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Ye Matches World-Title Swim In Heats

Jul 30, 2012  - Craig Lord

Olympic Games, London, Day 3 heats:

We had some technical problems that have now been resolved. Thanks for your patience. 

Something odd happened again when Ye Shiwen (CHN) took the plunge for her second race of these Games: morning heats, the last through to semis on 2:14.26, but the 16-year-old winner of the 400m medley who came home in freestyle as fast as Ryan Lochte did in his race clocked … 2:08.90.

That matched her world-title winning effort. Even on whatever it is she had for breakfast, the 2:06.15 world mark still seems a remote possibility. No-one else will get anywhere close to that, the title practically on Ye's head. In the papers this morning,  Ye and China have started to come under scrutiny. When Rebecca Adlington swam him to bronze in the best finishing 100m of the 400m last night, she was just over the minute, as an athlete capable of cracking 8:20 on an 800m.

Ye's 58.6 smacks of the impossible at the end of a 400m medley. As she prepares for semis and then the final, Ye may not hear the questions being posed - but China will. This sums it up: are you sure a clean path is being trodden - right now, many are struggling to believe that possible.

Meanwhile, after missing the podium as world record holder for the second Games in a row over 400m, Federica Pellegrini (ITA) looked determined to make good in the 200m free once more, the defending champion of Beijing on 1:57.16 at the top of the heap in heats.

Race reports 

Women's 200m freestyle

After missing the podium as world record holder for the second Games in a row over 400m freestyle last night as Rebecca Adlington took bronze for Britain, Italian Federica Pellegrini looked determined to make good in the 200m freestyle once more.

The defending champion from Verona clocked 1:57.16 to qualify fastest for the semi-finals, edging out American teenager Missy Franklin, on 1:57.62, in the third heat. 

Next up, Caitlin McLatchey raised a roar from the home crowd when she stopped the clock first in the fourth heat, on 1:58.03 ahead of Bronte Barratt (AUS) and Camille Muffat (FRA), both through in 1:58.12 and 1:58.49.

The last heat saw American Allison Schmitt, under world record pace at 50m, lay down a 1:57.33 warning to nestle in just behind Pellegrini at the top of the pile. Melanie Costa (ESP), on 1:57.79, and Sarah Sjostrom (SWE), on 1:58.03, were in next, the semis closed by Olympic silver medallist in 2008, Sara Isakovic (SLO) in 1:58.96. That locked out British champion Rebecca Turner, on 1:58.98.

Men's 200m butterfly

Defending champion Michael Phelps, the American 14-times gold-medal winner, qualified in fifth for the semis in 1:55.53. At the helm of his heat and all swims this morning, on 1:54.79, was Dinko Jukic, the Austrian who ran into trouble last year with anti-doping agents after refusing to submit to testing on the grounds that he was unhappy with the hygiene standards at the pool where he was training. Also ahead of Phelps in heat 5 was US teammate Tyler Clary, on 1:54.96. 

Victory in this event tomorrow for Phelps would make him the first man ever to win the same title at three Games. Only two women have achieved that feat: Dawn Fraser (AUS) in 1956-64 over 100m freestyle, and Krisztina Egerszegi (HUN) in 1988-92 over 200m backstroke.

The pace of qualification had been set in the third heat by Velimir Stjepanovic (SRB), on 1:54.99 ahead of Chad le Clos (RSA), whose 1:55.23 kept him just ahead of Phelps going through. Heat four had Takeshi Matsuda (JPN) on 1:55.81 ahead of Olympic silver medallist from Beijing, Laszlo Cseh (HUN), 1:55.86. All main contenders, including Wu Peng (CHN) and Nick D'Arcy (AUS) made the cut. 

Women's 200m medley

Ye's 2:08.90 at the helm (where you would expect such pace to be), Olympic silver medallist of 2008 Kirsty Coventry (ZIM) moved back into contention with a solid 2:10.51 ahead of the top three in the previous prelim, heat 4. That was led by Caitlin Leverenz (USA), on 2:10.63, followed by Katinka Hosszu (HUN), on 2:10.68, with Alicia Coutts (AUS) the last sub-2:11 swim, on 2:10.74.

There were no major misses, Spain's Mireia Belmonte, world record holder Ariana Kukors (USA), defending champion Stephanie Rice (AUS) and Britain's Hannah Miley all safely through.