Men’s 50m Free World Championship Preview: Can Manaudou Hold Off Morozov In Front Of A Russian Crowd?

Men’s 50m Freestyle: 2015 FINA World Championships Preview

  • Day 7, Saturday, August 8th
  • 2013 World Champion: Cesar Cielo, BRA – 21.32 (SEE RACE VIDEO ABOVE)
  • 2013 Silver Medalist: Vlad Morozov, RUS – 21.47
  • 2013 Bronze Medalist: George Bovell, TRI – 21.51

With the 2015 Kazan LC World Championships on the horizon, I thought it would be interesting to take a look back on previous world championship performances to give us a better idea of what can be expected this summer, beginning with the freestyle events.

50m free- 2015 World Championships preview

This graph shows the gold, silver and bronze medal winning times from the five previous world championships, beginning in 2005 in Montreal. Looking at the data in this type of visual representation gives an idea of where performances have been in the past and what we can expect this summer in Kazan and beyond.

In the men’s 50m free, we see a common trend that can be seen throughout all of the freestyle events. Times dropped significantly in 2009 due to the high tech suit era, and then in 2011 times going back up to where they were prior to the suit era. In 2005 and 2007, a 21-mid to 21-high would be in gold medal contention and cracking the 22 second barrier would almost assure you a medal. Come 2009, we saw significant drops in time including a couple mind boggling sub 21 second swims during the year and an eventual winning time of 21.08 by Cesar Cielo. In 2011 the times reverted back to where they were before the suits, but in 2013 the times improved significantly, as a 21.51 earned bronze whereas in 2011 21.52 was the gold medal winning time. Looking towards this summer, I expect the event will continue to get faster, as we have already seen some very fast in-season times.

After an incredible showing at the Short Course World Championships in December, including a gold medal and new world record in the 50 free (20.26), it is hard to imagine Florent Manaudou being denied in the event in which he is the defending Olympic champion. With the Russian home crowd behind Vlad Morozov, expect the local sprint star to give Manaudou a challenge. Despite the home crowd advantage, ultimately I see Manaudou outduelling the 2012 Short Course World Champion.

Cesar Cielo is the three-time defending world champion and world record holder so he will be fast as usual, as will the Americans Nathan Adrian and Anthony Ervin, as they always are.

Bruno Fratus and Marco Orsi have turned in fast times this season, and George Bovell always steps up at big competitions, including a bronze at the 2013 worlds.

For a dark horse pick, enter Kristian Gkolomeev. After producing a long course personal best of 21.96 last summer, Gkolomeev had an incredible NCAA championships this March, including a silver medal performance in the 50 freestyle, a gold in the 100, and one of the fastest 50 splits in history at 18.24. After showing he can swim long course last summer, and his success this year, he could turn some heads once he arrives in Kazan.

Take a look at the top times from around the world this season:

2014-2015 LCM Men 50 Free

View Top 43»

Australia’s star sprinter, James Magnussen, would have made a splash this year in Kazan, but is unable to compete due to shoulder surgery. Magnussen tells SwimSwam that he will “hopefully be back doing some kick work in 6 weeks”, with the anticipation of being “fully functional and swimming in under 12 weeks.” If that timeline holds, he should have enough time to get back into top shape for Rio.

James Magnussen Post-Surgery


  1. Florent Manaudou, FRA    21.17
  2. Vladimir Morozov, RUS       21.28
  3. Cesar Cielo,BRA                21.30
  4. Nathan Adrian,USA             21.36
  5. Anthony Ervin,USA             21.39
  6. Bruno Fratus, BRA              21.47
  7. George Bovell ,TRI            21.60
  8. Marco Orsi, ITA                 21.69

Darkhorse: Kristian Gkolomeev, GRE     21.80


Day 1, Sun August 2nd (Day 9)

  • M 400 Free
  • M 400 Free
  • W 4×100 Free Relay
  • M 4×100 Free Relay

Day 2, Mon August 3rd (Day 10)

  • M 100 Breast
  • W 100 Fly
  • M 50 Fly
  • W 200 IM

Day 3, Tue August 4th (Day 11)

  • M 200 Free
  • W 100 Back
  • W 1500 Free
  • M 100 Back
  • W 100 Breast

Day 4, Wed August 5th (Day 12)

Day 5, Thur August 6th (Day 13)

  • M 200 IM
  • M 100 Free
  • W 200 Fly
  • W 50 Back
  • W 4×200 Free Relay

Day 6, Fri August 7th (Day 14)

Day 7, Sat August 8th (Day 15)

  • W 50 Fly
  • M 50 Free
  • W 200 Back
  • M 100 Fly
  • W 800 Free
  • MIXED 4×100 Free Relay

Day 8, Sun August 9th (Day 16)

  • M 50 Back
  • W 50 Breast
  • M 400 IM
  • W 50 Free
  • M 1500 Free
  • W 400 IM
  • M 4×100 Medley Relay
  • W 4×100 Medley Relay

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8 years ago

My predictions:

Santo Condorelli:21:15
John Murray: 21.37
Manadou: 21.45

Reply to  USCfan
8 years ago

My prediction:

John Murray – 19.99

Everyone else is irrelevant.

8 years ago

Manaudou has to be the out and out favourite. Can’t really see anyone coming close. Cielo in the form of 2 years ago would have challenged.

Manaudou: 21.30 or below
Cielo: 21.55
Morozov: 21.70

M Palota
8 years ago

Manadou has to the clear favourite. After that, I think it’s a bit of a “pick ’em”. You have to tip Morozov because it’s in Russia, Fratus and Cielo – especially Cielo – are always quick… My dark horse pick is Ben Proud. 21.76 last year as a 19 year-old.

Haven’t seen enough this year out of Ervin or Adrian to make any sort of predictions. Both are consumate pros, though, and they’ll be ready.

8 years ago

I kinda doubt 21.3 for Nathan Adrian this year..maybe 21.6

Reply to  Pvk
8 years ago

Most people don’t get it.It is very hard to make top times in the same competition in 50 and 100free.Probably only Magnussen did(in recent years) when he did 47.1 and 21.5.When Cielo did 47.84(his textile best) he was only 21.58 in 50free.

NM Coach
8 years ago

We would NEVER see those predictions while they are racing in the same heat. Those times predicted regardless of when they’re swum (P or F)…possibly. But the 50 Finals, as a whole, are usually slower than what it took to make the finals. With the exception of the winner and maybe 1 or 2 others in the heat.

James Sutherland
Reply to  NM Coach
8 years ago

I absolutely agree. Though I wanted to make time predictions, I knew historically the final heat doesn’t always produce the fastest times from every swimmer, as prelims and semi’s we always see some very fast times as well. So the predictions are basically the order in terms of placing I predict and the times each swimmer is capable, although they may not necessarily achieve it in the final.

8 years ago

I think the predictions are unrealistically ambitious. Almost everyone is improving their lifetime bests, at the same meet in the same race. Is that likely?

My Picks:
1. Manaudou- 21.25- he’s abundantly proven himself (multiple 21.3 swims and the sc WR), and seems to be continuing to get faster.
2. Cielo- 21.35- also a proven winner, but at this point in his career I don’t think he has the same upside. Due to skipping Pan Pacs, he’s a wildcard and may go faster, given he has to be training hard for a home Olympics
3. Vlad- 21.40- not nearly as proven as the others, he really has one great time to his name (21.47 from 2013… Read more »

Reply to  mcgillrocks
8 years ago

Based on Best times from last years.. Manadou Cielo and Fratus are ahead..

Manadou went 21,3 on 2012, 2013 and 2014.. Cielo went also 21,3 on the same years.. they are proven guys.. Fratus went 21,4 4 times last year.. I would rate him a little higher than Morozov now.. On consistency of fast times nobody had a better 2014 than Fratus..

Reply to  mcgillrocks
8 years ago

Morozov has a 21,47 from 2013.. Fratus went 21,41 21,44 and 2 times went 21,45.. also one of his 21,45 and his 21,41 were on the same day..

Cielo Manadou and Fratus can probably go easy on prelims as they can pop out sub-22 easily and semis if they are rested they can pop 21,5 without giving it all.. which is a luxury many others won´t have..

8 years ago

II think Adrian and Ervin will be faster. They have been very consistent this year, if they hit their taper right I think they will be good.

8 years ago

Manaudou -21.25
Ervin 21.6

About James Sutherland

James Sutherland

James swam five years at Laurentian University in Sudbury, Ontario, specializing in the 200 free, back and IM. He finished up his collegiate swimming career in 2018, graduating with a bachelor's degree in economics. In 2019 he completed his graduate degree in sports journalism. Prior to going to Laurentian, James swam …

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