Short & Hafnaoui Enter List Of Top 5 Performers All-Time In 400 Freestyle


The first event of the 2023 World Aquatics Championships was an absolute stunner, with the top two finishers putting the men’s 400m freestyle World Record on death row.

19-year-old Sam Short of Australia ripped the fastest outing of his career to get to the wall first, unleashing a time of 3:40.68. But right behind him was reigning Olympic gold medalist Ahmed Hafnaoui, with the Tunisian turning in a mark of 3:40.70. Germany’s Lukas Martens rounded out the podium in a result of 3:42.20.

This evening, Short battled Hafnaoui of Indiana the entire way, with the pair under German Paul Biedermann‘s World Record pace through the 350m mark, just as Short was this morning.

Short landed lane 4 for this evening’s final after scorching a heats swim of 3:42.44. That already represented a new lifetime best for the teen, slicing .02 off of his previous PB of 3:42.46 notched at this year’s Australian National Championships.

Short’s monster effort now renders the teen the 4th-fastest performer in history, although he’s still chasing countryman Ian Thorpe‘s national record of 3:40.08 which has been on the books since 2002.

As for Hafnaoui, the 20-year-old established a new African Record with tonight’s performance, overtaking Ous Mellouli’s 3:41.11 logged at the 2009 World Championships.

Top 5 Men’s LCM 400 Freestyle Performers All-Time

  1. Paul Biedermann (GER), 3:40.07 2009
  2. Ian Thorpe (AUS), 3:40.08
  3. Sun Yang (CHN), 2012
  4. Sam Short (AUS), 3:40.68 2023
  5. Ahmed Hafnaoui (TUN), 3:40.70

For perspective, it took Hafnaoui a time of 3:43.36 to grab the gold at the 2020 Olympic Games, so the top 3 performers this evening obliterated that threshold to make history.

This evening, Short’s final 50 checked in at 55.19 while his prelim effort clocked 56.46. Hafnaoui nearly caught the Aussie, closing in 55.07 to touch a fingernail behind and fall just .02 outside of gold.

Short’s 3:40.68 Hafnaoui’s 3:40.70 Short’s 3:42.44 Prelim
53.58 53.82 53.75
55.71 55.68 55.82
56.20 56.13 56.41
55.19 55.07 56.46

Short’s incredible performance bodes very well for the Aussie’s gold medal prospects in the 800m and 1500m distances later on here in Fukuoka. He enters these World Championships ranked #2 in the world in the 800m free (7:40.39) and 8th in the 1500m (14:46.47).

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Joshua Liendo-Edwards-Smith
7 months ago

Can’t wait to see his 800 now. He dropped 2 seconds in the 400. If he can drop 2 seconds in the 800 that’s a second faster than last year’s gold.

7 months ago

The margin of victory 0.02sec of Short over Hafnaoui was the smallest in the history of the 400m freestyle at World Championships, the previous record having dated back to 1982, when Vladimir Salnikov pipped Svyatoaslav Semenov by 0.13sec.

7 months ago

I’m expecting 1-2 in the 800 too with these 2, with Finke not quite getting there.

Reply to  Robbos
7 months ago

I hadn’t even considered Hafnaoui in the hunt for a medal in the 800 (I was all in on the Euro distance stars and Finke to make up the podium, with the hope and possiblity that Short would join 2 of the 3 mentioned) before this 400, but hell yeah Hafnaoui and Short are a genuine prospect after this 400. So stoked to see these 2 young athletes pushing each other to amazing swims.

7 months ago

Excited for the future of this event finally may see the first sub 3:40 within the next year Hafnaoui is in a position to defend his Olympic gold and short could also win it too really excited for this one.

Also curious what Hafnaoui does when he gets back to Indiana in the hall

Last edited 7 months ago by PFA
7 months ago

I am now a fair bit more confident about my Short prediction for the 800.

Reply to  snailSpace
7 months ago

Hafnaoui is a threat as well.

7 months ago

3rd and 4th clean athletes

7 months ago

Marchand should try the 400FR someday in this type of competition. He’s as good a candidate as any to go under 3:40

Reply to  Dman
7 months ago

I don’t agree, he isn’t on the same level in 200-400 free as in IMs

M d e
Reply to  Dman
7 months ago

He’s definitively not.

A) we’ve seen his 200 free, and it’s nowhere near as good as his Brst or Fly.

B) he came home tonight in a 58. These guys finished in 55.0 and 55.1.

Reply to  Dman
7 months ago

I would rather see him swimming the 100 breast/200 back. Those fields look much easier for him to exploit.

Ceccon - Kamminga - Milak - Popovici
Reply to  Dman
7 months ago

That’s what everyone said to Phelps.

And Phelps obliged.

In 2005, he trained for 400 free. Didn’t even swim 200 fly and 400 IM in Montreal because he wanted to give more focus on 400 free.

The result wasn’t pretty.

Energy distribution for 400 free is completely different than 400 IM

That’s why swimmers like Summer McIntosh is special.

Last edited 7 months ago by Ceccon - Kamminga - Milak - Popovici
7 months ago

This was an absolute nail biter

About Retta Race

Retta Race

Former Masters swimmer and coach Loretta (Retta) thrives on a non-stop but productive schedule. Nowadays, that includes having just earned her MBA while working full-time in IT while owning French 75 Boutique while also providing swimming insight for BBC.

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