2023 World Championships Day 6 Prelims Preview: Can Liendo Claim 100 Fly Victory?



It’s set to be another quick prelims session on Day 6 of the 2023 World Championships, featuring the heats of the men’s 100 butterfly, women’s 200 backstroke, men’s 50 freestyle, women’s 50 butterfly, men’s 4×200 freestyle relay, and the women’s 800 freestyle. 

The session will kick-off with the men’s 100 butterfly, where the field looks to be wide-open in the absence of World Record holder Caeleb Dressel and 2022 World Champion Kristof Milak. Canadian Josh Liendo currently holds the top seed in the event with his time of 50.36 from Canadian Trials earlier this season. Liendo has had mixed results at this meet thus far, only finishing 15th in the 50 butterfly. He did have a strong opening 50 on both of his 100 freestyle swims this week, making it through to the semi-final of that event. That might, however, mean that he puts more focus on the 50 freestyle, which directly conflicts with the 100 butterfly through all three rounds of swimming. 

Behind Liendo, the field is very close. 50 butterfly winner Thomas Ceccon will not be contesting this event, leaving 50 butterfly silver medalist Diogo Matos Ribiero as the highest finisher in that event to be competing here. Americans Dare Rose and Thomas Heilman will also be in contention as both swimmers have thrown down very good swims this week: Rose with a personal best in the 50 butterfly and Heilman with a best time in the 200 butterfly. Both swimmers just narrowly missed the podium in their other event. Other names in the event to watch include James Guy, Noe Ponti, and Naoki Mizunuma

The women’s 200 backstroke will feature a battle between the current and former world record holders in the event, as Kaylee McKeown and Regan Smith will once-again go head-to-head. In both the 50 and 100 backstroke, McKeown has bested Smith at this meet, giving her 2 individual gold medals thus far. If she manages to hold-off Smith a third time, McKeown will become the first woman to sweep the backstroke events at a single edition of the World Championships. Smith will look to win her second World Championship title in this event, adding to the one she won at the 2019 World Championships. 

Behind the pair, the field is very tight, with names such as Rhyan White, Kylie Masse, and Peng Xuwei  all looking to find their way onto the podium.

Back on the men’s side, the schedule will then flip over to the 50 freestyle, an event where anything can happen. Australian Cameron McEvoy enters as the top seed and will look to make it an Aussie sweep in the sprint freestyle events, following Kyle Chalmers’ 100 freestyle victory on day 5. However, Americans Jack Alexy and Ryan Held will be looking to touch the wall ahead of McEvoy. Held won US Trials in a personal best of 21.50 to enter the meet seeded 3rd, while Alexy experienced a huge breakout in the 100 freestyle, dropping the 2nd fastest time in American history to earn a silver medal after barely qualifying for the final. 

The field also features the aforementioned Liendo, who looked strong in his freestyle events this week, defending champion Ben Proud, sprint staple Florent Manaudou, and Thom de Boer, along with many others seeded within range of challenging for a medal. In fact, excluding McEvoy, the top-30 are all seeded within a half-second of each other. 

Like the men’s 50 freestyle, the women’s 50 butterfly should also be a very close race between some of the top names in the history of the event. 

Swimming fans will finally get to see the debut of world record holder Sarah Sjostrom at these Championships as she holds the top seed in this event with a time of 24.89. Sjostrom enters almost a half-second clear of the field, making her the heavy favorite for gold. Newly minted American record holder Gretchen Walsh will be looking to win her first individual World Championship medal, while her teammate Torri Huske will be looking to follow-up on her bronze medal performance in the 100 butterfly. The two Americans will swim side-by-side in heat 6. 

After winning gold and silver in the 100 butterfly, Zhang Yufei  and Maggie MacNeil will also be on the hunt for medals here. Yufei has been on-fire at this meet, earning both her individual gold medal in the 100 butterfly and a relay gold medal as a member of China’s mixed 4×100 medley relay so far. 

The final individual event of the morning, the women’s 800 freestyle, will feature Katie Ledecky as she looks for her record-breaking 16th individual World Championships gold medal. Given her performance at US Trials, which saw her post her fastest swim since setting the World Record in this event back in 2016, Ledecky should be the clear gold medal favorite. However, newly minted 400 freestyle world record-holder Ariarne Titmus will be looking to break-up Ledecky’s party. In addition to her World Record, Titmus is coming off of the women’s 800 freestyle relay, where she threw down the fastest split in history (1:52.41) en route to a world record-setting performance for the Australian women

The men’s 4×200 freestyle relay will also be featured during this session, with Great Britain and the United States set to square-off for gold. After going 1-2 in the men’s 200 freestyle with Matthew Richards and Tom Dean, Great Britain appears to have a slight edge over the US. However, the Americans field one of their strongest 4×200 free relays in years, with 5 men under the 1:46-barrier at Nationals. 

Australia will also be in the mix with the nation’s strong performance at these World Championships, as will Brazil. 

Notable Scratches: 


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4 months ago

Heilmann has to swim-off with JTTP

4 months ago

Heilman swim off. If he wins it, it only adds to the legend

4 months ago

Temple from 6th to 1st.

Those Chalmer vibes rubbing off on him.

Reply to  Oceanian
4 months ago

I’ll admit I was a little concerned at the 50

4 months ago

In the absence of giants, they vie,
Can Liendo’s wings lift him high?
In the 100 fly, he seeks to claim,
His first World title, his moment’s flame.

4 months ago

Nobody talking about relay line-ups?

AUS Southam Winnington Lewis Neill
USA Kibler Nelson McFadden Mitchell
GBR Litchfield Scott Dean Richards

4 months ago

Event with huge implications for the men’s medley relay

4 months ago

Looks a bit more exciting than yesterday’s prelims (which would not be hard).

4 months ago

Liendo is off. I would be surprised if he made podium

About Nicole Miller

Nicole Miller

Nicole has been with SwimSwam since April 2020, as both a reporter and social media contributor. Prior to joining the SwimSwam platform, Nicole also managed a successful Instagram platform, amassing over 20,000 followers. Currently, Nicole is pursuing her B.S. in Biomedical Engineering at Worcester Polytechnic Institute. After competing for the swim …

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