2023 World Championships: Day 7 Prelims Live Recap


In the penultimate session of preliminary heats at the 2023 World Championships, the women’s 50 free, men’s 50 back, women’s 50 breast, men’s 1500 free and mixed 4×100 free relay will be raced. This should be a relatively quick session, with primarily short-distance races being contested.

The women’s 50 free will be headlined by none other than Sweden’s Sarah Sjostrom. Sjostrom’s 52.24 100 free relay leadoff has sparked questions about how fast her 50 free will be, and she will certainly be the favorite to win as the only woman who has broken 24 seconds since 2021. Also look for Aussies Emma McKeon and Shayna Jack, as well as American Abbey Weitzeil.

One of Team USA’s best chances at a gold medal will come in the men’s 50 back, where Hunter Armstrong and Justin Ress are the top two seeds. Armstrong will be looking to take his World Record back, as Russia’s Kliment Kolesnikov had broken it two days ago. Another world record could fall in the women’s 50 breast, where Lithuania’s Ruta Meilutyte will attempt to claim her second gold after winning the 100 breast earlier in the meet.

The men’s 1500 free is set to be one of the most exciting races of this meet, even with defending champion Gregorio Paltrinieri out of the mix. As Germany’s Florian Wellbrock looks off-form, the top contenders in this event should be America’s Bobby Finke and Ireland’s Daniel Wiffen, though names like Australia’s Sam Short, Tunisia’s Ahmed Hafnaoui, and Germany’s Lukas Martens are also ones to watch.

Australia is expected to run away with the mixed 4×100 free relay. Although nothing electric should happen in prelims, be on the lookout for a World Record to fall in the finals.

Women’s 50 Freestyle — Prelims

  • World Record: 23.67 — Sarah Sjostrom, Sweden (2017)
  • Championship Record: 23.67 — Sarah Sjostrom, Sweden (2017)
  • World Junior Record: 24.17 — Claire Curzan, United States (2021)
  • 2022 Winning Time: 23.98 — Sarah Sjostrom, Sweden
  • 2022 Top 16 Time: 25.34

Top 16:

  1. Sarah Sjostrom (SWE) — 23.93
  2. Shayna Jack (AUS) — 24.02
  3. Abbey Weitzeil (USA) — 24.29
  4. Zhang Yufei (CHN) — 24.44
  5. Michelle Coleman (SWE) — 24.51
  6. Anna Hopkin (GBR) — 24.61
  7. Marrit Steenbergen (NED) — 24.63
  8. Emma McKeon (AUS) — 24.69
  9. Kasia Wasick (POL) — 24.71
  10. Julie Jensen (DEN) — 24.79
  11. Neza Klancar (SLO) — 24.80
  12. Valeria van Roon (NED) — 24.82
  13. Gretchen Walsh (USA) — 24.83
  14. Marie Wattel (FRA) — 24.84
  15. Farida Osman (EGY)/Cheng Yujie (CHN) — 24.86

Sarah Sjostrom and Shayna Jack were off to hot starts in the prelims, clocking times of 23.93 and 24.02 respectively to take the top two seeds heading into semi-finals. Abbey Weitzeil also had a strong swim posting a 24.29 to take third.

Aside from the aforementioned swimmers, Zhang Yufei and Michelle Coleman were the only other one under 24.6, going 24.44 and 24.51 respectively. Everyone else down from fifth to sixteenth bunched up in that 24.6 to 24.8 range, with 24.86 being the slowest time to make it back. That’s nearly half a second faster than the 25.34 it took to make semis last year.

Men’s 50 Backstroke — Prelims

  • World Record: 23.55 — Kliment Kolesnikov, Russia (2023)
  • Championship Record: 24.04 — Liam Tancock, Great Britain (2009)
  • World Junior Record: 24.00 — Kliment Kolesnikov, Russia (2018)
  • 2022 Winning Time: 24.12 — Justin Ress, United States
  • 2022 Top 16 Time: 25.16

Top 16:

  1. Justin Ress (USA) — 24.18
  2. Apostolos Christou (GRE) — 24.48
  3. Hunter Armstrong (USA) — 24.49
  4. Ksawery Masuik (POL) — 24.71
  5. Ole Braunschweig (GER) — 24.72
  6. Xu Jiayu (CHN)/Isaac Cooper (AUS) — 24.73
  7. Thomas Ceccon (ITA) — 24.80
  8. Andrei-Mircea Anghel (ROU) — 24.86
  9. Kacper Stokowski (POL) — 24.91
  10. Andrew Jeffcoat (NZL)/Conor Ferguson (IRL) — 24.05
  11. Takeshi Kawamoto (JPN) — 25.05
  12. Yassin Hossman (EGY) — 25.07
  13. Michael Laitarovsky (ISR) — 25.10
  14. Ryosuke Irie (JPN) — 25.11

Apostolos Christou won the first circle-seeded heat of the 50 back by a comfortable, swimming a 24.48 and touching the wall nearly three-tenths ahead of everyone else in his race. However, it was defending champion Justin Ress who established his dominance early, clocking a 24.18 to swim the fastest time of the morning by exactly three-tenths. He was 0.06 seconds off his winning time of 24.12 from last year.

Former world record holder Hunter Armstrong won the final circle-seeded heat in a time of 24.49, just 0.01 seconds off of Christou’s time. He qualified for finals comfortably, unlike the 100 back where he finished 16th in the semi-finals. Finishing four overall in the prelims was defending bronze medalist Ksawery Masuik, who went 24.71.

Women’s 50 Breaststroke — Prelims

Top 16:

  1. Benedetta Pilato (ITA) — 29.60
  2. Anita Bottazzo (ITA) — 30.02
  3. Lilly King (USA) — 30.05
  4. Tang Qianting (CHN) — 30.08
  5. Satomi Suzuki (JPN) — 30.29
  6. Veera Kivirinta (FIN)/Anna Elendt (GER) — 30.33
  7. Ruta Meilutye (LTU)/Eneli Jefimova (EST)/Sophie Hansson (SWE) — 30.39
  8. Lydia Jacoby (USA) — 30.44
  9. Mona McSharry (IRL) — 30.45
  10. Dominika Szatandera (POL) — 30.68
  11. Tatjana Schoenmaker (RSA) — 30.70
  12. Fleur Vermeiren (BEL) — 30.73
  13. Florine Gaspard (BEL) — 30.75

In a bit of a surprise, it was the Italians who led the charge in the 50 breast prelims, with world record holder Benedetta Pilato swimming the top time in the morning by 0.42 seconds. Pilato was also the only swimmer in the field under 30 seconds during prelims.

The second seed was Pilato’s teammate Anita Bottazzo, who went 30.02 and dropped 0.21 seconds off of her best time. Lilly King, who missed the podium in the 10o and 200 breast, had a strong swim as the third seed, while Tang Qianting swam a 30.08 for fourth. Tang’s time was an Asian record, beating out her former record time of 30.10 from 2022 Worlds.

100 breast champion Ruta Meilutyte was relatively slow for her standards, going 30.39 to tie as the eighth overall seed. Although she qualified for semis comfortably, it’s worth noting she took out all three rounds of her 100 breast (all in sub-30 times) faster than her 50 breast time.

Mixed 4×100 Freestyle Relay — Prelims

  • World Record: 3:19.38 — Australia (2022)
  • Championship Record: 3:19.38 — Australia (2022)
  • World Junior Record: 3:25.92 — United States (2019)
  • 2022 Winning Time: 3:19.38
  • 2022 Top 8 Time: 3:27.20

Top 8:

  1. Australia — 3:21.88
  2. United States — 3:23.85
  3. Italy — 3:24.39
  4. Great Britain — 3;24.41
  5. Canada — 3:24.63
  6. Japan — 3:26.47
  7. Brazil — 3:26.48
  8. Germany — 3:26.78

As expected, the Australian team of Flynn Southam (48.69), Jack Cartwright (47.81), Madi Wilson (52.98) and Meg Harris (52.40) combined for the fastest time in the morning—a 3:21.88 that has them ahead of the field by 1.97 seconds. Harris’ split was the fastest overall split in the field amongst female swimmers.

The American team of Matt King (48.32), Chris Guiliano (48.18), Olivia Smoliga (53.30), and Bella Sims (54.05) combined for a time of 3:28.85 to take second, while Italy’s Manuel Frigo (48.54), Alessandro Miressi (47.56), Costanza Cocconcelli (54.41), and Sofia Morini (53.88) took third. Miressi’s split was the fastest rolling split amongst the males.

The fastest flat start time was a 48.27 from Canada’s Ruslan Gaziev, who helped his team qualify for finals in fifth. Other notable splits include Tom Dean‘s 47.93 and China’s Wu Qingfeng‘s 53.38, though China just missed out for the finals in ninth.

Men’s 1500 Freestyle — Prelims

  • World Record: 14:31.02 — Sun Yang, China (2012)
  • Championship Record: 14:32.80 – Gregorio Paltrinieri, Italy (2022)
  • World Junior Record: 14:46.09 — Franko Grgic, Croatia (2019)
  • 2022 Winning Time: 14:32.80 – Gregorio Paltrinieri, Italy (2022)
  • 2022 Top 8 Time: 14:56.89

Top 8:

  1. Bobby Finke (USA)  — 14:43.06
  2. Daniel Wiffen (IRL) — 14;43.50
  3. Ahemd Hafnaoui (TUN) — 14:49.53
  4. Lukas Martens (GER) — 14:541.20
  5. Mykhalio Romanchuk (UKR) — 14:52.15
  6. Sam Short (AUS) — 14:53.38
  7. Kristof Rasovsky (HUN) — 14:54.09
  8. David Aubry (FRA) — 14:54.29

In the first circle-seeded heat, Bobby Finke and Daniel Wiffen battled it out. Wiffen had been leading for the majority of the race, but Finke passed him on the back half. On the final 50, Wiffen came back to Finke, out splitting him 29.35 to 29.57. However, the gap was just too much to close and Finke touched in first for the win.

Wiffen and Finke have the top two overall seems in the field.

800 free champ Ahmed Hafnaoui won the second-circle seeded heat by over a second, breaking 15 minutes for the first time. Behind him, Lukas Martens, Mykhalio Romanchuk, and Sam Short also qualified for the final. Overall, six out of the eight finals qualifiers were from the second circle-seeded heat.

Florian Wellbrock, who entered this meet with the top time in the world, finished 20th in a time of 15:10.33, missing the final. He previously missed the final in the 800 free.

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4 months ago

Don’t give a hoot about MA.
But the world is being robbed not getting to watch Sarah Sjostrom swim a 50 Fly at the Olympic Games.

4 months ago

So… Coach Berkhahn was all “the pressure was just too much for Florian.”

4 months ago
Reply to  Eddie
4 months ago

There’s already been a SwimSwam article about it

Reply to  Sub13
4 months ago

Ah found it. I’ll leave the debate on that thread but how pathetic.

Reply to  Eddie
4 months ago

Indeed, especially as it is not even close in the Gold medal race……..what is better 10 bronze medals or 9 Golds????

4 months ago

I guess the next question is if Ledecky can beat her trials time?

Reply to  Jeremy
4 months ago

So far in the meet she has improves on her time on every events so the answer is yes she can.

Reply to  Jeremy
4 months ago

I think having Titmus in there with her will push her to a great time, so yes. She ain’t gonna lose though.

4 months ago

What % chance would you guys give to Titmus beating Ledecky?

Reply to  Jeremy
4 months ago


literally kazan
Reply to  Jeremy
4 months ago

50. I think this race is more open than you guys think

Reply to  Jeremy
4 months ago


Reply to  Jeremy
4 months ago

Titmus will probably do a sizable PB and challenge the 8:10 barrier, but I don’t see her getting Ledecky.

Reply to  Jeremy
4 months ago

Ledecky was too good in the 1500 at this meet for this to be close but I reckon Titmus will do a multiple second PB.

Reply to  Troyy
4 months ago

I don’t know how much she gonna dropped on her PB but I also don’t think it’s gonna be close.

Reply to  Jeremy
4 months ago


David S
Reply to  Jeremy
4 months ago

I did the mathematical physics calculations and it’s “near zero”

Fukuoka Gold
Reply to  Jeremy
4 months ago


Reply to  Jeremy
4 months ago

Unless Ledecky misses the bus to the pool; 0.15%

Reply to  Jeremy
4 months ago

30%. The terminator is really on fire.

Reply to  Classic_Swimmer
4 months ago

I doubt it and there could be close early in the race but Ledecky gonna have more pace to go really fast time.

4 months ago

“ 800 free champ Ahmed Hafnaoui won the second-circle seeded heat by over a second, breaking 15 seconds for the first time” obviously a typo, and a pretty small one given all the detail these authors are trying to get out to us so quickly, but it got me thinking how fast you’d have to go to do a 1500 in 15 seconds. That’d be 100 meters/second which I think is a little over 200 mph (not to mention dealing with turns). If you had to make a machine to move you that quickly in an LCM 1500 how would you do if?

Last edited 4 months ago by Smglsn12
Reply to  Smglsn12
4 months ago

for starters, you would need to be in some kind of protective vessel like a submarine to prevent the frictional forces from ripping you apart at that speed

Last edited 4 months ago by jeff
Reply to  jeff
4 months ago

But whatever propellant you had would now need to propel the vessel as well 😳

Reply to  Smglsn12
4 months ago

this is the type of swim swam commenting content i like to see haha

Reply to  Smglsn12
4 months ago

The forces involved in the turns would kill you.

Reply to  BearlyBreathing
4 months ago

I feel like if you were moving that fast and did a normal turn the sound of your feet hitting the water would be like a sonic boom

Reply to  Smglsn12
4 months ago

Going from 0-100m/second in a half second for a 75kg human would create a g force of 66. That would cause quite a headache. Thanks for the brilliant question, though.and if you want to know: the force required to do that could propel said person 20,000,000 m. That’s how high the cost of acceleration is.

Reply to  ZThomas
4 months ago

Yea I was thinking about the acceleration too, since do to a turn you need to come to a complete stop every 50 meters. If you’re looking to average 100 m/s, you either need to reach that speed almost instantaneously or somehow acquire a much higher top line speed to make up for the time you spend accelerating/decelerating. Quite the daunting task!

4 months ago

In other results, Aussie 16 yo Jaclyn Barclay had a couple of swift swims today at a local SCM meet:

50BK 26.82 – #3 all time
100BK 57.08 – equal #2 all-time with Atherton

Last edited 4 months ago by Troyy
Reply to  Troyy
4 months ago

I did see that and was impressed also.

Jay Ryan
4 months ago

Krisztof Chmielewski, along with his 1:53 silver medal in the 200 fly, pops a 15:01 in the 1500. Solid swims for young guy. Good get for USC if the rumors are true.

About Yanyan Li

Yanyan Li

Although Yanyan wasn't the greatest competitive swimmer, she learned more about the sport of swimming by being her high school swim team's manager for four years. She eventually ventured into the realm of writing and joined SwimSwam in January 2022, where she hopes to contribute to and learn more about …

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