2018 SC Worlds Preview: Anybody’s Game in Men’s Breaststroke


In the 50 meter pool, sprint breaststroke belongs to Adam Peaty. Not only does Peaty own the top-14 performances all-time in the 100 breaststroke, he owns the top-11 all-time in the 50 breast. But the 2018 FINA World Championships have two caveats:

  1. No Adam Peaty;
  2. No long course meters.

With double the walls and no Peaty, the 2018 FINA World Championships in Hangzhou will provide the world with three very interesting men’s breaststroke races. Stalwart and world record holder Cameron Van Der Burgh will race both the 50 and 100 distances, as will American up-and-comers Michael Andrew and Andrew Wilson, the latter of which will also take on the 200 alongside teammate and Olympic silver medalist Josh Prenot. Brazilians Felipe Lima and Joao Gomes will also contribute to a fast and furious field of sprint breaststrokers.

The 200 breaststroke will showcase world record holders from both the long and short pools in the forms of Ippei Watanabe of Japan and Marco Koch of Germany. Throw in some wild cards such as China’s Yan Zibei or Russia’s Kirill Prigoda and it becomes even more difficult to say who will come away with the gold, as it’s anybody’s game in the men’s breaststroke in Hangzhou.

Men’s 50 Meter Breaststroke

The men’s 50 meter breaststroke is any man’s game at this year’s World Championships. Reigning world champ Felipe França of Brazil will not be competing, but his fellow countrymen Felipe Lima and Joao Gomes will race the 50 for Brazil. Lima, 2018’s top performer in this event with a 25.88 from the Budapest stop of the 2018 FINA World Cup, is the oldest man in this event at age 33. Gomes, who will be 33 in January, is the 2nd-eldest in the field, though still a major threat for a spot in the final, if not on the podium as well.

American Michael Andrew had a huge summer, and captured his first-ever Senior National title in the LCM version of this event. Andrew broke the American Record in the 50 SCM breaststroke earlier this fall with his 26.10 performance at the World Cup in Singapore. Andrew, who is also the reigning world champion in the 100 IM, will be joined in this race by fellow American Andrew Wilson, who also had a breakout summer season. Though Wilson does not have a time in this event, his dominance in the 100 yard breaststroke as a swimmer in the NCAA proves that he should be considered a favorite for the finals in Hangzhou.

World record holder Cameron Van Der Burgh of South Africa is probably not looking at bettering his 2009 performance, but should still be considered a threat for a medal in this event. Though Van Der Burgh does not have a time for this season, he’s a stalwart in sprint breaststroke and should always be considered dangerous.

Russians Kirill Prigoda and Oleg Kostin have looked exceptionally good this fall and throughout the World Cup circuit. While both men, especially Prigoda, lean more towards the 100 and 200 meter distances, they are the 5th and 9th-fastest performers all-time in the 50 meter distance. Kostin, the Russian champ in the 50 breast, broke the 26-second barrier in November at Russian Nationals where he qualified to swim in Hangzhou.

Place Swimmer Country 2018 Best All-Time Best
1 Michael Andrew USA 26.10 26.10
2 Kirill Prigoda RUS 26.01 25.68
3 Felipe Lima BRA 25.88 25.88
4 Oleg Kostin RSA 25.90 25.9
5 Cameron Van Der Burgh RSA N/A 25.25 (WR)
6 Andrew Wilson USA N/A N/A
7 Ilya Shymanovich BLR 25.95 25.95
8 Lizhuo Wang CHN 26.31 26.31

Men’s 100 Meter Breaststroke

  • World Record: 55.61, Cameron Van Der Burgh (RSA), 2009
  • World Championships Record: 56.29, Felipe França (BRA), 2014
  • 2016 World Champion: Marco Koch (GER), 56.77

Unlike the long course version of this event which is owned by Great Britain’s Adam Peaty, the 100 SCM breaststroke is an open field in Hangzhou. Russia’s Oleg Kostin, who is impressive across all three breaststroke distances, could be considered the favorite after a dominant showing at Russian Nationals, where he posted an impressive 56.56, though 32-year-old Felipe Lima of Brazil is the current world leader in the 100 LCM version of this event after posting a 59.87 at the 2018 South American Championships in November. Lima has also been a 56.69 in the SCM version of the race–the one which matters in Hangzhou–at the World Cup in Budapest, which would have been fast enough to win this event at the 2016 World Championships in Windsor.

Americans Andrew Wilson and Michael Andrew are two interesting additions to the field. Wilson, who has been on a steady upward trajectory since capturing his first long course US National title in the summer of 2015, holds a yards time of 50.80 in the 100 breaststroke. As a 4-year NCAA swimmer, Wilson is very much at home in the short course pool and will stand a very good shot at making the podium in Hangzhou. Similarly, Andrew, the 2018 US National Champion in the 50 and 100 breaststroke, has had an incredible year and is a very impressive competitor. As the reigning world champion in the 100 IM, Andrew is a master of the details and will certainly contribute to a very entertaining race.

South African world record holder Cameron Van Der Burgh will give all that he can for his final SCM world championships. Van Der Burgh, who plans to retire after the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games, set his world record during the “suit era” of 2009 and has not touched it since, though he did come within half-a-second of his time at the 2017 World Cup in Doha, swimming an impressive 56.11. If Van Der Burgh can again go 56.1 he will probably win gold in Hangzhou, but with a season best of 57.63, it’s optimistic to think he’ll be that fast next week.

Reigning world champion Marco Koch is also slated to swim this event in Hangzhou. Though Koch’s time of 58.12 doesn’t even rank him top 25 in the world in this event, the 28-year-old German will still be a threat.

Place Swimmer Country 2018 Best All-Time Best
1 Oleg Kostin RUS 56.56 56.16
2 Felipe Lima BRA 56.69 56.69
3 Andrew Wilson USA N/A 58.46
4 Michael Andrew USA 57.91 57.91
5 Cameron Van Der Burgh RSA 57.63 55.61 (WR)
6 Kirill Prigoda RUS 56.58 56.02
7 Yan Zibei CHN 56.34 56.34
8 Fabio Scazzoli ITA 57.17 56.15

Men’s 200 Meter Breaststroke

  • World Record: 2:00.44, Marco Koch (GER), 2016
  • World Championships Record: 2:01.21, Marco Koch (GER), 2014
  • 2016 World Champion: Marco Koch (GER), 2:01.21

The men’s 200 breaststroke could be considered one of the most volatile events in swimming. In Hangzhou, SCM world record holder Marco Koch of Germany will face off against LCM world record holder Ippei Watanabe of Japan. Though Koch is the reigning world champ in the short pool, Russia’s Kirill Prigoda enters the meet with a blazing fast time of 2:01.30 swum less than one month ago at the FINA World Cup in Tokyo. Prigoda had a fantastic run throughout the 2018 World Cup circuit, and there’s no reason to suspect he’ll slow down in China.

Japan’s Yasuhiro Koseki will be another major threat for a place on the podium. Koseki had a huge summer, winning Pan Pacs gold in the 100 breast and going three-for-three with victories in the 50, 100, and 200 breaststrokes at the Asian Games, the 26-year-old from Japan has really hit his stride this year.

Koseki will be joined by compatriot Ippei Watanabe, the world record holder in the LCM version of this event and 2018 Pan Pacs champion. Though Watanabe’s SCM time in the event doesn’t quite measure up to his world record in the big pool, it’s reasonable to expect him to drop major time and maybe even scare Koch’s world record in the SCM version of the race.

Americans Josh Prenot and Andrew Wilson, are two more to watch in the men’s 200 breaststroke. Prenot is the 2016 Olympic silver medalist in this event, and he is coming off of a great summer of racing. After a disappoint 2017, Prenot won the 2018 US National Championships in the 200 breaststroke in a blazing fast 2:07.28, just off his American Record. Wilson wasn’t too far behind, finishing in 2nd in a 2:08.71.

China’s Yan Zibei, who picked up two silver medals at the 2018 Asian Games in the 50 and 100 breaststrokes, is another likely finalist if not medalist in this event. Zibei was part of a Chinese contingent that visited the United States for some training this fall, where he showed impressive in-practice form and speed.

Place Swimmer Country 2018 Best All-Time Best
1 Kirill Prigoda RUS 2:01.3 2:01.11
2 Marco Koch GER 2:03.52 2:00.44 (WR)
3 Yashurio Koseki JPN 2:02.65 2:02.45
4 Ippei Watanabe JPN 2:05.37 2:03.23
5 Josh Prenot USA N/A 2:03.96
6 Ilya Shymanovich BLR 2:03.49 2:03.49
7 Yan Zibei CHN 2:05.39 2:05.39
8 Andrew Wilson USA N/A N/A

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Tammy Touchpad Error
3 years ago

These predictions for this meet have been the most trash uninformed off the cuff that I’ve ever seen. 90% of these wack commenters could make more respectable predictions. Im not even gonna cite anything cause everyone in here that knows anything about high level competitive swimming feels me.

3 years ago

No Fabio Scozzoli in the 50 breast and just eight in the 100??
And MA first in the 50 br.??
My preview is that Scozzoli in the 50 will overcome Andrew.

Reply to  nuotofan
3 years ago

we will see what happens …..

3 years ago

SwimSwam, why are the comments off on the Blake Perioni article?

Reply to  Zanna
3 years ago

To stop everyone saying he’s going to beat Dressel now he has the magic suit

Will 37
Reply to  Tim
3 years ago

lol that’s exactly what I thought

ye haw
Reply to  Tim
3 years ago

Im actually kinda sad. I was ready for the laughs.

Sean S
Reply to  Zanna
3 years ago

Because it’s a paid advertisement and Mizuno probably didn’t want comments.

Reply to  Sean S
3 years ago

because most of the comments were going to be “but why not dressel!?”

3 years ago

No pumputis on 200 breast? He went 2:03:27 this year

Human Ambition
3 years ago

Vegas Race and Sports Books would move up Yan since it is a China meet.

About Reid Carlson

Reid Carlson

Reid Carlson originally hails from Clay Center, Kansas, where he began swimming at age six.  At age 14 he began swimming club year-round and later with his high school team, making state all four years.  He was fortunate enough to draw the attention of Kalamazoo College where he went on to …

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