World Championships, Day One Prelims (Women): Kate Douglass Opens 200 IM Title Chase in Impressive Fashion
One of the most unique editions of the World Championships got underway on Sunday in Doha. Four women’s events were contested – the 200 individual medley, 100 butterfly, 400 freestyle and 400 freestyle relay. The World Champs debuted in 1973, and this version is the first to be held in an Olympic year. Here is a breakdown of what unfolded during the opening session of the women’s prelims.
200 Individual Medley
The heavy favorite to claim gold, American Kate Douglass cruised to the top time of prelims in the 200 medley. The reigning world champ from last summer in Fukuoka, Douglass delivered an opening swim of 2:10.01 to grab the top seed for the semifinals by nearly a second over Canadian star Sydney Pickrem (2:10.97). Douglass is expected to challenge for gold in several events in Doha and her debut in the Middle East did nothing to change that scenario.
Dutchwoman Marrit Steenbergen checked in with the third-fastest time of the morning, going 2:11.45 to place just ahead of China’s Yu Yiting (2:11.57). Yu was the bronze medalist in the event last summer while Steenbergen finished seventh.
Germany’s Angelina Kohler made a statement with her first swim of the meet, as she established a national record of 56.41 in the prelims of the 100 fly. Kohler was the only sub-57 performer of the session and her effort bettered the 57.05 she produced twice at last summer’s World Championships in Fukuoka. At that meet, Kohler was fifth in the event.
Louise Hansson of Sweden managed the second-fastest time of the morning, going 57.45, and was followed by South Africa’s Erin Gallagher, who touched in 57.59. Australian Brianna Throssell (57.78) and American Claire Curzan (57.94) accounted for the other sub-58 marks of prelims.
China’s Li Bingjie and New Zealand’s Erika Fairweather appear poised for a gold-silver battle in the 400 freestyle. Li and Fairweather didn’t have to expend much energy during their prelim swims, and it was the Chinese swimmer who emerged with the quickest time of prelims at 4:04.65. Fairweather, who was the bronze medalist at the 2023 World Champs, touched the wall in 4:04.70 and will look to replicate her sub-4:00 form during the final.
Lurking in third headed into the final is Germany’s Isabel Gose, who went 4:05.48 and was seventh at last summer’s Worlds.
400 Freestyle Relay
It was a tame final women’s event in Doha, with Australia securing the top seed for the final of the 400 freestyle relay. Alexandra Perkins, Jaclyn Barclay, Abbey Harkin and Shayna Jack handled the work for Australia, and Jack provided a 52.83 showing on the anchor leg.
The United States, which has sent a small roster to Doha, did not field a squad for the event.