2019 FINA World Championships Predictions: Ledecky vs. Titmus vs. McKeon in Women’s 200 Free

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Emma McKeon is searching for her first individual gold medal at the world level; Photo Courtesy: Delly Carr/Swimming Australia Ltd.

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The women’s 200 free, much like the men’s race, is very wide open and the gold could go to five or six swimmers. Italy’s Federica Pellegrini is the reigning world champion, and doesn’t seem to age in this event. Pellegrini has won a medal at the last seven World Championships, including winning gold three times in 2009, 2011 and 2017. Pellegrini’s dominance and consistency in this event is unmatched. She visited the International Swimming Hall of Fame in February and said she would keep swimming the 200 free “if she was still competitive.” Pellegrini was a 1:55.42 in June at the Sette Colli, which put her fourth in the world.

The world record holder is still all alone in the sub-1:53 club (that performance from the shiny suit days) and it doesn’t appear anyone will be joining her this year. The top time belongs to Australia’s Ariarne Titmus, who won the silver at the Commonwealth Games in the 200 free last summer. Titmus has been a 1:54.30 this year as she is on top of the world rankings with Aussie teammate Emma McKeon (1:54.55) sitting in second. Many swimming critics believe Titmus’ best event is the 400 free, where she has shown she is capable of pushing the almighty Katie Ledecky. But it is very possible Titmus could win her first World title in the 200 free, an event she did not swim in Budapest two years ago.

McKeon has been on fire this year, but will have a very busy schedule in Gwangju. She has a chance to win six or seven medals, depending on if she can carry her momentum from Aussie Trials into Worlds. McKeon tied for the silver medal with Ledecky in Budapest two years ago and has looked even better in 2019. She currently sits seventh all-time as she is also looking for her first world title individually. McKeon has been on a number of Australia’s relays at Worlds and the Olympics, but hasn’t won an individual gold at the world level.

Then there is Ledecky, who has never not medaled in an individual event at the Worlds or Olympics. In fact, she has never been lower than second. But Ledecky looks vulnerable in the 200. Granted, her season best was at the TYR Pro Swim Series in January amidst the middle of hard training. And this is Ledecky we are talking about. She knows how to race and refuses to lose. The 200 free is always her toughest hurdle in her lineup but she has always been reliable. Can she win the 200 free in 2019? It’s going to be tough but there is no clear favorite right now.

Canada’s Taylor Ruck had a major breakthrough in 2018 in this event, scoring a 1:54 at the Commonwealth Games, and then went even faster at Pan Pacs. Ruck just finished her freshman season at Stanford, where she helped the Cardinal win a third straight team title. She is currently outside the top eight in the world with a 1:56.97 from April. Take that swim with a grain of salt because Ruck was swimming at that meet after a long college season, so maybe a 1:54 is in play for her again.

Hong Kong’s Siobhan Haughey, who just finished her college career at Michigan, is also a dark horse for a medal. She sat out the 2018 Asian Games for a foot injury last summer and has been on fire this summer. She was just off her best time with a 1:56.05 at the Mare Nostrum in Monaco in early June. She finished third at NCAAs and will have a chance to improve on her fifth place finish in the 200 free from the 2017 Worlds.

France’s Charlotte Bonnet is another dark horse that should not be counted out. She was a 1:54.95 at Europeans last summer during the best year of her career. Bonnet is ranked eighth in the world. She was eighth in Budapest but has been steadily rising the last year.

Sweden’s Sarah Sjostrom is most likely not going to swim the 200 free, having skipped out on the event at the last two World Championships.

Current Records:

World Record: 1:52.98, Federica Pellegrini, ITA – 2009
Championships Record: 1:52.98, Federica Pellegrini, ITA – 2009
American Record: 1:53.61, Allison Schmitt, USA – 2012

2017 World Champion: Federica Pellegrini, ITA, 1:54.73
2018 Virtual World Champion: Taylor Ruck, CAN, 1:54.44 (Pan Pacs)
2019 Fastest Times:

  1. 1:54.30, Ariarne Titmus, AUS
  2. 1:54.55, Emma McKeon, AUS
  3. 1:55.39, Sarah Sjostrom, SWE
  4. 1:55.42, Federica Pellegrini, ITA
  5. 1:55.78, Katie Ledecky, USA
  6. 1:56.05, Siobhan Haughey, HKG
  7. 1:56.35, Femke Heemskerk, NED
  8. 1:56.57, Charlotte Bonnet, FRA

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. Ariarne Titmus
  2. Katie Ledecky
  3. Emma McKeon

Dan’s Picks:

  1. Ariarne Titmus
  2. Katie Ledecky
  3. Taylor Ruck

David’s Picks:

  1. Katie Ledecky
  2. Ariarne Titmus
  3. Taylor Ruck

Diana’s Picks:

  1. Emma McKeon
  2. Katie Ledecky
  3. Ariarne Titmus

Taylor’s Picks:

  1. Ariarne Titmus
  2. Katie Ledecky
  3. Taylor Ruck

2019 FINA World Championships Predictions:

Day 1:

Day 2:

Day 3:

Day 4:

6 comments

  1. avatar
    JD

    1. Sarah Sjostrom will swim..and when she decides to swim… she is in good shape 🙂 Go Sarah!!
    2.Ariarne Titmus
    3. Katie Ledecky

  2. Paul Griffin

    One of the hardest races to call and interesting that only one out of five pick Ledecky. I have Titmus to win this one too. Ledecky should still have enough to beat her in the 400m though.

    • avatar
      Andy Ross

      Charlotte Bonnet was my sleeper pick as well! Too hard to pick.

  3. Justin Sabourin

    Definitely missed Ruck too 🤦🏼‍♂️