100m Freestyle World Championship Preview: Can Campbell Be Dethroned?


  • Day 6, Friday, August 7th
  • 2013 World Champion: Cate Campbell, AUS – 52.34 (SEE RACE VIDEO ABOVE)
  • 2013 Silver Medalist: Sarah Sjostrom, SWE – 52.89
  • 2013 Bronze Medalist: Ranomi Kromowidjojo, NED – 53.42

The women’s 100 freestyle consistently got faster from 2005 through to the 2009 championships, from a 54.18 winning time in 2005, 53.40 in 2007, and 52.07 in 2009. After going back up to a 53.45 winning time in 2011, the event has gotten back into the 52’s, with a 52.34 winning in 2013.

James Sutherland Women's 100 free world championship preview

Last year there were three swimmers who went sub-53, led by Cate Campbell at 52.62, and two this year with Bronte Campbell and Femke Heemskerk tied at 52.69. Based on the fast performances the last few years, we should see some more 52 second swims this summer.

Take a look at the top times from around the world this season:

2014-2015 LCM Women 100 Free

View Top 26»

Cate Campbell has really established herself the last few years, having or sharing the top time in the world in this event the last three years, including a world title in 2013, and gold at both the Pan Pacific Championships and Commonwealth Games. She leads an amazing group of female Australian sprinters, who among them hold 5 of the top 8 times in the world this year. She will be the one to beat, and will look to improve her 52.34 from the last world championships.

Femke Heemskerk has really come on the last few years, with a 5th place at the 2013 World Championships, the 4th ranked time in the world last year and a share of the top time in the world this year at 52.69. She also became the short course world champion in December in the 100, and swam well at the Arena Pro Series in Santa Clara this past weekend, winning the 100 freestyle with back to back 53 second performances in prelims and finals at the outdoor pool where fast swims are usually hard to come by. She should be very fast in Kazan and will challenge for the gold medal.

Sarah Sjostrom has consistently been near the top of the world rankings the last few years. She won silver in the event at the 2013 championships along with another silver at the short course championships in December. She has been so consistent the last few years that we should expect a very fast performance from her again this year.

Bronte Campbell has become a top performer in the sprint freestyle events recently, including cracking the 53-second barrier last year. If she can do that again she’ll be in contention for a spot on the podium. Ranomi Kromowidjojo ascended to the top of the world in the event when she won gold at the 2012 Olympics. Since then she has been fast but has been replaced at the top by Heemskerk, Sjostrom and the Campbell sisters. She currently sits 7th in the world this year, and will look to regain her place as one of the top 100m freestylers in the world this summer.

Americans Simone Manuel and Missy Franklin both showed great form last summer posting the 5th and 6th fastest times in the world last year. Manuel has looked strong this year, however Franklin has hardly swum any long course meets until this weekend in Santa Clara. She did okay in Santa Clara considering she was tired, but she swam exceptionally at the NCAA championships earlier this year. Now that she is a professional we can expect her to be ready to go for the world championships.

Michelle Coleman is a young Swedish sprinter who has come onto the scene the last few years. She had a 12th place finish at the 2013 championships, and followed that up with a 10th ranked 53.66 last year along with a 5th place at the short course championships. She hasn’t swum much long course this year, but she did post a strong 54.23 at the Australian Nationals this year. Despite not racing as much as some of her competitors this season, she could make a push for a finals berth this summer if she can perform how she did last year.

My darkhorse selection is Pernille Blume of Denmark. Jeanette Ottesen has long been Denmark’s top female sprinter, but Blume has slowly been working her way through the world rankings the last few years. She was 19th at the 2012 Olympics, 12th at the 2013 Worlds, and swam a 11th ranked 53.69 last year. She has been racing a lot this year, with 7 meets already under her belt in 2015, swimming well throughout. Come the peak meet of the year at the world championships, should could continue the improvements she has shown and make a push for a spot in the top 8.

Others to watch for in this event include Siobhan-Marie O’Connor and Francesca Halsall of Great Britain, Arianna Vanderpool-Wallace of the Bahamas, Charlotte Bonnet of France, and Belarusian Aliaksandra Herasimenia.


  1. Cate Campbell, AUS                                52.27
  2. Femke Heemskerk, NED                       52.40
  3. Sarah Sjostrom, SWE                             52.58
  4. Bronte Campbell, AUS                           52.67
  5. Ranomi Kromowidjojo, NED                52.94
  6. Simone Manuel, USA                              53.20
  7. Missy Franklin, USA                                53.36
  8. Michelle Coleman, SWE                         53.47

Darkhorse: Pernille Blume, DEN            53.65


Day 1, Sun August 2nd (Day 9)

  • M 400 Free
  • M 400 Free
  • W 4×100 Free Relay
  • M 4×100 Free Relay

Day 2, Mon August 3rd (Day 10)

  • M 100 Breast
  • W 100 Fly
  • M 50 Fly
  • W 200 IM

Day 3, Tue August 4th (Day 11)

  • M 200 Free
  • W 100 Back
  • W 1500 Free
  • M 100 Back
  • W 100 Breast

Day 4, Wed August 5th (Day 12)

Day 5, Thur August 6th (Day 13)

  • M 200 IM
  • M 100 Free
  • W 200 Fly
  • W 50 Back
  • W 4×200 Free Relay

Day 6, Fri August 7th (Day 14)

Day 7, Sat August 8th (Day 15)

  • W 50 Fly
  • M 50 Free
  • W 200 Back
  • M 100 Fly
  • W 800 Free
  • MIXED 4×100 Free Relay

Day 8, Sun August 9th (Day 16)

  • M 50 Back
  • W 50 Breast
  • M 400 IM
  • W 50 Free
  • M 1500 Free
  • W 400 IM
  • M 4×100 Medley Relay
  • W 4×100 Medley Relay

In This Story

Leave a Reply

Notify of

oldest most voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
8 years ago

Important to note that Cate has been under 53 about 13 times now.

She has done it consistently, and it’s only a matter of time until she drops closer to 52.0.

When she swam her 52.33 she split 25.19 and finished in 27.14. These splits are unlike any other swim she’s done. Since swimming that in her first swim at Barcelona she swam consistently 24 high in her first 50m and naturally never had the finishing speed to reach her best time again.

Watching her race recently it’s quite clear that she’s still playing around with her race strategy. In her past few races she has been focusing on her final 50m and she’s been consistently splitting her final… Read more »

Ex Aqua
Reply to  Luke
8 years ago

Great comment! What’s separating Cate from the world record is her last 20m. As you rightly point out, Cate knows this and she’s working on it. And she’s been in the game for too long, and has been burned too many times by bad luck, to take her competition (Sjostrom, Heemskerk, baby sis) for granted.

I’m wondering if she’ll go for the world record when she’s completely fresh by leading off the 4 x 100 relay and focus on just winning the race in the individual. I’m also curious to see improvement in her details– esp. her start and really her underwaters and breakout– as a result of Verhaeren’s coaching magic. That’s what she needs for the 50.

8 years ago

I think the times will generally be slower than that, these look more like Rio times to me. I think Femke’s 52.69 was a bit of a jackpot time(did she swim another time under 53 yet?) and while I think it’s reasonable to believe she will find a similar time again, I don’t expect her to cut it by another 0.3 secs in contested water. Sarah did 53.0 in Rome recently with a poor finish, so sure, 52.5 sounds reasonable for the championship even if it’s a rather big PB. It then comes down to Cate, who we don’t need to doubt can go sub 52.5. I think it’s her distance to lose, but it doesn’t take much to bring… Read more »

M Palota
8 years ago

Cate Campbell and Sarah Sjöström for the win and the (very) slight edge, I think, to the Swede. I think it’ll be fast and I could see either of them down under 52.5. Heemskerk for the bronze and she’ll be just ahead of Bronte. Could easily see the top 4 or 5 under 53 and maybe even the top 6.

The semis will be very fast, I think. It’ll take a 53.5-ish to get to the last 8.

8 years ago

I think Campbell might lose out this time. Both Heemskerk and Sjöström are capable of delivering and handling the pressure when it counts. Sjöström and Heemskerk will be somewhere between 52.2 – 52.5. If Campbell manages to go faster than that, then she will defend her title.

Two more Aussies and two Americans will battle out the prize money of 4th, 5th and 6th spots.

Kromowidjojo may play havoc with this but she needs more time to fully recover from her not-swimming period.

8 years ago

Manuel will be just under 53 or right around 53

8 years ago

C1 relay legs from commonwealth games (51’59) and pan pacs (51’85?) are arguably sub 52’5 performances.

Reply to  Aigues
8 years ago

The operative word is ARGUABLY; flying start relay legs don’t count as valid times. I would agree with you that C1 appears the “most likely suspect” to go significantly below 52.5.

Reply to  commonwombat
8 years ago

Of course, I don’t remember the RT of Campbell for the 51’59 but I think it was a quite safe relay change… and it would not represent 1 full second anyway. But there are other parameters.

Reply to  Aigues
8 years ago

She split 26.8 for the final 50m of that relay split. Absolutely nuts split. RT was 0.30… She probably would have cracked 52.0 or come close with a regular start. If she can put the race together (easier said than done) then 51 high is her’s

Gina Rhinestone
Reply to  Luke
8 years ago

I am amazed at her 53 in Townsville . I swim there when in town & I can walk about 30 m along the pool. . At 5’7 I have to do a shallow tumble at one end ( ok I don’t even try) . To be going in at her speed & long arms is something else . Cate is getting fearless ,in the zone like Libby was in 07 racing MP for her sub 53 .

8 years ago

Hate to think where James is pulling these projected times from but they are certainly optimistic to say the least. A time below 52.5 from anyone is far from a given as we haven’t seen one since 2013. I can see only 4 likely sub 53s; namely C1, Heemskerk, Sjostrom & C2. Kromowidjojo hasn’t been there since 2013 and hasn’t really threatened to do so. Manuel is still some way off; her PB last year (surfing C1’s bow wave in a relay leg) frankly looked an anomaly against her other performances at that meet and elsewhere. IF she can get back to that time in Kazan, that would frankly be a step forward.

Whilst C1 deserves favouritism due to the… Read more »

Reply to  commonwombat
8 years ago

Not sure what your beef is with Manuel, but I doubt there was much surf given it was a RAINY winter night in Australia. Same scenario indoors, and she probably would have been sub 53.

Reply to  Coach
8 years ago

I am not sure why you’d think CW has “beef” with Manuel. Her 53.25 was an outlier, she wasn’t that side of 53.5 at any other point. She is clearly an extremely talented athlete, but look at the list of 52s swimmers and she just doesn’t have the same pedigree just yet…

Steffen – 23.7 50Free
Campbell – 23.9 50Free
Kromowidjojo – 24.0 50Free
Trickett – 23.9 50Free
Sjostrom – 23.9 50Free
Heemskerk – 24.5 50Free (1.54 200)
B Campbell – 24.1 50Free

Of course, stats are merely stats, but the general rule is that you need a lot more speed than Manuel currently has to go sub 53.

Reply to  Dee
8 years ago

Coach; these were Manuel’s other 100s at the very same meet.
Heats 100:53.75
Final 100: 53.70
Anchor leg 4xMED: 53.45

As far as I’m concerned these times stand as “facts” and support an assertion that the 53.25 was an outlier influenced by the circumstances of that particular swim. If she WAS on that sort of form then her 100final & medley relay anchor should be “in that same ball-park” (ie within 0.25) …… but they weren’t.

We had no reports that she suddenly got ill; which in any case should have seen her “withdrawn” from these events.

She may blitz the world in Kazan, or in Rio …. or in the future but, at this point,… Read more »

8 years ago

C. Campbell – 52.1
Sjostrom – 52.3
Heemskerk – 52.5

I also see Simone going 53.0 or faster.

About James Sutherland

James Sutherland

James swam five years at Laurentian University in Sudbury, Ontario, specializing in the 200 free, back and IM. He finished up his collegiate swimming career in 2018, graduating with a bachelor's degree in economics. In 2019 he completed his graduate degree in sports journalism. Prior to going to Laurentian, James swam …

Read More »