FINA World Championships, Swimming: Day Five Prelims

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SHANGHAI, China, July 28. LAST night featured another storyline-packed evening of activity at the FINA World Long Course Championships. What will day five prelims set up for the fifth night of swimming?

Last night was marred by a controversial finish by Brazil's Felipe Silva in his victory in the men's 50 breast. As has been discussed ad nauseum on this site, Silva used an illegal dolphin kick at the finish. Swimming World's Jeff Commings, the first to recognize and report on the infraction, has suggested that FINA incorporate underwater video review into the sport to solve these issues.

Meanwhile, Michael Phelps finally won gold with a victory in his pet event of the 200 fly, while Federica Pellegrini defended her 200 free title. Sun Yang brought the total textile best tally to 10 for the meet with his epic outing in the 800 free for China. Those stories and more occurred last night, setting up the back-half of the FINA World Long Course Championships as we head into the fifth day.

Women's 100 free
World record: Britta Steffen, GER, 52.07
Textile best: Britta Steffen, GER, 53.30

The Netherlands' Femke Heemskerk clocked a hard-charging time of 53.75 in prelims, giving Britta Steffen's textile best of 53.30 a bit of a look. Heemskerk will be looking to track down that mark throughout semifinal qualifying. Denmark's Jeanette Ottesen joined Heemskerk under 54 seconds with a swift 53.88, and should have her national record of 53.41 in her sights in upcoming swims.

The Netherlands' Ranomi Kromowidjojo qualified third in 54.10, while USA's Dana Vollmer picked up fourth in 54.24.

"A 100 is so much smoother, but sometimes a preliminary is hard, but as long as you are in the top 16, you are fine," Vollmer said. "I am trying not to look at who I am next to, and just focus on my own race."

France's Camille Muffat (54.35), Australia's Yolane Kukla (54.37), Australia's Alicia Coutts (54.37) and China's Tang Yi (54.37) made up the rest of the top eight.

"I wasn't feeling at my best this morning, but I will try my best in the semifinal," Coutts said. "I am having a lot of fun, and am exciting to see what happens tonight."

Great Britain's Fran Halsall (54.38), Belarus' Aliaksandra Herasimenia (54.47), Bahamas' Arianna Vanderpool-Wallace (54.51), USA's Natalie Coughlin (54.72), Canada's Victoria Poon (54.74), Sweden's Ida Marko-Varga (54.81), Sweden's Gabriella Fagundez (54.81) and Germany's Britta Steffen (54.86) grabbed the rest of the semifinal spots.

Steffen, the reigning and defending champion, just made her way into the next round, while defending silver medalist Halsall also is still in play. Bronze-medalist Libby Trickett of Australia did not come out of retirement soon enough to make Australia's Trials for the event, and missed her shot at making a relay.

Steffen, shortly after the race, withdrew from the FINA World Championships citing a lack of preparation to continue.

Men's 200 back
World record: Aaron Peirsol, USA, 1:51.92
Textile best: Ryosuke Irie, JPN, 1:54.08

USA's Tyler Clary put forth a strong time in the distance dorsal with a time of 1:56.32 for the lead. Clary, the silver medalist in the men's 400 IM in 2009, is looking for his breakthrough win for an individual world title.

Hungary's Peter Bernek finished second in 1:57.23, while Russia's Stanislav Donets earned third in 1:57.30. Defending bronze medalist Ryan Lochte of the U.S. cruised in with a fourth-seeded 1:57.34, while China's Zhang Fenglin placed fifth in 1:57.37.

Defending silver medalist Ryosuke Irie of Japan qualified sixth in 1:57.58, while Japan's Kazuki Watanabe (1:57.62) and Poland's Radoslaw Kawecki (1:57.97) all cleared 1:58 for the top eight spots.

The Netherlands' Nick Driebergen (1:58.10), Canada's Tobias Oriwol (1:58.19), Israel's Yakov-Yan Toumarkin (1:58.21), Italy's Sebastiano Ranfagni (1:58.26), Brazil's Leonardo De Deus (1:58.29), Germany's Yannick Lebherz (1:58.30), France's Ben Stasiulis (1:58.42) and Colombia's Omar Pinzon (1:58.48) also earned their way into the semifinal heats.

Women's 200 breast
World record: Annamay Pierse, CAN, 2:20.12sf
Textile best: Leisel Jones, AUS, 2:20.54

While Rebecca Soni is the undeniable best breaststroke on the planet right now, she has one bit of unfinished business right now and it happens to be in regards to the longer distance breaststroke event. Soni has had a remarkable career thus far, but the one difficult moment she would like to erase with a strong meet this year is her epic flameout in the women's 200 breast at the 2009 World Championships.

Soni took that swim out like a banshee with a 1:42.20 split at the 150-meter mark, more than a second under Pierse's world record pace, but she felt the piano start dragging after the turn and nearly clocked a 40-second split to fall completely out of the podium spots.

Some redemption is in order this year for Soni, and she started off well with a 2:23.30 in the morning session.

"My goal today was not to let any pressure get in my way," Soni said. "I really did nothing but focus on my race today."

Denmark's Rikke Pedersen was the next-best finisher with a second-seeded 2:25.86, while Russia's Yuliya Efimova took third in 2:25.98. USA's Amanda Beard kept on rolling as her comeback from last year's motherhood has continued with a fourth-place 2:26.73.

"It was a pretty good morning for me," Beard said. "It puts me in a good spot for tonight, and it sets me up well. The 100 isn't my best event, so I used it as a warmup. It's always fun to swim next to Soni. She is always strong, and then I can ease in a little bit. I just need to stay close."

Spain's Marina Garcia Urzainque (2:26.96), Australia's Sally Foster (2:27.07), Canada's Annamay Pierse (2:27.14) and Canada's Martha McCabe (2:27.16) finished fifth through eighth.

China's Sun Ye (2:27.17), Japan's Rie Kaneto (2:27.17), Serbia's Nadja Higl (2:27.39), South Korea's Su Yeon Back (2:27.43), Morocco's Sara El Bekri (2:27.48), Belgium's Fanny Lecluyse (2:27.67), Italy's Chiara Boggiatto (2:27.84) and Great Britain's Stacey Tadd (2:27.88) also made the semifinal rounds.

Men's 200 breast
World record: Christian Sprenger, AUS, 2:07.31sf
Textile best: Naoya Tomita, JPN, 2:08.25

The men's 200 breast preliminary session proved to be solid across the board. Four swimmers cleared 2:11 for the top four seeds. Lithuania's Giedrius Titenis led the way with a 2:10.33, and will be looking to improve on his bronze-medal finish in 2009. Germany's Christian Vom Lehn qualified second in 2:10.67, while defending silver medalist Eric Shanteau of the U.S. placed third in 2:10.77. Defending champ Daniel Gyurta of Hungary picked up the fourth seed in 2:10.78.

Great Britain's Michael Jamieson (2:11.06), Japan's Kosuke Kitajima (2:11.17), Canada's Michael Brown (2:11.51) and Great Britain's Andrew Willis (2:11.59) grabbed the other top eight spots in the semifinal round.

Spain's Melquiades Alvarez Caraballo (2:11.86), New Zealand's Glenn Snyders (2:12.38), South Africa's Neil Versfeld (2:12.54), Luxembourg's Laurent Carnol (2:12.56), The Netherlands' Lennart Stekelenburg (2:12.69), South Korea's Kyu Woong Choi (2:12.69), Japan's Naoya Tomita (2:12.73) and Hungary's Akos Molnar (2:12.78) also will swim in the semifinal rounds.

Women's 800 free relay
World record: China, 7:42.08
Textile best: United States, 7:50.09

The United States' foursome of Missy Franklin (1:56.98), Katie Hoff (1:57.01), Jasmine Tosky (1:59.20) and Dagny Knutson (1:57.27) put on a show in preliminary qualifying of the women's 800 free relay as the squad nearly took down the textile best in the event with a 7:50.46. That swim just missed the textile best of 7:50.09 clocked by the U.S. at the 2007 World Championships.

Canada's Julia Wilkinson, Brittany Maclean, Samantha Cheverton and Barbara Jardin took the second seed in 7:52.05, while Hungary's Agnes Mutina, Evelyn Verraszto, Katinka Hosszu and Zsuzsanna Jakabos finished third in 7:52.12.

China (7:53.21), Great Britain (7:55.65), Australia (7:55.68), France (7:55.89) and New Zealand (7:57.15) earned the rest of the transfer spots into the finale.