2019 World Champs Previews: Australian Powerhouses Eying Mixed Free Relay Gold

2019 FINA WORLD AQUATICS CHAMPIONSHIPS

  • All sports: Friday, July 12 – Sunday, July 28, 2019
  • Pool swimming: Sunday, July 21 – Sunday, July 28, 2019
  • The Nambu University Municipal Aquatics Center, Gwangju, Korea
  • Meet site
  • FinaTV Live Stream
  • Live results

Mixed 4×100 Free Relay

  • World Record: 3:19.60, USA (Dressel/Adrian/Comerford/Manuel), 2017
  • World Championships Record: 3:19.60 USA (Dressel/Adrian/Comerford/Manuel), 2017
  • Defending 2017 World Champion: 3:19.60, USA (Dressel/Adrian/Comerford/Manuel)

The Australians have dominated the women’s 4×100 free relay for years, and with their men surging forward, they’re the team to beat in this mixed 4×100 free relay.

Note: the composite times listed below are only as good as our research could make them. For individual times, we chose to use best times last season (September 2017 through August 2018) and already this season (September 2018 through the present). That obviously throws out some key summer 2017 times, but we’ll try to note those where we can. The relay splits listed are the best splits we could find in digging through 2017 Worlds, 2018 Commonwealths, 2018 Asian Games, 2018 European Championships and 2018 Pan Pacs. It’s very possible someone went a faster split further back or at a different meet. Feel free to note those in the comment section, but know that our research is only taking into account those major meets over the last two seasons.

For their women’s legs, the Aussies have twin sledgehammers. Cate Campbell and Bronte Campbell are both former world champs in the 100 free (Cate in 2013; Bronte in 2015) and both elite relay swimmers. Cate Campbell at one point held the world record, and split an absurd 50.9 last summer. Bronte has been as fast as 52-low individually and split 51.5 last year. It’s clear that if the race is at all close after the two male swimmers finish (the preferred strategy on these mixed relays is man-man-woman-woman to get a lead and maximize clean water), no one will be overcoming the Australians.

It’s a good bet they’ll have that lead, too, as Kyle Chalmers is arguably the best man in the field, too. The 2016 Olympic champ has been 47.35 from a flat start this year and split 46.9 at Pan Pacs last summer. He’s probably leading off, and if he does, there are only handful of swimmers in the world who can keep up with him, much less build a lead against him. Their preferred fourth leg would be Jack Cartwrightbut he’s not on the Worlds roster. Clyde Lewis (48.4 this year) and Cameron McEvoy (48.4 last year) are the next-best options.

Swimmer Best Individual Time w/ Relay splits
Kyle Chalmers 47.35 47.35
Cameron McEvoy 48.44 48.44
Cate Campbell 52.03 50.93
Bronte Campbell 52.27 51.57
3:20.09 3:18.29

The United States, meanwhile, are the world record-holders and remain undefeated in the mixed free relay at the World Championships. The event was introduced in 2015, with Team USA touching out the Netherlands by .05 seconds, and the Americans won the 2017 gold by more than two full seconds, with most of Australia’s stars not active.

Much of the American potential rests on probable leadoff leg Caeleb DresselThe standout was 47.1 individually back in 2017, but a motorcycle injury wrecked his summer of 2018, where he went just 48.2 individually  and lost to Chalmers at Pan Pacs. Dressel has already been 47.87 this season, though, and looks back to form. If he’s 47-mid, this relay still needs big-time performances from its other three legs to challenge for gold; if he’s back on the 46/47 barrier, this suddenly becomes a race.

The competition for the other men’s spot should be fierce. The mixed free relay comes after all the individual 100 frees and both the men’s and women’s 4×100 free relays, so at least Team USA will get to make an informed decision. Blake Pieroni (48.0) was the fastest American last year, even besting Dressel. On the other hand, Zach Apple just blasted a 47.7 (individually, plus a 47.5 relay split) at World University Games, and is on the Worlds roster as a relay-only swimmer. Nathan Adrian could be in the mix – the veteran has split 47.2 before, but missed some training this year in treatment for testicular cancer. Townley Haas and Michael Chadwick are both options too. (And before anyone wonders, Dean Farris is not. Despite a 47.0 split at World University Games, he is not on the American roster for Worlds). All that is to say the Americans will probably find a 47-mid split – they just have to make the call on who.

The women’s spots have been fairly locked-down lately by Simone Manuel and Mallory ComerfordManuel has split 52.1 and Comerford 52.7, though Comerford was 52.5 from a flat start at Worlds. One or both probably have to be 51-high to have any hope of holding off the Campbell train for gold.

Swimmer Best Individual Times w/ Relay Splits
Caeleb Dressel 47.86 47.86
Zach Apple 47.79 47.55
Simone Manuel 52.54 52.14
Mallory Comerford 52.94 52.71
3:21.13 3:20.26

The Dutch have taken bronze in this event at the past two World Championships, and their roster stacks up really well for this specific event. The Netherlands feature two of the best women’s freestylers out there: Ranomi Kromowidjojo (53.2 individually and owner of a 51.9 split back at 2017 Worlds) and Femke Heemskerk (53.2 individually and owner of a 52.3 split). Their men are just good enough to stay in contention: Kyle Stolk should be swimming only relays at Worlds, and split 47.8 back in 2017. Nyls Korstanje is rising, and has a 48.8 leadoff to his credit. That front half isn’t going to build a lead over anyone, but they just have to stay close enough, because their back half can probably outdo anyone besides Australia if they’re on.

Swimmer Best Individual Times w/ Relay Splits
Nyls Korstanje 48.87 48.87
Kyle Stolk 49.20 47.80
Femke Heemskerk 53.23 52.33
Ranomi Kromowidjojo 53.29 51.98
3:24.59 3:20.98

While those three are the medal favorites, Canada and Great Britain both have young rosters with chances to upset for hardware.

Canada has the red-hot Taylor Ruckwho broke out last summer at both Commonwealths and Pan Pacs. Ruck split 51.7 at the latter and 51.8 at the former and went 52.7 individually. She’s joined by Olympic champ Penny Oleksiak – the 19-year-old hasn’t matched her 52.7 from that Olympic win in the years since, but did split 52.9 at Worlds in 2017. With a somewhat lighter Worlds lineup this time around, Oleksiak could put up another 52-second split, though her best time over the past two seasons is only 53.6. Markus Thormeyer is another fast riser (48.7 individually), and Yuri Kisil has been a solid presence on Canada’s relays. He split 47.8 last summer.

Swimmer Best Individual Times w/ Relay Splits
CAN Markus Thormeyer 48.76 48.76
3:23.87 Yuri Kisil 48.79 47.89
3:21.33 Taylor Ruck 52.72 51.70
Penny Oleksiak 53.60 52.98
3:23.87 3:21.33

Great Britain should get a killer leadoff from Duncan Scott (47.8), and James Guy split 48.3 at Commonwealths last summer. Their women have tremendous upside, but will need big personal bests to push this team to a medal. Freya Anderson has a 52.6 split from last summer’s Euros, and Anna Hopkin split 53.8 at Commonwealths.

Swimmer Best Individual Times w/ Relay Splits
Duncan Scott 47.87 47.87
James Guy 49.53 48.30
Freya anderson 53.61 52.69
Anna Hopkin 54.02 53.82
3:25.03 3:22.68

France actually put up the fastest time in the world in this relay last year, but that is partially a product of Pan Pacs and Commonwealths not featuring the relay in their lineups. Mehdy Metella (48.2 individually, 47.4 split) and Charlotte Bonnet (52.7 individually, 52.2 split) are great bookends. They’ll need to choose between Jeremy Stravius, who led off in 48.8 en route to Euros gold last year, and Clement Mignon, who has been 48.4 individually. Then it’ll be up to Marie Wattel to improve on her 53.5 individual time.

Russia is probably one woman short of pushing the top medal contenders. Vladislav Grinev (47.4) and Vladimir Morozov (47.4 split at Euros) are one of the field’s better front halves. Mariia Kameneva (53.3 split) can hold her own, but Veronika Andrusenko has only been 54.2 individually, and that would get swallowed up by the monster women’s splits elsewhere in this field.

China is in a similar situation, with a slightly worse male duo. He Junyi (48.1) and Yu Hexin (47.3 split at Asian Games) will hold their own. Zhu Menghui (53.0 split) should be OK, and the fourth spot is probably Yang Junxuanwho has been just 54.1 individually, but did split 53.6 last year.

Beyond that are a few longshots to make the final. In this relay in particular, teams without a true medal chance may elect to swim an off lineup and rest their stars. One of the above teams doing so could allow one of these next teams into the final.

With Rikako Ikee out, Japan will struggle for two good women’s legs. If and when she returns down the road, this could be a pretty good relay. Katsumi Nakamura can go 47 individually, and Shinri Shioura split 47.9 at Asian Games. Meanwhile Tomomi Aoki is improving steadily. She split 54.1 at 2017 Worlds and then 54.0 and 53.5 at Pan Pacs last summer.

Italy just has one leg to iron out. Alessandro Miressi (47.9) is great, and Luca Dotto (48.4) can hold his own. Federica Pellegrini (53.3 split) is a wily vet, but the Italians don’t appear to have their next-best women’s choices (Sylvia di Pietro, Nicoletta Ruberti) on the roster.

Same goes for Hungary, which has a pair of 55s (Zsuzsanna Jakabos and Katinka Hosszu) that will have to make some tough decisions with potentially busy lineups. The men’s portion of this relay (47.1 split Nandor Nemeth and 48.1 leadoff from ’17 Worlds Dominik Kozma) is outstanding.

Annika Bruhn is coming on strong for Germany, splitting 52.8. Damian Wierling has split 47.7 and Marius Kusch dropped to 48.7 individually this year. They’ll need a big split from Isabel Gose (54.6 individually).

Brazil has a stable of elite men’s sprinters, including two men who have been 46 before: Marcelo Chierighini and Pedro Spajari. But they don’t appear to have enough women on their roster to go after this relay, unless Etiene Medeiros can swim twice.

TOP 8 PICKS:

Place Country Best Time Since June 2017
2017 Worlds Finish
1 Australia 3:25.51 8th
2 USA 3:19.60 1st
3 Netherlands 3:21.81 2nd
4 Canada 3:23.55 3rd
5 Great Britain 3:37.82 N/A
6 France 3:22.07 N/A
7 Russia 3:24.50 7th
8 China 3:29.42 9th

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Old Man Chalmers

Jack Cartwright isn’t on the worlds team. I wouldn’t count on Australia fielding their A team (Chalmers, Lewis/McEvoy, C1, C2) as it isn’t an olympic event, so the USA will most likely win. USA will at worst get silver, barring a DQ.

Troy

Yep, Australia didn’t use any of the 4 individual finalists for this event in 2017. It’ll probably just be an opporuntity to give some other team members top level relay experience.

bear drinks beer

They didn’t even swim this event in 2015. In 2017 they were generous enough to enter a B team in it.

Oceanian

Australia don’t consider events important unless they are on the Olympic programme. 50m form-races at Worlds are also treated as B-grade events with team selections only made if swimmers have also qualified in ‘real’ events.

Samesame

Gosh I’d love to see McEvoy back to his 47 low form with Chalmers , C1 and C 2 in this relay though. Fingers crossed .

Old Man Chalmers

Even 2017 McEvoy would be good enough for this relay, as he was consistently 47.9 then. he hasn’t broken 48 since budapest.

Dee

When did Hopkin split 52.8? Best I have for her is 53.5. Ben Proud has split faster than Guy too; 47.9.

1. AUS
2. USA
3. RUS

USA win if Australia field a weaker team like other non-Oly events historically.

WV Swammer

USA
Dressel: 47.05
Apple: 47.30
Comerford: 52.50
Manuel: 52.09
3:18.94 GOLD

Australia
Chalmers: 47.20
McEvoy: 47.79
B. Campbell: 52.38
C. Campbell: 51.59
3:19.04 SILVER

Wildcard here is McEvoy for the Aussies and the 2nd male for the US. If McEvoy is close to 47.0 form then the US is doomed imo, no female duo in the world is better than Straya’s…but if Adrian/Apple pops a 47.0 and gives a big lead to the ladies, I don’t see Comerford/Manuel conceding…that being said if CC goes 50.9 again no one stands a chance…thoughts?

Aigues

I can’t imagine C1 clocking only 51.59 chasing someone in a relay.

But I can’t imagine Australia sending an A-team – and I’m not sure USA will do too.

WV Swammer

Uhm USA did in 2017?

Aigues

I just said I’m not sure.

Anonymous

I think Chalmers probably goes at least 47.1 and both Campbells are around their relay splits last year if they swim it. McEvoy is finicky and may be slower but if AUS fields their best team they win.

Samuel Huntington

I’m not positive Apple can go that split. He has got to be gassed after so many races this past week and I don’t know if he has enough rest time. Adrian may be the best choice here.

That being said, C 1 and 2 will be fast. Any particular reason you have them slow splits?

Tyson

Bronte and cate would both have much faster relay splits then that. Cates gone sub 51 and brontes gone sub 52

About Jared Anderson

Jared Anderson

Jared Anderson swam for nearly twenty years. Then, Jared Anderson stopped swimming and started writing about swimming. He's not sick of swimming yet. Swimming might be sick of him, though. Jared was a YMCA and high school swimmer in northern Minnesota, and spent his college years swimming breaststroke and occasionally pretending …

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