2022 FINA WORLD AQUATICS CHAMPIONSHIPS
- June 18-25, 2022 (pool swimming)
- Budapest, Hungary
- Duna Arena
- LCM (50-meter format)
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By The Numbers:
- World Record: 3:19.40, United States (Dressel, Apple, Comerford, Manuel) – 2019 World Championships
- Championship Record: 3:19.40, United States (Dressel, Apple, Comerford, Manuel) – 2019
- 2021 Olympic Champion: N/A
- 2019 World Champion: United States (Dressel, Apple, Comerford, Manuel), 3:19.40
The mixed 400 freestyle relay is a unique race in that it’s now the only team event raced at the World Championship level but not at the Olympics, and it kind of gets thrown in at the tail-end of a long session during the penultimate night of finals.
It’s only been raced at Worlds three times, starting in 2015, and so far the U.S. is a perfect three-for-three.
When analyzing other relays for Budapest, it’s easy to use last summer’s Olympic Games as a reference point. In this event, however, we haven’t seen a best-on-best battle in three years, so we’re coming in with a blank slate.
BACK-HALF GIVES AUSSIES ADVANTAGE OVER U.S.
The Americans have won this event at the last two World Championships with Caeleb Dressel throwing down 47-low lead-off legs despite the race being his third of the session. He’ll once again have the 50 free and 100 fly final earlier on Friday night, but given his track record we can safely pencil him in to be in the same range once again.
In 2017, Dressel’s opening leg blew the race open for the U.S. and they sailed to victory by over two seconds. Things changed two years later, as the Australians put together an optimal lineup and Kyle Chalmers kept pace with Dressel on the opening leg. It was the second American split from Zach Apple (47.34) that helped the U.S. overcome the Aussies, and the American women did their part as they were only collectively out-split by Australia by three-tenths of a second.
A lot of how this race plays out hinges on Chalmers. If he manages to make the final of the 100 fly—his only individual race of the meet—he’ll have that earlier in the session, like Dressel. But even a slightly fatigued Chalmers is presumably Australia’s best option.
He may not be on career-best 47.0 freestyle form, but it might not matter.
Just going off of 2021-22 season-best times, which results in leaving Chalmers out since he hasn’t raced the event, Australia still comes out ahead of the U.S. thanks to a massive advantage from their two female legs.
|Caeleb Dressel||47.79||William Yang||48.55|
|Brooks Curry||48.04||Zac Incerti||48.65|
|Torri Huske||53.35||Mollie O’Callaghan||52.49|
|Claire Curzan||53.58||Shayna Jack||52.60|
Throw in Chalmers’ best time and Australia comes out more than two seconds clear of the Americans. Of course, Dressel has been as fast as 46.96, so it’s not fair to measure up Chalmers’ PB with Dressel’s SB, but still, Australia’s back-half could well lead them to victory.
The Americans will need a 47-mid at minimum from Brooks Curry (or another swimmer depending on how things go in the men’s 400 free relay), and then Torri Huske and Claire Curzan to split sub-53 to have a real chance, assuming Chalmers is racing this.
In 2019, both the U.S. and Australia cracked 3:20, and then there were three countries fighting for the last step on the podium in the 3:22s.
A similar situation appears to be arising this year. The gap between AUS/USA and the field may not be as big, but there projects to be a real battle for bronze between a few different teams.
The Canadians have fared well in this event historically, earning back-to-back bronzes in 2015 and 2017 before a close fourth in Gwangju. While they lose Brent Hayden, who was 47.99 leading off the men’s relay in Tokyo, they’ve got rising star Josh Liendo and either relay veteran Yuri Kisil or 48.4 flat-start Ruslan Gaziev to get them off to a competitive opening 200 before handing off to Penny Oleksiak and whichever of their women is swimming the fastest.
Canada’s season-best add-up puts them behind both Great Britain and France, but we’ve seen Kisil split 47.1, Oleksiak split 52-flat, and many feel Liendo is due to break 48 flat-start.
Moving to the Brits, Lewis Burras assumes the role of Duncan Scott, who led the team off last year en route to winning the European title. After that success at Euros, we have to assume Great Britain will race the event this year after sitting out in each of the first times it’s been contested at Worlds.
France hasn’t entered either the men’s or women’s 400 free relay, but field a team here that should be competitive in the bronze medal battle thanks to two solid pieces aside.
The French won bronze in 2019 with a strong back-half from Charlotte Bonnet and Marie Wattel, and those two will return this year along with Maxime Grousset and Hadrien Salvan on the men’s side. If Grousset is on career-best form (47.5 flat-start), they’re in good shape.
Another nation with an outside shot at a medal is China, though Yang Junxuan is the only real known quantity on the international stage.
|Josh Liendo||48.35||Lewis Burras||47.88||Maxime Grousset||48.03||Pan Zhanle||48.59|
|Ruslan Gaziev||48.41||Tom Dean||48.06||Hadrien Salvan||48.51||Yang Jintong||48.55|
|Penny Oleksiak||53.64||Anna Hopkin||53.45||Marie Wattel||53.71||Yang Junxuan||53.42|
|Kayla Sanchez||53.68||Freya Anderson||53.92||Charlotte Bonnet||53.74||Cheng Yujie||53.8|
THE BATTLE TO FINAL
Sweden is solid, led by Sarah Sjostrom, while Robin Hanson and Bjorn Seeliger, who are both coming off NCAA seasons at Cal, own lifetime best in the 48-high range but have raced sparsely this LC season.
Like Great Britain, Sweden has never raced this relay at the World Championships, and last year at Euros, they didn’t use Sjostrom. It seems likely that will be the case again, with the 50 free final coming the following night.
The Brazilians don’t have the female legs to do much damage.
|Alessandro Miressi||47.88||Stan Pijnenburg||48.78||Felipe Santos||48.41||Robin Hanson||48.93 (LTB)|
|Lorenzo Zazzeri||48.45||Nyls Korstanje||48.86 (LTB)||Gabriel Santos||48.64||Bjorn Seeliger||48.98 (LTB)|
|Silvia di Pietro||54.91||Marrit Steenbergen||54.16||Stephanie Balduccini||54.64||Sarah Sjostrom||53.05|
|Giulia Verona||55.12||Kim Busch||54.96||Lorrane Ferreira||55.95||Louise Hansson||55.15|
Worlds Entry Time
*without Kyle Chalmers, who hasn’t raced the LC 100 free this season.