Yulia Efimova Wins Historic Third 200 Breast World Title; Schoenmaker Wins South Africa’s First Women’s Worlds Medal

FINA World Swimming Championships (Yulia Efimova)

Gwangju 2019

 Photo Courtesy: Patrick B. Kraemer

Day Six Finals (Women’s 200 Breast)

Russia’s Yulia Efimova won her third 200 breast World title on Friday night at the 2019 FINA World Swimming Championships in Gwangju, South Korea. Efimova swam a 2:20.17, not far off her 2:19.41 best time. Efimova won titles in 2013 and 2017 as Hungary’s Agnes Kovacs and Australia’s Leisel Jones each have two titles.

Efimova was quicker to win the World title in Budapest two years ago, winning that race at 2:19.64.

This race was expected to be a duel between Efimova and 100 breast champion Lilly King, but the latter was disqualified in the heats for a non-simultaneous turn. King was initially the second seed out of the preliminaries but lost her chance to win her first medal in the 200 breast on the world level. USA Swimming lodged a formal protest for the disqualification but the DQ was solidified by a jury of appeal.

King was a popular gold medal selection in the 200 breast as she was looking to become the first man or woman to win the 50, 100 and 200 of any stroke at the same World Championships. She already won the 100 breast on Tuesday night in Korea for her second World title in the event. She was fourth in Budapest two years ago in the 200 breast and has the third fastest time in the world this year.

Alas, Efimova took care of a King-less final and won her third gold medal in the 200 breaststroke. Efimova now stands alone with the most gold medals in this event. This will only add fuel to the fire next year in Tokyo if Efimova and King can meet again in the 200 breaststroke, facing stout competition in their home countries. Coming into the meet, the top two times in the world belonged to USA’s Annie Lazor (2:20.77) and Russia’s Evgeniia Chikunova (2:21.07) and neither of them were here.

King’s disqualification in the heats, leaving Efimova to swim in the final without her chief rival, was eerily similar to 2007 when Brendan Hansen pulled out of prelims in the 200 breast and left Kosuke Kitajima to win the Worlds final without his biggest rival.

South Africa has never won a medal at the World Championships in a women’s event but that changed Friday night with Tatjana Schoenmaker coming through with a 2:22.52 for the silver medal. Schoenmaker was quicker in the semifinals as her 2:21.79 in the semifinals will stand as the African record.

Canada hasn’t won a medal in this event since Martha McCabe won bronze in 2011 and that also changed tonight with Sydney Pickrem winning the bronze at 2:22.90.

China’s Ye Shiwen and Great Britain’s Molly Renshaw were within striking distance of the medals, but ultimately fell short. Ye was fourth at 2:23.15 while Renshaw was fifth at 2:23.78.

Canada’s Kelsey Wog (2:25.14), Belgium’s Fanny Lecluyse (2:25.23) and South Africa’s Kaylene Corbett (2:26.62) also swam in the final.

1 EFIMOVA Yuliya Russian Federation RUS 2:20.17
2 SCHOENMAKER Tatjana South Africa RSA 2:22.52
3 PICKREM Sydney Canada CAN 2:22.90
4 YE Shiwen People's Republic of China CHN 2:23.15
5 RENSHAW Molly Great Britain GBR 2:23.78
6 WOG Kelsey Canada CAN 2:25.14
7 LECLUYSE Fanny Belgium BEL 2:25.23
8 CORBETT Kaylene South Africa RSA 2:26.62

200 Breast Top 10 Performers:

  1. 2:19.11, Rikke Pedersen, DEN (2013)
  2. 2:19.41, Yulia Efimova, RUS (2013)
  3. 2:19.59, Rebecca Soni, USA (2012)
  4. 2:19.64, Viktoria Gunes, TUR (2015)
  5. 2:19.65, Rie Kaneto, JPN (2016)
  6. 2:20.12, Annamay Pierse, CAN (2009)
  7. 2:20.54, Leisel Jones, AUS (2006)
  8. 2:20.72, Satomi Suzuki, JPN (2012)
  9. 2:20.77, Annie Lazor, USA (2019)
  10. 2:20.90, Kanako Watanabe, JPN (2015)

200 Breast Top 10 Performances:

  1. 2:19.11, Rikke Pedersen, DEN (2013)
  2. 2:19.41, Yulia Efimova, RUS (2013)
  3. 2:19.59, Rebecca Soni, USA (2012)
  4. 2:19.61, Rikke Pedersen, DEN (2014)
  5. 2:19.64, Yulia Efimova, RUS (2017)
  6. 2:19.64, Viktoria Gunes, TUR (2015)
  7. 2:19.65, Rie Kaneto, JPN (2016)
  8. 2:19.67, Rikke Pedersen, DEN (2014)
  9. 2:19.83, Yulia Efimova, RUS (2017)
  10. 2:19.84, Rikke Pedersen, DEN (2014)

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