Barring an exception, two-time reigning world champion Yulia Efimova will not be swimming the 200m breaststroke in Tokyo.
A staple in the international breaststroke field, Efimova has raced both the 100m and 200m breaststrokes at every Olympics and world championships since 2008. She has earned a medal in nine of the 10 races she’s swum, dating to the 2013 World Championships.
While Efimova qualified in the 100m breaststroke earlier in the meet, her 2:24.16 in the final of the 200m on Thursday was 1.4 seconds behind second-place finisher Mariya Temnikova (2:22.76) and 2.53 seconds behind winner Yevgeniya Chikunova (2:21.63) at Russia’s trials.
Nations are limited to no more than two swimmers in an individual event at the Olympics. Typically, the top two finishers at an Olympic Trials make the cut.
This performance echoes that of 2019, where Efimova was also third in the event at Russian Nationals behind Chikunova and Temnikova. Chikunova, who was 14 at the time, opted to go to junior worlds instead and Efimova replaced her on the world championships roster.
At senior worlds, Efimova won gold in a time of 2:20.17. This time, however, it’s unlikely Chikunova won’t attend the Olympics, meaning that Efimova will likely miss out on the event.
In March, Efimova told Russian Media that Tokyo will likely be her last Olympics.