World Championships Preview — Women’s Mid-Distance Freestyle: Ariarne Titmus, Summer McIntosh Duel in 200 & 400 (Predictions)

ariarne titmus 400 free, world championships
Photo Courtesy: Delly Carr / Swimming Australia

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World Championships Preview — Women’s Mid-Distance Freestyle: Titmus, McIntosh Duel in 200 & 400

For the first time ever, three women who will race in a 400 freestyle final with all having broken 4:00, and in fact, all three have been 3:56s at some point. Katie Ledecky was the first to reach that barrier at the 2016 Olympics while Ariarne Titmus and Summer McIntosh have joined her in that ridiculous territory with huge improvements over the past few years. And while Ledecky has opted out of the 200 free for this year’s Worlds, Titmus and McIntosh will be central players in that race alongside Titmus’ Australian teammate Mollie O’Callaghan and Olympic silver medalist Siobhan Haughey, and perhaps a 14-year-old world record could come under fire.

Previous Events:

Women’s 200 Freestyle
WR 1:52.96 Federica Pellegrini ITA Rome (ITA) July 29, 2009
CR 1:52.96 Federica Pellegrini ITA Rome (ITA) July 29, 2009
WJR 1:53.91 Summer McIntosh CAN Toronto (CAN) April 2, 2023
Women’s 400 Freestyle
WR 3:56.08 Summer McIntosh CAN Toronto (CAN) March 28, 2023
CR 3:58.15 Katie Ledecky USA Budapest (HUN) June 18, 2023
WJR 3:56.08 Summer McIntosh CAN Toronto (CAN) March 28, 2023


Freya Anderson (GBR): This 22-year-old was fourth in the 200 free at last year’s World Championships, and she has already broken 1:56 this year. She won silver in the 200 free and bronze in the 100 free at the European Championships. Contending in: 200 free

Mollie O’Callaghan (AUS): She was the silver medalist in the 200 free at Worlds last year and ranks No. 1 in the world this year and fifth all-time at 1:53.83. O’Callaghan is also the reigning world champion in the 100 free. However, a recent knee injury might affect O’Callaghan’s preparation for WorldsContending in: 200 free

Erica Fairweather (NZL): Another teenager, Fairweather was sixth at Worlds last year in the 400 free and 12th in the 200 free, but she has already posted a time of 4:00.62 this year in the 400 that ranks her sixth all-time (although fourth in the world behind McIntosh, Titmus and Ledecky). She has also recorded her first sub-1:56 200 free this year. Contending in: 200 & 400 free

Isabel Gose (GER): Gose was the only swimmer to qualify for the 200 and 400-meter finals at last year’s Worlds, and she also made the top heat of the 800 free. For good measure, she won medals in all three races at the European Championships, winning the 400. Her 400 free is the stronger of the events, and she has a season best of 4:03.84 Contending in: 200 & 400 free

Siobhan Haughey (HKG): Haughey was the world-title favorite last year but missed Budapest with injuries. She is back this year and swam a time of 1:54.77 at the Sette Colli meet in late June, although O’Callaghan, McIntosh and Titmus have all recorded quicker times this year. Haughey likely has the most speed of anyone in the 200, given she was also the Olympic silver medalist in the 100 free. Contending in: 200 free

Katie Ledecky (USA): Ledecky has won four of the last five world titles in the 400 free, with the only blemish coming in Titmus’ come-from-behind win in 2019. The duo also raced in an epic Olympic final in 2021, and now McIntosh is added to the mix. Ledecky is a near-certainty for a medal in the 400 free, and she would likely contend in the 200 free, but she dropped the race from her Worlds scheduleContending in: 400 free

Li Bingjie (CHN): After setting the short course world record in the 400 free late last year, Li has been on a roll thus far in 2022. At Chinese Nationals, she posted times of 1:55.62 in the 200 free and 4:01.08 in the 400 free, the latter (ranked ninth all-time) tying her effort from the Olympic final when she won bronze behind Titmus and Ledecky. Contending in: 200 & 400 free

Summer McIntosh (CAN): This teenager’s explosion onto the world stage has been remarkable. At age 16, she is the defending world champion in the 200 butterfly and 400 IM, and she is favored to add the 400 free gold after setting a world record of 3:56.08 earlier this year. McIntosh also set a world junior record of 1:53.91 in the 200 free, ranking her sixth all-time, so she is a medal favorite in that event as well. It’s worth noting that McIntosh ranks top-two in the world in five different individual events, and she is unlikely to race all of them in Fukuoka. The hunch is that both mid-distance races remain on her schedule. Contending: 200 & 400 free

Lani Pallister (AUS): Pallister finished four hundredths away from bronze in the 400 free at last year’s Worlds before securing bronze in the 1500 free. She also swept gold medals in the 400, 800 and 1500 free at the Short Course World Championships. Her 400 free best time of 4:02.16 ranks 16th all-time. Contending in: 400 free

Bella Sims (USA): The 18-year-old Sims anchored the U.S. women’s 800 free relay to a world title last year, and now she will race individually at a major meet. She was second to Ledecky in the 400 free at Nationals and third in the 200 free but earned the individual nod when Ledecky stepped aside. She will need to improve on her best times (1:56.08 in the 200, 4:03.25 in the 400) to have a shot at medals, but a pair of finals appearances could be in the cards. Contending in: 200 & 400 free

Marrit Steenbergen (NED): The European champion in the 100 and 200 free last year, Steenbergen has a 200 free best time of 1:55.58 that would surely put her in the mix. Contending in: 200 free

Ariarne Titmus (AUS): When Titmus last raced at a major meet, the 2021 Olympics, she was the gold medalist in both mid-distance races. The 22-year-old will be very much in the hunt for gold in both events. Her 200 free best time if 1:53.09, just 11 hundredths off Federica Pellegrini’s 2009 world record of 1:52.98, and Titmus owns the quickest lifetime best in the field by seven tenths. Her 400 free top time is 3:56.40, which was the world record before McIntosh broke it in March. Contending in: 200 & 400 free

Claire Weinstein (USA): At last week’s U.S. Nationals, Weinstein dropped one-and-a-half seconds from her best time in an upset win over Ledecky, clocking 1:55.26. She currently ranks fifth in the world, and if the 16-year-old has another drop in her, she could find her way into the medal hunt if one of the favorites falters. Contending in: 200 free

Yang Junxuan (CHN): Yang is the reigning world champion, having out-dueled O’Callaghan last summer in Budapest. She clocked 1:54.92 in that race, and her best of 1:54.37 ranks ninth all-time. Contending in: 200 free

Update (7/13/23): Yang will not participate in the 200 free in Fukuoka, with Li Jiaping and Liu Yaxin taking China’s spots in the even.


Women’s 400 Freestyle

Gold: Summer McIntosh (CAN)
Silver: Ariarne Titmus (AUS)
Bronze: Katie Ledecky (USA)

All three swimmers swim 3:57s or faster in this race, but it’s McIntosh who blasts out ahead of the field and holds off a charging Titmus, becoming the first woman ever under 3:56.

Women’s 200 Freestyle

Gold: Ariarne Titmus (AUS)
Silver: Summer McIntosh (CAN)
Bronze: Siobhan Haughey (HKG)

Titmus gets some revenge on McIntosh with a gutsy performance in the 200. Haughey has the early lead and holds on for a return to the podium while O’Callaghan is just off her best.

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Neil kerr
Neil kerr
1 year ago

I’ve got Summer winning both!

1 year ago
Reply to  Neil kerr

agree,unless Macintosh drop out of 200

1 year ago

Womens 200m free I put Molly O’Callaghan 1st, Titimus 2nd, Macintosh = 2nd. It’s going to be a cracker. But how can you not factor the fastest 200m in the world this year in the top 3!? 😅 Molly shocked last worlds and it looks like she will do it again. And a little bit of floating knee cap wont stop her kicking home that last 50m.

Last edited 1 year ago by Tboi
Suzanne Lynch
Suzanne Lynch
1 year ago

Good luck team

1 year ago

definitely Macintosh

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