Make it Four in a Row, and History, for Katinka Hosszu in 200 Individual Medley (RACE VIDEO)

Photo Courtesy: Becca Wyant

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World Swimming Championships (Katinka Hosszu)

Gwangju, Day 2 Finals

Women’s 200m individual medley

What could not be accomplished in two attempts prior was not a problem for Katinka Hosszu.

Racing comfortably away from the field, the Hungarian won the 200 individual medley in 2:07.53 to become the first woman in history to win an event on four straight occasions at the World Championships. The 30-year-old’s most-recent victory complemented previous gold medals from 2013, 2015 and 2017, and further cemented her status as a medley legend.

As has been the case throughout her dominance of the event, Hosszu delivered a no-doubt win, bettering 2012 Olympic champion Ye Shiwen of China (2:08.60) by more than a second. The bronze medal went to Canada’s Sydney Pickrem, who touched in 2:08.70, just ahead of the 2:08.91 by the United States’ Melanie Margalis.

1 HOSSZU Katinka Hungary HUN 2:07.53
2 YE Shiwen People's Republic of China CHN 2:08.60
3 PICKREM Sydney Canada CAN 2:08.70
4 MARGALIS Melanie United States of America USA 2:08.91
5 OMOTO Rika Japan JPN 2:09.32
6 KIM Seoyeong Republic of Korea KOR 2:10.12
7 O’CONNOR Siobhan Great Britain GBR 2:10.43

Before Hosszu took the blocks and converted on her fourth consecutive crown in the event, Katie Ledecky (400 freestyle) and Sarah Sjostrom (100 butterfly) came up short in their pursuit of the quad, each settling for silver medals. Hosszu will have a chance to replicate her feat in the 400 individual medley on the final day of action, as she has also won that event from 2013-17.

Although fourth through the opening butterfly leg and second following the backstroke portion of the race, Hosszu was in complete control. She put together the best split in the field in the breaststroke, going 36.56, and was never challenged on freestyle. The time was Hosszu’s third of the meet in the 2:07 range, giving her 16 such swims during her career. No one else has more than two performances under the 2:08 barrier.

To ensure she was at full power for the final of the short medley, Hosszu opted to scratch the 100 backstroke from her program. The approach was one that Hosszu has followed at previous World Championships. Had Hosszu not opted out of the 100 back, she would have had only the semifinals of the men’s 200 freestyle between her double.

“It has been a tough journey, especially coming off last year,” Hosszu said. “From the outside, it might seem like just another gold medal, but obviously for me, it is really special to be here and to be able to win this title. I am looking forward to a lot of work for next year.”

A little more than a year ago, Hosszu’s personal life was a mess, her split from husband and coach Shane Tusup making headlines. Since Hosszu enjoyed tremendous success during her working relationship with Tusup, questions arose concerning how she would perform under new direction. In her primary competition of the 2018 season, the European Championships, additional doubts surfaced as to whether Hosszu would regain her past form. Not only did Hosszu shy away from her typically daunting schedule, she managed victory in only the 200 medley, and finished a surprising fourth in the 100 backstroke.

This year, on the road to the World Champs, Hosszu was sharper, producing several strong times in the medley events. Still, for the Hungarian to officially stamp herself back on top, she needed another world title. Consider her objective met.

“I learned a lot of things last year,” Hosszu said. “Honestly just for me like finding my purpose and who I am. I know a lot more about myself than I thought I knew and I think I am starting to grow up. I am 30 now, really maturing. Coming into this World Champs and really deciding I am going to prepare for Tokyo, I decided to have really have fun with swimming. I actually got a bit carried away because I felt like the world record is so close and after semis I was a bit pissed – ah, like, I am not fast enough. I like when something is really hard to get, so I now I am happy that I didn’t get the world record and I still have a lot of work to do for next year.”

En route to the silver medal, Ye returned to a global podium for the first time since the 2012 edition of the World Short Course Championships. Earlier that year, Ye won Olympic gold in both medley events. But in the years that followed, Ye was an afterthought on the world stage, until she started to produce some solid times in the leadup to Gwangju. Obviously, her recent form carried into the World Champs and bodes well for what she might be able to do later in the meet, in the 200 breaststroke and 400 medley.

Taking the bronze medal in a measure of redemption was Pickrem. Two years ago at the World Championships in Budapest, Pickrem was a medal contender in the 200 medley, but choked on water at the 50-meter mark and was forced to pull herself out of the pool. It was a difficult turn of events to accept and surely served as motivation for the Canadian on the road to Korea. Like Hosszu, Pickrem relied on her strong breaststroke leg to build enough of a cushion to fend off Margalis for the bronze.

“For sure I was feeling a lot more emotional going into it than I usually am,” Pickrem said. “I always have the nerves but I don’t usually get emotional before. I really was thinking back to it but I was like ‘You know what, if you finish the race you’ve already done one step better than last time.’ I just try and laugh about it now because I definitely wasn’t laughing about it two years ago. I felt like I let a lot of people down and it kind of took me a while to get in a mental health state that I realized I didn’t let anyone down.”

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