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: USA (Murphy, Andrew, Dressel, Apple) – 3:26.78 (2021)
- World Junior Record: RUS (Zuev, Gerasimenko, Minakov, Shchegolev) – 3:33.19 (2019)
- 2020 Olympic Champion: USA (Murphy, Andrew, Dressel, Apple) – 3:26.78
- 2019 World Champion: GBR (Greenback, Peaty, Guy, Scott) – 3:28.10
Three short-yet-long years ago, Great Britain parlayed a couple massive legs into a gold medal, marking the first time since 2001 that the USA lost this event without being disqualified. The American had their revenge quickly, though, taking down the world record in Tokyo last summer.
The USA relay should be in the driver’s seat after returning three of four legs that captured them that gold medal and world record last summer, although there is no guarantee that the front half of the relay will be the same.
Ryan Murphy is the 100 back world record holder, and he led off in 52.31 last summer, although Hunter Armstrong beat him at Trials last month with a world-leading time of 52.20. Similarly, Michael Andrew is the American Record holder in the 100 breast, and he split 58.49 on this relay last year, but Nic Fink actually won this event at Trials with a 58.37, also the fastest time in the world this year. We can go ahead and pencil in Caeleb Dressel on fly as he flirts with a sub-49 split. Dressel also won the 100 free at Trials, and we’ll presume that 2nd-place finisher Brooks Curry will likely anchor the relay.
The Other Olympic Finalists
Last summer’s silver medal team, Great Britain, is missing their key leg — Adam Peaty, the fastest breaststroker ever. James Wilby has been 59.17 this season, but even with a relay start that’s about two seconds shy of Peaty’s 56.5 split last summer. But they do bring back backstroker Luke Greenback, as well as James Guy, who split a blistering 50.27 last summer.
Freestyle is a bit up in the air. Duncan Scott anchored last year in 47.08, but he’s out this summer due to the lingering effects of Covid. Still, there’s no guarantee he’d been anchoring this relay even if healthy, as Lewis Burras went 47.88 at Britain’s Trials.
The Italian men have been on fire the last year, taking bronze in this event in Tokyo, but also setting national records in short course throughout the fall and winter. All four men from last summer’s team return. Thomas Ceccon (back) and Alessandro Miressi (free) are each seeded 3rd in their respective individual events. Breaststroker Nicolo Martinenghi returns as well, and all appear to be in form. Piero Codia seems likely to replace Federico Burdisso and should be able to go as faster or faster than the latter’s 51.07 fly split last summer. With a combined season-best time of 3:31.00, this relay could easily challenge last year’s time of 3:29.17.
Australia missed the podium last summer, and it’s hard to peg how the group should look this summer. On one hand, they bring plenty of experience. Veteran backstroker Mitch Larkin returns, although Isaac Cooper has been slightly faster this season, 54.02 to 54.30. Zac Stubblety-Cook, who took down the world record in the 200m breaststroke last month, should swim the breast leg. Throw in Matthew Temple, who holds the #3 seed in the 100 fly individually, and the Aussies have the makings of a solid relay, especially if whoever swims backstroke can be closer to 53-low.
The big question appears to be the anchor leg. Kyle Chalmers is one of the fastest men all-time in the 100 free, but missed a chunk of training, wasn’t even sure he was going to swim at Trials, and ended up making the team in the 100 fly. However, he looks likely to swim on the 4×100 free relay now, and if he throws down a solid time, he could end up anchoring here over William Yang (48.62) or Zach Incerti (48.65).
Japan brings back three of four legs from last summer’s squad, that set a new national route en route to a 6th-place finish at home in Tokyo. Backstroke stalwart Ryosuke Irie has been swimming forever, it seems, but definitely can’t be ruled out to swim a 52-low. Breaststroker Ryuya Mura returns, as does Naoki Mizunuma, who’s seeded 8th individually. Mizunuma has been sub-51 in the fly this season, while Katsuhiro Matsumoto should replace Katsumi Nakamura and has been 48.57 in the free this season. All together, that adds up to 3:31.62, putting Japan squarely in the middle of the medal race if all goes well.
China made the final in Tokyo, but was disqualified. They bring their whole squad from last summer, including Xu Jiayu, Yan Zibei, Sun Jiajun (although Wang Changhao has been faster), and He Junyi. They’re certainly not a lock to medal, but certainly could be in the mix, especially if backstroker Jiayu can be closer to his near-world record lifetime best instead of his season best of 53.26
Canada finished 7th in Tokyo, but is missing the front half of its relay, and the replacements don’t seem to have the times necessary to make the final. The strength of this relay is its back half. Josh Liendo ranks #3 in the world this year in the 100 fly with a 50.88. Liendo has been the fastest Canadian in the 100 free, with a 48.35, so with Liendo on fly, Ruslan Gaziev (48.41) will probably be called on to anchor.
The Rest of the Field
France doesn’t have one standout leg, but could put together four solid legs and make it into the final. The same goes for Brazil, which DQ’d in prelims last summer. While it has a very small roster, Germany is still an intriguing option, especially thanks to Rafael Miroslaw‘s sub-48 time in the 100 free this season. Poland set a national record last summer while finishing 9th in prelims, but its swimmers haven’t shown much yet this season. It’s also worth noting that while Hungary and Romania have some big names, neither country has entered in this event.