2017 Worlds Preview: Potentially the Fastest M50 Fly Final Since 2009


  • 2015 World Champion: Florent Manaudou (FRA), 22.97
  • World Record: Rafael Munoz Perez (ESP), 22.43 | 04/05/2009

Three men have broken 23 seconds this year in the 50 fly. Two are Brazilian– world leader Nicholas Santos (22.61) and #3 Henrique Martins (22.98). Sandwiched in between is GBR’s Benjamin Proud at 22.80. With the kind of talent outside of these three names, there will probably be several other men charging past the 23-second threshold, potentially making this a much faster final than the last World Championships.

In fact, 2015 was the first year since 2009 that someone in the 50 fly final broke 23 seconds, as Florent Manaudou of France just got under at 22.97. We’ve already seen three men go 22’s this season, however, with Santos getting all the way down to 22.6. There’s more to come, though, with the stacked field in this event.

Joseph Schooling returns after winning Olympic gold in the 100 fly last summer in Rio, beating three of the most iconic butterfliers from this century. Schooling tore out to a big lead at the first 50, hitting the turn at 23.64 and holding on strong for the finish. He showed a lot of speed at NCAAs this spring with 18.3 free and 19.4 fly relay splits and a 3rd place finish in the individual 50 free. What was once Schooling-Conger is now Schooling-Dressel, as Caeleb Dressel has become America’s answer to Schooling in lieu of Phelps’s retirement. Schooling has taken the sprint butterfly throne, but his Bolles club teammate from back in the day was also made for sprinting, and he’s never looked this good. Dressel, of course, beat Schooling in the 100 fly at NCAAs and threw down a huge PB to win U.S. Trials, and as good as he is in the 100, he’s just as good (if not better) across 50 meters.

Dressel (23.05) and Schooling (23.25) do not come in with the most impressive seed times, but 1) Dressel is new to this event on the international stage (and has not raced many 50 meter butterflies in his life compared to his other events) and 2) Schooling’s time is from 2015 before he became Olympic champion. To count either of them out would be silly, as they should be vying for podium finishes. More importantly, and thinking about the long run, these are two young, big-name swimmers with amazing sprint capabilities. Their clashes this summer will be the start of a fantastic rivalry that could dominate the sport in the future much like Lochte-Phelps most recently did (though we’re not there, yet).

Of course, the young guns have to get past a lot of experienced sprinters. Five men return from the 2015 final. Other than Santos, the silver medalist in Kazan, Andrii Govorov (Ukraine), Laszlo Cseh (Hungary), Konrad Czerniak (Poland) and Proud were all in that final. Of those four, Cseh is the least well-known for his sprinting, yet he beat all of them besides Santos and scored the bronze in Kazan. They’ve all been around for awhile, save for Proud, who is GBR’s best pure 50 sprinter right now. Proud erupted for lifetime bests 21.32 (free) and 22.80 (fly) this spring, and he has that rising star momentum much like Dressel and Schooling.

With all of these swimmers either right under 23 or pushing for that drop, it’s going to be about who has that lucky touch for a lot of these spots in the final. A 50 meter race is about having everything go right– there isn’t nearly enough time to make adjustments or “put on the jets” at the finish with a race this quick (I suppose a certain 2016 Olympic 50 free champion or 100 breast champion might argue with the ‘finishing the race’ part), and considering the wealth of swimmers capable of 23-lows, it’ll be very tough to push ahead to make top 8.

1 Joseph Schooling Singapore N/A 22.7
2 Ben Proud GBR 22.80 22.7
3 Caeleb Dressel USA 23.05 22.8
4 Nicholas Santos Brazil 22.61 22.8
5 Andrii Govorov Ukraine 23.01 23.0
6 Henrique Martins Brazil 22.98 23.1
7 Laszlo Cseh Hungary 23.75 23.2
8 Konrad Czerniak Poland 23.56 23.3

Dark horse: Li Zhuhao of China. He’s only 18, and the WJR holder in the 100 and 200 fly. Whether or not his front-end speed will be there in Budapest is unclear, but he’s been 23.36 which ranks him 9th in the world this year.

In This Story

Leave a Reply

Notify of

oldest most voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
5 years ago

Quite surprised they predict Schooling as no 1

Reply to  Jay
5 years ago

That’s just ridiculous, Govorov was like a tank crushed through the field in sub 22 and Dressel followed behind, i don’t see Schooling with a win at 22.7 in the finals

Reply to  Ron
5 years ago

*sub 23 sorry

Reply to  Ron
5 years ago

Schooling 23.05s in heats. Better than expected. Looks like he has a chance to go sub 23 in semis.

5 years ago

I believe Schooling’s best time since Rio is a 23.51 done at the Texas Senior Circuit at the beginning of last month

Captain Awesome
5 years ago

Ben Proud broke 23 at the 2014 commonwealth games, which may have been the first time after 2009, I’m not sure. Unless you meant breaking 23 at a WC.

IMs for days
Reply to  Captain Awesome
5 years ago

Cielo and Santos did it in 2012, and many did it in the semis of 2013 worlds.

Reply to  IMs for days
5 years ago

People who broke 23 (Can´t find 2010 results)
Cielo broke on 2011 with a 22,98 on EDF Swimming Open
2012 – Cielo and Santos
2013 – Santos, Cielo, Tsurkin, Bousquet, Govorov
2014 – Govorov, Cielo, Proud
2015 – Manadou, Santos
2016 – Govorov
2016 – Santos, Martins, Proud

Sub 23 best Textile (8 Swimmers until now): Santos 22,61, Govorov 22,67, Martins 22,70, Cielo, 22,76, Proud, 22,80, Manadou, 22,84, Tsurkin, 22,90, Bousquet 22,93

Reply to  Rafael
5 years ago

All 50 free guys.

Reply to  ellie
5 years ago

Not Martins and Tsurkin. Both even went 51 mid fly.

Also Manadou, Cielo and Bousquet had some pretty good 100 free flat or splits already..

Team USA
5 years ago

Nicolas Santos – 22.42 WR

5 years ago

I would like to see Dos Santos win with a WR.It would be good for our sport to have a 37 years-old beating a shiny suit mark.It would help to take away a lot of prejudice against 30 years-old swimmers.Would be like an Ervin2, the Fly Mission(or Missile?).

Sir Swimsalot
5 years ago

I’m not so sure Dressel can go much faster. He has a very, very loaded schedule, but who knows? Best of luck to him.

crooked donald
5 years ago

I think SwimSwam is making these Schooling predictions as click-bait to drive comments.

Ex Quaker
Reply to  crooked donald
5 years ago

Dude did win the 100 fly by almost 3/4 of a second at the Olympics. I don’t see why it’s controversial to pick him for this event.

Reply to  Ex Quaker
5 years ago

Because 50 fly is more like a 50 free than a 50 fly? And that the 2 fastest ever (Govorov and Santos) will add time?

Gold: Santos (Maybe with WR to probably retire after)
Silver:: Govorov
Bronze: Open between Proud, Martins, Dressel.

Ex Quaker
Reply to  Rafael
5 years ago

He swims 50.3 in the 100 fly and splits 18 lows on free relays at NCAAs. That suggests to me that he has a level of sprint fly talent that would merit a first place prediction.

Ex Quaker
5 years ago

Govorov at 5th would surprise me. I say he wins.

About Karl Ortegon

Karl Ortegon

Karl Ortegon studied sociology at Wesleyan University in Middletown, CT, graduating in May of 2018. He began swimming on a club team in first grade and swam four years for Wesleyan.

Read More »