2022 FINA WORLD AQUATICS CHAMPIONSHIPS
- June 18-25th, 2022 (pool swimming)
- Budapest, Hungary
- Duna Arena
- LCM (50 meters)
- Meet Central
By The Numbers:
- World Record: Aaron Piersol (USA) – 1:51.92 (2009)
- World Junior Record: Kliment Kolesnikov (RUS) – 1:55.14 (2017)
- 2020 Olympic Champion: Evgeny Rylov (ROC) – 1:53.27
- 2019 World Champion: Evgeny Rylov (RUS) – 1:53.40
The Americans have long been leaders of the international backstroke scene. That was disrupted somewhat in Tokyo, when Evgeny Rylov became the first non-American to win the men’s 200 back in six Olympics, taking down Tyler Clary’s Olympic Record in the process.
But Rylov (and Russia) are banned from competition, which gives 2016 Olympic gold medalist Ryan Murphy the opportunity to reclaim the highest step on the podium. There’s also a number of other key absences that open the door for up-and-coming stars to break through and claim not only a lane in the final, but potentially a medal.
Ryan Murphy dominated the Rio Olympics, sweeping the 100 and 200 backstrokes and breaking the world record in the 100 back en route to an American win in the 4×100 medley to close out the meet. In the six years since, he hasn’t won an individual gold medal at the Olympics or LC Worlds. That’s not to say that this last cycle was a bad one; he won silver in Budapest (‘17), Gwangju (‘19), and Tokyo (‘21) in the 200 back, and bronze in the 100 back in Budapest and Tokyo. He’s been a consistent gold medal threat for years now.
This season, he owns the top time in the world at 1:55.01 and is in prime position to grab his first long course individual world title.
While Murphy has been a mainstay on international podiums for the last six years, Shaine Casas is new to the scene. This is his first senior long course international team, with his only prior international experience coming at SC Worlds in December. He put on a performance there, earning six medals, including silver in the 200 back in 1:48.81. Then in Greensboro, he went a lifetime best 1:55.46 to book his ticket to Budapest. It’s still early, but so far his move to train with Eddie Reese and the University of Texas pro group has returned positive results. With the second fastest time this season and a high ceiling, he’s put himself into the medal conversation.
RETURNING OLYMPIC FINALISTS
We’re expecting four others from last year’s Olympic final to be racing in Budapest. That list includes Great Britain’s Luke Greenbank. Greenbank won bronze in Gwangju in a lifetime best, which he reset multiple times in 2021 to break the British Record and then won bronze in Tokyo. He’s been sub 1:55 on numerous occasions, and the only other man in this field who can say that is Murphy. That fact alone makes him a contender for a medal of any color this summer.
Pre-qualified for Worlds, he clocked 1:57.57 at British Trials. He then followed that up with a win at Mare Nostrum’s Barcelona stop in a season-best 1:56.88, though his results were inconsistent over the three stops. Coming off what he described as “one of the best training blocks [he’s] ever done,” he seems to have set himself on a good course heading to Budapest.
Adam Telegdy swam a personal best 1:56.15 to place fifth in Tokyo. This season, he’s been 1:57.96, which he swam in Barcelona, where he finished third behind Greenbank and Pieter Coetze. That improved on the 1:58.61 he clocked at the Hungarian National Championships. It’s possible Telegdy, like many other swimmers, is all-in for another big meet like the European Championships but he’ll need to get closer to his best to be in the Worlds’ final.
At SC Worlds, Radoslaw Kawecki won his fifth medal–and fourth gold–in the 200 back, and is the SC European Champion as well. In long course, he placed sixth in Tokyo in 1:56.15 and his best sits at 1:54.24 from 2013. The 30-year-old’s best registered time this season is a 1:58.64 from the Gran Prix Polski. There are some usual faces from this event missing which gives a little leeway, but with many young swimmers looking to breakthrough this summer in Budapest, Kawecki will need to be much closer to his best to be a true contender.
Irie Ryosuke of Japan is the fourth Olympic finalist who will be competing in Budapest. He’s been on the Mare Nostrum tour this spring, and his season best 1:56.36 ranks third in the world. Irie is the second fastest performer of all time in this event, with his super-suited 1:52.51 from 2009 World Championships. He’s been a consistent contender for over ten years, and he’ll look to continue that here.
Nicolas Garcia Saiz, the eighth Olympic finalist, was confirmed on Spain’s official roster for European Championships, but is not on the roster for Worlds.
NEW PERSONAL BESTS
A trio of young athletes raced to new personal bests at their respective selection meets. 19 year-old Joshua Edwards-Smith clocked 1:56.74 at Australian Trials to touch first and make his first ever senior international team. The swim was a breakthrough for him, his previous best sat at 1:57.82 and his fastest since the pandemic began was 1:59.20. Now, he’s vaulted himself into contention for a lane in the finals.
Mewen Tomac sits three hundredths behind Edwards-Smith with his new best of 1:56.74 from French Championships. That’s the fifth fastest time this season among the Worlds field so like Edwards-Smith, the 20 year-old has swum himself right into the heart of the field.
The youngest of the three is 18 year-old Pieter Coetze, who went 1:56.92 at South African Championships for his new personal best. Not only does that rank him as the second fastest South African of all time, it is a huge swim for him, as he’d never broken the 1:58 threshold before. He’s still young, and a highly versatile swimmer with untapped potential–this summer could be a big one for him.
After opting for the 200 IM over the 200 back at the Olympics, Australian veteran Mitch Larkin will be back in this field in Budapest. At Australian Trials, he didn’t qualify for the 200 IM and here he finished second behind Edwards-Smith in 1:56.79. Larkin’s best is a 1:53.17, fourth fastest all time and second-fastest textile performer of all time. Even if he doesn’t get close to that time this summer, he’ll likely still be in the fight for a medal.
Of late, Xu Jiayu seems to be more of a threat in the 100 back than in the 200, but he shouldn’t still be discounted. In Tokyo, he finished 15th, well off his lifetime best 1:53.99 from 2018, so he’ll be looking to rebound from that disappointment. This season, he’s been 1:56.89, which ranks eighth among swimmers heading to Budapest, so he’s sitting right on the bubble.
Benedek Kovacs (Hungary), Yohann Ndoye Brouard (France), and Brodie Williams (Great Britain) are all sitting on 1:57 high’s as their season bests. Ndoye Brouard and Williams both have lifetime bests of 1:56 low. To be in contention for the final, all three will have to be at their bests.
|Place||Name||Season Best||Lifetime Best|
DARK HORSE: Oleksander Zheltyakov (UKR) – Zheltyakov is one of the Ukrainian junior swimmers living and training in Hungary to escape the ongoing Russian invasion. This season, Zheltyakov has been 1:57.18. At Hungarian Championships, he said that he’s targeting European Junior Championships. That throws his attendance at Worlds into question, but if he’s there, he could play spoiler.