The 2023 Mare Nostrum Tour saw its final stop come to a close in Monaco yesterday with the meet wrapping up a trio of world-class competitions.
We saw a handful of individual meet records and even overall Mare Nostrum records bite the dust over the course of the past couple of weeks as swimmers vied not only for medals but also for World Championships and Paris 2024 Olympic Games qualifying times.
In case you missed any of the action, here’s a round-up of my top 10 performances from the Tour.
#1 Sarah Sjostrom‘s 24.89 50m Fly (Monaco)
Sweden’s multi-Olympic medalist Sarah Sjostrom did major damage in the women’s 50m fly in Monaco.
The 50m sprints of each discipline were conducted in a series of rounds, with the preliminary race, along with rounds 2 and 3 taking place on day one while the final two battles were conducted on day two.
Sjostrom registered monster swims across all 5 rounds, nearly completing a masterful decrescendo en route to her frightening 24.89 which garnered her gold.
Round 1 – 25.58
Round 2 – 25.25
Round 3 – 25.28
Round 4 – 25.07
Round 5 – 24.89
Sjostrom has held the 50m fly World Record since clocking a time of 24.43 in 2014. She remains the only woman in history to have ever dipped under the 25-second barrier in this event and has recorded the top 25 times in history.
Sjostrom’s last 24-point 50m fly came at the 2022 World Championships where she put up 24.95 to claim gold in Budapest. Remarkably, her time of 24.89 beat out that gold medal-worthy effort and ranks as the 7th swiftest performance in history.
#2 Siobhan Haughey‘s 52.50 100m Free (Barcelona)
Hong Kong’s two-time Olympic silver medalist Siobhan Haughey put her freestyle finesse on full display over the course of the 3 meets.
Her winning effort in the women’s 100m freestyle in Barcelona was especially impressive, with her time of 52.50 clinching the gold by nearly one full second. The time represented a new in-season best for the star who also broke the Hong Kong national record in the 50m free on day one in Canet (24.56).
The former University of Michigan Wolverine’s 52.50 time checked in as her 3rd-fastest ever, sitting only behind the 52.40 she produced in the semi-finals and the 52.27 she logged for silver at the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo.
She now ranks #1 in the world on the season.
2022-2023 LCM Women 100 Free
#3 Sarah Sjostrom‘s 23.82 50m Free (Monaco)
Sjostrom also put on a show in the women’s 50m free where she conquered all 5 rounds for gold.
Sjostrom fired off a time of 23.82 in the 4th round to put up the 7th fastest 50m free performance of her prolific career. It established a new Mare Nostrum Tour Record, overtaking the previous mark of 23.85 she put on the books in 2017.
Sjostrom’s 23.82 Mare Nostrum Record swim here represents the 11th-swiftest time ever produced and would have beat her own silver medal time from the Tokyo Olympics behind champion Emma McKeon‘s 23.81 Olympic Record.
Sjostom remains ranked #1 in this women’s 50m free event on the season.
2022-2023 LCM Women 50 Free
#4 Lara van Niekerk‘s 29.75 50m Breast (Monaco)
Lost in the Sjostrom shuffle on the final day in Monaco was a powerful performance by South Africa’s Lara van Niekerk in the women’s 50m breast.
19-year-old van Niekerk was hungry throughout all 5 rounds of the event, posting a stellar series of times as follows:
Round 1 – 30.63
Round 2 – 30.45
Round 3 – 30.21
Round 4 – 29.89
Round 5 – 29.75
Her round 4 effort of 29.89 broke the Monaco stop record while her mark of 29.75 which earned gold broke the overall Mare Nostrum Tour record. That mark was set by Lithuanian Olympic champion Ruta Meilutyte 8 years ago in 2015.
Van Niekerk’s 29.75 gold medal-worthy time checks in as a season-best, lowering her 29.78 logged at April’s national championships. Her time also fell only .03 shy of her lifetime best and South African standard of 29.72 produced in April of 2022.
2022-2023 LCM Women 50 Breast
#5 Rikako Ikee‘s 25.89 50m Fly Bronze (Canet)
Rikako Ikee of Japan did not put up a best time nor win gold on the Tour; however, the 22-year-old did accomplish a heroic feat while competing at the first stop in Canet.
Racing in the women’s 50m fly, Ikee placed third in a time of 25.89. Although the outing was off her season-best of 25.59 produced last month, Ikee’s result represented her first time making an international podium since returning to the pool after her battle with leukemia.
Ikee has been racing domestically over the past 2+ years, taking part in her first comeback meet of the Tokyo Special Swimming Tournament in August 2020. Her participation came after spending nearly the entire year of 2019 in the hospital undergoing intense treatments.
She continued gaining strength both in and out of the pool, remarkably making Japan’s Olympic team for the postponed 2020 Games. Ikee ultimately helped the women’s 4x100m free and mixed medley relays place 9th, as well as the women’s 4x100m medley relay finish 8th at the Tokyo Games.
Ikee wound up taking most of 2022 off of racing, forgoing last year’s World Championships in Budapest as well as the Short Course World Championships in Melbourne.
The freestyle and butterfly specialist did race at last month’s Japan Championships where she claimed an impressive four individual titles across the 50m/100m fly and 50m/100m free. As a result, she was named to her nation’s roster for this summer’s World Championships set to take place on her home soil this July.
#6 Tomoru Honda‘s 1:54.22 200 Fly (Monaco)
Japanese Olympic silver medalist Tomoru Honda took full advantage of Hungarian Kristof Milak not competing at the Monaco stop despite the World Record holder having been entered
On day one of the competition. Honda crushed a winning 200m fly time of 1:54.22. Honda’s performance beat out his Canet performance by nearly a second, where Honda took the event at that first stop in 1:55.09.
His season-best remains at the head-turning 1:52.70 from last December’s Japan Open; however, his time from the Tour would have placed 4th at the 2022 World Championships where he took 3rd in 1:53.61 and would have brought home the bronze from the 2020 Olympic Games.
#7 Ian Ho‘s 21.96 50m Free (Monaco)
Hong Kong’s Ian Ho remains his nation’s only swimmer to have ever delved under the 22-second barrier in the men’s 50m freestyle.
The 26-year-old out of Virginia Tech first got into 21-second territory in June of 2021 where he clinched the national title in a mark of 21.97. He then took things down even further, producing a time of 21.86 at this year’s Festival of Sport this past April.
Although that 21.86 remains the Hong Kong national record, Ho provided it wasn’t a fluke, clocking a result of 21.96 in round 3 of the knockout competition of the 50m free in Monaco.
Ho followed with a slower time of 22.40 to be eliminated after round 4 but the ace continues to represent his continent well in the world rankings. Ho, Singapore’s Jonathan Tan (21.91) and Japan’s Shinri Shioura (21.99) are the only 3 swimmers from Asia who have been under 22 seconds this season.
#8 Lydia Jacoby‘s 1:05.84 100m Breast (Barcelona)
At the 2nd stop in Barcelona, reigning Olympic champion Lydia Jacoby of the United States logged her fastest 100m breaststroke outing since Tokyo.
She topped the Barcelona podium in 1:05.84 as the 6th swiftest performance of her career to beat out runner-up Martina Carraro of Italy (1:06.87) and van Niekerk (1:07.08).
Jacoby’s Top 100 Breast Times:
- 1:04.95, 2020 Tokyo Olympics (Finals)
- 1:05.28, 2020 Olympic Trials (Finals)
- 1:05.52, 2020 Tokyo Olympics (Prelims)
- 1:05.71, 2020 Olympic Trials (Semifinals)
- 1:05.72, 2020 Tokyo Olympics (Semifinals)
- 1:05.84, 2023 Mare Nostrum (Finals)
Jacoby missed her nation’s World Championships roster last year by only .09, hitting a time of 1:06.21 at Trials.
She had already been quicker than that this season with a result of 1:06.09 clocked at the Pro Swim Series in Westmont last month.
Jacoby’s swim 1:05.84 now ranks her 3rd in the world this season.
2022-2023 LCM Women 100 Breast
#9 Tomoyuki Matsushita‘s 4:12.42 400m IM (Barcelona)
Japan’s newest member of its 400m IM posse is 17-year-old Tomoyuki Matsushita, who has helped fill the void left by powerhouse Kosuke Hagino’s retirement.
Tomoyuki Matsushita started his Mare Nostrum Tour on the subdued side, putting up a time of 4:17.92 in Canet to bag bronze.
However, he moved things rapidly forward with a much swifter result of 4:12.42 for gold in Barcelona and doubled up with a podium-topping mark of 4:12.53 in Monaco.
The teen’s lifetime best remains at the 4:12:20 he registered past January while competing at the South Australian State Championships to rank as Japan’s 8th fastest man ever.
The fact that he was already within range of his PB is highly encouraging and signals a complete turnaround from his disappointing performance at the 2023 Japan Swim this past April. At that World Championships qualifier, the teen finished 24th in a lackluster 4:24.17.
#10 Agostina Hein‘s 4:09.94 400m Free (Monaco)
Argentina has a new distance freestyle face in town and her name is Agostina Hein.
Hein, who only turned 15 just last month, held her own against some top-tier talent in one of the first senior-level international meet series of her career.
Hein’s highlight came at the final stop in Monaco where the budding star established a huge new personal best in the 400m free. Hein touched in a mark of 4:09.94 to get under the 4:10 barrier for her first time ever, taking gold in the process.
The teen set up her swim first by snagging silver in Canet with a time of 4:10.68. That outing already obliterated the 4:16.03 she logged for 5th place at the 2022 World Junior Championships, as well as the 4:20.56 she produced at the Pro Swim Series in Fort Lauderdale.
Hein, again at just 15, is now Argentina’s #2 performer all-time in this event.
is it pronounced “Mare-ay-Nostrum?”
It’s Latin, so yes you would correctly pronounce it “mah-re” although in English people tend to just say “mair”.
does anyone know how fast Kate D went in Atlanta in the 100 breast? Trying to figure out if she has a prayer to medal if they let the Russian girl swim. I know she’s been 2:22 in the 2 breast.
She has been 2:21.4 in the 200 breast.
thanks. I think thats her PB. Wondering what she has done as of late in the 200LCM.
She’s only swam it once this year and was a 2:22.75
I don’t think she’s going to medal in the 100 because she’s probably not going to make the team in the 100 . . .
yea i agree. I was just trying to get a feel for what kind of speed she has compared to the likes of Jacoby and King in a shorter breastroke race.
Her PB would not have made it out of heats in Tokyo. She has a chance to medal if she vastly improves her OB extremely quickly, but the W100 breast is one of USA’s strongest events so I don’t see her on the team.
Sjostrom will do something special this year and next.
“Honda crushed a winning 200m fly time of 1:54.22. The 21-year-old opened in 56.58 and closed in 58.45 to produce a new Monaco meet record.”
No, he opened in 54.92 and came back in 59.30.
“Emma McKeon‘s 21.81 Olympic Record.”
That’s darn fast!
Lol that’s what I was thinking. Faster than any Aussie man has been in quite a while
The freestyles are cooking just before Japan. I have a feeling an Australian will be shutout from the gold in all freestyle events.
So who you got on the podium in the women’s 50/100/200 free?
100: Hong Kong
200: hmm this leans Aus. 🏽
What incredibly nationalist tripe.
Countries don’t win races; swimmers do. They just happen to be from different countries.
The question was “…WHO (not from what country but which individual) you got on the podium in the women’s 50/100/200 free?”
McIntosh clears 🤭
I assume by “all freestyle events” you only mean “all individual events”. Because counting out the Aussie girls from a freestyle relay is nuts.
I would say the M100 and 400 are our only male gold chances, and the women have 50/100/200/400. The 50 is probably a long shot, but the other 3 have very reasonable chances.
In Tokyo individual free Australia was 4G 3S 1B and in Budapest (missing literally every free medallist from Tokyo) was 2G 2S 2B.
I will be pretty shocked if we convert 0 out of 6 chances but stranger things have happened.
The relays for the Aussie women 100 and 200 are a given. But yes, this is for the individual events.
by saying that the 4×200 is a given, you have almost certainly sent captain extra running towards this article with a whole thesis suggesting otherwise
Lol that was my exact thought too.
“Did you forget that Arabella Gabrielle “Bella” Sims split a 1:54.60 in the women’s 4x200m free style relay event at age seventeen (17) at the 2022 World Aquatics Championships event held in Budapest, Hungary? The fastest Australian was Leah Neale who is much older at age twenty seven (27). Darn those cretins from down under!!!”
Aus has the record but we’ve been favourites at the last 2 premier events and we’ve been burned twice.
Realistically it would take a major F up to lose but that was also true the last two times we lost.
Captain extra would be right. We really lack consistency in the 4×2.
yes, but it’s a false assertion that gives rise to something even worse. also a weird hill to die on when they rate the 4×200’s chances above the 100 free, an event we’ve actually won in the last 2 years
Never say that anything is given, I would have bet a lot of money on AUS women winning the Tokyo Olympics with a 7:38 maybe 7:39. Now I am glad I did not bet (on the other hand I have not made any bets other than lotto tickets).
Yeah and 4×100 is pretty much a given and it would be the surprised of the meet if they lose it and meanwhile 4×200 is more unpredictable relay events and Australia is a favorite because they also a world record holder but the US is also usually gonna be there when it matters and China could make a surprise too just like in Tokyo.
Oh yeah I forgot China is back on form! But I still think Aus women will win by a WR.
Maybe they’re gonna be back on form but right now it’s usually a two way battle between US and Australia in 4×200 and they could win just like in 2019 with a world record but I also think that US is also gonna be there behind them I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s a close race and meanwhile right now on the medley relay I would give the advantage to US because of the breaststroke where Jacoby also looks good.
AUS is definitely the favorite based off PB/SB, but I think I’d have to put China at second? Yang Junxuan and Tang Muhan are still young and have 1:54 low PBs and China has decently good depth (1:55.6 from Li Bingjie and 1:56.1 from Liu Yaxin this year, Zhang Yufei might be good again too).
USA on paper would be third then; Ledecky and Sims’ PBs match up pretty well against Yang and Tang and then Liu has a similar PB to Gemmell, but Li Bingjie has a PB much faster than any of the other American options. I emphasize “on paper” though because Grimes/Gemmell/Weinstein are so young that they could reasonably drop a big PB out of nowhere.… Read more »
Yeah I understand why you put US on third but I’m still leaning on them for a solid second and yes China is also good but when it comes to big meet and when it matters usually the US girls delivers and the other reason I put US second and potentially the only team that can challenged Australia is because the consistency and just like last year and even though it was like an off year , the US is still battling it out with Australia for the win .
Tang Muhan didn’t even attend trials and Yang Junxuan has been injured so only swam the 100 free. That doesn’t mean she won’t swim the 4×2 but she might not be in top shape.
I overall agree with this.
100 Free – Kyle is swimming very well in-season and can’t be counted out. Still think he has another PB in him and he’s only .2 off the WR. However, the event is stacked and Popovici might reset his record again.
400 Free – Defending world champion Winnington can’t be counted out and Short has the leading time this year. But again, a fairly stacked event. But a reasonable chance at gold.
50 Free – Jack and Harris have both been 24 low this season, and McKeon is the Olympic champion. Sjostrom obviously has an extremely strong 50 this year and is the WR holder, but she (or anyone else) still hasn’t beaten… Read more »
Hard to make overall calls re AUS FR chances until Trials have finished. Some HAVE already made major statement swims whereas the likes of Titmus/McKeon have yet to truly “fire a shot in anger”.
Whilst Chalmers remains a very real factor in M100FR; 400FR looks the one clear gold chance. M4X100 & M4X200 are in medal equation; albeit for minor coin and far from assured.
Medals look possible in W50FR but Sjostrom is putting down times that, realistically, only McKeon can match.
W100FR looks a lottery, both for AUS selection and Fukuoka podium. At least one medal seems realistic but the colour = indeterminate.
Until we see what Titmus produces at Trials (ditto MOC for 200); it’s hard to make… Read more »
Are you captain extra??
ROFLAO …….. No.
‘Hard to make overall calls re AUS FR chances until Trials have finished.’
Then Commonwombat proceeds to make the call.
Haha, Rob. These are by no means “hard calls”, just how I see things standing at this point; ie prior to AUS/US Trials. Some have given us “something to go off” with regards to form; some have essentially given us nothing.
In that case, let me challenge you on the 100FR.
Australia has 3 of the 4 fastest 100 free in McKeon, MOC & Jack in the world.
If Australia were able to swim 3 swimmers, Australia could cleans weep the podium, with really only Haughey the spoiler.
If McKeon recovers her Tokyo form, she is unbeatable & both MOC & Jack are very close to Haughey’s best time.
So quite soft call on your prediction for the 100 free. I’m predicting at 2 medals and even a possibility of a 1-2.
What about MA’s winning 22.8 50fly in Monaco with a 21.6 50free later in the session?
It is hard for some people to accept that he swam #2 and #3 in the world times
Maybe if he does so in a 100 event they will be more impressed.
American Record holder in 100 breast 100 fly 50.0 So he met your criteria. Where will you put the moving goalposts next?
Why say that about MA and not Sjostorm
Jacboy’s 1:05.8 is better than a 21.9 50 free.
I think the article is about the author’s impressions from the meet series. Ho and Hein deserve being featured for being exceptional regional or age outliers; fast swims from Americans aren’t few and far between