On the third day of the World Championships in Doha, Li Bingjie led the women’s 200m freestyle preliminary heats. None of the medallists from the 2023 worlds are competing at the Aspire Dome, as Mollie O’Callaghan, Ariarne Titmus, and Summer McIntosh have their sights set on bigger things in Paris in July.
Li was joined by Erika Fairweather in the third heat, with Fairweather being the first New Zealander to win a world championship when she took gold in the 400m freestyle on opening night. Fairweather led by a second at the final turn, but Li passed her to take victory in 1:57.16 to 1:57.40. Olympic silver medalist Siobhan Haughey finished just outside world record pace in fifth place, going through the first 100m in 56.07 seconds. The Hong Kong swimmer slowed down in the second half of the race, allowing Nikolett Padar of Hungary to pass her on the final 50 meters and touch in 1:57.42 to Li’s 1:57.62.
Four women swam under two minutes and one-half second, with Janna van Kooten claiming the last spot into the semifinals with a time of 1:59.41. Britain’s Lucy Hope missed out on qualifying for the semifinals by just over two hundredths of a second. Li has never won a medal in this event on a global stage and finished behind Haughey at last year’s Asian Games held September 23rd- October 3rd .