olympic schedule. Fellow Canadian Kelsey Wog, who also swam a 2:22 in April, could have a chance to win a medal for Canada.

China’s Ye Shiwen, who has reinvigorated her career, is another swimmer that could win a medal. She was originally known as an IMer when she swept the IMs at the 2012 Olympic Games seven years ago. She put out a 2:22.53 at the FINA Champions Series in April, putting her fourth in the world. Ye is a bit of an unknown in this event, having no history at the international level. If she can put together another 2:22, then a medal is certainly a possibility.

South Africa’s Tatjana Schoenmaker had a big breakout season last year with a gold medal at the Commonwealth Games in April, becoming the first South African woman to do so in swimming since 1954. She had a nice tuneup meet earlier in July at the World University Games, swimming a 2:22 for sixth in the world. South Africa has never won a medal at the World Championships in women’s swimming, so if Schoenmaker can get herself onto the podium, it will be a huge win for women’s swimmers in her country.

Great Britain’s Molly Renshaw has been a steady performer on the world stage, placing sixth in Rio and in Budapest. She won the silver at the Commonwealth Games and also added a bronze at Europeans last summer. USA’s Micah Sumrall made a successful comeback to swimming last summer, winning the gold in the 200 breast at Pan Pacs. She had the second fastest time of anyone from the four major meets (Pan Pacs, Europeans, Commonwealth Games, Asian Games), posting a 2:21.88 to win gold in Tokyo. Sumrall has only been a 2:23.88 this year but she has a rich history in this event. She was sixth at the London Olympics in 2012 and also won bronze at the 2013 Worlds and silver in 2015. That 2:23 was actually her fastest in-season swim of her career, so she might be able to get down to a 2:21 again and contend.

Current Records:

World Record: 2:19.11, Rikke Pedersen, DEN – 2013
Championships Record: 2:19.11, Rikke Pedersen, DEN – 2013
American Record: 2:19.59, Rebecca Soni – 2012

2017 World Champion: Yulia Efimova, RUS – 2:19.64
2018 Virtual World Champion: Yulia Efimova, RUS – 2:21.31 (Europeans)
2019 Fastest Times:

  1. 2:21.39, Lilly King, USA
  2. 2:21.59, Yulia Efimova, RUS
  3. 2:22.53, Ye Shiwen, CHN
  4. 2:22.63, Sydney Pickrem, CAN
  5. 2:22.82, Kelsey Wog, CAN
  6. 2:22.92, Tatjana Schoenmaker, RSA
  7. 2:23.42, Molly Renshaw, GBR
  8. 2:23.45, Mariia Temnikova, RUS

*USA’s Annie Lazor was a 2:20.77 in May but won’t be swimming at World Championships. Russia’s Evgeniia Chikunova was also a 2:21.07 at European Juniors but she will not be swimming at Worlds either.

Swimming World’s team of Andy RossDan D’AddonaDavid RiederDiana Pimer and Taylor Covington will be selecting their choices for the medals at World Championships in each event. Read below who everybody picked.

Andy’s Picks:

  1. Lilly King
  2. Yulia Efimova
  3. Tatjana Schoenmaker

Dan’s Picks:

  1. Lilly King
  2. Sydney Pickrem
  3. Yulia Efimova

David’s Picks:

  1. Yulia Efimova
  2. Lilly King
  3. Sydney Pickrem

Diana’s Picks:

  1. Lilly King
  2. Yulia Efimova
  3. Sydney Pickrem

Taylor’s Picks:

  1. Yulia Efimova
  2. Lilly King
  3. Sydney Pickrem

2019 FINA World Championships Predictions:

Day 1:

Day 2:

Day 3:

Day 4:

Day 5:

Day 6:

5 comments

  1. Leslie Cichocki

    Yes Lily all the way. Go Team USA 🇺🇸

  2. Dave Hoover

    That’ll be a tough one to pull off but if anyone could rise to the challenge, it’s her.

  3. Shaun Curtis

    There’s more than these two that can win