2017 Worlds Previews: Historic 51 on Notice in Women’s 100 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

Sarah Sjostrom (photo: Tim Binning)

We’re just weeks away from the 2017 FINA World Championships in Budapest, Hungary and the women’s 100 free could be a historic event. No woman has ever broken 52 seconds in the 100 meter free, though Australia’s Cate Cambpell nearly did so when she set the World Record at 52.06 last summer. Campbell will be absent from this summer’s Worlds, but Sweden’s Sarah Sjostrom is up to the challenge. Sjostrom was narrowly off the World Record with her 52.08 at the Mare Nostrum.

In Budapest, we’ll get a chance to see what Sjostrom can do with a full taper. The big challenge concerning most swimming fans is that the 100 free comes on day 5 of the meet. However, Sjostrom will skip out on the 200 free this summer, meaning she’ll only be swimming the 100 fly ahead of the 100 free and will be significantly fresher than she was in Rio. After the 100 fly final on day 2, she’ll have 2 whole days to recharge before prelims of the 100 free on day 5.

Though Cate Campbell won’t be in Budapest to challenge Sjostrom, her sister, Bronte Campbell, will be in the mix for a medal. Bronte Campbell is the defending World Champion in this event after she won the race in Kazan with her personal best 52.52. She’s already been 52.89 this year, which is almost 2 tenths faster than she was when she placed 4th in the Olympic final and just a few tenths shy of her best. The Aussies will also send out Emma McKeon, who boasts a season best 53.12. McKeon has been under 53 before with her 52.80 form last April, so she definitely has the speed for a top 5 finish.

Manuel and Oleksiak (photo: Simone Castrovillari)

Olympic co-champions Simone Manuel (USA) and Penny Oleksiak (CAN) will go head-to-head in the long course pool for the first time since they tied for gold in Rio. Neither seems to have shown too many of their cards yet this season, as they haven’t dipped under 53 yet, but both were able to qualify for their respective worlds teams relatively easily without a full taper.

Things could get interesting in the race for the American Record between Manuel and Nationals winner Mallory Comerford. In Indianapolis, Comerford became just the 2nd American woman to ever break 53 seconds, taking down Sjostrom’s U.S. Open Record with a 52.81. The American Record currently stands at a 52.70 done by Manuel in last summer’s Olympic final, but with Comerford only a tenth off the mark, we could see the record change hands at some point during the meet.

Dutch sprint star Ranomi Kromowidjojo has already been faster in-season this year than she was in the Olympic final last summer. Her 53.07 is also the fastest she’s been since December of 2012 when she set her personal best 52.75 at the Swim Cup Eindhoven. If she breaks 53 in Budapest, that’ll mark her first sub-53 swim in almost 5 years.

Japanese youngster Rikako Ikee has been crushing Junior World Records over the last couple of seasons. In February, she showed the world that she was only getting faster, as she set the Junior World Record at 24.48 in the 50 free. She set a personal best 53.83 in the 100 free at the 2017 Japan Swim, and seems to have the speed and endurance to move up into the top 8 with a few tenths of improvement. A handful of women will be fighting for those final few spots in the final, though, and Sweden’s Michelle Coleman is looking great this season with her 53.36 from the Mare Nostrum. China’s Zhu Menghui (53.42), Denmark’s Olympic 50 free champ Pernille Blume (53.52), and France’s Charlotte Bonnet (53.65) should also be up there fighting for a finals spot.

TOP 8 PREDICTIONS:

Place Swimmer Country Season Best Predicted Time
1 Sarah Sjostrom SWE 52.08 51.9* WR
2 Simone Manuel USA 53.05 52.5
3 Penny Oleksiak CAN 53.64 52.5
4 Mallory Comerford USA 52.81 52.7
5 Bronte Campbell AUS 52.85 52.7
6 Ranomi Kromowidjojo NED 53.07 52.9
7 Emma McKeon AUS 53.12 53.1
8 Rikako Ikee JPN 53.83 53.5

DARKHORSE: Dutch Record holder Femke Heemskerk wasn’t at her best when she swam this event in Rio, as she failed to qualify for the semifinals with a 54.63 in prelims. She’s been significantly faster than that already this year with a 53.75 from the Swim Cup Eindhoven, and she’s been as fast as a 52.69 in 2015.

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marklewis
4 years ago

The women are going to have swim all-out in the semis to make the final. Except for possibly Sjostrom.

So the semis will be worth watching. I am curious if Bronte Campbell will get the heebie-jeebies again. She does have the injury excuse to fall back on.

G.I.N.A
Reply to  marklewis
4 years ago

Since when has C2 got the heebie- jeebies? Bronte has never used the injury excuse . Sprinters get injured & that’s a fact but imo she always does the max her training has allowed. She was 53.7 on the mare nostrum so should/ could go sub 53. If not , I still know she did her best .

commonwombat
Reply to  G.I.N.A
4 years ago

GINA is correct. A number of AUS women imploded under pressure in Rio with C1 being the most obvious but C2 was not one of them. Her injury issues were very legit ones as she scarcely raced in the lead-in to the Games. Her 4×100 split indicated that 52high/53flat was “where she was at” and thats what she swam. Her 50free had been “off” all year …. and she swam accordingly. She is NOT as talented as her big sister, and doesn’t have her record breaking potential, but it would be fair to suggest that she is the stronger mentally

Prickle
Reply to  commonwombat
4 years ago

G.I.N.A and COMMONWOMBAT you know so much about Australian swimming affairs. Then you may know why coaches deprived Bronte Campbell of a medal in 400 Medley relay not choosing her to swim in preliminary competition. She was great at 4×100 free. Her sister competed in final race despite of disastrous individual competitions. Why not Bronte. She was #2 at trials and that is who usually swims preliminary relay races where pressure isn’t that high.

G.I.N.A
Reply to  Prickle
4 years ago

Actually I know very little these days , I just use logic & have a bit of fun .Why C1& not C2 – I presume they used McKeon in the pre lims , so they wanted to keep the handover identical . As it turned out , it was the correct thing to do because the margin over Canada was small .

Prickle
Reply to  G.I.N.A
4 years ago

I think it was Madison Wilson who swam freestyle lag in prelim 400 Medley.

commonwombat
Reply to  Prickle
4 years ago

Wilson swam the backstroke leg in the W4XMED heats. AUS heats line-up was Wilson, McKeown, Groves & Elmslie

G.I.N.A
Reply to  Prickle
4 years ago

That’s what you get when you go jungle to avoid watching the Olympics – I still know only 1/4 of the results .

commonwombat
Reply to  Prickle
4 years ago

None of us have any “inside line” into the decision making process of the AUS coaching staff so how WOULD we know ? My surmisal is that they swam Elmslie in the 4XMED heats due to both C1&C2 still having the 50free final whereas Elmslie had no individual races and she was still capable of a 53low split which would see them into a centre lane for the final.

Why C1 over C2 in the final ? One can only think that it came down to the fact that they knew that C2’s shoulder issues were impacting her performances to the extent that she was not capable of anywhere near her best times. This was borne out by her performances… Read more »

Uberfan
4 years ago

Simone will get best off the podium by Comerford and subtweet about it

Uberfan
Reply to  Uberfan
4 years ago

Why does my auto correct hate me?

S L
4 years ago

1. Sjöström 52.00 WR
2. Manuel 52.6
3. Campbell 52.8

Swim-Fan
Reply to  S L
4 years ago

This seems plausible. SS wins this for sure. The race for silver will be the most interesting. I don’t think SS runs away with it though.

S L
4 years ago

Kromowidjojo isn’t going under 53

Prickle
4 years ago

Thanks to Cate Campbell and Sarah Sjostrom the 52 sec interval became the must to be called an elite swimmer. We look at 53 sec now as a result that our grandmas used to swim. The swimmer who makes 53 something is not considered a sprinter any more but somebody who cannot swim anything longer than 100 meters.

commonwombat
Reply to  Prickle
4 years ago

Think that’s still somewhat of an exagerration. The sub 53 club still has a somewhat limited membership, esp amongst current swimmers …. and how many amongst them have “repeat performances’ in this range as against one-offs ?

When it comes to W4X100, just how many countries actually have the depth to field 4 sub 54sec flat start swimmers ?? Its still the case that you can podium in that event without such a quartet.

The 52sec barrier is only realistically within range, at this point, of 2 current competitors …… and with C1’s future debateable beyond next April, we can probably narrow that down to one … SS. Maybe someone or others may make a forward leap in the near… Read more »

Prickle
Reply to  commonwombat
4 years ago

Of course it is “somewhat of an exagerration”. But look, not that far ago Missy Franklin was a superstar with world record at 200 back and …. The best sprinter America ever had in freestyle. Who will look at her 53.36 as something special now.

Baker-King-Vollmer-Manuel
Reply to  Prickle
4 years ago

Active female swimmers who has posted times below 52.70 in the 100 m freestyle:

C. Campbell – 11
Sjöström – 5
B. Campbell – 2
Heemskerk – 1

Baker-King-Vollmer-Manuel
Reply to  Baker-King-Vollmer-Manuel
4 years ago

Correction: “have” instead of “has”

Baker-King-Vollmer-Manuel
Reply to  Prickle
4 years ago

All time top US female performers in the 100 m freestyle (textile era):

Manuel – 52.70
Comerford – 52.81
Weitzeil – 53.28
Franklin – 53.36

2016 Summer Olympics
100 m freestyle
Simone Manuel
Heats – 53.32
Semifinals – 53.11
Final – 52.70

2016 Olympic Team Trials
100 m freestyle
Simone Manuel
Heats – 53.84
Semifinals – 53.64
Final – 53.52

Swimmerfromoverseas
4 years ago

I am sorry, just cant help myself.

Have you spooken to Mel about the predictions in 50/100 free?

SwimJon
4 years ago

I will be so nervous when the final starts. Sjöström has ha such a phenomenal season after the long rest after Rio. And yeah her starts, underwater, turns have improved but… And yeah she has been a star for 8 years – but to be such a heavy favourite and it is not fly is a new situation…

MichaelTran
4 years ago

My picks:
1. Sarah Sjostrom 51.9
2. Simone Manuel 52.5
3. Bronte Campbell 52.6
4. Penny Oleksiak 52.7
5. Emma Mckeon 52.8
6. Ranomi Komowidijojo 52.8
7. Mallory Comerford 52.8
8. Zhu 53.1

Hater of swimvortex
Reply to  MichaelTran
4 years ago

It’s unrealistic to have so many 52s.

ERVINFORTHEWIN
Reply to  Hater of swimvortex
4 years ago

it was unrealistic one month go to have 6 men in the 100 free at trials between 47.9 and 48.6 !!!!

Brownie
Reply to  ERVINFORTHEWIN
4 years ago

That’s not the same as 7 girls going 52 though that’s very out there

KRB
Reply to  MichaelTran
4 years ago

I like your placement predictions, but with the exception of Sarah, I think most of your other times indicated are too fast.

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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