Grading Our 2023 World Championships WR Predictions & a Bonus Look at Who was Closest

Wrapping up our coverage of the 2023 Worlds, SwimSwam has looked at our performances in the Pick’em contest and overall medal table and now turn our attention to our world record predictions.

You can watch all of the world record performances here and review my entire list and explanations for the individual world records most likely and least likely to be broken here, but they will also be below.

Most likely to be broken Least likely to be broken
Top 6 (in order)
7-12 (in no particular order)
Top 6 (in no particular order)
W 100 Back W 200 Free W 200 Breast
W 400 Free W 800 Free W 50 Fly
W 200 Back M 200 IM W 200 Fly
M 200 Breast M 400 Free M 200 Back
M 100 Free M 100 Back M 50 Fly
M 400 IM W 100 Fly M 100 Breast

What We Got Right

Ten world records were broken over the course of the meet, seven of which were from individual events, and six were unique individual events (Ruta Meilutyte matched the 50 breast record and then broke it the following evening).

Qin Haiyang World Record men's 200m breast photo credit Fabio Cetti World Aquatics Championships Fukuoka (JPN) 14-30 JULY 2023

Qin Haiyang, courtesy of Fabio Cetti

Of the six individual events to see new names atop the record board, We accurately predicted four of them, the women’s 400 free, men’s 200 breast, men’s 400 IM, and women’s 200 free, so if this were baseball, we would be batting at an incredible .667. If this were school, we would be rocking a 67% or a D+, so not so good.

Of these four races, the men’s 200 breast seemed the riskiest bet as we I counted on Leon Marchand’s presence on the entry sheet as a sign, meaning he may, in fact, swim it. Fortunately, we I was saved by the emergence of China’s Qin Haiyang, who swept all of the breaststroke races while also collecting the WR in this race by a margin of 0.47.

On the flip side, all six of the records that were predicted not to be broken remain unbroken (therefore saving me from having to eat my hat). The women’s 200 breast, 50 fly, and 200 fly, as well as the men’s 200 back, 50 fly, and 100 breast, remain on the books but, honestly, were expected to be.

The women’s 50 fly saw champion Sarah Sjostrom win in 24.77, the sixth-fastest performance ever but still more than three-tenths off her record time of 24.43. The women’s 200 fly saw a new World Junior Record in Summer McIntosh’s 2:04.06, but that time remains over two seconds off the all-time mark.

Qin had a fantastic meet and set a new Asian Record in the 100 breast with a time of 57.69, but Adam Peaty is the only man to have been under 57 in the 100 breast and comfortably remains there. The 50 fly and 200 back saw new national records for Thomas Ceccon and Hubert Kos, but both were off the world record marks in those races, 0.41 for Ceccon and 2.22 for Kos.

What We Got Wrong

Ruta Meilutyte, courtesy of Fabio Cetti

To be fair, the two records that we missed out on were both 50s, a distance that I stated in the comment section that I may have undervalued the 50s because every detail needs to be absolutely perfect over such a short race.

But to be honest, while I did pick both Sjostrom and Meilutyte to win their events in my pick’em, I did not see the world records falling in either of the women’s 50 free and 50 breast. Sjostrom last set a WR in 2017, and Meilutyte, despite swimming well at

While we listed 12 records, it should be noted that we did not expect them all to be broken. I waffled heavily on including the men’s 100 back and initially didn’t include the women’s 100 fly, but I felt it was better to include more information than less.

In the ranked top six, I placed the women’s 100 back over the 400 free due to the more numerous chances of it being broken, but alas, the Kaylee McKeown‘s and Regan Smith‘s duel did not result in a new world record, ditto in the 200 back.

We also missed in the men’s 100 free. In 2022, Romanian David Popovici won with a time of 47.58, but late in the summer smashed the world record by swimming 46.86 at the 2022 European Champs. With the return of an in-form Kyle Chalmers and speedy times put up by Matt Richards and Pan Zhanle, this record seemed destined to be broken again. However, it was not to be as Popovici finished 6th in 47.83, with Chalmers taking the win in 47.15

A look at the races with times closest to the WR

Your wish is my command (also nice pun work on the last name).

I’ve updated the table from the original article and replaced the fastest swimmer heading into Worlds and their time with the 2023 Champion and their winning time.

A few notes:

  • Red highlights denote super suit records
  • Green highlights denote that the winning time was slower than the fastest time swum in season by the same performer.
  • Pink highlights denote that the winning time was slower than the fastest time swum in season, but the winner and fastest swimmer are not the same person.
  • Blue highlights denote that the world record was broken in the semifinals or at a different competition. For these purposes, the WR are listed as they were at the start of the meet.

Ahmed Hafnaoui, courtesy of Fabio Cetti

In raw seconds and milliseconds, Kaylee McKeown‘s 100 back would be the closest to the world record line as her winning time of 57.53 was only .08 off her own world record of 57.45, but remember the table uses a calculation where I took the WR time divided it by gold medal time and then multiply by 100 to find the percentage over or under the WR.

Percentage-wise, Ahmed Hafnaoui’s performance in the men’s 1500 represents the closest swim to a WR  closely followed by McKeown’s efforts in the 100 and 200 back and McKeown’s fellow Australian Sam Short and his 3:40.68 in the men’s 400 Free.

Richards’s 200 free victory and Kos’s 200 back victory were the furthest away on the men’s side, unsurprisingly. For the women, it was Tatjana Schoenmaker’s 200 breast win and  McIntosh’s 200 fly win. None of these should be a massive surprise as ¾ are super-suited records, and no one besides Evgeniia Chikunova has been under 2:18.90, let alone 2:18.00.

While all of the men’s events saw faster winning times than the fastest in-season times, six women’s events saw slower times.  McIntosh’s 400 IM winning time, Kate Douglass’s 200 IM, Katie Ledecky’s 800 free, and McKeown’s 100 and 200 back were all slower than the times they swam earlier in the year. McIntosh also won the 200 fly in a new personal best and WJR time, but her 2:04.06 was slower than the 2:03.87 swum by Regan Smith back in June.

Fastest in Season Meet Date Time Event 2023 Champion Time Difference
Kaylee McKeown 2023 Australian World Champs Trials June 13th-18th, 2023 57.5 100 Back Kaylee McKeown 57.53 0.03
Summer McIntosh 2023 Canadian Swimming Trials March 28th-April 2nd, 2023 4:25.87 400 IM Summer McIntosh 4:27.11 1.24
Kaylee McKeown NSW State Champs March 10th-11th, 2023 2:03.14 200 Back Kaylee McKeown 2:03.85 0.71
Kate Douglass 2023 U.S. National Championships June 27th-July 1st, 2023 2:07.09 200 IM Kate Douglass 2:07.17 0.08
Katie Ledecky 2023 U.S. National Championships June 27th-July 1st, 2023 8:07.07 800 Free Katie Ledecky 8:08.87 1.8
Regan Smith 1st Annual Sun Devil Open June 2nd-4th, 2023 2:03.87 200 Fly Summer McIntosh 2:04.06 0.19


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Southerly Buster
1 month ago

AAP is reporting that Gina Rinehart, Australia’s richest person, is offering a $20,000 bonus to Australian gold medallists at Olympics or World Championships in 4 sports including swimming. She will also give a $30,000 bonus for world records. And these bonuses are backdated to cover the Fukuoka World Championships.

1 month ago

People really try and say Piersol isnt the goat American male backstroker lol

Reply to  Andrew
1 month ago

Do they? I think he’s pretty universally acknowledged as the best American backstroker of all time (male or female). Who else is even close?

Lap Counter
1 month ago

M800 has to be on list of toughest WRs to break!

1 month ago

I think you messed up the fastest in-season 200 IM time. Summer went 2:06 high at Trials.

1 month ago

Thanks… love it. The times of Sjostrom and Ledecky are compared to their own world records… how would they compare %-wise (or AQUA point-wise) if the WR record was held by the 2nd fastest swimmer in history.

1 month ago

Several Aussie swimmers sooo close but Hafnaoui was the closest of all. Crazy race

Personal Best
1 month ago

Awesome! Thanks for the article… love the stats 🙂

Fukuoka Gold
Reply to  Personal Best
1 month ago