Short Course World Championships: Siobhan Haughey Makes It a Double; Rhyan White is Golden (Day 3 Women’s Recap)

HAUGHEY Siobhan Bernadette HKG Gold Medal and New World Record Women’s 200m Freestyle Abu Dhabi - United Arab Emirates 16/12/21 Etihad Arena FINA World Swimming Championships (25m) Photo Andrea Masini / Deepbluemedia / Insidefoto
Photo Courtesy: Andrea Masini / Deepbluemedia / Insidefoto

Short Course World Championships: Siobhan Haughey Makes It a Double; Rhyan White is Golden (Women’s Live Updates)

Coming off a world-record performance in the 200-meter freestyle, Hong Kong’s Siobhan Haughey was again in the spotlight at the Short Course World Championships in Abu Dhabi. This time, Haughey stalked the gold medal in the 100 freestyle, where she battled with Sweden’s Sarah Sjostrom and came through with a comfortable triumph.

American Rhyan White delivered the biggest performance of her career to date when she prevailed in the 200 backstroke and was joined on the podium by countrywoman Isabelle Stadden, who was the bronze medalist. Meanwhile, China’s Li Bingjie was the runaway victor in the 800 freestyle, which was missing American Katie Grimes following her withdrawal from the meet due to COVID-19 protocols.

Here is a look at the women’s action from the third night of finals and semifinals.

Women’s 100 Freestyle Final

An argument can be made that Hong Kong’s Siobhan Haughey has been the premier women’s swimmer on the planet over the past few months. Coming off a superb International Swimming League season and a world record in the 200 freestyle on the opening night of the World Champs, Haughey added another global title. This time, the University of Michigan product fended off Sweden’s Sarah Sjostrom for the gold medal.

Setting a championship record of 50.98, Haughey led wire-to-wire, easily beating Sjostrom to the wall. The Swede was timed in 51.31 for the silver medal, with the bronze medal going to American Abbey Weitzeil in 51.64. Haughey jumped out to the lead with an opening 50 of 24.52, Weitzeil right with her at 24.57. But Haughey, as expected, had too much endurance over the back half of the race and pulled away from Weitzeil.

Haughey played a major role for Energy Standard during its march toward the ISL team title, as she repeatedly won the 100 freestyle and 200 freestyle while in Europe. In Abu Dhabi, she has been too much for the competition and has backed up the silver medals she won at the Olympic Games in the 100 freestyle and 200 free.


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Women’s 200 Backstroke Final

Sometimes, a little patience pays off, as Rhyan White will now attest. At the Olympic Games in Tokyo, the rising American star was tantalizingly close to earning a place on the podium, but finished fourth in both the 100 backstroke and 200 backstroke. But on Saturday morning, the Alabama standout claimed a place on the podium – and it was the best step possible. Powering down the last two lengths, White won gold in the 200 backstroke with a time of 2:01.58, placing a half-second ahead of Canada’s decorated international star Kylie Masse (2:02.07).

Heading into the last 50 meters, White sat in second place, .26 back of Masse. But a final split of 30.86 comfortably carried White past Masse and to the first world title of her career. Masse held on for the silver medal and the United States added a second medal when Isabelle Stadden touched in 2:02.20 and moved from fourth into the bronze medal position.


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Women’s 50 Butterfly Semifinals

A stacked final is set in the 50 butterfly, with a trio of Olympic champions (over a variety of events) ready to clash. The Netherlands’ Ranomi Kromowidjojo nailed down the No. 1 seed for the championship race by a wide margin, as she touched the wall in 24.61, which was .33 faster than the 24.94 produced by Sweden’s Sarah Sjostrom, the world-record holder, in the second semifinal. Rounding out the top three was China’s Zhang Yufei, who clocked in at 24.97 for the last of the sub-25 outings.

Although the 50 butterfly is not an Olympic event, the final of the discipline will feature heavy Olympic history as Kromowidjojo was a double-freestyle champion at the 2012 Games in London and Sjostrom was the 2016 Olympic champ in the 100 butterfly. Meanwhile, Zhang won the 200 butterfly at last summer’s Games in Tokyo.


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Women’s 100 Medley Semifinals

The final of the women’s 100 individual medley might be one of the most wide open of any event on the World Champs schedule, with no clear favorite emerging from the semifinal races. The top seed was secured by Switzerland’s Maria Ugolkova, who covered her four strokes in 58.25. Right behind as the second seed is Russia’s Mariia Kameneva, who advanced to the final behind a swim of 58.45. The third slot went to Costanza Cocconcelli, as the Italian was timed in 58.58.

Lurking in the fourth position is Israel’s Anastasia Gorbenko, who earlier in the meet was crowned world champion in the 50 breaststroke. Gorbenko heads into the final off a semifinal performance of 58.65 and may have some time to drop. She was followed in the fifth spot by France’s Beryl Gastaldello (58.66).


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Women’s 800 Freestyle Final

There was no denying China’s Li Bingjie, as she took the lead from the start and delivered a commanding performance en route to the gold medal. Li established a championship record of 8:02.90 to claim a dominant triumph, as silver medalist Anastasiia Kirpichnikova was more than three seconds back at 8:06.44. Li had a two-second advantage by the midway mark, leaving no doubt the Chinese star would pick up the gold medal. Italian Simona Quadarella added to her stash of international medals with a bronze in 8:07.99.

Before the final started, the dynamic of the race significantly shifted when it was revealed that Americans Katie Grimes and Lydia Jacoby had withdrawn from the remainder of the competition due to COVID-19 protocols. Grimes was expected to contend for the gold medal, especially based on the recent speed she showed in short-course action in the United States.


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