Mollie O’Callaghan breaks oldest women’s swimming world record
Australian Mollie O’Callaghan broke the longest-standing women’s world record in an Olympic program swimming event, taking the 200m freestyle at the world championships.
O’Callaghan overtook training partner and Olympic champion Ariarne Titmus to win in 1 minute, 52.85 seconds, in Fukuoka, Japan, on Wednesday. O’Callaghan shaved 13 hundredths off Italian Federica Pellegrini’s world record from the 2009 World Championships.
“I didn’t know how I was going to race,” O’Callaghan, who reportedly dislocated a knee five weeks before worlds and is still recovering, said on Australia’s Nine Network. “The lead up to this has been so up and down like a roller coaster, just with injury and then coming off trials and all that.”
That leaves one women’s world record in an Olympic program event still standing from the 2008-09 era of polyurethane, full-body swimsuits that were banned in 2010: China’s Liu Zige’s mark from the 200m butterfly, which no woman has come within two seconds of since she set it.
At last year’s worlds, O’Callaghan won the 100m free and took silver in the 200m free at age 18. She became the youngest Australian to win an individual world title in an Olympic program event since Ian Thorpe and Grant Hackett in 1998, according to Bill Mallon of Olympedia.org.
She swam on relays at the Tokyo Olympics as the youngest Australian across all sports, according to Olympedia.
Also Wednesday, Frenchman Leon Marchand won the 200m butterfly to become the third-fastest man in history in the event behind Hungary’s Kristof Milak (missing worlds for health reasons) and Michael Phelps.
Marchand broke Phelps’ last individual world record to win the 400m IM on Sunday. He was the top qualifier into Thursday’s final in the 200m IM, where he’s defending champion.
Thomas Heilman, at 16 the youngest U.S. male swimmer at worlds since Phelps in 2001, tied for fourth in the 200m fly and became the fourth-fastest American in history. Phelps did not swim as fast as Heilman did Wednesday until he was 21 years old.
Bobby Finke became the most decorated U.S. male distance swimmer in world championships history with his third medal, a bronze in the 800m free.
Finke, 23, broke his American record, finishing 1.67 seconds behind gold medalist Ahmed Hafnaoui of Tunisia, the Olympic 400m free champion.
China’s Qin Haiyang added gold in the 50m breaststroke (not an Olympic event) to his 100m breast title. Qin beat the oldest U.S. swimmer at worlds, 30-year-old Nic Fink, by three tenths.
Qin later helped China to win the mixed-gender 4x100m medley relay, an event that debuted at the Olympics in Tokyo.
Swimming worlds finals continue Thursday at 7 a.m. ET, live on Peacock. American Regan Smith qualified for both the 200m fly and 50m backstroke finals.
Correction: An earlier version of this post incorrectly stated that Heilman became the second-fastest American in history in the 200m fly.