2022 World Champs Previews: Milak vs The Clock In Men’s 200 Fly

2022 FINA WORLD AQUATICS CHAMPIONSHIPS

  • June 18-25, 2022 (pool swimming)
  • Budapest, Hungary
  • Duna Arena
  • LCM (50-meter format)
  • Meet Central

By The Numbers

  • World Record: Kristóf Milák (HUN) – 1:50.73 (2019)
  • World Junior Record: Kristóf Milák (HUN) – 1:52.71 (2018)
  • 2020 Olympic Champion: Kristóf Milák (HUN) – 1:51.25
  • 2019 World Champion: Kristóf Milák (HUN) – 1:50.73

Unlike some of the other races where there are a handful of swimmers in contention for gold, the men’s 200 butterfly is much more straightforward–at least in predicting who will be on the top step of the podium. Let’s dive in.

THE WORLD RECORD HOLDER

Kristof Milak has long been in a class by himself in this event. He owns eight of the top 10 performances in a textile suit, and his world record time of 1:50.73 is almost two seconds clear of anyone not named Michael Phelps.

Despite being ill before the Hungarian National Championships, Milák swam a time 1:53.88, the second-fastest time in the world this year. At the Barcelona stop on the Mare Nostrum tour, he set a new Mare Nostrum Record in 1:53.89, right on par with his nationals time.

If we look at the last couple of seasons, Milak was 1:54.19 one month out from the World Championships in 2019—the meet where he set the world record—and he was 1:53.18 prior to the Olympic Games (where he was just over half a second off the WR for gold in 1:51.25).

At the Olympics, Milak ripped his suit 10 minutes before the Olympic final, and he was open afterward about it breaking his concentration, saying he knew when that happened he wouldn’t be able to break his record.

Given that he’s in the same range as years past in the lead-up to producing some of the fastest 200 fly swims in history, and that he probably had a lot more in him in Tokyo before the equipment malfunction (something that happened to Phelps in Beijing), the Hungarian appears to be on a collision course with his all-time mark that has now been on the books for nearly three years.

NEXT MEN UP

Japan’s Tomoru Honda earned the silver medal in Tokyo with a lifetime best of 1:53.73, and he’s already been close to that this season, clocking 1:53.87 at Japan’s World Trials. Though Milak has been close, that time holds up as the fastest in the world this year, putting Honda in a prime position to defend his silver medal.

Poland’s Krzysztof Chmielewski clocked a best time of 1:55.28 at the Polish Open early this year, one of many time drops the Tokyo Olympic finalist has been producing his season. In the short course version of the 200 fly, the 17-year-old (he’ll be 18 on June 8) set a European Junior Record in 1:51.84, eclipsing his previous best of 1:52.66. If he continues that trend in the big pool, he could be a threat in the final.

Noe Ponti of Switzerland was the 2021 Olympic bronze medalist in the 100 fly, and we shouldn’t discount him here either. He finished 10th in Tokyo, so he’ll be looking to improve on that and make the final. His lifetime best is 1:55.05 and he’s been close to that already this season with a 1:55.49.

Ponti, who started training at NC State University in the NCAA last fall but opted to move back to his home coach after just a few weeks, citing mental fatigue, also had an explosive 1:49.81 performance to win silver in this event at SC Worlds, and has gotten 10 LC 200 fly swims in since March. Given that, and the ability he’s shown to swim 1:56s on (likely) no rest, he’s got a great chance to be a podium contender moving forward.

While we don’t have official confirmation of China’s Worlds roster, the leaked version includes Chen Juner. He holds the sixth-fastest time in the world this year at 1:54.61, so if he does compete, he’s set himself up to be in the medal hunt as well.

VETERAN PRESENCE

One glaring absence from the field will be Japan’s Daiya Seto, who would have had the second-fastest best time in the field with his Asian Record of 1:52.53 set back in 2020. The 2019 World Championship silver medalist fell outside of the top eight in Tokyo, and the event coincided with the 200 IM at Japan’s selection trials in March.

London Olympic champion Chad le Clos has been a consistent presence on the global stage in the 200 fly for over 10 years, and this season, he’s been as fast as 1:55.75 and just finished up racing on the Mare Nostrum Tour. Expect him to stick to his usual style of going out hard and trying to hang on for a medal.

Brazil’s Leonardo de Deus also just got done at Mare Nostrum and his season best stands at 1:56.18. Expect him to improve on that in Budapest; his lifetime best is 1:54.83 and he went 1:55.19 to finish sixth in Tokyo. However, at 31, he’ll be one of the elder statesmen in the field.

Hungary’s Tamas Kenderesi is also sure to be in the mix for a medal. He finished fourth in Tokyo, .07 off the podium, and his lifetime of 1:53.42 would have been good for silver. This season, he’s been 1:55.01. He, along with the rest of the field, will benefit from the absence of bronze medalist Federico Burdisso.

NCAA STARS TAKE AIM

Leon Marchand, Luca Urlando, and Trenton Julian are all coming off successful NCAA seasons and looking to continue that success at Worlds.

Of the three, Marchand has the most international experience–he has an Olympics under his belt and is the only one who’s competed at a long course senior international meet. Interestingly, he opted for the 200 fly instead of the 200 breast in Budapest, despite swimming a 2:09.24 at the Pro Series in San Antonio and having not raced the long course 200 fly since the Olympics. His lifetime best in the 200 fly is 1:55.40. He’s scheduled to contest the event at the Mission Viejo Pro Series this week, so we’ll get a look at his current form there.

In 2019, Urlando swam a blistering 1:53.84 at just 17 years old, breaking Michael Phelps’ 17-18 NAG Record. At U.S Trials, he got the closest he’s been to that mark since with a 1:54.10. With that swim, he won the event and qualified for his first Worlds team. If he stays close to that time, or betters it, he’ll be a threat in the final.

Julian also had to deal with that quick jump from yards to meters. He didn’t miss a step, blasting a new best time of 1:54.22 and improving his closing speed.

As of now, according to USA Swimming, Julian will still be participating at Worlds despite being added to the U.S SafeSport database a few weeks ago. Given that, and his move from Berkeley back to train with his father at the Mission Viejo pro group, it will be interesting to see what form he brings to Budapest.

FINALS CONTENDERS

After finishing third at Australian Olympic Trials and failing to make the team, Bowen Gough bounced back here to win the event at this year’s Trials. He won in 1:56.48, while his lifetime best stands at 1:55.88. He’ll probably have to improve on both those times to make the final, but never say never.

Like Gough, Brazil’s Matheus Gonche will likely have to improve on his best time if he wants to make the final. Currently, he holds a 1:56.30, which he set at this spring’s Brazil Trophy. Presumably, he wasn’t fully tapered for that swim, so he could be set for another drop at Worlds.

SWIMSWAM’S PICKS

Place Name Season Best Lifetime Best
1 Kristof Milak 1:53.88 1:50.73
2 Tomoru Honda 1:53.87 1:53.73
3 Tamas Kenderesi 1:55.01 1:53.42
4 Luca Urlando 1:54.10 1:53.84
5 Leonardo de Deus 1:56.18 1:54.83
6 Chad le Clos 1:55.75 1:52.96
7 Noe Ponti 1:55.49 1:55.05
8 Krzysztof Chmielewski 1:55.28 1:55.28

Dark Horse: Wang Kuan-Hung (TPE) – Known in the ISL as Eddie Wang, in Tokyo he blasted a 1:54.44 in prelims before fading to 1:55.52 in semifinals and failing to make the final. If he can pace himself better through the rounds, he should be in the mix for a lane in the final. Another factor here will be that Wang tested positive for COVID-19 in May so he had to quarantine. He should have enough time to get back to form, but it’s definitely unfortunate timing.

In This Story

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AnEn
16 days ago

My prediction:
Milak
Honda
Urlando
Julian
Kenderesi
Chmielewski
Ponti
Le Clos

Terada
Guy
Carini
Razzetti
De Deus
Chen
Marchand
Ivanov
Wang
Gonche

Prettysup
27 days ago

How about China’s Chen Juner?

kentao
1 month ago

Honda’s new lifetime best time is 1:53.53 at last month.

Virtus
1 month ago

Is seto not swimming?

olivy
Reply to  Virtus
1 month ago

Honda and Terada qualified.

Mr Piano
1 month ago

It may or may not be this year, but he will go 1:49. His fly is absolutely gorgeous.

*mynameis
1 month ago

Why not even mentioning Burdisso, Olympic bronze medalist?

Noah
Reply to  *mynameis
1 month ago

I’m pretty sure he was 3rd at trials and wasnt preselected.

*mynameis
Reply to  Noah
1 month ago
Scuncan Dott
Reply to  *mynameis
13 days ago

He was only selected for the 100 fly.

Robbos
1 month ago

An Hungarian 1-2 & Honda for 3rd.
I love the way Milak swims. love to see him challenge Dressel in 100 fly.

Stephen
1 month ago

Malik wins 1:51.95
Now lets move on to the 100m Fly. That should be a blockbuster.
15 mins difference Men’s 50m Free Final & 100m Fly final.

armstrong, andrew, dressel, curry
Reply to  Stephen
1 month ago

i think milak will take it in a new wr

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, …

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