Host City: Beijing, China
Venue(s): Beijing National Aquatics Centre, Beijing Olympic Green, Beijing
Date Started: August 11, 2008
Date Finished: August 13, 2008
The world champion [Laure Manaudou] of France elected to miss this event to concentrate on her races in Beijing so the mantle of favouritism was shared between the American [Katie Hoff] and [Federica Pellegrini] of Italy. Both women had already suffered disappointment in the 400 freestyle as Hoff had been touched out for gold in the final stages of the race and Pellegrini had not produced a swim to match her qualifying performances. Pellegrini's heat swim was a statement of intent and she shaved a tenth off Manadou's world record in the process. The main challenge to Pellegrini came not from Hoff but from Slovenia's [Sara IsakoviÄ] who, earlier in 2008, had won the European title in the absence of the Italian. Pellegrini avoided the tactical mistakes of her 400 freestyle swim and took the lead over the second 50 and, swimming well under world record pace, pulled away from field. She touched the wall in 1:54.82 which was over half a second under her own world record but only just ahead of IsakoviÄ and [Pang Jiaying] of China both of whom were also well below the previous best time. Pellegrini maintained her place as one of the greatest of freestyle swimmers by repeating the 200/400 double at both the 2009 and 2011 World Championships. IsakoviÄ's medal was the first by a Slovenian in swimming.