On the third day of the World Championships in Doha, Li Bingjie led the way in the 200 free prelims. However, none of the medallists from the 2023 worlds were present at the Aspire Dome as Mollie O’Callaghan, Ariarne Titmus, and Summer McIntosh were focused on bigger things in Paris in July.
Li was joined by Erika Fairweather in the prelims, with Fairweather being the first New Zealander to win a world championship when she took gold in the 400 free ahead of Li on opening night. In tonight’s race, Fairweather led by a second at the final turn before Li passed her to claim victory in 1:57.16 to Fairweather’s 1:57.40.
Olympic silver medallist Siobhan Haughey was only just outside world record pace in fifth place with a time of 56.07 seconds. She put on brakes towards the end of the race with Nikolett Padar of Hungary passing her on the last 50 meters to touch in 1:57.42 to Haughey’s 1:57.62.
Four women swam under two minutes and Janna van Kooten – a member of Netherlands winning team at Asian Games – claimed the final spot into semis with a time of 1:59.41 while Lucy Hope missed out despite swimming well below world record pace. This is Li’s first time competing at this level and she will be looking forward to improving her performance as she progresses through rounds leading up to finals.