2019 World Champs Previews: Peaty’s Project 56 Highlights Men’s 100 Breast


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Men’s 100m Breaststroke

One of the easiest events to call at the 2019 World Championships, the 100 breaststroke features Great Britain’s Adam Peatyone of the most dominant swimmers of all-time.

Peaty enters the meet seeded a full 1.1 seconds ahead of anyone else in the field. He’s also 1.1 seconds faster than anyone else in history. Peaty holds the 14 fastest swims in history in this event, along with 20 of the top 25 swims. But there’s still drama here. That’s because Peaty is aiming to become not only the first man under 58 seconds, but the first ever under 57.

Peaty has been publicly proclaiming his goal, with the slogan “Project 56.” He very nearly had it at the European Championships last year before some chaos. Peaty finished in exactly 57.00 for gold – but that time was later updated based on a timing system error. All swims from that session were moved back a tenth, so Peaty’s world record sits at 57.10. In a lot of ways, it’s a good thing he didn’t go any faster last summer. Having the first 56-second swim be later nullified would make this an odd record. Now, Peaty gets to seek 56 for the very first time – but we’re guessing he might have to hold his breath for a bit to make sure no more time gets added back on.

Peaty has broken this record four times since 2015. He went 57.92 in 2015, 57.55 and 57.13 at the Rio Olympics in 2016 and then 57.10 last summer.

Even second place is starting to distinguish himself from the field. Ilya Shymanovich of Belarus is the #2 swimmer in world history after a 58.29 back in March. With former world record-holder Cameron van der Burgh retiring, Shymanovich looks like the man to beat for silver. He’s four tenths ahead of anyone else on the start lists.

Still, Shymanovich has to prove himself in the spotlight. The 24-year-old doesn’t have any major international medals in long course. He didn’t even make the World Champs final in 2017, sitting 13th out of heats and taking 16th in the semifinals. Still, he’s got elite speed and seems to be peaking at the right time to make a run this summer.

The Brits have a shot at a 1-2 finish if Shymanovich falters. Last summer, Peaty and James Wilby went 1-2 at the European Championships, and no one with within four tenths of Wilby for silver. That same duo went 1-2 at Commonwealth Games, even besting van der Burgh. The 25-year-old Wilby has come on strong, and Euros silver in both the 100 and 200 breast last year plus Commonwealths gold in the 200 have made him one of the foremost international threats.

From there, the crowd gets pretty thick with 59-low types, though two men have been sub-59:

Yan Zibei of China has been on a tear. At 23, he’s one of the younger swimmers in a pretty veteran field at the top. Yan was 58.9 at Chinese Nationals in the spring, then traveled to the U.S. to smash his own national record and the U.S. Open record in 58.74 in June.

Meanwhile Japan’s Yasuhiro Koseki was the Asian Games and Pan Pacs champ last year and is a pretty highly-decorated swimmer. He was the 2017 Worlds silver medalist in the 200 breast. He hit 58.78 last summer, and went 58.8 at Asian Games. Koseki was also under 59 at the Rio Olympics, where he took 6th.

The floodgates are open for the last few spots in the A final. Russia has a pair of standouts. Anton Chupkov is more known for the 200 breast, where he won at Worlds last time around, but he’s gotten his speed up to a 59.0 breaststroke. Kirill Prigoda is more of the short-distance speedster of the Russian breaststrokers, and he’s been 59.0 as well.

Italy has it’s own duo, an old-and-young pairing. Fabio Scozzoli is 30, but swam a lifetime-best 59.0 earlier this year. He’s the top entrant for Italy, but young Nicolo Martinenghi seems to be just finding his feet again after missing much of last year with injury. Martinenghi, 19, is the world junior record-holder, and went 59.0 as a teenager back in 2017, pre-injury. He’s been 59.3 this year and looks to be getting back to form.

Both Americans from the 2016 Olympic final and 2017 World Champs final (Kevin Cordes and Cody Miller) are absent after missing the top U.S. travel team last summer. Young Michael Andrew was the national champ last summer at 59.38, and is rising fast. He’ll have a pretty busy Worlds lineup, though, and the 100 breast does come in a session with the 50 fly, where he’s also entered. The other American is Andrew Wilsonwho was a blistering 59.1 mid-season, but needs to prove he can be at his best in the Worlds final. Wilson hasn’t yet broken a minute this season, but with no real need to rest in-season, there’s no reason to worry about him at this point.

A few others to keep an eye on:

  • 23-year-old Arno Kamminga is a Dutch speedster who went 59.1 at the Sette Colli meet last summer, but hasn’t been under 59.4 otherwise.
  • Brazil’s Joao Gomes Junior has been 59.0 back in 2016, but gone backwards since, going 59.2 at Worlds in 2017 and 59.6 at Pan Pacs last summer.

Top 8 Picks


Place Swimmer Country Season-Best Lifetime-Best
1 Adam Peaty Great Britain 57.87 57.10
2 Ilya Shymanovich Belarus 58.29 58.29
3 James Wilby Great Britain 58.66 58.54
4 Yan Zibei China 58.74 58.74
5 Yasuhiro Koseki Japan 59.12 58.78
6 Kirill Prigoda Russia 59.50 59.05
7 Nicolo Martinenghi Italy 59.30 59.01
8 Anton Chupkov Russia 59.21 59.06

Dark horse: Tobias Bjerg of Denmark is an exciting upstart. The 21-year-old smashed a Danish record this spring with a 59.17 in the 100 breast. Bjerg’s lifetime-best was just 1:01.19 heading into that meet. He was 59.4 and 59.1 in April and 59.5 a week later, proving his big swim wasn’t a total fluke. If that improvement curve keeps up, Bjerg has a great chance to challenge the 58-second types in this field, though he might still be a year or two away from medal contention.

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I’m expecting something big. There has been hints from Loughborough for months about what he could do this year, and his pre-meet form backs it all up.

1. Peaty
2. Shymanovich
3. Wilby

If he doesnt go 56 I’ll be a little surprised. Never know in sport though do you.


I think he’ll dip under 57 this summer and in Tokyo next summer do something really special.


Agree, that’s been the plan since 2015 for them and they’ve been open about that. Wouldn’t be shocked to see 56mid next year to be honest – The guy is ridiculously good.


Y’all are sleeping on chupkov, my boys gonna split 28.8 29.6 for a bronze medal


That might not even be enough with Wilby and Shymanovich though

I still think Chupkov will win the 200 with a WR


Not sure about this, but I think Peaty might change sprint breaststroke to a choppy stroke which allows more kicks/lap. Much like Rebecca Soni’s stroke too. Since the kick can provide 70-80% of the propulsion in breaststroke, the more kicks the faster in sprint. Soni was the only one I’ve been able to see this in the 200.

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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