2023 U.S. NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIPS
- June 27 – July 1, 2023
- Indianapolis, IN
- Indiana University Natatorium
- LCM (50m)
- Meet Central
- SwimSwam Preview Index
MEN’S 100 BREAST – BY THE NUMBERS:
- World Record: 56.88, Adam Peaty (GBR) – 2019 World Championships
- American Record: 58.14, Michael Andrew – 2021 U.S. Olympic Trials
- U.S. Open Record: 58.14, Michael Andrew – 2021 U.S. Olympic Trials
- 2022 U.S. International Team Trials Winner: Nic Fink, 58.37
- World Aquatics ‘A’ Cut: 59.75
The U.S. hasn’t had a swimmer stand on top of the podium in the men’s 100 breaststroke at the Long Course World Championships since 2007. At the Olympics, the dry streak runs all the way back to 1992.
Although a lot of that can be credited to the dominance of Adam Peaty on the international stage for the last eight years, the 100 breast has seemingly become an increasingly weak event domestically as of late.
It wasn’t too long ago that there was a myriad of contenders for the two available slots at major championship meets, but in recent years, Nic Fink and Michael Andrew have been the only two U.S. swimmers to truly challenge the world’s best on the big stage.
With only one other American, Josh Matheny, swimming a time under the World Aquatics ‘A’ cut of 59.75 inside the qualifying period for Nationals, it’s seemingly destined to be a two-horse race in Indianapolis yet again.
FINK VS. MA
Given the success Fink has experienced over the last two years, it’s hard to believe that the 2022 World Championships was the first time he represented the U.S. in the 100 breast at a major LC meet since 2015.
Fink’s career entered a new stage after the Tokyo Olympics—where he finished fifth in the 200 breast—as he made the move from training at his alma mater, the University of Georgia, to Georgia Tech to pursue his Master’s degree. In changing addresses from Athens to Atlanta, Fink honed in more on the sprints, and it immediately showed in competition.
After going on an incredible run in the short course pool during the 2021 International Swimming League (ISL) season and the SC World Championships, Fink hit a new level in LC at the U.S. Trials last year, clocking 58.37 in the 100 breast to become the sixth-fastest performer in history and beat Andrew head-to-head.
Andrew, who set an American Record of 58.14 in the semis at the Olympic Trials in 2021, was just back of Fink in 58.51 in a razor-thin battle that saw Fink lean on his back-half speed to get the job done.
At the World Championships, Fink emerged with the bronze medal in the Peaty-less field in 58.65, while Andrew missed the final, placing ninth in the semis in 59.63.
Andrew is always hard to read in-season, and he’s been taking on his customary busy schedule, but the 100 breast clearly remains a focus after it was the only event longer than 50 meters he took on during the Mare Nostrum Tour.
Fink and Andrew are set to run it back in Indianapolis, as the two are massive favorites to represent the U.S. in the 100 breast once again in Fukuoka. They’re the only two Americans sub-1:00 so far this season, and Fink’s closing ability gives him the edge over Andrew, especially when we take into account the busy schedule MA is destined to tackle the day prior.
THE SUB-1:00 CLUB
Beyond Fink and Andrew, there are five other swimmers who have broken the elusive 1:00 barrier in the 100 breast who are expected to compete in Indy, though it would be a bit of a shock to see any of them upend the two favorites.
Leading that charge is Cody Miller, the well-known veteran who won bronze at the Rio Olympics in what remains his best time of 58.87.
Miller, 31, has already been faster than his 2021-22 season-best (1:00.56) three times this year, with his top showing coming in at 1:00.04 from the Westmont Pro Swim in April. He’s only broken 1:00 once since the beginning of 2020, but has done so 23 times in his career and is trending towards doing so once again next week.
While Miller holds the fastest PB in the field outside of Fink and Andrew, the top candidate to steal a Worlds spot if one of the favorites falters is Matheny.
Matheny, who will be familiar with Miller having both trained at Indiana University in Bloomington, was not a factor at the 2022 Trials, missing the ‘A’ final due to an off morning swim.
However, he was the silver medalist at the 2019 World Juniors (1:00.17), placed fifth at the 2021 Olympic Trials (1:00.06 in prelims), and then really came into his own last July at Summer Nationals, recording the first two sub-1:00 swims of his career, culminating with a 59.44 victory in the final.
Coming off a successful sophomore year at Indiana that included hitting sizeable lifetime bests in both the 100 (50.99) and 200-yard breast (1:50.12) events, Matheny is trending towards 59-low territory.
Max McHugh, the winner of the last three NCAA titles in the 100 breast, has also broken 1:00 in the event, doing so three times in 2021. He went as fast as 1:00.81 last summer, and he’s already been a respectable 1:01.35 earlier this month, indicating he could very well be back in the 59s at Nationals.
Kevin Houseman broke the minute barrier in 2021 at 59.79 and had five swims in the 1:00 range last year, but only has one swim on record this season at 1:02.10.
Brandon Fischer is now 34, and although his lone sub-1:00 swim came in 2019 (59.86), he resurfaced in May with his fastest swim since the Olympic Trials at 1:01.19, making him a potential ‘A’ finalist.
THE 200 SPECIALISTS
The championship final will surely feature a few swimmers whose primary focus for the week will be on the 200 breast, which comes two days prior to the 100 on Wednesday.
Since announcing his deferral of medical school in pursuit of the 2024 Olympic Trials, Jake Foster has been riding a wave of momentum in the pool, including hitting a personal best of 1:00.22 in the 100 breast earlier this month at the Texas Open.
That performance ranks him fourth among Americans this season behind Fink, Andrew and Miller, and he only broke 1:01 for the first time the month prior in Mission Viejo (1:00.81).
Charlie Swanson broke through at the 2022 Trials by tying with Fink for first in the 200 breast, earning him a trip to his debut World Championships, and he was also third in the 100 breast, setting a lifetime best of 1:00.06.
The 25-year-old owns a season-best of 1:01.89, right around where’s been in previous in-season swims, so 1:00-low should be well within his reach.
Tommy Cope was fifth at last year’s Trials and has six swims over the last two years between 1:00.25 and 1:00.45, and he’s already been 1:00.71 this season, so it might be his time to crack the minute barrier.
Also making the ‘A’ final last April in Greensboro was AJ Pouch, who was seventh (1:01.07) but earned a fifth-place finish in the 200 breast and then dropped a 2:09.07 performance in the longer event at Summer Nats (that would’ve been third at Trials and only a few tenths off the win).
Pouch, coming off his senior year at Virginia Tech, has been as fast as 1:00.36 in the 100 breast (2021 Olympic Trials), and will be in the mix for a spot in the ‘A’ final, but his real opportunity for a World Championship berth will come in the 200.
Will Licon has been a perennial contender for a spot on the big stage in the 200 breast, and his 100 has stayed competitive over the years in the 1:00 range.
We also can’t forget about Matt Fallon, one of the world’s fastest in the 200 breast last year who missed the 2022 Trials and the 2023 NCAA Championships.
Like some others in this category, the 200 will be Fallon’s primary focus in Indy, but he could easily find himself in the top eight in the 100 if he’s able to find a bit more speed opening up and lean on his closing ability coming home.
He’s only been under 1:01 once, clocking 1:00.75 at the 2022 Summer Nationals (the same meet where he broke 2:08 in the 200), and has been 1:01-high three times this year.
Stanford’s Zhier Fan could be poised to take the next step on the senior stage after winning 100 breast gold at the Junior Pan Pacs last summer, hitting a time of 1:00.74 after clocking 1:00.64 at the Trials a few months earlier.
Fan only has one LC meet on record this season, clocking 1:03.20 in May.
There’s also Nick Mahabir to keep in mind—he’s a Singapore native, but has raced at U.S. selection meets in the past and promises to be a factor even if he’s not up for a World Championship spot. At 16, he went 1:00.37 at Summer Nationals last year.
Rose Bowl Aquatics’ Daniel Li has been on fire in the short course pool this season, dropping from 54.2 to 52.4 in the 100 breast in SCY. The 17-year-old managed to record a best time of 1:01.93 at the 2022 Summer Nationals, and has already been 1:02.67 this season, so watch out for him as a prime candidate for World Junior selection.
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Dark Horse: Noah Nichols – Nichols set a best time of 1:00.66 at the 2021 Olympic Trials, and neared that mark last summer in 1:00.85. After a breakout NCAA season at Virginia that included winning the ACC title in the 100 breast (50.82), he’s been 1:01.78 so far this season and could be poised to challenge the 1:00 mark after a few months of long course focus post-NCAAs.