2022 Short Course World Champs Picks and Previews: Men’s IM


This preview was a combined effort of Braden Keith and James Sutherland.

The men’s individual medley races include two very-different sets of contenders. The 100 IM sees a few of the proper IMers involved, but a whole lot more of the speed-and-underwater guys. With two-time defending champion Kliment Kolesnikov barred from competition after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, that race is wide open.

The longer races have more organized fields, with the defending champion Daiya Seto trying to defend his titles against fast-rising Americans Shaine Casas (200 IM) and Carson Foster (200/400 IM).

Men’s 100 IM

2021 Short Course Worlds Finalists Participating:

As compared to the women’s race, where versatility rules the day, the men’s 100 IM is more about fast-twitch and speed. When fast-twitch and versatility come together as one, you get a World Champion.

There is only one former World Champion who is active in this field this year: American Michael Andrew. He won the title in 2016, which was his first trip to the top of a major international podium.

What makes picking Andrew so difficult this year is that he’s only raced once since July. Andrew has taken a break from his usual almost-every-weekend competition schedule this fall, and has pursued other interests, including taking up tennis.

He did pop in to race at the FINA World Cup Series stop in Indianapolis, where his best finish was 2nd place in the 100 IM in 51.22. That time for Andrew would have placed him 2nd at last year’s World Championships, behind only the two-time defending champion Kliment Kolesnikov – who is not allowed to compete because of the ban on Russian athletes.

Andrew swims all four strokes as well as any man in history over 100 meters-or-less, and he’s got tons of fast twitch, and that makes him a favorite in this race. The challenge is the uncertainty. He has struggled with consistency at big meets, but perhaps his shift in approach to racing will help with that. His results are one of the under-told stories of this meet, given the dramatic shift in his philosophy this season.

The only swimmer who beat him at that Indianapolis World Cup stop was his countrymate Shaine Casas. Casas isn’t as good of a breaststroker as Andrew is, but is an absolute juggernaut underwater, and has three outstanding strokes. He is still a very good breaststroker (53.73 in 2021 in the 100 yard race), and has generally been on fire this season. He won the 100 IM in Indianapolis and Toronto, and probably only lost in Berlin because he underplayed his prelims swim and missed the final.

That includes a 51.03 in Toronto that is the world leader.

Given the streak that he’s on, the times he’s been, and the fact that he did win a Short Course World title last year (in the 100 back, which he isn’t swimming this year), it’s hard to pick against him. Andrew has a puncher’s chance, but this is Casas’ race to lose. He seems more comfortable in short course than long course, where he’s got the ability but hasn’t quite put it all together yet.

So who is left then to battle with Andrew for the rest of the medals? A very talented field that includes 8 swimmers under 52 seconds.

Canadian Javier Acevedo showed off his versatility in college at Georgia, and has more recently brought that reputation to the international stage (though he is primarily a backstroker). The big name that stands out, though, is Thomas Ceccon, the new long course World Record holder in the 100 back and the #4 seed.

Since the World Championships where he broke that 100 backstroke record, he has been best times in the 100 fly in long course, the 100 back in short course, and 100 free in short course. He’s a good-enough breaststroker with a 1:02.98 personal best from 2020 (before his breakout), and he’s improving in short course.

Maxime Grousset of France falls under the category of the fast-twitch guys, and it seems like he’s had fun learning this event this season. Andreas Vazaios of Greece is less of that pure-twitch, but more versatile. Vazaios was one of the breakout stars of the International Swimming League, but has been very quiet in 2022 – he didn’t race in long course worlds, and hasn’t swum for Greece internationally since this meet a year ago. He was 6th there, missing the podium by .34 seconds.

Canadian Finlay Knox swam 51.89 in November, within two-tenths of his best time from this meet last year.

There are a few wildcards down the rankings. South Korea’s Hwang Sunwoo is seeded at 52.13 – he is a contender for medals in the 200 free. Australian Clyde Lewis, a great 200 IMer in short course, will also swim this 100 IM. Watch out for Pan Zhanle of China as well, who has a 47.65 relay anchor at long course Worlds and could be a breakout star of this meet. Breaststroke World Record holder Emre Sakci is entered as well.

We would be remiss not to mention Bernhard Reitshammer as a returning finalist in the event, but with a best time of 51.91, and already 28 years old, it doesn’t seem like he has room to get to the 51-low it will take to medal here.

SwimSwam’s Top 5 Picks:

Predicted Rank Swimmer Country Season Best Lifetime Best
1 Shaine Casas USA 51.03 51.03
2 Thomas Ceccon Italy 51.52 51.40
3 Michael Andrew USA 51.22 51.16
4 Maxime Grousset France 51.49 51.49
5 Javier Acevedo Canada 51.38 51.38

Men’s 200 IM

2022 Long Course Worlds Finalists Participating:

2021 Short Course Worlds Finalists Participating:

The entire men’s 200 IM podium from the 2021 Short Course World Championships is returning to this year’s edition in Melbourne, but none of them are entering the competition as the favorite gold.

That distinction belongs to American Shaine Casas, who became the second-fastest performer of all-time after blasting a time of 1:50.37 at the Toronto stop of the FINA World Cup.

Casas is dynamic across all four strokes. He’s known as a top-tier flyer and backstroker, but in that 200 IM swim in October, he split 31.78 on breaststroke, which is on par with Ryan Lochte‘s split from his world record swim (31.74) and faster than defending world champion Daiya Seto went in last year’s final (31.93).

Seto has been sub-1:51 twice, including a personal best 1:50.66 last October on the FINA World Cup, so he’s right there with Casas. But the one area where one would expect him to have the upper hand over Casas, breaststroke, is not so.

In last year’s SC Worlds final, Seto held off a valiant charge from American Carson Foster, as Foster made up nearly nine-tenths on the free leg (26.91 split) to come within two-tenths of Seto. However, this was far from a two-man race, as we saw Seto (1:51.15), Foster (1:51.35), Alberto Razzetti (1:51.54) and Andreas Vazaios (1:51.94) all broke 1:52.

All four are returning this year, but if everyone’s firing on all cylinders, it’s hard to bet against Casas, who simply has a bit more speed than the others and doesn’t have any weaknesses.

Seto’s form in the lead-up has been solid, clocking 1:51.83 at the Japanese Championships in October, but unlike last year, he wasn’t racing the best on the best this year on the FINA World Cup circuit, so he might not be as sharp.

After a standout summer, Foster has looked good so far in the NCAA and appears to be saving his first taper of the season for this meet.

South Africa’s Matt Sates has the ability to shake things up on the medal stand as he’s been 1:51-mid on two occasions, including this year at the Berlin stop of the FINA World Cup. Sates doesn’t quite have the backstroke to match the others but has a sensational free leg and can be out sub-24 on fly if he’s aggressive.

Canadian Finlay Knox leads the next tier of swimmers who have been in the 1:52s, which also includes Brazilian Leonardo Coelho Santos and Japan’s So Ogata, while one dark horse to watch is Great Britain’s Tom Dean, though he likely won’t have the speed to contend for a top-five spot.

SwimSwam’s Top 5 Picks:

Predicted Rank Swimmer Country Season Best Lifetime Best
1 Shaine Casas USA 1:50.37 1:50.37
2 Daiya Seto Japan 1:51.83 1:50.66
3 Carson Foster USA N/A 1:51.35
4 Alberto Razzetti Italy 1:54.06 1:51.54
5 Matt Sates South Africa 1:51.64 1:51.45

Men’s 400 IM

2022 Long Course Worlds Finalists Participating:

2021 Short Course Worlds Finalists Participating:

Daiya Seto has been on an unprecedented run at the Short Course World Championships in the men’s 400 IM, having won five consecutive titles dating back to 2012.

10 years ago in Istanbul, Seto broke through by cracking the 4:00 barrier for the first time in a new Asian Record time of 3:59.15, and he hasn’t looked back since.

The 28-year-old Japanese star has gone largely uncontested on his current streak—including winning by nearly five seconds in 2014 and more than six in 2018—but that changed last year in Abu Dhabi.

Seto battled tooth and nail for his fifth straight gold against Russia’s Ilya Borodin, emerging by a mere 21 one-hundredths of a second, 3:56.26 to 3:56.47.

This year, with Borodin out of the mix due to FINA’s ban on Russian athletes, Seto’s biggest challenger will be American Carson Foster, who will be looking to cap off an incredible 2022 with his first individual world title.

Foster won bronze in Abu Dhabi in 3:57.99, and is coming off a silver medal victory at the Long Course World Championships in this event, swimming a significant best time of 4:06.56. Seto was sixth in that race, more than five seconds behind Foster.

Although Seto’s long course performances have been a bit up and down in the last three years, he’s always managed to rise to the occasion in short course, and he’ll get a tall test here in Foster.

In addition to his performance at LC Worlds, Foster, 21, has had a strong start to the NCAA season in his senior year at Texas, and has shown an increased level of versatility across events such as the 500 free and 200 fly.

Seto will need to arrive in Melbourne in peak form if he’s to hold off Foster.

The fourth swimmer who broke 4:00 last year in Abu Dhabi was Italian Alberto Razzetti, who set a new National Record of 3:59.57 in the 2021 final.

The defending world champion in the 200 fly, Razzetti essentially matched Foster on fly, breast and free last year, but is lacking a bit on the backstroke leg which will likely keep him from contending for gold.

However, he’s a strong contender to make his way onto the podium after taking fourth in Abu Dhabi, though he’ll have to contend with another man who has been under 4:00, Australian Brendon Smith.

Smith, the 400 IM bronze medalist from the Tokyo Olympic Games, roared to a personal best time of 3:59.33 during the ISL’s Play-In match in September 2021, and will be a threat for the podium here if he’s within striking distance heading into the freestyle leg.

Smith is an excellent freestyler, owning a 3:37.11 in the SCM 400 free, and closed his 400 IM PB in 54.37. Razzetti isn’t bad on the back-end either, having come back in 55.3 at last year’s Worlds, so we should be treated to an exciting battle if it ends up being these two going head-to-head down the stretch for the last spot on the podium.

Matt Sates went undefeated in this event on the FINA World Cup circuit, hitting 4:02 twice, showing a level of consistency that puts him in the hunt for a podium spot if Razzetti or Smith is a bit off.

Australian David Schlicht put up a quick time of 4:01.44 in late August, but his 3:43 yards time from the Wolfpack Invite in mid-November seems to indicate he’s not quite on that type of form—though it’s conceivable he was saving his taper for Melbourne.

19-year-old So Ogata of Japan is on the rise and one to watch. He doesn’t have the resume of some of the others, but could surprise after going 4:01.67 earlier this season.

Lurking down on the psych sheets is the second American entrant, Carson’s older brother Jake Foster, who owns bests of 4:13.7 in LCM and 3:37.3 in SCY.

SwimSwam’s Top 5 Picks:

Predicted Rank Swimmer Country Season Best Lifetime Best
1 Carson Foster USA N/A 3:57.99
2 Daiya Seto Japan 4:00.70 3:54.81
3 Brendon Smith Australia 4:01.11* 3:59.33
4 So Ogata Japan 4:01.67 4:01.67
5 Matt Sates South Africa 4:02.65 4:01.98

*Smith’s swim came on August 25, 2022, so not technically not in the 2022-23 season, but worth including for the purpose of this article.

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

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3 months ago

I think the USA men team could’ve won the 4x100m freestyle relay if they had Ryan Held and Caeleb Dressel. It is sad to see that Dressel pulled out of the team roster. Hope he is recovering.

Swimswam follower
3 months ago

I think Casas will break or come close to breaking the 200im world.
Glad it’s first for him.

3 months ago

Jake’s scy time isnt that far behind his bro so he has the potential to break 4 minutes.

Speaking of MA he seems bored with swimming right now. However he can do a 51 in this event in this sleep but its hard to get behind him when he seems disinterested. He has regressed to being a 50 guy again.

Reply to  Taa
3 months ago

He is swimming the 100 breast, 100 fly, 100 IM, and 100’s on relays. Then there is the 50’s and 4×50 relays.