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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Vol Fan
5 years ago

Everybody is underestimating Townley

5 years ago

Horton will nudge. He’s a young guy getting more strength post Rio. Has gone sub 50 in 100 so has speed and a last lap. Will final. May surprise..

5 years ago

Scott will defiantly be quicker. He always steps up

5 years ago

How on earth are Yang and Park still allowed to compete.

crooked donald
5 years ago

It would be nice to see Pieroni go 1:45 high. The guy’s been steadily improving.

Reply to  crooked donald
5 years ago

I LIKE HIM TOO …he has huge potential to bring power into the 800 free relay as well .

5 years ago

Is it possible for team usa to bring Jack Conger in 800 free relay if he is capable to pull down 1:45 mid in 200 free like he did last year trial and olympic prelim?

Reply to  Ron
5 years ago

Yes, it’s possible for them to use him on the relay per coach’s discretion. Since Dressel, Smith, and Grothe all made the team individually, only Dwyer is forced to swim on this relay. I could see them giving him a shot, or if Dressel decides not to swim it (though I doubt it)

Reply to  iLikePsych
5 years ago

Dressel has a heavy program, that day he has 50 free and 100 fly prelim and semis…
Besides James Guy and Duncan Scott, who are the legs for 4x200m free relay? And what are their qualifying time? I think only British team has a shot to defeat team usa…

Team USA
5 years ago

Townley Haas: 1:41.99 WR

crooked donald
Reply to  Team USA
5 years ago

In Tokyo?

Team USA
Reply to  crooked donald
5 years ago

Yes. That’s what I meant. Townley Haas gets the WR in Tokyo

5 years ago

Will Sun Yang wear the Pink Suit? Doesn’t wearing pink make you weaker?

Will Townley try to lead the race instead of getting caught in the pack? If Haas is out fast, then he has a chance to win.

Reply to  marklewis
5 years ago

Check out Swim Pink, a great meet held annually at Iowa city: real men wear pink!!!

5 years ago

James Guy as much as I like him will not beat Townley, but that’s just my opinion what is certain however is both would crush me.

Reply to  JUST SAYIN
5 years ago


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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