World Championships: Kate Douglass Emphatically Defends 200 IM Title

Photo Courtesy: Andrea Masini / Deepbluemedia / Insidefoto

World Championships: Kate Douglass Emphatically Defends 200 IM Title

There’s not much stopping the runaway train that is Kate Douglass right now. Certainly no one in the final of the 200 individual medley was capable of it Monday.

Douglass clocked in at 2:07.05 in the 200 IM to win gold in Doha at the World Championships, 1.5 seconds clear of the field.

The American was first at every wall. She had the fastest split in fly. Her backstroke 50 split was fifth, and she was second in breaststroke, though she only ceded .01 seconds to Sydney Pickrem, a breaststroker by trade. Her free split was second to Marrit Steenbergen, but the Dutchwoman was out of the race for the win, and Douglass was more than a second up on any of the medal contenders.

“To come back after winning in the summer and do it again and go even faster, it was an awesome feeling,” Douglass said. “That was a great race, it was tough with different competitors – but I am happy to come out on top. It’s great to win gold last summer and win here and even go faster than last year is awesome.”

Pickrem finished second to earn a quality silver medal for Canada in 2:08.56. China’s Yu Yiting was third in 2:09.01.

Douglass has been on fire recently. The jack of all trades won three bronze medals at the World Championships in Budapest in 2022, including in the 200 breast. She added six medals at Fukuoka last summer, including gold in the200 IM. She went 2:07.17 in the event last year, eight tenths up on her American and college teammate Alex Walsh. She’s one of the precious few big names deciding to compete at this meet.

Douglass’s time is a personal-best, improving the 2:07.09 she set last summer at U.S. Nationals, a U.S. Open record. Ariana Kukors’ American record of 2:06.15 from the super-suited 2009 Worlds is the final frontier for her in the event.

“I was hoping for a best time in this race, and I just got under my best but I am happy with that,” Douglass said. “To see 2:07 was awesome and to be able to do the best time right now in the season gets me excited to see what I can do in a few months. I am happy with my decision to come to Doha and winning this makes everything worth it.”

Yu, who won bronze in Fukuoka, hung tight with Douglass for the first 100 on Monday. But the table was going to turn in breaststroke, Yu’s relative weakness and the strength for Douglass and Pickrem.

The Canadian surged from fourth to second, eight-tenths faster than Yu, who hung on to third. Douglass opened up the margin on Yu from .02 seconds to .81.

Pickrem’s silver is a bit of a relief for the veteran. It is the 26-year-old’s fifth career Worlds medal and the first that is not bronze. She added a bronze in the medley relay at the Tokyo Olympics, and while she’s continued to excel in the short-course pool – among her wins is gold in the 200 IM at the 2021 World Short-Course Champs – non-bronze in long-course has eluded her. She didn’t swim at Worlds in Fukuoka.

“I’ve never had anything higher than a bronze medal, a lot of bronze individuals, so I was like I don’t care about the outcome but it would be nice not to get another bronze this time!,” Pickrem said. “It was a great opportunity for this race, it was my best time in six years so it means a lot.”

Anastasia Gorbenko dropped from third to fourth in breaststroke and couldn’t bridge the gap, finishing fourth, 1.16 seconds off the podium. Steenbergen came home in 29.75, the fastest in a field where only three swimmers broke 31 seconds, to rise from eighth to fifth. Gorbenko was fifth at Worlds last year, Steenbergen seventh.


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