2023 World Championships, Day 7 Prelims Preview: The Sprint Stars Are Coming to Play


There will be a much shorter prelims session on day 7 of the 2023 World Championships with just the women’s 50 free, men’s 50 back, women’s 50 breast, men’s 1500 free, and the 4×100 mixed free relay on the slate.

The session will kick off with the women’s 50 freestyle, featuring world record holder and heavy gold medal favorite Sarah Sjostrom. The 29-year-old Swedish star enters the meet as the top seed after posting a 23.82 earlier this season. Sjostrom has only competed in one other race individually at these Championships: the 50 butterfly, where she leads the rankings entering today’s final. In all of her swims so far, Sjostrom has looked dominant, raising excitement for her race here.

Sjostrom’s biggest challengers will be Aussies Emma McKeon and Shayna Jack, along with American Abbey Weitzeil. McKeon, the 2021 Olympic gold medalist in this event, hasn’t been swimming her best here, missing the podium in the 100 freestyle. However, she posted a solid split on Australia’s winning 4×100 freestyle relay. Jack has been on-fire at this competition on multiple relays. Though she is yet to swim individually, Jack already has multiple relay golds and world records under her belt thanks to her performances. 

Weitzeil will be looking to earn her first individual medal at the LC World Championships, while chasing the 24-second barrier. Notably, Weitzeil owns 19 medals across the SC World Championships, LC World Championships, and Olympic Games, yet only one of those medals is from an individual event: a bronze in the 100 freestyle at the 2021 SC World Championships.  At US Nationals, Weitzeil finished in a time of 24.00 to win this event, a best time for her by a decent margin. 

As for the 50 freestyle, there are plenty of other swimmers who could find themselves on the podium as anything can happen in such a quick event. 

The same goes for the men’s 50 backstroke, as there’s a large crowd of swimmers vying for the gold medal. Reigning champ Justin Ress enters with the top seed time after swimming a 23.92 at US Nationals. This will be Ress’ first individual event of the meet after he raced on the men’s 4×100 freestyle relay on the first night of competition. 

Ress will be chased by Aussie star Isaac Cooper, who finished first in this event at SC Worlds last year before a re-swim was called due to a backstroke wedge malfunction. Cooper ultimately finished 2nd to American Ryan Murphy in the re-swim, but has looked hungry for gold this year. Cooper posted one of the top times in the 50 freestyle out of yesterday’s semifinal, which means he’s definitely on form in his signature sprint events. 

Former world record holder Hunter Armstrong will also be in the mix after winning a bronze medal in the 100 backstroke this week. Armstrong barely made it through the prelims and semifinal of the 100 before turning it on in the final, so it’s possible he takes a similar approach here. 

Notably, recent world record setter Kliment Kolesnikov will not be competing in this event as Russia is banned from competing at Worlds due to the ongoing war in Ukraine. 

The meet will then move to the women’s 50 breaststroke, where 100 breaststroke champion Ruta Meilutyte will look to defend her title from last year. The Lithuanian breaststroker is the heavy favorite in the event, especially considering that she posted her fastest 100 breaststroke time years during the final the other night.

American Lilly King will be looking for redemption after missing the podium in both the 100 and 200 breaststroke, swimming right next to Meilutyte in heat 6. Her teammate Lydia Jacoby will also be in this race, swimming in heat 5 after posting a best time at US Nationals last month and winning bronze in the 100 breaststroke here.

Italian Benedetta Pilato and South African Lara van Niekerk will also be in the mix in this race.

In the men’s 1500 freestyle, several of the top 10 performers in history will be competing. 

The 800 freestyle earlier in the competition certainly lived up to the hype of this event as that race saw Tunisia’s Ahmed Hafnaoui, Australia’s Sam Short, America’s Bobby Finke, and Ireland’s Daniel Wiffen all post swims in the top 10 all-time. All four of these swimmers will be competing in this race as well, setting themselves up for another great battle if they make it to the final. 

Mykhailo Romanchuk, Lukas Martens, and Florian Wellbrock will also headline this race, with Wellbrock entering the heats as the top seed. He already won multiple gold medals in the open water events here, and has swam consistently fast 1500s all year. However, Wellbrock failed to make the final of the 800 freestyle earlier in the competition, raising questions about how he’s holding up after the open water races. 

Defending champion Gregorio Paltrinieri will not be competing as he pulled out of the meet following his 8th place finish in the 800 freestyle. Paltrinieri originally held the top seed in this race, but said he missed a large block of training due to physical problems this season, limiting his fitness. 

The mixed 4×100 freestyle relay prelims are also happening this morning, with Australia entering as the heavy favorites. The Aussie have plenty of options for their lineup, and will probably rest their top stars Kyle Chalmers and Mollie O’Callaghan for finals. Given Jack’s performances on the women’s relays, it’s possible that McKeon gets the nod for prelims, but the lineups remain in the air.

The United States, Canada, and Great Britain will all also be in the mix. Expect the US to completely switch its lineup between prelims and finals as well, potentially adding in Jack Alexy and Kate Douglass

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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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