Hali Flickinger Rattles Lifetime Best With 2:05.9 Flight To Semis; Defender Mireia Belmonte Scrapes In

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Hali Flickinger - Photo Courtesy: Dan D'Addona

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World Championships (Hali Flickinger)


Day 4 heats (Women’s 200m butterfly)

Hali Flickinger made a statement this morning when she took the 200 ‘fly pace out on 1:00.51 at the half-way turn on the way to a dominant 2:05.96 ticket to lane 4 of the second semi this evening.

The American, who turned 25 this month, was just shy of her lifetime best, of 2:05.87, set at U.S. Nationals last year – in heats. Her test now is to convert morning speed, make it to the final and make the final faster.

At nationals last year, she came close to her heats best in 2:06.14 – and at the Olympic Games in 2016, a 2:06.67 in heats converted to a 2:07.02 in the semi.

In heat three of four behind Flickinger this morning came Hungarians Boglarka Kapas, on 2:07.60, and Liliana Szilagyi, on 2:08.16, those efforts ending up second and third swiftest through.

Szilagyi, the Olympic Youth champion over 200m butterfly back in 2014, brings history to the water with heat each time she races: she is the granddaughter of Dezso Gyarmati, the only water polo player in history to win five Olympic medals, three of them gold. His granddaughter won her 2014 title in Nanjing precisely a year to the day after his passing.


Gyarmati played in the infamous “Blood in the Water” match between Hungary and the Soviet Union at the 1956 Olympics weeks after the Soviet invasion of Hungary. Team captain Gyarmati opened the scoring and set up the other three goals Hungary netted while winning 4-0 en route to the title.

Back to Gwangju, and although the last line-up watched the speed of the top three so far and knew that Svetlana Chimrova, of Russia, had led heat 2 in 2:08.26 ahead of a 2:08.33 from American Katie Drabot and a 2:08.69 from silver medallist of Budapest 2017, Germany’s Franziska Hentke, on 2:08.69, there was no obvious rush to lift the pace.

The last heat had Britain’s Alys Thomas stopping the clock at 2:08.69, Olympic and defending world champion Mireia Belmonte was back in sixth on 2:10.63, 0.1sec swift enough to secure the last slot in semis.

The top 16 qualifiers:

1 FLICKINGER Hali United States of America USA 2:05.96
2 KAPAS Boglarka Hungary HUN 2:07.60
3 SZILAGYI Liliana Hungary HUN 2:08.16
4 CHIMROVA Svetlana Russian Federation RUS 2:08.26
5 DRABOT Katie United States of America USA 2:08.33
6 HENTKE Franziska Germany GER 2:08.69
6 THOMAS Alys Margaret Great Britain GBR 2:08.69
8 STEPHENS Laura Great Britain GBR 2:09.03
9 MONTEIRO Ana Portugal POR 2:09.43
10 MAKINO Hiroko Japan JPN 2:09.88
11 THROSSELL Brianna Australia AUS 2:09.91
12 CUSINATO Ilaria Italy ITA 2:10.03
12 HASEGAWA Suzuka Japan JPN 2:10.03
14 LAHTINEN Laura Finland FIN 2:10.39
15 ZHU Jiaming People's Republic of China CHN 2:10.54
16 BELMONTE Mireia Spain ESP 2:10.63

Flickinger stands nearly 5ft 5 in her stocking feet, many rivals around her towering above. How to overcome that ‘disadvantage’? The answer was to completely transformed her body into a pillar of strength, she told Swimming World.

“I need all the strength I can get in order to compete with people who are a lot bigger than me. It comes from me always being the smallest and the weakest growing up,” Flickinger told Swimming World’s Dan D’Addona.

“My training is where my confidence comes from. So if I know I am doing things that other people are not willing to do, then I should have confidence over them. I enjoy pushing myself further than what anyone else is — and knowing that I am. That is what I have to do to have the confidence. I can control what my effort is in the pool. Doing things that push me so far that I want to bawl my eyes out. If I do that, I will thank myself in the long run.”

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Hali Flickinger; Photo Courtesy: Dan D’Addona

After arriving at the University of Georgia in the fall of 2012, she began to lift weights for the first time in her life. It was a transformative moment.

“I never lifted a single weight before I came to college,” she said. “That was really a huge part of how I got to where I am. I have a lot more muscle now. Who knew that I would be able to do the things I am able to do? I remember coming in freshman year and I couldn’t even bench the 45-pound bar. To see the improvement that I have made is crazy. I really take weights so seriously. The way I am built, weights are almost just as important as what I do in the water because it is how I am able to do what I am doing today.”


  1. Willem Coetzee

    Your top 16 is completely wrong

    • avatar
      Craig Lord

      Thanks Willem. Generated by official results service… now correct.

    • Heiko Fikenzer

      Nope – everything is correct

    • Willem Coetzee

      Heiko Fikenzerthey have changed it since. They had my daughter as part of the top 16 and she definitely wasn’t

  2. avatar

    There is something as going too fast in the prelims unnecessarily…. She went 1 second slower in the final and lost the Gold by 0.17s..