2017 FINA World Championships
Heading into the 2017 FINA World Championships in Budapest, Great Britain’s Adam Peaty still seems to be head and shoulders above the rest in the men’s 100 breast. Peaty, the 2016 Olympic champion and World Record holder, is the only man to have ever broken 58 seconds in this event. He came fairly close to blasting through the 57-second barrier as well in Rio when he set the World Record at an incredible 57.13. Peaty has actually been faster in-season this year than he was in the lead up to Rio. He crushed a 57.79 this year at the 2017 British Championships, whereas his season best in 2015-16 before Rio was a 58.36. If that’s any indication of his improvement, then we could be looking at a historic 56-second swim.
While Peaty is practically a shoo-in for gold, the race for the minor medals should be a close one. South Africa’s Cameron van der Burgh, the 2016 Olympic silver medalist and 2012 Olympic champion, returns after taking a close 2nd to Peaty in 2015. He’s look slightly off compared to last season, as he enters Worlds with a 59.73 season best compared to a 59.05 season best in the Olympic year, but it’s not unlikely that we’ll see him in the 58-high to 59-low range and in the fight for a medal.
The Americans will field 2016 Olympians Kevin Cordes and Cody Miller. Since last summer, Cordes and Miller have traded the American Record back and forth. Cordes first set the mark at the Olympic Trials, then Miller claimed the record when he won bronze in Rio. At 2017 U.S. Nationals, Cordes reclaimed the record once again with a lifetime best 58.74, setting him up well as a potential medalist in this race and the 2nd fastest man in the world behind Peaty. Miller was within a couple tenths of his best time, qualifying for the meet with a season best of 59.11.
Aside from Peaty and Cordes, China’s Yan Zibei is the only other man to have broken 59 so far this season. His 58.92 from the Chinese Championships in April was a new Chinese National Record and made him the 1st Chinese man in history to break 59. He’ll be in contention for a medal if he can replicate that.
Italian up-and-comer Nicolo Martinenghi made headlines earlier this month when he took down the Junior World Record in this event. He first broke the record back in April when he turned in a 59.46 at Italian Nationals. Martinenghi then brought it down even further with a 59.23 at the European Junior Championships.
There are several returning Olympic finalists in the field. In addition to those mentioned above, Japan’s Yasuhiro Koseki (59.26) and Brazil’s Joao Gomes (59.31) will enter the mix. Gomes’ teammate Felipe Lima (59.32), who missed out on swimming this race in Rio, has actually been slightly faster than he has this season. Russia’s Anton Chupkov didn’t make the 100 breast final last summer but was the bronze medalist in the 200 breast. He’s already rocked a 59.39 this season from his Russain Record-setting performance at the Mare Nostrum in June.
Given the number of men who have been 59-low to 59-mid this year, it could be a dogfight to get into the top 8. Germany’s Christian vom Lehn (59.47) is just a few tenths shy of the German Record, and will chase the mark of 59.15 in Budapest as he races for a finals spot. Lithuania’s Giedrius Titenis has been 59.69 this season, but he’s dipped below the barrier before with a 58.96 at 2015 Worlds. Japanese youngster Ippei Watanabe is better known as a 200 breaststroker, as he smashed the World Record in that event earlier this season, but he’s shown improvement in his 100 breast speed as well. Watanabe has already knocked a couple of tenths off his best time this season, turning in a 59.80 at the Japan Open.
Great Britain’s Ross Murdoch won bronze in this event at the 2015 World Championships with a 59.09. He hasn’t been able to replicate that since then, but he did put up another 59-low at the 2016 British Championships. He hasn’t broken 1:00 yet this year, as his season best stands at a 1:00.00, but could be fighting for a top 8 spot if he shaves a couple of tenths off that and in the running for a medal if he’s able to reach his peak form again.
TOP 8 PREDICTIONS:
|Cameron van der Burgh