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Miley Holds Off Fast-Finishing Ye: 4:23.14

Dec 12, 2012  - Craig Lord

Women's 400m medley

Hannah Miley (GBR), 4th in 2010, set a world textile record and championship mark with a 4:23.14 to stave off a late challenge and stunning recovery by Ye Shiwen (CHN), the title won 4:23.14 to 4:23.33. The bronze went to Katinka Hosszu (HUN), winner in the 200m butterfly earlier, in 4:25.95. 

More than two seconds down on Miley going into freestyle, Ye clawed her way back into contention but fell just shy of a rival with faster 200m and 400m freestyle times. It was the second successive silver at world s/c titles for Ye, whose pacing is something else, her efforts at London 2012 destined to be the subject of debate for years to come. Compare the splits of Ye at 14 below and at 16. There's been some adjustment, all the more notable in an two-year period in which she improved the best past of 10sec long-course.

Miley, European long- and last month short-course champion and 5th in the Olympic final 7sec down on Ye, said she had "hung on for dear life" as she watched the Chinese teenage fight back: "A lot of top athletes aren't here so for me I see it as an opportunity and any opportunity I see I try and take it. So for me I was aiming for it to be a confidence booster for both myself and my dad and what we are doing this season."  She noted the absence of the likes of world long-course champion Elizabeth Beisel and fellow American Caitlin Leverenz and placed a happy moment in wider context. 

"Not only were we trying to chase placings, but also to do a really good time which I was really happy with. But the main thing is long-course (50m) swimming so I am really happy with what I've done, but for me I am not going to be happy with it until I can prove I can do it long course as well. Hindsight is a great thing and lots of people have cliches and I was genuinely was happy with that swim, but for me I probably wouldn't be the athlete I am standing here today doing those times if the Olympics hadn't have happened."

Miley in the mixed zone

Like Hosszu, Miley was back in again for the 4x200m freestyle and got inside 1:55sec for the fastest split among the Brits. Many may wonder what Ye might one day manage over 200m freestyle given that she was 3sec quicker than Miley on freestyle in the 400IM at London 2013 and 2sec faster than her today.

It was in 2010 that Ye made her international debut. She was 14 and missed gold in the world s/c final by 0.34sec, sharing a 59sec split a touch faster than champion Mireia Belmonte's on freestyle. Just 18 months later, she clocked a 58.6 split long-course to get past and take 3sec off Elizabeth Beisel on freestyle alone for the world record and Olympic crown in London. That marked the first time in swimming history that a woman had swum as fast or faster than her male counterparts in the same race in a global final in pursuit of big podium prizes.

The result:

Istanbul 2012:

  • 1. Miley   1:02.60; 2:09.48; 3:23.26; 4:23.14 CR
  • 2. Ye        1:03.21; 2:10.55; 3:25.30; 4:23.33
  • 3. Hosszu 1:01.66; 2:09.39; 3:26.36; 4:25.95

Dubai 2010:

  • Mireia Belmonte (ESP) 1:01.76; 2:11.00; 3:24.51; 4:24.21
  • Ye Shiwen (CHN)        1:02.01; 2:08.65; 3:25.52; 4:24.55
  • Li Xuanxu (CHN)        1:01.97; 2:09.22; 3:27.20; 4:29.05

History in the making:

World s/c Podiums

  • 2012: 4:23.14; 4:23.33; 4:25.95
  • 2010: 4:24.21; 4:24.55; 4:29.05
  • 2008: 4:26.52; 4:27.27; 4:27.55
  • 2006: 4:34.28; 4:35.54; 4:35.54 (joint silver) 

Most world titles in this event:  3

Yana Klochkova (UKR) 1999, '00, '02

World records

  • WR: 1:00.60; 2:06.01; 3:19.42; 4:21.04 Julia Smit (USA) Manchester 18.12.09
  • TB: 1:02.05; 2:09.32; 3:23.63; 4:23.47 Hannah Miley (GBR) Chartres 25.11.12 

All-time textile rankings top 5:

  • 4:23.14 Miley
  • 4:23.33 Ye 
  • 4:23.91 Hosszu
  • 4:24.21 Belmonte 
  • 4:25.61 Jakabos

From the archive:  

Yana Klochkova’s three world s/c victories said much about the versatility of Ukraine's national aquatic hero: it mattered little what the challenge, which size of pool it was in or how much pressure she felt under, Klochkova performed to the highest of standards - and almost always won. Double Olympic medley champion in both 2000 and 2004, the most successful woman medley swimmer of all-time was rewarded beyond her medals: her run of success over 400m medley earned her what was then the biggest cash prize ever awarded for competition. LEN offered a DM100,000 “Superstar 2000” prize for any European swimmer who won the 1999 European short-course title, the 2000 European long-course title and the Olympic crown in the same event. It also gave a DM100,000 bonus if the superstar prizewinner set a world record to claim the Olympic title. Klochkova ticked all boxes.