2017 FINA World Championships
After landing on the podium in Rio, the Japanese 400 IM contingent of Olympic champ Kosuke Hagino and bronze medalist Daiya Seto will return for the 2017 FINA World Championships in Budapest. Since his Japanese Record-breaking performance in Rio, Hagino has put up a 2017 best of 4:10.45. With that time in-season, he’s probably in good shape to challenge for gold again, but Seto is actually looking like even more of a threat this year. Seto, who won gold in this event at 2015 Worlds, rocked a lifetime best 4:07.99 at the Sette Colli meet, so he’s better than ever heading into Budapest.
Team USA’s Chase Kalisz has been on fire this season, and has a serious shot at challenging for gold after he took silver at the Rio Olympics. Before his massive time drop in Rio, Kalisz hadn’t broken 4:10 last summer until Olympic Trials, where he put up a 4:09.54. He knocked nearly 3 seconds off that at the Olympics, where he swam his lifetime best 4:06.75. This season, Kaisz was under 4:10 by the time May rolled around, and came within 2 tenths of his lifetime best to win U.S. Nationals in a world-leading 4:06.99. Kalisz has been consistent with his drops from Trials to big international meets, so he has the potential to dip into the 4:05-range.
Also returning from the Rio final will be the USA’s Jay Litherland, Great Britain’s Max Litchfield, and Spain’s Joan Lluis Pons. At U.S. Nationals, Litherland was nearly 2 seconds faster than he went in last summer’s Olympic final, putting up a lifetime best 4:09.31 to break 4:10 for the first time. Litchfield shined at the 2017 British Championships as he took down the British Record in the 400 IM. In doing so, he took a second off his lifetime best to touch in 4:10.63. He’s now on track to become the first British man to swim under 4:10 in the event. Pons Ramon’s season best is a 4:16.57, but he’s been as fast as a 4:13.55 from prelims in Rio.
Hungarian David Verraszto is looking especially dangerous with his personal best 4:07.47. Verraszto and teammate Gergely Gyurta, who boasts a lifetime best 4:12.81 from the 2017 Hungarian Championships, will have the home field advantage at this meet. Verraszto will have that extra little bit of motivation to get the home country on the podium, and he’s likely to end up on the medal stand if he’s near his season best from the Sette Colli meet, where he took down Olympic medalist Seto. He was the silver medalist in this event at 2015 Worlds before falling off the mark in Rio and missing the final, but he’s definitely on track to redeem himself in front of the home crowd.
Like Verraszto, China’s Wang Shun and Brazil’s Brandonn Almeida seek redemption after missing the Rio final. Shun has been almost 2 full seconds faster than he was in Rio this season, putting up a lifetime best 4:12.65 at the 2017 Chinese Nationals. Almeida, who formerly held the Junior World Record in this event, is currently ranked #11 with a 4:13.06, but he’s been as fast as 4:12.49 from last summer.
Aside from Shun and Almeida, there are a handful of men who should be competing for those last few spots in the final. Switzerland’s Jeremy Desplanches has been having a fantastic season, breaking the Swiss Record in this event with a 4:13.11 at the French Elite Championships. Germany’s Philip Heintz (4:16.91) has been rising through the ranks of the IM events, and teammate Jacob Heidtmann returns after making the final in this race at 2015 Worlds. Italy’s Federico Turrini posted a commanding victory with his 4:13.52 at Italian Nationals. After swimming his lifetime best 4:11.55 in 2013, he stalled in this event, but nearly had a breakthrough with his 4:11.95 in the leadup to Rio.
Aussie star Thomas Fraser-Holmes would likely be in the mix, but he opted out of Australian Trials and will now be absent from competition for a year due to a 12-month suspension handed to him by FINA. The suspension came after Fraser-Holmes missed 3 doping tests, as 3 missed tests over a 12-month period can lead to penalties.
TOP 8 PREDICTIONS:
|Place||Swimmer||Country||Season Best||Predicted Time|
DARKHORSE: Great Britain’s Mark Szaranek, who competes for the Florida Gators in the NCAA, had a fantastic yards season, finishing 3rd to Seliskar and Kalisz in the 400 IM at the NCAA Championships and tying Licon for the win in the 200 IM. Szaranek went a lifetime best 4:15.51 in April, but he may still have some room for improvement.