2023 World Championships: Day 4 Prelims Live Recap




Day 4 of the 2023 World Championships in Fukuoka is here. This morning’s prelims session will feature heats of the women’s 50 back, men’s 100 free, men’s 200 IM, women’s 200 fly, and mixed 4×100 medley relay.

Following his shocking 4th-place finish in the men’s 200 free final last night, all eyes will be on Romanian 18-year-old David Popovici in the men’s 100 free this morning. The World Record holder in the event, there’s no concern Popovici won’t advance to the semifinals, however, it will be very interesting to see how he responds to his disappointing race last night.

Meanwhile, French superstar Leon Marchand will take on the 200 IM today. After his incredible World Record swim in the men’s 400 IM on Sunday, it’s absolutely within the realm of possibility that Marchand takes down Ryan Lochte‘s 200 IM World Record this week as well. Of course, that swim wouldn’t come this morning, but the journey does begin with prelims this morning.

The women’s 200 fly will see Canadian 16-year0-old Summer McIntosh go up against American Regan Smith. Smith is the fastest swimmer in the world this year, having swum a 2:03.87 back in June for a new American Record.


  • World Record: Liu Xiang, China – 26.98 (2018)
  • World Junior Record: Minna Atherton, Australia – 27.49 (2016)
  • Championship Record: Zhao Ling, China – 27.06 (2009)
  • 2022 World Champion: Kylie Masse, Canada – 27.31
  • 2022 World Champs Top 16: 28.47


  1. Regan Smith (United States) – 27.31
  2. Kylie Masse (Canada) – 27.48
  3. Katharine Berkoff (United States) – 27.56
  4. Kaylee McKeown (Australia) – 27.60
  5. Mary-Ambre Moluh (France) – 27.69
  6. Ingrid Wilm (Canada) – 27.75
  7. Wan Letian (China) – 27.84 (TIE)
  8. Miki Takahashi (Japan) – 27.84 (TIE)
  9. Wang Xueer (China) – 27.89
  10. Maaike de Waard (Netherlands) – 27.91
  11. Lauren Cox (Great Britain) – 27.98
  12. Analia Pigree (France) – 28.01
  13. Danielle Hill (Ireland) – 28.03
  14. Simona Kubova (Czech Republic) – 28.14
  15. Theodara Drakou (Greece) – 28.20
  16. Andrea Berrino (Argentina) – 28.24

The women’s 50 back prelims was fast this morning in Fukuoka. It took more than two-tenths of a second faster than last year to advance to the semifinal.

American Regan Smith led the charge this morning, clocking a very solid prelims time of 27.31. Though it’s not really seen as Smith best backstroke event, Smith has a really good shot at gold in the 50 back this summer, especially after her swim this morning. She was only 0.33 seconds off the World Record this morning, though we can expect a few women to be knocking on the door of that record.

One of those women is, of course, Australian Kaylee McKeown, who won the 100 back last night in an awesome performance. McKeown was 27.60 this morning, finishing 4th. We know she has more in the tank than that, however, as she split 28.03 to the feet on the first 50m of the 100 last night.

American Katharine Berkoff was 3rd this morning, swimming a 27.48. Berkoff has the fastest personal best in this field, entering the meet with a 27.12.

After a somewhat disappointing swim in the 100 back final last night, Canadian Kylie Masse looks like she hasn’t skipped a beat in the 50. The defending champion in the event, Masse put up a speedy 27.48 for 2nd this morning, establishing herself as one of the top contenders in the field. Canada also saw Ingrid Wilm put up a strong swim, finishing 6th this morning in 27.75.


  • World Record: David Popovici, Romania – 46.86 (2022)
  • World Junior Record: David Popovici, Romania – 46.86 (2022)
  • Championship Record: Cesar Cielo, Brazil – 46.91 (2009)
  • 2022 World Champion: David Popovici, Romania – 47.58
  • 2022 World Champs Top 16: 48.61


  1. Matt Richards (Great Britian) – 47.59
  2. Jack Alexy (United States) – 47.68
  3. Kyle Chalmers (Australia) – 47.71
  4. Jordan Crooks (Cayman Islands) – 47.77
  5. Pan Zhanle (China) – 47.84
  6. David Popovici (Romania) – 47.90
  7. Josh Liendo (Canada) – 48.03
  8. Maxime Grousset (France) – 48.06
  9. Alessandro Miressi (Italy) – 48.14
  10. Dylan Carter (Trinidad and Tobago) – 48.16
  11. Flynn Southam (Australia) – 48.18
  12. Sunwoo Hwang (South Korea) – 48.20 (TIE)
  13. Andrej Barna (Serbia) – 48.20 (TIE)
  14. Nandor Nemeth (Hungary) – 48.21 (TIE)
  15. Diogo Ribeiro (Portugal) – 48.21 (TIE)
  16. Guilherme Santos (Brazil) – 48.34

To my knowledge, that was the fastest prelims of the men’s 100 free ever, at least from the standpoint of what it took to advance to the semifinal. Brazil’s Guilherme Santos was the last swimmer in, touching in 48.34. That time was nearly 0.3 seconds faster than the 48.61 it took to qualify for the semifinal last summer in Budapest.

Matt Richards did not come to play this week. After his incredible victory in the men’s 200 free last night, Richards returned on a mission this morning, tearing to a new personal best and British Record of 47.59. Not only did he set a new national record, Richards led the field with his swim.

American Jack Alexy clocked a new personal best as well, finishing 2nd in 47.68. Alexy had one of the fastest opening 50s in the event this morning, getting out to a speedy 22.76 on the first lap.

There were 4 other swimmer who went under 48 seconds this morning. Australian Kyle Chalmers, the big 100 free veteran in this group, posted a very strong morning swim of 47.71 for 3rd. As usual, Chalmers had a really nice back 50 this morning, coming home in 24.46.

Jordan Crooks had the LCM breakthrough we’ve been waiting for this morning. He blew away the Cayman Islands Record of 48.47, tearing to a huge new personal best of 47.77 for 4th.

In yet another great swim for the Chinese men’s team, Pan Zhanle posted a 47.84 for 5th this morning.

And, of course, World Record holder David Popovici made it through as well, finishing in 6th this morning with a 47.90. Holding the WR at 46.86, Popovici won this event last summer in Budapest with a 47.58. Judging by the times this morning, it will take a faster swim than that to win gold this year.


  • World Record: Ryan Lochte, United States – 1:54.00 (2011)
  • World Junior Record: Hubert Kos, Hungary – 1:56.99 (2021)
  • Championship Record: Ryan Lochte, United States – 1:54.00 (2011)
  • 2022 World Champion: Leon Marchand, France – 1:55.22
  • 2022 World Champs Top 16: 1:59.53


  1. Duncan Scott (Great Britain) – 1:57.76
  2. Daiya Seto (Japan) – 1:57.80
  3. So Ogata (Japan) – 1:57.88
  4. Jeremy Desplanches (Switzerland) – 1:58.00
  5. Lewis Clareburt (New Zealand) – 1:58.08
  6. Tom Dean (Great Britain) – 1:58.20
  7. Carson Foster (United States) – 1:58.24
  8. Thomas Neill (Australia) – 1:58.30
  9. Leon Marchand (France) – 1:58.38
  10. Hugo Gonzalez (Spain) – 1:58.47
  11. Shaine Casas (United States) – 1:58.56
  12. Finlay Knox (Canada) – 1:58.64
  13. Alberto Razzetti (Italy) – 1:58.74
  14. Gabriel Lopes (Portugal) – 1:58.77
  15. Brendon Smith (Australia) – 1:59.03
  16. Wang Shun (China) – 1:59.05

Once again, this prelims swim was faster than last year’s. It was an incredibly tight field, seeing 11 of the swimmers go 1:58. In that incredibly tight field, France’s Leon Marchand was a bit closer to a “whoopsie” swim than we would have expected. Marchand was locked in a race with American Carson Foster for the first 150m of the race, but an explosion on freestyle from the other swimmers in the field suddenly put a ton  of pressure on the duo. Marchand ended up 9th in 1:58.38, making it through to the semis by just 0.77 seconds.

While it would be easy to overreact to Marchand’s swim, believe it or not, that was actually faster than he swam in prelims last summer in Budapest. Last summer, he clocked a 1:58.80 in prelims, and would, of course, ultimately go on to win gold in 1:55.22. That being said, it’s not time to panic on Marchand in this event, though, I don’t think many of us were expecting prelims of the 200 IM to pan out like this.

Leading the way this morning was Great Britain’s Duncan Scott, who clocked a 1:57.76. He narrowly led the pair of Japanese swimmers, Daiya Seto and So Ogata, both of whom were under 1:58 as well.

China’s Wang Shun looked a little sluggish in his race this morning, but he managed to make it through, finishing in 16th with a 1:59.05.


  • World Record: Liu Zige, China – 2:01.81 (2009)
  • World Junior Record: Summer McIntosh, Canada – 2:04.70 (2023)
  • Championship Record: Jess Schipper, Australia – 2:03.41 (2009)
  • 2022 World Champion: Summer McIntosh, Canada – 2:05.20
  • 2022 World Champs Top 16: 2:11.65


  1. Helena Bach (Denmark) – 2:07.57
  2. Elizabeth Dekkers (Australia) – 2:07.71
  3. Summer McIntosh (Canada) – 2:07.91
  4. Laura Stephens (Great Britain) – 2:08.07
  5. Lana Pudar (Bosnia and Herzegovenia) – 2:08.16
  6. Airi Mitsui (Japan) – 2:08.54
  7. Emily Large (Great Britain) – 2:08.93
  8. Hiroko Makino (Japan) – 2:09.03
  9. Lindsay Looney (United States) – 2:09.27
  10. Yu Liyan (China) – 2:09.29
  11. Maria Mata (Mexico) – 2:09.50
  12. Abbey Connor (Australia) – 2:10.04
  13. Boglarka Kapas (Hungary) – 2:10.18
  14. Zsuzsanna Jakaobos (Hungary) – 2:10.73
  15. Regan Smith (United States) – 2:10.80
  16. Anja Crevar (Serbia) – 2:10.98

Well, that was an unexpected swim from American Regan Smith. Swimming the 2nd race of her double this morning, Smith clocked a 2:10.80 this morning for 15th, scraping into the semifinal by 0.23 seconds. The fastest swimmer in the world this year, Smith was a far cry from the 2:03.87 she swam in early June. Nonetheless, she got a lane for tonight, and that’s the ultimate goal.

It was Great Britain’s Helena Bach who led the way this morning, putting up a very solid morning swim of 2:07.57. Bach holds a personal best of 2:07.30, which she swam last summer at the European Championships. The swim this morning marks her first time under 2:08 this year.

Australian Elizabeth Dekkers also looked great this morning, touching right behind Bach in 2:07.71. The swim sets Dekkers up with lane 4 in the first semifinals heat tonight, putting her in a great position moving forward.

Canadian 16-year-old Summer McIntosh clocked a 2:07.91 for 3rd this morning and looked completely unfazed when she hit the wall. McIntosh will be working a pretty tough double tonight, as she has the women’s 200 free final early in the session before the 200 fly semis. Although, given how comfortable she looked with that 2:07 this morning, it doesn’t seem like McIntosh has anything to worry about.

Of note, defending Olympic Champion Zhang Yufei did not swim the event this morning. Yufei, who has shifted her focus towards the sprint events and won the 100 fly earlier in the meet, would have been a strong medal contender in the event.


  • World Record: Great Britain – 3:37.58 (2021)
  • Championship Record: United States – 3:38.56 (2017)
  • 2022 World Champion: United States – 3:38.79
  • 2022 World Champs Top 8: 3:46.54


  1. United States – 3:40.47
  2. Australia – 3:40.87
  3. Netherlands – 3:41.45
  4. China – 3:42.49
  5. Great Britain – 3:43.47
  6. Canada – 3:44.32
  7. Japan – 3:44.79
  8. Germany – 3:45.34

The U.S. looked great in prelims of the mixed medley this morning, swimming a 3:40.47 to clock the top time of the morning. While it was an awesome team performance for the U.S., it does beg the question how much faster can they go tonight? Katharine Berkoff was 59.12 on the lead-off this morning, which, of course, should be significantly faster tonight. But outside of that, the 58.45 breast split from Josh Matheny, 50.50 fly split from Dare Rose, and 52.40 free split from Abbey Weitzeil were all excellent individual splits.

We can’t analyze it too much at the moment, however, as the relay will certainly look different tonight.

Australia also put up a great prelims time, taking second in 3:40.87. In particular, a 58.88 breast split out of Sam Williamson was great for the Aussies. Of course, Shayna Jack was once again incredible, throwing down a huge 51.66 on the anchor.

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Octavio Gupta
2 months ago

Horrible entry by huske

2 months ago

Regan Smith is just fine. Everyone can calm down now please.

2 months ago

China: Xu, Qin, Zhang, Cheng
Aus: Mckeown, ZSC, Temple and Jack
US: Murphy, Fink, Torri and Kate
Medley Relay line-ups

Reply to  Steph
2 months ago

Jack is the sensible choice that doesn’t overload Mollie’s schedule 👍 Curious to see if Cheng splits faster than Wu.

Awsi Dooger
2 months ago

I always believed that Regan Smith’s best chance for gold here was 50 backstroke. She tightens up late in longer events. That’s not a factor at 50, where she displays some faltering with 5 meters remaining but not nearly as blatant or decisive.

And most significantly, in the 50 she’s not dealing with Summer McIntosh, or with McKeown in her most prized events. I like Berkoff but she’s not a proven international star.

In 200 butterfly tonight Regan looked like she was pounding the water throughout. Very fortunate to advance.

Pacific Whirl
2 months ago

Helena is a Dan, not from “Great Britain” in the article.

Reply to  Pacific Whirl
2 months ago

Helena is a Dane. Not sure about Dan.

Fukuoka Gold
Reply to  Mark69
2 months ago

Helena is a great Dane.

Reply to  Fukuoka Gold
2 months ago

A great Dane is Helena.

2 months ago

I love reading these at 1 AM

2 months ago

Looking back, Wu Qingfeng split 53.41 in the 4×100 free prelims. Probably has more in the tank for the final again

Alison England
2 months ago

I said I expected something fantastic from Matt Richards!