2022 World Champs Previews: Who Will Step Up in the Men’s 50 Breast?

2022 FINA WORLD AQUATICS CHAMPIONSHIPS

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By The Numbers:

The men’s 50 breaststroke is another event at the 2022 World Championships that is defined by its absences. Adam Peaty is the favorite to win any time he’s entered in the 50 and 100 breaststroke. In the 50, he’s the world record holder and the three-time defending world champion. But Peaty isn’t racing at Worlds this year, so for the first time since 2013, someone other than him will win the event.

Peaty is certainly the biggest name not competing in this event at Worlds, but he isn’t the only one. Psych sheets show that Arno Kamminga won’t be in the 50 either, opting to focus on the 100 and 200 breast. Kamminga’s been 26.90 this season, a tenth off his best 26.80 which he set last April. 2019 silver medalist Felipe Lima is out of Worlds as he and his wife prepare for the birth of their first child.

With the top two steps of the 2019 podium not returning, the door is wide open for anyone in this field to grab a medal.

MEDAL THREATS

Joao Gomes Jr. Photo: Satiro Sodré/SSPress/CBDA.

Joao Gomes Jr. is the only returning 2019 medalist, having earned bronze behind Peaty and Lima in 26.69 in Gwangju. Gomes Jr. holds the fourth-fastest time in the world this season in 26.62, two-tenths off the 36-year-old’s lifetime best of 26.42 from 2019. He’s certainly capable of making the podium again, but he’ll have to contend with the trio of swimmers who have been faster than him so far this season, so it’s far from a certainty.

The fastest time in the world this year belongs to Nicolo Martinenghi in 26.39–a personal best and Italian Record. The 22-year-old is becoming one of the best sprint breaststrokers in the world. He’s coming off an Olympic bronze in the 100 breast, and two silver medals at SC Worlds in the 50 and 100. Now, he’s looking to carry that momentum through to a podium position in Budapest. And without Peaty in the field, his shot at gold just got a lot better.

Also in the medal hunt are the two Americans: Michael Andrew and Nic Fink. At U.S Trials, both men were under the old American and U.S Open Records, with Andrew out-touching Fink, 26.52 to 26.55. Those times are lifetime bests for both men. Being able to repeat his times from the spring will be important for Andrew, as well as schedule management. Andrew has a busy week in Budapest, with five individual events and relays, so managing himself well will be critical to his success.

Fink is racing all three breaststroke events in Budapest. In addition to throwing down a lifetime best in the 50 at U.S Trials, he dropped a 58.37 for a new best in the 100. Fink shifted his training base from the University of Georgia to Georgia Tech this season, and the early returns have been positive, particularly for his sprints. With the third-fastest time in the world this season, he’s set himself up well to grab his first individual LC Worlds medal.

THE 26-HIGHS

Also in the mix is Turkey’s Emre Sakci, the SC world record holder. In December, Sakci blasted 24.95 to break the world record and become the first swimmer under 25 seconds. The 24-year-old then swam a lifetime best of 26.83 in the big pool. The silver medalist at SC Euros, Sakci is one of the elite European breaststrokers, but he probably needs to shave some more time off to contend for a medal with the previous four swimmers we talked about. Something else to keep in mind for your pick em’s (or your own fantasy draft) is that Sakci is prone to DQs; at SC Worlds, he was disqualified in both the 50 and 100 breast.

Cerasuolo Simone GS Fiamme Oro Gold Medal 50m Rana Uomini - Breaststroke Men Riccione 30/11/2021 Stadio del Nuoto Campionati Italiani Assoluti di Nuoto in Vasca Corta Photo Andrea Staccioli / Deepbluemedia / Insidefoto

Simone Cerasuolo. Photo: Andrea Staccioli / Deepbluemedia / Insidefoto

Simone Cerasuolo is the world junior record holder in the SC 50 and 100 breast. Now, he’ll look to translate that success to the long course at his first senior World Championships. At the Italian Championships, he threw down a lifetime best 26.85 to tie Martinenghi’s Italian junior record. Like Sakci, he’ll likely need another drop to contend for a medal, but he’s certainly capable of grabbing a finals lane.

BEST OF THE REST

Gomes Jr.’s country-mate Felipe Franca Silva is sitting eighth on the psych sheet with a season-best of 27.11. The multi-time Olympian is an ex-world record holder in this event, and was the first person under the 27-second barrier. His lifetime best now stands at 26.75, which he clocked in 2019. The rest of the world has long since caught up to Silva, but if he can get back down near his best, he could find himself back in the Worlds final.

Continuing the spring trend of setting a lifetime best, Itay Goldfaden clocked 25.07 for a new best of his own at the Israeli Championships. He’s entered only in this event in Budapest, which is something to note, as others in the field have much busier schedules and many will already have swum the 100 breast.

Youssef El Kamash (photo credit: Peter Sukenik)

Germany’s Lucas Matzerath was 27.23 to finish third at the Monaco stop of Mare Nostrum behind Gomes Jr. and Kamminga. The Olympic semi-finalist holds a lifetime best of 27.13, so look for him to sneak into the final.

It’s also worth keeping an eye on Andre Grinheim (Norway) and Youssef El-Kamash (Egypt) who are sitting at 27.20 and 27.21, respectively. At SC Worlds, El-Kamash split 26.32 on the Egyptian relay that broke the African record in the 4×50 medley relay.

SWIMSWAM’S PICKS

Place Name Nation Season Best Lifetime Best
1 Nicolo Martinenghi Italy 26.39 26.39
2 Nic Fink USA 26.55 26.55
3 Michael Andrew USA 26.52 26.52
4 Joao Gomes Jr. Brazil 26.62 26.42
5 Simone Cerasuolo Italy 26.85 26.85
6 Emre Sakci Turkey 26.83 26.83
7 Felipe Franca Silva Brazil 27.11 26.75
8 Lucas Matzerath Germany 27.23 27.13

Dark Horse: Caspar Corbeau (NED) — Corbeau had a strong season at Texas this year, finishing second in the 100 breast and sixth in the 200 at NCAAs. In long course, he threw down a pair of 59 highs in the 100 breast at the San Antonio Pro Series. He’s lurking down the psych sheet with a 27.48, and will need to drop from that to final. But a drop combined with a field lacking its usual star power could land him in a later round. 

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Greg
5 months ago

Hope they use the underwater cameras again and make the dolphins go extinct.

Mr Piano
5 months ago

If MA is going to beat Fink it’s going to be in the 50/and or 100. Not sure why you’d have Fink winning the 50 but losing the 100.

Stewie
5 months ago

As long as one of the egregious dolphin kickers doesn’t win, I’m cool with whoever…

Swimnerd
5 months ago

I think Fink has this one; Norment knows how to manage a double taper extremely well.

That combined with Nick’s athleticism and lessened workload (vs his time in Athens) should give him a good shot at the World title as well as the AR.

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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