2022 Short Course Worlds Picks And Previews: Women’s Sprint Freestyle


The wait for the 2022 Short Course World Championships is almost over and the racing is set to begin in Melbourne, Australia. Without the likes of multi-Short Course Worlds medalists Sarah Sjostrom and Ranomi Kromowidjojo in the mix here, it will be exciting to see who steps up and gets to the wall first. Check out previews and picks for the women’s 50, 100, and 200 freestyle:

Women’s 50 Freestyle

2022 Long Course Worlds Finalists Participating:

2021 Short Course Worlds Finalists Participating:

One of the few swimmers who managed to pull off a triple crown by winning the same event thrice at the 2022 FINA World Cup was Kasia Wasick of Poland. She topped three straight podiums in the 50 freestyle, finishing with a 23.10 to become the third-fastest woman in history and set yet another Polish record. The battle for gold here will likely be between Wasick, who has the momentum, and Emma McKeon, who was the winning resume.

McKeon is a regular on sprint freestyle and butterfly podiums, having picked up 7 medals at Tokyo 2020 and a total of 17 long course World Championships medals in her career. One whole is McKeon’s list of accomplishments, however, is a short course Worlds medal. While she’s never won one, it’s not because of a lack of short course speed. During her time in the International Swimming League, McKeon managed to win several races and proved her abilities in the shorter pool.

After taking some time off post-Commonwealth Games, McKeon returned to racing at the 2022 Australian Short Course Championships where she swam a 23.61 to qualify for Worlds. As much success as she’s had in long course, Wasick being a full half-second faster thus far in 2022 is probably enough to give her the edge. Wasick’s 23.10 puts her well ahead of the entire field including McKeon, Claire Curzan (23.80), Zhang Yufei (23.80), and Michelle Coleman (23.84).

There are 9 women aside from Wasick and McKeon with entry times under 24.00, making for an incredibly crowded field. Curzan will be showing off her versatility in Melbourne as she’s entered in the 50 freestyle, backstroke, butterfly, and the 100 butterfly. Her 23.80 50 free entry time came last year during semi-finals at Worlds before she hit a 23.91 for 6th in the final. Despite it being her first short course meet, she held her own and will likely do the same this year.

Few finalists from last year will be in the race this year as winner Sarah Sjostrom, silver medalist Ranomi Kromowidjojo, Maria Kameva, Abbey Weitzeil, and Holly Barratt will be missing. Wasick, Curzan, and Silvia Di Pietro are the only returners in 2021. Michelle Coleman finished 9th overall during semi-finals with a 23.96, which is slower than the 23.84 she has entered with this year. Coleman has four Short Course Worlds relay medals but has never picked one up individually.

One notable storyline this year is Zhang Yufei‘s absence in the 200 butterfly considering that she won the event in 2021 and is the reigning Olympic Champ. Her omission from the 200 fly and entrance into sprint events indicates a shift of focus for this meet that might pay off. In Tokyo, Zhang tied in the semi-finals of the 50 freestyle with teammate Wu Qingfeng but pulled out, avoiding the need for a swim-off. She is clearly a threat in this event and with a lighter schedule than usual, she could pick up some hardware. Wu is also entered in the event, with a 23.86, meaning that China could potentially get 2 into the final, if not on the podium.

Rounding out the top tier here will be Australia’s Meg Harris, Anna Hopkin from Great Britain, Valeria van Roon, Melanie Henique, Erika Brown, Beryl Gastaldello, Julie Kepp Jensen, and Kim Busch. With just hundredths of seconds separating their personal bests, any one of them could surge forward and disrupt our top 5 predictions.


1 Kasia Wasick POL 23.10 23.10
2 Emma McKeon AUS 23.61 23.50
3 Claire Curzan USA NA 23.80
4 Zhang Yufei CHN 23.82 24.41
5 Michelle Coleman SWE 24.15 23.59

Women’s 100 Freestyle

2022 Long Course Worlds Finalists Participating:

2021 Short Course Worlds Finalists Participating:

The biggest name on the 100 freestyle entry list that we won’t see in the 50 is the Olympic silver medalist and reigning short course world champion. Siobhan Haughey raced to victory in the 100 freestyle in 2021 by swimming a 50.98 as the only woman under 51. Her fellow medalists Sjostrom and Weitzeil are not racing this year. Emma McKeon is entered, however, with a 50.58, meaning that there won’t be a shortage of competitors.

McKeon swam a 50.58 in October 2021 during the World Cup, which would have been fast enough to defeat Haughey and remained the fastest time in the world all of last season. McKeon’s season-best is her 51.03 from Aussie Short Course Champs in August, which is just behind Haughey’s leading 51.00 from November. Where Haughey has the upper hand in the 200 freestyle (as world record-holder), McKeon is more of a sure bet in the 100 and will therefore be our pick for gold.

Kasia Wasick placed fourth in 2021 and has already swum faster than her time last year (51.71) this season with a 51.69. That might make her a contender for bronze, but Madi Wilson and Beryl Gastaldello have also out-swum Wasick’s 2021 time with their respective times of 51.54 and 51.67. Wilson is coming off a solid summer, which brought her 4 relay medals at both the Commonwealth Games and World Champs, along with 200 free bronze at Comm Games. Gastaldello on the other hand is in the midst of a comeback, following a less successful 2021-2022 season. Her new training base in France seems to be working out based on her success at the 2022 World Cup series.

The race for bronze will also include American sprint weapon Torri Huske who generally races for the win no matter what event she’s contesting. Huske missed the podium last year when she placed 6th with a 51.93, but she has since won bronze in the 100 freestyle at the 2022 long course World Championships.

Yang Junxuan raced this event earlier in 2022 at the long course World Championships and after placing 8th in the prelims, she withdrew from the event. Yang is new to the short course Worlds field this year but comes in with a strong entry time of 51.78 from Chinese Championships. Someone else who’s new to the field this year is Barbora Seemanova who, despite entering the event in 2021, didn’t end up racing it. Seemanova’s 51.71 entry time would have been competitive last year and will keep her in the conversation this year.

Michele Coleman is stronger in the 50, but as a staple of the Swedish 4×100 freestyle relay as well, she certainly has a shot at improving upon her 10th-place seed. Other entrants to look out for include Marritt Steenbergen of the Netherlands, Britain’s Anna Hopkin, the USA’s Natalie Hinds, and 2021 semi-finalist Cheng Yujie.


1 Emma McKeon AUS 51.03 50.58
2 Siobhan Haughey HKG 51.00 50.79
3 Torri Huske USA NA 51.93
4 Madi Wilson AUS 51.54 51.40
5 Beryl Gastaldello FRA 51.67 51.16

Women’s 200 Freestyle

2022 Long Course Worlds Finalists Participating:

2021 Short Course Worlds Finalists Participating:

As previously mentioned, Siobhan Haughey holds the world record in this event. She swam a 1:50.31 in the final at 2021 Short Course Worlds to undercut Sarah Sjostrom‘s record and win the event by nearly two seconds. Haughey has already gotten to a 1:51.13 this season and even if she isn’t able to lower her world record again in Melbourne, she’s the clear pick to win this event.

With Haughey in the #1 position, let’s look at the rest of the list to figure out who’s #2 and #3. If you look at the list, you might notice that Haughey isn’t the only world record holder there. Li Bingjie recently downed Ariarne Titmus‘ 400 freestyle when she hit a 3:51.39 at Chinese Championships. While she’s clearly the frontrunner in that event, Bingjie might come away with more than one medal considering her #2 entry time of 1:51.25. Bingjie won Olympic gold in 2021 for her part on China’s 4×200 freestyle relay. Bingjie didn’t race this event last year at Short Course Worlds, opting for the 400 and 800 freestyles so the fact that she’s broadening her schedule is interesting.

While Bingjie is one of the best freestylers in the world right now, she might not end up being the fastest woman from China at this meet considering that her teammate Yang Junxuan is sitting at #3 in the psych sheets. Yang was also on the 4×200 free relay in Tokyo that won gold and she won the long course World title in this event just a few months ago. Yang’s 1:51.61 makes her one of three entrants under 1:52 and if she can’t quite catch Siobhan Haughey, she might be able to clinch silver.

Madi Wilson and Rebecca Smith are next up with their respective entry times of 1:52.23 and 1:52.24. That time from Smith came at this meet in 2021 when she pulled off a second place finish behind Haughey. Smith has been pretty quiet since that meet and is now training in Calgary, while Wilson has continued racing fairly consistently including her swims at the Commonwealth Games, World Championships, Aussie Nationals, and the FINA World Cup this year. Wilson is a regular podium dweller as a staple on Australian freestyle relays, but this event seems like her clearest shot to add another individual medal to her tally.

Smith will be our #5 pick here but she’ll need to fend off a pretty solid 6th – 10th place. Wilson’s Australian teammate Leah Neale comes into this meet with a 1:53.22, which she swam in August. Marritt Steenbergen is a bit faster with her 1:52.75, which she swam en route to gold at the European Short Course Swimming Championships in 2021. As with many Americans, Erin Gemmell doesn’t have much experience in a short course meters pool, but her recent 1:53.27 at the Indianapolis world cup showed potential. Teammate Hali Flickinger has seen improvements in her freestyle over the past few years and while this may seem like an off event for her, she could find her way into the final.

Barbora Seemanova is worth more of a discussion for this event after winning a medal at the 2020 long course European Championships and the 2021 short course European Champs. Seemanova hit a 1:53.71 in October to give herself a solid entry time, but it’ll likely take something faster to contend for a medal. The same is true for Katja Fain who came fourth in this event last year with a 1:53.48 shortly after taking bronze at the European Championships.


1 Siobhan Haughey HKG 1:51.13 1:50.31
2 Yang Junxuan CHN 1:51.61 1:51.61
3 Li Bingjie CHN 1:51.25 1:51.25
4 Rebecca Smith CAN 1:54.97 1:52.24
5 Madi Wilson AUS 1:52.23 1:52.23

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5 months ago

Coleman went 23.87 unrested at Swedish nationals, she’s my darkhorse