Cate Campbell Surges to Top Spot; Both Reigning Champs Out

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BARCELONA, Spain, August 1. THE women’s 100-meter freestyle field certainly felt a bit of a void as both reigning world titlists elected not even to compete this year at the FINA World Championships.

In 2011, Denmark’s Jeanette Ottesen Gray and Belarus’ Aliaksandra Herasimenia posted matching times of 53.45 to tie atop the podium in the sprint freestyle event. This year, neither of them decided to even try to defend their titles.

First, Herasimenia announced a few weeks ago that she’d decided to have the World University Games be her taper meet as it would be her final chance to compete at that competition.

“It would not be reasonable to go to Spain bearing in mind the results I have shown at the Universiade,” Herasimenia told the Belarusian Telegraph Agency. “I do not see any sense in violate my preparation schedule because the result there may be worse than at the Universiade.”

This morning, it became apparent that Ottesen Gray would not be defending her title either. Our correspondent Rokur Jakupsstovu shed light on the situation stating that Ottesen Gray had decided to drop the 100 free this summer after her Trials in March as she planned on tweaking her technique (switching from straight arm to bent). She just kept the event on her schedule to keep her options open.

That’s similar gamesmanship as Ryan Lochte scratching the 400 IM at the last minute at U.S. Trials as he kept his competition guessing.

That leaves the door wide open for the rest of the field, including Australia’s Cate Campbell who clocked a 53.24 to lead prelims. She’s been on fire this week, already clocking a textile best 52.33 to lead the women’s 400-meter freestyle relay this week. She obviously saved up some energy heading into semis.

USA’s Missy Franklin qualified second in 53.36, and is looking to add to her three gold medal haul this week already. She’s gunning for the likes of Kristin Otto, who owns the record with six medals total including four golds.

Sweden’s Sarah Sjostrom (53.61), Germany’s Britta Steffen (53.93), The Netherlands’ Ranomi Kromowidjojo (54.12), China’s Tang Yi (54.21), The Netherlands’ Femke Heemskerk (54.21) and USA’s Shannon Vreeland (54.25) finished in the top eight to secure spots into semis.

Plenty of other strong names fill up the rest of the semifinal spot with Bahamas’ Arianna Vanderpool-Wallace (54.42), Sweden’s Michelle Coleman (54.53), Russia’s Veronika Popova (54.53), Australia’s Bronte Campbell (54.67), France’s Camille Muffat (54.84), China’s Qiu Yuhan (54.93) and South Africa’s Karin Prinsloo (55.05) made their way to semis.