2022 Short Course Champs Picks and Previews: Men’s Medley Relays


At the 2022 Long Course World Championships in Budapest, we were treated to a thrilling race in the last event of the meet—the men’s 4×100 medley relay. There, the Italian quartet of Thomas CecconNicolo Martinenghi, Federico Burdisso, and Alessandro Miressi upset the United States, winning by .28 seconds and tying the European record.

Now, the scene shifts to Melbourne and short course meters. Will the Italians once again be able to pull off the win, or will the United States strike back?

Men’s 4×50 Medley Relay

Short course Worlds brings another opportunity for the United States to reassert its dominance in the medley relays with the 4×50 medley. Last year, the Americans tied with the Russians for gold, while the Italians earned bronze. With the Russians not able to compete, the race for gold appears to be up for grabs between Italy and the U.S. once again.

For the United States, the lineup projection is relatively simple. They’ll likely have four prelims swimmers then exchange out for finals, but this is what we expect their ‘A’ team to look like:

Swimmer Lifetime Best
Back Ryan Murphy 22.53
Breast Nic Fink 25.53
Fly Shaine Casas 22.57
Free Michael Andrew 20.94
Total 1:31.57

At another meet, the lineup might be harder to predict, but given the roster they have, this is what seems most likely. Casas has been lights out this season, particularly in backstroke, but it makes sense to put him on fly with Ryan Murphy also on the team. There’s also usually a choice to make between Fink and Andrew for breaststroke, but that choice is nullified for two reasons. One, Fink has swum extremely well this season, and second, Andrew is the team’s top freestyler.

Based on lifetime best add-ups–which should always be taken with a grain of salt–the Italians have the faster time. And interestingly enough, their relay of fastest lifetime bests does not include Thomas Ceccon, one of their breakout stars of the year. That’s due to the continued emergence of Lorenzo Mora, who has been on fire this year, and Matteo Rivolta owns the Italian record in the 50 fly.

Swimmer Lifetime Best
Back Lorenzo Mora 22.90
Breast Nicolo Martinenghi 25.37
Fly Matteo Rivolta 22.02
Free Lorenzo Zazzeri 20.84
Total 1:31.13

It feels unlikely that Italy would leave Ceccon off the relay, and that decision will likely be made based on how athletes are swimming. Backstroke and butterfly are the two places that Ceccon could realistically slot in (note that the 50 back and 50 fly will have concluded by the time this race rolls around), and it will likely be between Lorenzo Zazzeri and Alessandro Miressi for the freestyle leg.

The Italians have plenty of relay options, which means if everyone’s swimming well, there will be several tough decisions to make when it comes time to fill out their relay card. However, in the quest for gold, it looks like on paper they hold a slight edge over the Americans.

After the top two teams, there’s a bit of a time drop-off to the next two nations: Australia and France.

France Projected Lineup Lifetime Best Australia Projected Lineup Lifetime Best
Back Mewen Tomac 23.27 Isaac Cooper 23.31
Breast Carl Ait Kaci 26.70 Grayson Bell 26.45
Fly Florent Manadou 22.09 Matthew Temple 22.70
Free Maxime Grousset 21.03 Kyle Chalmers 20.68
Total 1:33.09 1:33.14

For Australia and France, it’s their first half of the relay that prevents them from being in the same tier as Italy and the United States. If their backstrokers and breaststrokers turn in strong performances, they could push the Italians or the Americans if either falters, but on paper, it looks like it will be France and Australia duking it out for the bronze medal.

With Javier Acevedo having a career year and new National Record holder Ilya Kharun, Canada’s relay has two strong legs. They’ll miss Josh Liendo for their freestyle leg, though have either Yuri Kisil or Ruslan Gaziev to fill in for him. Their breaststroker projects to be James Dergousoff, who has a flat start lifetime best of 27.22. That doesn’t stack up well against the top-tier breaststrokers in the field, and combined with Liendo’s absences it makes them less of a medal threat than other nations.

Brazil finished fourth last year, which would usually put them solidly in the medal hunt. However, they don’t really have the backstroke leg, which puts them at a disadvantage.

Note that Great Britain was initially a pick in the top five but the updated psych sheets show they have scratched the event.

SwimSwam’s Top 5 Picks:

Rank Nation Lifetime Best Add-Up 2021 Finish
1 Italy 1:31.13 Bronze
2 United States 1:31.57 Gold (tie)
3 Australia 1:33.14
4 France 1:33.09 9th
5 Canada 1:34.26

Men’s 4×100 Medley Relay

Once again, this race should come down to a fight between Italy and the United States. At this meet last year, Italy got the better of the United States by just over seven-tenths of a second, clocking 3:19.76 for a new Championship Record. That quartet consisted of Lorenzo MoraNicolo Martinenghi, Matteo Rivoltaand Alessandro Miressi

So again, the Italians need to decide where Thomas Ceccon slots into this relay. Presumably, that will come down to how well he and Mora perform in the individual 100 backstroke. Unlike the 4×50 medley, where Ceccon could swim backstroke or butterfly, if he’s going to be on this relay, backstroke is what makes most sense.

However, Ceccon has scratched out of the 100 back individually, so barring something unexpected we’ll see Mora lead off.

Swimmer Lifetime Best
Back Lorenzo Mora 49.37
Breast Nicolo Martinenghi 55.63
Fly Matteo Rivolta 48.64
Free Alessandro Miressi 45.57
Total 3:19.21

While the U.S.’s lineup for the 4×50 medley relay is fairly straightforward, things get a little more complicated here. We expect that it will be Ryan Murphy and Nic Fink again on the front half of the relay, but after that, it’s up for debate.

That’s mostly because we don’t yet know what Casas is going to throw down in the 100 butterfly. He has a lifetime best from Toronto of 52.97, but that was done in a prelim swim. Given his form and LCM best of 50.40, he’s certainly capable of going sub-50.

Last year, the U.S. used Trenton Julian on the fly leg: he split 49.36, and holds a lifetime best 49.75 (also from Toronto). Putting him on fly and Casas on free adds up to a much faster time than leaving Casas on fly and sticking Drew Kibler on free.

How the splits on the 400 free relay shake out will surely have an impact on this.

Swimmer Lifetime Best Swimmer Lifetime Best
Back Ryan Murphy 49.23 Ryan Murphy 49.23
Breast Nic Fink 55.56 Nic Fink 55.56
Fly Shaine Casas 52.97 Trenton Julian 49.75
Free Drew Kibler 46.82 Shaine Casas 46.93
Total 3:24.58 3:21.47

Either way, on paper, the United States has significant ground to make up if they want to challenge the Italians for gold.

It looks like the home team will be fighting it out for the bronze medal, similar to the 4×50 medley. There are some projected lineup changes for the Australians though: expect Bradley Woodward to come in for the backstroke leg and Sam Williamson for the breaststroke.

Williamson had a strong summer in long-course meters, and if he can dip under his 57.00 best time, that would be huge for the Australians. Likewise, Woodward holds a lifetime best of 51.10, and it would be a big boost if he could shatter that. We all know that Kyle Chalmers is capable of some huge relay splits, but he needs some help from the front half of the lineup to bridge the gap to the top 2 teams.

Swimmer Lifetime Best
Back Bradley Woodward 51.10
Breast Sam Williamson 57.00
Fly Matthew Temple 49.32
Free Kyle Chalmers 44.84
Total 3:22.26

In 2021, Brazil and Norway finished fourth and fifth. Usually, that would make them two of the top contenders for this year, but they both have big questions about their lineups that need answering. Brazil is missing a backstroker, as Guilherme Guido is not on the roster and they have no entrants in the individual event. Norway is missing Tomoe Hvas, who split a key 49.63 fly leg en route to their fifth-place finish and national record.

Other teams, like Great Britain and France, are also having to rethink their lineups due to the absences of their usual butterfliers. For Great Britain, who surprised many by edging out Australia for bronze in Budapest, the answer will likely be to stick Lewis Burras on the fly leg. That leaves Tom Dean handling freestyle, which he’s done many times before. That’s the simple solution, and a strong split from Burras could pull the Brits into another battle with Australia, which would give us another showdown between Chalmers and Dean.

Two teams with (seemingly) complete lineups are the Canadians and the Dutch. However, they both have legs that need to make big drops if they want to compete with the top teams in the field. For the Canadians, it once again comes down to needing a faster breaststroke leg. It will also be interesting to see how Ilya Kharun handles this major international meet and his first with the Canadian team.

The Dutch are missing Arno Kamminga, but have a reasonably strong replacement in Caspar Corbeau. He won’t contend with Fink and Martinenghi the same way that Kamminga would, but he should keep them well-positioned in the race before handing things off to Nyls Kortstanje. Last year, the Dutch set a national record by finishing sixth in 3:26.59. Luc Kroon split almost a second faster than his lifetime best 100 free of 47.24, which they’ll need from him again this year. What would really boost their relay is a sub 53 backstroke split from Stan Pijnenburg, who has a best time of 53.08 and swam 53.61 on the relay last year. That was the slowest split in the field by 1.7 seconds, and bringing that down would go a long way towards vaulting the Dutch to a medal.

SwimSwam’s Top 5 Picks:

Rank Nation Lifetime Best Add-Up 2021 Finish
1 Italy 3:19.46 Gold
2 United States 3:21.47 Silver
3 Australia 3:22.26
4 Great Britain 3:27.97
5 Canada 3:25.42

See all of our medal predictions at the SwimSwam Preview Index here.

In This Story

Leave a Reply

Notify of

oldest most voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Swimswam follower
1 year ago

My educated guess is Casas will break or be close to breaking the 200 im wr

1 year ago

I would revise “Andrew is the team’s top freestyler” to “Andrew is the team’s top 50M freestyler”

About Sophie Kaufman

Sophie Kaufman

Sophie grew up in Boston, Massachusetts, which means yes, she does root for the Bruins, but try not to hold that against her. At 9, she joined her local club team because her best friend convinced her it would be fun. Shoulder surgery ended her competitive swimming days long ago, …

Read More »