2022 World Champs Previews: Men’s 200 Breast Might Be The Biggest Lock Of The Meet

by Ben Dornan 12

June 14th, 2022 Australia, International, News


Click here to see all of our 2022 World Championship Previews.

By The Numbers: 

Barring some major upset, Zac Stubblety-Cook will win the 200 breaststroke. As the reigning Olympic champion and the world record holder, Stubblety-Cook is the easy favorite to win this event. He’s the top seed in the event and could be entered with a time more than 2 seconds faster than anyone else.

Stubblety-Cook broke the world record at the 2022 Australian Trials with a 2:05.95, becoming the first person in history to swim the event faster than a 2:06. So, very uncontroversially, Zac Stubblety-Cook is our pick for the gold medal here.

The next-best man in the world this season is Anton Chupkov who previously held the world record with a 2:06.12 and swam a 2:07.79. Cupkov of Russia, however, won’t be around to race in Budapest as his home country is banned from the meet. So #2 worldwide among those racing this summer is Japan’s Yu Hanaguruma who hit a 2:07.99, followed by countrymate Ryuya Mura who swam a 2:08.11, both at Japanese Trials.

Both of those men were named to the Japanese World Championships team this year and will be in the mix and will be swimming in the absence of Shoma Sato who finished third at that trials meet. Ryuya Mura is no newcomer to this event, having finished 7th at Tokyo 2020 with a 2:08.42 after establishing a PB of 2:08.27 in the semi-finals.

With his swim, 22-year-old Yu Hanaguruma asserted himself as a potential next-great-breaststroker for Japan, a nation that has produced 3 of the 8 most recent world record holders in this event. He dropped from a 2:08.95 to a 2:07.99 in one swim and will be working his way towards the 2:06 range this summer.

Arno Kamminga (photo: Giorgio Scala / Deepbluemedia / Insidefoto)

Someone that the Japanese duo of Yu Hanaguruma and Ryuya Mura will certainly need to watch out for here is Olympic silver medalist Dutch record holder Arno Kamminga. Kamminga has been the closest to Stubbletly-Cook’s PB out of anyone in the field, holding a 2:06.85 from December 2020. While he hasn’t quite hit that time since 2021 began, he snatched silver at Tokyo 2020 with a 2:07.01.

His fastest swim this year is a 2:08.22 from April 2022, which puts him right behind Ryuya Mura‘s 2:08.11 and makes him the 5th best (4th excluding Cupkov) in the world this year. Kamminga is usually strong in the summer and he’ll be our pick here for the silver medal.

And even though Olympic finalist Ryuya Mura and burgeoning breaststroker Yu Hanaguruma could very well make their way onto the podium, our bronze medal selection is American Nic Fink.

Fink made his World Championships debut for Team USA back in 2013 when he swam the 100 breaststroke at Barcelona 2013. He returned to the national team two years later to swim the 100 and 200 breaststrokes at Kazan 2015 and then in 2017 he swam just the 200 breaststroke at Budapest 2017. His top finish thus far was a 2:08.56 for 5th place in 2017, a placement that he match during his Olympic debut in 2021. At Tokyo 2020 Fink swam a 2:07.93.

Despite the fact that he’s been in the game for a decade, Fink is still improving and actually swam 3 of his fastest-ever long course 200 breaststrokes in 2021. He hit a 2:07.55 at Trials in 2021 and followed up with his 2:07.93 and 2:08.00 in Tokyo. Fink also won Short Course World Championships gold in this event in December 2021, delivering a 2:02.28 to narrowly miss his PB of 2:02.20 from 2020.

Fink posted a 2:08.84 at the 2022 World Championships Trials to get his spot on his 4th team and seems to have the hot hand in this event, opening the door for a bronze medal swim.

Speaking of bronze medals, the bronze medalist from Tokyo Matti Mattsson will also be in the race this summer. Mattsson is one of three swimmers who is going to race for Finland in Budapest and will be gunning to get back on the podium. He swam a 2:07.13, which would certainly get him in the fight this year. Mattsson hasn’t been as fast in-season this year as he was last season, which is why he’s off the podium in our picks.

Prior to the Tokyo Olympics, Mattsson had already swum four 2:08s, but this year his fastest swim has been a 2:10.27. So while he’s seemingly not in the same spot as he was in last year, Mattsson could certainly pull off a similar feat this year and nab a medal.

Next up is world junior record holder Qin Haiyang who holds a best time of 2:08.07 officially. His unofficial best time, however, is a 2:07.35 from back in 2017, which would have been a world junior record had it been ratified by FINA. His WJR stands at a 2:09.39 from earlier that year at the World Championships.

Qin might not be on people’s minds heading into this year’s World Championships due to the fact that he was disqualified from this event at Tokyo 2020. His best ratified time in the event, a 2:08.07 would have been good enough for 6th in Tokyo and he’s already hit a 2:08.44 this year, which makes him a good bet for the final.

Our last pick for the final is Charlie Swanson. Charlie Swanson went into 2021 with a best time in this event of 2:11.07 and got that down to a 2:10.62 at Olympic Trials. Later that summer he hit a 2:09.85 and by April 2022, he had posted a new best time of 2:08.84 to qualify for a spot on the US Olympic team.

The USA is generally good at getting both of their swimmers into the final at World Championships and post-training camp, Swanson seems like a good bet to sneak his way into the top 8 here.

Great Britain’s James Wilby and Sweden’s Erik Persson are also going to be present and racing, having both made the final last year. Wilby and Persson swam a 2:08.19 for 6th and a 2:08.88 for 8th, respectively last year. Those swims were both slower than their best times as Wilby has been as quick as a 2:07.49 and Persson a 2:07.66.

Additionally, both of them were faster than their finals times at the Olympics during semi-finals when Wilby hit a 2:07.91 for 2nd seed and Persson swam a 2:08.76 in both prelims and finals. Wilby and Persson are both going to be in contention for the final here but have only hit times of 2:09.48 and 2:09.16, respectively this season.

Other names to keep an eye on include Matt Wilson of Australia, who used to hold the world record, Anton McKee of Iceland, and Yan Zibei of China.

1 Zac Stubblety-Cook AUS 2:05.95 2:05.95
2 Arno Kamminga NED 2:08.22 2:06.85
3 Nic Fink USA 2:08.84 2:07.55
4 Yu Hanaguruma JPN 2:07.99 2:07.99
5 Matti Mattsson FIN 2:10.27 2:07.13
6 Ryuya Mura JPN 2:08.11 2:07.58
7 Qin Haiyang CHN 2:08.44 2:07.35
8 Charlie Swanson USA 2:08.84 2:08.84

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5 months ago

My prediction:


Swim Fanatic
5 months ago

Caspar Corbeau and Arno make the final

5 months ago

I too agree that Milak & Ledecky in her longer events safer bets then this event.
However amazing that in Tokyo this was one of the most wide open events & ZSC has made it his own.
Go Zac, what a swimmer.

5 months ago

Whilst one of the safer gold bets on the program, I have to agree with those previous commenters who took issue with the article’s title. Milak M200FLY, Ledecky W1500 (and arguably 800) should definitely rate ahead on that score. One or two relays could arguably enter that equation.

ZSC should win; would think Kamminga a fairly solid medal bet and would lean towards one of the Japanese for the other podium spot.

Reply to  commonwombat
5 months ago

Winx Odds to win…….The Dressel (50m Free), Ledecky (1500m) ZSC (200m Breast), Milak (200m Fly), USA Mens (4 x1 Free) and Aussie girls (4×1 Free) parlay wont return enough for a happy meal.

5 months ago

Sleeping on Caspar. I predict two Dutchmen in the final. Mark it!

Shannon Sharpeee
5 months ago

Erik Persson is final material. Dont think we will see any americans in this final

5 months ago

they need to change the title to mens biggest lock bc womens is obviously ledecky 1500

5 months ago

The biggest lock is Milak for 200 FL

Reply to  Swimmka
5 months ago

And it’s not remotely close. His margin in that will be 3x ZSC’s margin in this event.