2017 Worlds Previews: Dogfight for Podium Spots in M. 200 Free

You can find links to all of our event-by-event previews and a compilation of our predicted medal-winners here.

2017 FINA World Championships

Sun Yang (Photo: Satiro Sodré)

As we head into the 2017 FINA World Championships in Budapest, China’s Sun Yang looks like the man to beat in the men’s 200 free. Yang, who won gold in this race at the 2016 Olympics, is the only man to have broken 1:45 so far this year with his 1:44.91 at the Chinese National Championships. He was also the only man to break that barrier in Rio last summer when he went his fastest time since 2013 with a 1:44.63 in the semis and nearly matched it with a 1:44.65 in the final.

This time around, however, we could see multiple men dip below 1:45. One of the first swimmers to come to mind is South Africa’s Chad Le Clos, who took silver in Rio. With his fly-and-die strategy, Le Clos has used his killer front half speed to produce a best time of 1:45.20, and he’s been getting better and better since he placed 6th in this race at 2015 Worlds. If he’s nailed his strategy or built up more endurance for that back half, he could be up there challenging Sun for gold, but he may still be toying with his race plan.

Another Olympic medalist will be in the mix, as Korea’s Park Tae-Hwan, returns to Worlds after missing the meet in 2015 due to the 18-month ban FINA imposed on him for a positive doping test. In November, he threw down a 1:45.16 at the Asian Games, marking his fastest performance since 2012. Park had a disappointing performance at the Rio Olympics, which came shortly after his suspension ended. Now that he’s fully back into the swing of things, another medal could be in the cards for him.

James Guy (Photo: Tim Binning)

Up-and-comer Townley Haas (USA) and defending World Champion James Guy (GBR) are also among the medal favorites here. Haas is the 2nd fastest performer in the world this year after throwing down a personal best 1:45.03 for a dominant victory at U.S. Nationals. Guy, who won the event in a personal best 1:45.14 in 2015, has already been 1:45.55 this season. Guy’s teammate Duncan Scott has been on fire this season, and his personal best 1:45.80 from British Nationals makes him a likely finalist.

It could take anywhere from a 1:45-high to a 1:46-low to squeeze into the final. Japan’s Kosuke Hagino would be a medal threat if he could match his personal best 1:45.23 from 2014, but he hasn’t been close to that this season and isn’t entered in the event at Worlds. Team USA’s Blake Pieroni (1:46.30) and Italy’s Gabriele Detti (1:46.38) have nearly identical season bests, while Australia’s distance star Mack Horton isn’t far behind in 1:46.83. Russia’s Alexander Krasnykh (1:47.12) returns after making the final of this race at 2015 Worlds and in Rio, but like Hagino, he’ll need to get much closer to his personal best 1:45.69 to final.

The mystery player in this is former European champion Velimir Stjepanovic. He’s hardly raced since Rio, and hasn’t been under 1:48.25 in this 200 free. Unless he’s been saving up for the meet, he’s unlikely to be a factor in the final.


Place Swimmer Country Season Best Predicted Time
1 Sun Yang CHN 1:44.91 1:44.5
2 James Guy GBR 1:45.55 1:44.8
3 Townley Haas USA 1:45.03 1:44.8
4 Park Tae-Hwan KOR 1:45.1 1:45.3
5 Chad Le Clos RSA 1:46.84 1:45.3
6 Duncan Scott GBR 1:45.80 1:45.8
7 Blake Pieroni USA 1:46.30 1:46.2
8 Aleksandr Krasnykh RUS 1:47.36 1:46.5

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Scott will probably be faster and I hope Sun doesn’t win. Rooting for Townley and Guy.




I think Townley Haas what it takes, but Yang may get his moment in the Sun once again. A 1:44 would put them in the ball Park Tae-Hwan. As for the winner, James also wants to be that Guy, but Chad could make the race Le Clos.


Nice one lol


This has to be one of the most creative comments!!

Lane Four

You rock, 75! You are a rock star after this one!


hand him a medal for sheer creativity . He deserves it

Years of Plain Suck

Blake will win showing you that he has no Pier. [


When I grow up I want to be like you

Lane Four

Is this a SwimSwam record for ALL green thumbs up with no red thumbs down? It has to be.


Wish you didn’t ask this question. I think some moron who doesn’t appreciate creativity or simply doesn’t speak English just down voted him! I was hoping a 200:0




I think Haas can win this
1. Haas
2. Sun
3. Guy

About Lauren Neidigh

Lauren Neidigh

Lauren Neidigh is a former NCAA swimmer at the University of Arizona (2013-2015) and the University of Florida (2011-2013). While her college swimming career left a bit to be desired, her Snapchat chin selfies and hot takes on Twitter do not disappoint. She's also a high school graduate of The …

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