2019 FINA World Championships Predictions: Hali Flickinger Searching For 200 Fly Title

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Hali Flickinger has been on fire this year in the 200 fly. Photo Courtesy: Jack Gruber-USA TODAY Sports

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This year seems to be Hali Flickinger’s year. The University of Georgia graduate has come into her own after having a breakout 2018 last summer. Flickinger blasted a 2:05 in the heats of the 200 fly at US Nationals to break the long standing meet record held for so many years by Mary T. Meagher. Flickinger seems to get faster every time she swims, swimming a 2:07 in-season for the first time in her career. In June at the FINA Champions Series, she swam a 2:06 in-season for the first time and her confidence has seemingly skyrocketed.

Flickinger has been superb in 2019, but she still has yet to win a medal at the world level. She finished seventh in Rio in 2016 and was ninth in Budapest in 2017 in the 200 fly. Flickinger expressed how important it was at the FINA Champions Series that she was able to race some of her primary competition at Worlds including Katinka Hosszu, who is the reigning Worlds bronze medalist.

Hosszu is currently ranked second in the world for 2019 but has indicated she will not be swimming this event in Korea, thus opening up the Hungarian spots to Boglarka Kapas and Liliana Szilagyi. Kapas has built up her career as a distance freestyler, winning Olympic bronze in the 800 free in 2016. But after winning Europeans last summer, Kapas has now considered herself a 200 butterflyer.

The big question in the 200 fly is what kind of shape is Spain’s Mireia Belmonte in? The reigning world and Olympic champion has been an anomaly the last few years. She didn’t compete at Europeans last summer because of an injury, and did not compete at the FINA Champions Series either. Her best time this year is only a 2:11 from April, but she is ranked much higher in other events (4th in 400 IM) so she is not “out of shape” per se. Belmonte is a mystery but she shouldn’t be counted out for a medal, since she always seems to show up at the end of the year.

USA’s Katie Drabot has flown under the radar this summer as she sits third in the world rankings. Drabot was a little off during the NCAA season this year but has seemed to shake that off with a 2:06 at Santa Clara in June. Drabot will be making her Worlds debut for Team USA.

Last year’s fastest time was set by Great Britain’s Alys Thomas in a huge 2:05.45 at Commonwealth Games. Thomas’ previous best was a 2:07.54 so the 2:05 took a lot of people, including herself, by surprise. Thomas has only managed a 2:07 this season. Was 2018 a fluke? Or will she be able to get down to a 2:05 again? Going 2:06 will be needed to win a medal so she will have to get down to that again.

Germany’s Franziska Hentke is the reigning silver medalist from Budapest with a 2:05.39. She sits 11th all-time in the event but the now 30-year-old hasn’t been a 2:05 in two years. China’s Zhang Yufei has been a consistent performer on the world stage the last few years, placing sixth in Rio and fifth in Budapest. Zhang won the bronze in Kazan in 2015 but hasn’t been on the podium since. With the race wide open, Zhang could find herself on the podium to gain some momentum for 2020.

The Japanese team will also be looking to gain some momentum heading into next year as they will play host to the 2020 Olympic Games. Suzuka Hasegawa has emerged as a medal favorite as she was sixth in Budapest and was second at the 2017 World Juniors. Hasegawa is ranked fifth in the world at 2:07.21.

Current Records:

World Record: 2:01.81, Liu Zige, CHN – 2009
Championships Record: 2:03.41, Jessicah Schipper, AUS – 2009
American Record: 2:04.14, Mary Descenza, USA – 2009

2017 World Champion: Mireia Belmonte, ESP – 2:05.26
2018 Virtual World Champion: Alys Thomas, GBR – 2:05.45 (Commonwealth Games)
2019 Fastest Times:

  1. 2:06.40, Hali Flickinger, USA
  2. 2:06.67, Katie Drabot, USA
  3. 2:07.16, Franziska Hentke, GER
  4. 2:07.21, Suzuka Hasegawa, JPN
  5. 2:07.32, Hiroko Makino, JPN
  6. 2:07.36, Zhang Yufei, CHN
  7. 2:07.37, Boglarka Kapas, HUN
  8. 2:07.39, Brianna Throssell, AUS

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

Andy’s Picks:

  1. Hali Flickinger
  2. Katie Drabot
  3. Zhang Yufei

Dan’s Picks:

  1. Hali Flickinger
  2. Zhang Yufei
  3. Katie Drabot

David’s Picks:

  1. Hali Flickinger
  2. Mireia Belmonte
  3. Alys Thomas

Diana’s Picks:

  1. Hali Flickinger
  2. Franziska Hentke
  3. Katie Drabot

Taylor’s Picks:

  1. Hali Flickinger
  2. Zhang Yufei
  3. Franziska Hentke

2019 FINA World Championships Predictions:

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