2017 Worlds Previews: Rylov to Challenge Murphy in M. 200 Back

You can find links to all of our event-by-event previews and a compilation of our predicted medal-winners here.


The 5th day of competition at the 2017 FINA World Championships will set the stage for the men’s 200 back. The 2015 World Champion, Australia’s Mitch Larkin (1:56.66), will return to defend his title, but 2016 Olympic Champion Ryan Murphy (1:54.30) of Team USA will also look to remain on top of the international podium. Larkin took a long break after Rio and hasn’t been up to the same speed he was at in 2015 (when he went his personal best 1:53.17) or 2016 yet, but he didn’t have to do too much of a taper to qualify for the meet, so he could make large improvements in Budapest. Murphy was in a similar spot at U.S. Trials, as he didn’t have to worry too much about being fully rested for Trials, especially in this event where he and teammate Jacob Pebley were far ahead of the field. Murphy was within tenths of his personal best 1:53.62, while Pebley (1:54.78) was just a hundredth shy of his personal best, so we could be looking at 2 Americans on the podium if they make marginal improvements from their Trials performances.

While Murphy and Larkin are 2 of the big names that come to mind in the gold medal conversation, Russia’s Evgeny Rylov is definitely in the picture as well. Rylov was the bronze medalist at the Rio Olympics and also took bronze at the 2015 World Championships. He recently put up a personal best 1:53.81 at the 2017 Russian Championships and is the fastest man of 2017 so far. If he can replicate his performance, he could upgrade that 2015 bronze medal to a gold one this summer.

Ryosuke Irie (Photo: Tim Binning)

There are 2 more frontrunners for a podium spot in China’s Xu Jiayu (1:54.03) and Japan’s Ryosuke Irie (1:55.86). Jiayu had an explosive performance at the 2017 Chinese Nationals, missing Murphy’s 100 back World Record by just a hundredth and crushing a personal best 1:54.03 in this event. Irie is a longtime international veteran and Olympic medalist in this event. He was off his game in Rio last summer, finishing 8th in the final, but he’s already been faster than he was at that meet with his 1:55.86 this year. Irie’s teammate Kosuke Hagino (1:56.39) has decided to trade in the 200 free for the 200 back this time around, and could give the Japanese 2 in the final if he’s close to his personal best 1:55.43 from 2013. The Chinese may manage to get 2 in as well if Li Guangyuan (1:55.53) can match his personal best form this season’s Chinese Nationals.

Hungary’s Peter Bernek (1:56.69) hasn’t swum his best since he went a 1:55.88 in 2012, but the home crowd could give him that extra push he needs to get back down to the 1:55s and make it into the final. Poland’s Radoslaw Kawecki (1:55.79) and Italy’s Matteo Restivo (1:56.55) should also be in the running for a finals spot.


Place Swimmer Country Season Best Predicted Time
1 Ryan Murphy USA 1:54.30 1:53.3
2 Evgeny Rylov RUS 1:53.81 1:53.6
3 Xu Jiayu CHN 1:54.03 1:53.9
4 Jacob Pebley USA 1:54.78 1:54.4
5 Mitch Larkin AUS 1:56.66 1:54.8
6 Ryosuke Irie JPN 1:55.86 1:55.0
7 Li Guangyuan CHN 1:55.53 1:55.2
8 Kosuke Hagino JPN 1:56.39 1:55.5

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Hater of swimvortex
4 years ago


4 years ago

Murphy Rylov Pebley

4 years ago

Looks to be between Murphy and Rylov. Xu = the X factor. Pebley could contend; Larkin has the capacity to do so but would have to lift immensely from what he has produced so far this year

Reply to  commonwombat
4 years ago

I actually see Hagino as a bit of an x-factor. PB of 1:54.7, while a few years old, is around what Pebley’s is, and the fact that he dropped 200fr for 200bk says to me that he thinks he could do something good in this event.

IMs for days
4 years ago

It will be a dog fight between Murphy and Rylov, but, Regardless of what goes down I don’t see Murphy improvimg his PB.

4 years ago

No one mentioned the biggest talent of all: Kliment Kolesnikov 1.55 at Russian championships and only 16 yrs old!

4 years ago

No Larkin and no Hagino in the final…

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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