The month of February has concluded, which means we’re that much closer to the opening ceremony of the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo, Japan. Although many nations’ Olympic Trials meets have yet to take place, swimmers around the world are knocking down the meets to get solid racing under their belts in order to fine-tune what they need to do to be at their best when the times really count.
With nerves and adrenaline in full supply, we’re seeing some stellar swims pop up even at low-key competitions. Let’s check-in on how the world rankings have been shaken up on the men’s side from February’s action and we’ll also review the women’s in a subsequent post.
We’re looking specifically at the top 10 performers in each event.
In the men’s sprint freestyles, the 200m free represents the only event in which a man moved into the top 10 among the season’s world rankings. It’s not a complete surprise that the man is Japan’s Daiya Seto, the 25-year-old who claimed two gold medals in Gwangju last year and hasn’t slowed down yet.
While competing at the Konami Open, Seto powered his way to a time of 1:46.65 to become the world’s 9th best performer since last August. Splitting 51.58/55.07, Seto earned the fastest time of his ever-evolving career, becoming Japan’s 7th fastest 200m freestyler ever in the process.
Another two-time gold medalist at the 2019 World Championships, Florian Wellbrock of Germany, also entered the world rankings with a February performance. The distance ace first entered the men’s 800m free event list in slot #5 after reaping a time of 7:49.44 at a Madgeburg meet on the 8th.
The 22-year-old Bremen native surged to become the world’s #2 swimmer in the world in his signature 1500m free as well in February, registering a time of 14:46.61 a day earlier at the same meet.
Wellbrock won both the 1500m free and the 10k open water title in Gwangju, becoming the first man ever to do so at a World Championships.
Two other swimmers also entered the men’s 800m free world rankings for the season to the tune of Tunisia’s Ayoub Hafnaoui and Greece’s Konstantinos Englezakis. Both men competed at the Nice stop of the FFN Golden Tour, with the former hitting a time of 7:50.31 and the latter earning a time of 7:51.27 to sit as the 7th and 8th performers, respectively.
One of three American men to insert himself into the season’s world rankings is represented by Olympian Tom Shields. The former Cal Bear raced his way to a time of 51.73 in the men’s 100m fly at the UCSD vs Cal meet in early February. He cracked the top 10 performers’ list for the season as the 10th fastest.
For 28-year-old Shields, that sub-52 outing signified his best in-season time since the 2015 FINA World Cup series, where he swam 51.3 and 51.2 in Moscow and Paris within a week.
However, there were 2 men faster than Shields in the month of February, both of whom raced on the other side of the world. Japan’s Takeshi Kawamoto ripped a time of 51.62 to take over slot #7, while Aussie Matthew Temple also showed his form with a 51.70 outing at the Vic Open.
Daniel Carr of the United States joined Shields in making a world rankings move last month. Two-time gold medalist from the 2019 Pan American Games Carr punched a time of 53.64 at that aforementioned UCSD vs Cal long course meet.
Carr’s result was positioned just .14 seconds away from his lifetime best that was set in Lima last summer. He is the 3rd-best American in the event so far this season, behind Shaine Casas (53.14) and Matt Grevers (53.54).
The men’s 200m backstroke also saw one man shake up the rankings, as Luke Greenbank took over spot #7 in the season’s best performers list. Earning a time of 1:57.51 at the McCullagh International Meet in Ireland on February 20th, Greenbank is keeping his name in the mix of possible medal contenders for Tokyo, assuming he makes it through the stiff British swimming OLY qualification process.
Greenbank’s countryman Adam Peaty glided into a season-best time of 58.78 in the men’s 100m breast at that same Irish meet. With his sub-59 ‘just getting started swim’, Peaty sits as the 4th fastest swimmer since August of last year.
The final American to put his name on the world rankings map did so on March 1st, but we’re still including him here. Sam Stewart blew up big-time in the men’s 200m IM, throwing down a lifetime best of 1:57.76 at the Champions Series in College Station, Texas.
That knocked more than a second-and-a-half off his previous lifetime best of 1:59.45 from last summer and moved him into the top 10 worldwide.
Finally, in the men’s 400m IM, Swiss national record holder Jeremy Desplanches got a good swim in at the FFN Golden Tour in Nice, hitting a time of 4:14.76. That made him the 8th fastest swimmer of the season and gave him the confidence knowing he dipped under the FINA ‘A’ qualifying cut of 4:15.84 needed for Tokyo.