Haughey breaks women’s 200m freestyle world record in Abu Dhabi

Hong Kong swimmer creates history at Fina World Championships at the Etihad Arena

Siobhan Haughey of Hong Kong was the star performer on the opening day of the 15th Fina World Swimming Championships (25m) Abu Dhabi 2021 at the Etihad Arena on Yas Island on Thursday.

Having become the first Hong Kong swimmer to win an Olympic medal and the first Hong Kong athlete to win two Olympic medals in any sport, she reached another milestone by setting a new world record en route to winning the women’s 200m gold in Abu Dhabi.

Haughey, 24, led and then was on her own midway through the race to win in a time of 1 minute 50.31 seconds, ahead of Canadian Rebecca Smith (1:52:24) and American Paige Madden (1:53:01).

“I tried not to think too much [of the record] but focus on my race strategy and what I have to do, and that definitely helped,” Haughey said at the post-race conference.

“Right after the medal ceremony I did an interview and the guy said ‘it’s easy being No1 but it’s hard staying there’ and I told him ‘yes, that’s the hard part’. I don’t know what’s next yet but I want to get better.

“I’ll definitely see what I can improve on and keep getting faster. It’s been a long year, but hopefully this may be the beginning of a great career.

The world record?

“I don’t think at this moment I truly understand what that means yet. Maybe, after I sleep and wake up tomorrow morning I’ll think. That was crazy but I don’t know what that means right now. But definitely it’s something special.”

Haughey took 12 hundredths off Swede Sarah Sjostrom world record time of 1:50.43 at the World Cup in Eindhoven on August 2017.

She won silver medals in the 100m and 200m freestyle at the Tokyo Olympics in the summer, but this is her first gold medal at a global event and the first-ever world title in swimming for Hong Kong.

After the race, Haughey was awarded a $50,000-bonus from Fina for breaking the world record.

Felix Auboeck was the first to strike gold at the championships. The Austrian was took the men’s 400m freestyle in a time of 3:35:90 from Lithuanian Danas Rapsys (3:36:23) and Antonio Djakovik (3:36:83) of Switzerland.

Alberto Razzetti of Italy bagged the men’s 200m butterfly final, beating Noe Ponti of Switzerland and South African Chad Le Clos. Canadian Tessa Cieplucha took the women’s 400m medley from Ellen Walshe of Ireland and American Melanie Margalis.

Daiya Seta gave Japan gold by winning the men’s 200m medley, finishing ahead of American Carson Foster and Razzetti, his second podium finish on the night.

The women’s 4X100m freestyle relay was won by the United States from Canada and Sweden. The men’s 4X100m freestyle relay gold went to the Russian Swimming Federation and joining them on the podium were Italy (silver) and the USA (bronze).

Updated: December 16th 2021, 5:56 PM