Host City: Athina, Greece
Venue(s): Olympic Aquatic Centre, Athens Olympic Sports Complex Spiros Loues, Athina
Date Started: August 16, 2004
Date Finished: August 17, 2004
The 200 metres freestyle was a difficult event to predict. The turnover between the 2003 World Championships final and the 2004 Olympic final was such that only two swimmers competed in both and all three of the 2003 medallists were eliminated at the semi-final stage in Athens. Italian [Federica Pellegrini], at only 16-years-old, burst into contention for the title when she easily won the first semi-final with [Solenne FiguÃ¨s] of France winning the second semi in a much slower time. As the early leaders dropped away in the final Pellegrini and FiguÃ¨s battled away for the lead in the middle lanes and what seemed to be an Olympic title for one of them. What nobody could anticipate was the finishing kick of European champion [Camelia Potec] of Romania from out in the wastelands of lane one. Potec had crept into the final as the second slowest qualifier but, in a race that never threatened to produce a genuinely fast time; she took the lead in the last ten metres to record a victory that seemed impossible when the race started.