2017 FINA World Championships
Former club teammates turned NCAA rivals Joseph Schooling and Caeleb Dressel will have their rematch in the 100 fly, though this time it’ll go down in the long course pool at the 2017 FINA World Championships. After swimming the fastest 100 fly ever in textile with his 50.39 to win Olympic gold, Schooling came up short to Dressel during the yards season at the NCAA championships. Dressel has overtaken Schooling as the fastest man in the world this year with his 50.87 at U.S. Nationals, but Schooling isn’t far behind with a 50.96 from Austin Sectionals. Dressel is at a slight disadvantage, however, as he’ll be swimming the final of the men’s 50 free shortly before the final of the 100 fly and, in general, a much heavier schedule than Schooling at the meet.
The most likely man to break up the Dressel-Schooling party is South Africa’s Chad Le Clos, the reigning World Champion in this event. He’s the 3rd fastest man in the world this year with a 51.29. When he won gold in 2015, he set his personal best 50.56. Since then, he hasn’t been able to break 51, as he tied for silver in Rio with a 51.14. He’s nearly been as fast as that already this season, though, and when he goes head-to-head with Schooling and Dressel, he may get that extra push he needs to break the barrier again.
Posting a nearly identical time to Le Clos this season was the USA’s Tim Phillips, who swam a 51.30 at U.S. Nationals. If he maintains or improves on his 51-low, he’ll be in the running for a medal. It’ll be a tight squeeze, however, as a handful of men have been right around he 51-low to 51-mid range, including China’s Li Zhuhao (51.34), Great Britain’s James Guy (51.50), and Brazil’s Henrique Martins (51.57). Zhuhao is the Junior World Record holder with his 51.24 from last summer’s Chinese Championships.
The home crowd will be cheering for Hungary’s Kristof Milak and Laszlo Cseh. International veteran Cseh has been a bit off this season since he took a long break after Rio, but he should be back into the swing of things and in better form in Budapest. He swam a 51.87 in-season, so he should be able to get down to at least the 51-lows with rest. Milak, an up-and-coming junior star, rocked a personal best 51.49 at the European Juniors last month, and should make it into the final if he can replicate that.
France’s Mehdy Metella (51.36) and Poland’s Konrad Czerniak (52.07) return after making the final of this race at 2015 Worlds. Metella nearly matched his personal best 51.24 from 2015, which stands as the French National Record, with his 51.36 at French Nationals. Czerniak has yet to break 52 this season, but he’s been as fast as a 51.15 from 2011 Worlds so there’s a chance he’ll be a factor in the medal equation if he’s close to his best. He wasn’t far from it last year with a 2016 best of 51.22.
TOP 8 PREDICTIONS:
|Place||Swimmer||Country||Season Best||Predicted Time|
|2||Chad Le Clos||RSA||51.29||50.6|
DARKHORSE: Schooling’s countryman Zheng Quah was one fire during the NCAA season. If his yards speed is any indication of what he’s got in store for the long course pool, we could see him in the final. His lifetime best is a 52.08 from the Rio Olympics, but a 51-mid to 51-high doesn’t seem like a far cry for him. Singapore will go crazy if they put two swimmers into the same A final.