2017 FINA World Championships
With Olympic champion Kyle Chalmers out of the 2017 FINA World Championships, Australia’s Cameron McEvoy will step up to try and keep the Aussies on top of the podium in the event. Last season, McEvoy clocked the fastest textile 100 free ever when he went 47.04 at the Australian Olympic Trials, coming up just .13 shy of the World Record. When Rio rolled around, McEvoy wasn’t at his best, as he placed 7th in the final with a 48.12. This season, he’s been as fast as 47.91 so far, but probably hasn’t shown all of his cards yet. If he can replicate that incredible 47.04, he would be head and shoulders above the field, but he has yet to dip back into the 47-mid to 47-low range.
One of the major threats to take gold ahead of McEvoy is Great Britain’s Duncan Scott, who put up a lifetime best 47.90 at British Nationals. Scott placed 5th in the 2016 Olympic final and became the first British man to break 48 seconds with his performance at Nationals. Heading into Worlds, he’s the fastest man of 2017 by a hundredth over McEvoy.
Olympic silver medalist Pieter Timmers returns after making the final in this race at 2015 Worlds. Last summer, Belgium’s Timmers had a huge swim in Rio, putting up a lifetime best 47.80 to make the podium. He’s been in the 48-high range this year with a season best of 48.72, so it’s possible that he’s saving up for a big performance at Worlds. He has been doing very well in the other freestyle events this season, however, as he put up personal bests in the 50 free and 200 free at the Belgium Open.
Team USA’s Nathan Adrian, the 2012 Olympic champ and 2016 Olympic bronze medalist in this race, has been very consistent with his sub-48 performances at major international meets, but had trouble with a shoulder injury in 2015 and wound up tying for 7th in the final with Timmers. This could be a redeeming performance for Adrian, who could return to the top of the podium if he improves slightly on his season best 47.96. Of course, he’ll have to get by teammate Caeleb Dressel, who looks very good after his performances at U.S. Nationals. Dressel was just hundredths shy of his best with his 47.97 at Nationals
Brazil will field Olympic finalist Marcelo Chierighini (48.46) and up-and-coming sprinter Gabriel Santos (48.11) in this event, giving them 2 potential finalists. Santos is a medal contender with his season best, especially if he can dip into the 47-high range. Likewise, Japan’s Katsumi Nakamura (48.26) and Shinri Shioura (48.66) could give the Japanese 2 finalists, but Nakamura has a shot at a medal if he can match his best. He became the first Japanese man to swim below 48 seconds with his 47.99 relay leadoff at the Rio Olympics.
There are a handful of men competing who have been below 48 already in their careers and could land on the podium if they’re able to replicate their bests. Italy’s Luca Dotto (48.66) and Russia’s Vlad Morozov (48.28). Dotto became the first Italian man to swim sub-48 with his lifetime best 47.96 last season. Morozov has been as fast as a 47.62 from 2013 WUGs and would be in contention for gold if he could get back down to a 47-mid, but he hasn’t been sub-48 since his 47.98 in 2015. France’s Mehdy Metella (48.23) has yet to break the 48-barrier, but almost fits into this category because he’s come so close with his 48.08 leadoff split in Rio.
Singapore’s Joseph Schooling ripped a new National Record with his 48.27 in prelims at the Rio Olympics. He fell off the mark in semis, placing 8th in his heat with a 48.70. He’s been nearly as fast as his time in the Olympic final already this season with a 48.74 at Austin Sectionals. If he nails his strategy and gets back to the 48-low range, he could be a finalist. He showed some big improvements in his speed during the yards season, improving his relay split by nearly a full second at NCAAs (from a 41.9 in 2016 to a 41.0 in 2017) and taking nearly a second off his individual swim with a 42.24 at the Big 12 meet. If he can translate his speed improvements into the long course pool, he could land on the podium.
Argentina’s Federico Grabich, the 2015 Worlds silver medalist, is also worth noting here. In Kazan, he posted a National Record-setting 48.12 to land on the podium, but hasn’t been close to that time since. His current season best is a 49.43 from the Arena Pro Swim in Indianapolis, but he did swim below 49 last summer with his 48.78 in Rio.
When making these predictions, the heavy schedules of some of the favorites versus the lighter schedules of others should be taken into account since this race comes on day 4. Many of the top contenders will be competing in the 400 free relay on day 1, but some have additional events lined up. For example, McEvoy and Adrian will be pretty fresh for this race as they’ll only swim the 400 free relay on day 1 before it, but Scott and Timmers will have 200 free on day 2 and a possible final on day 3. Dressel and Schooling will compete on day 1 and day 2 (granted they make the final) in the 50 fly, but will have a full day of rest before the 100 free starts.
TOP 8 PREDICTIONS:
|Place||Swimmer||Country||Season Best||Predicted Time|
DARKHORSE: Trinidad & Tobago’s Dylan Carter was very successful in the yards portion of 2016-17, citing harder work and a better focus. In March, he put up a blistering 41.73 at NCAAs. All-in-all, he took almost a second off his former best time throughout the season. Like Schooling, he’ll need to translate his speed improvements to the long course pool to grab a finals spot. His current best time in meters is a 48.80 from the Rio Olympics.