SwimSwam Pulse: 43.5% Think Sam Short Will Be First Man Sub-3:40 In 400 Free

SwimSwam Pulse is a recurring feature tracking and analyzing the results of our periodic A3 Performance Polls. You can cast your vote in our newest poll on the SwimSwam homepage, about halfway down the page on the right side.

Our most recent poll asked SwimSwam readers who the first swimmer to clock 3:39 in the 400 free will be:

Question: Who will be the first swimmer under 3:40 in the men’s 400 free?


The men’s 400 freestyle has gotten a big shot in the arm over the last 12 months.

After Sun Yang narrowly missed Paul Biedermann‘s super-suited world record of 3:40.07 at the 2012 Olympics in London in 3:40.14, the time required to win the Olympics and World Championships has held firm in the 3:41-3:42 range.

That was until the 2023 World Championships, when Australian Sam Short and Tunisian Ahmed Hafnaoui had an epic duel that resulted in the first sub-3:41 swims in 11 years, with Short winning gold in 3:40.68 and Hafnaoui two one-hundredths back in 3:40.70.

Those performances put Biedermann’s world record on high alert entering the Olympic year, and that sentiment only escalated in late April, as another German, Lukas Märtens, put up the fastest time since Sun’s swim in London.

Märtens clocked 3:40.33 at the German Championships, moving him into #4 all-time behind Biedermann, Ian Thorpe and Sun.

All-Time Performers, Men’s 400 Freestyle (LCM)

  1. Paul Biedermann (GER), 3:40.07 – 2009
  2. Ian Thorpe (AUS), 3:40.08 – 2002
  3. Sun Yang (CHN), 3:40.14 – 2012
  4. Lukas Märtens (GER), 3:40.33 – 2024
  5. Sam Short (AUS), 3:40.68 – 2023
  6. Ahmed Hafnaoui (TUN), 3:40.70 – 2023

With three active swimmers having logged 3:40 swims recently, all aged between 20 and 22, it seems imminent that someone will go 3:39, maybe even this summer in Paris.

The majority of SwimSwam readers think it will be either Short or Märtens, as they combined to receive nearly 79% of votes in our latest poll asking who will be the first to go sub-3:40.

Short led the way at 43.5%—he’s the youngest of the trio, having only turned 20 in September, and he’s been on a rapid improvement curve. After dropping from 3:42 to 3:40 last year at Worlds, Short clocked 3:41.64 last month at the Australian Open Championships. That’s nearly a second faster than he was at the same time last year prior to going 3:40.68.

The swimmer with the fastest best time among active swimmers, Märtens was the runner-up in the poll with more than 35% of votes. He was the bronze medalist behind Short and Hafnaoui in Fukuoka, clocking 3:42.20 after he set his previous PB of 3:41.60 in April 2022.

Despite being the defending Olympic gold medalist and the #6 performer of all-time, Hafnaoui only received 12.4% of votes.

The 21-year-old is a bit of a wildcard to many entering Paris, as he joined Indiana University this past fall only to leave for California a few months into his collegiate career. He then had a lackluster performance at the 2024 World Championships, leaving some doubt regarding his form heading into the Olympics.

The ‘other’ option picked up nearly 9% of votes, with many of that likely being allocated towards Australian Elijah Winnington, the 2022 world champion.

Winnington came within two-tenths of his lifetime best at the Australian Open in April, beating Short head-to-head in 3:41.41.

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2 months ago

They don’t have to go 3:39 to break the world record…

Former swimmer
2 months ago

I’m American but he’s one I root for. Peaty is another.

Reply to  Former swimmer
2 months ago

Well, you can hardly root for any American 400 freestylers or 100m breaststrokers at the moment.
But yes, everyone wants some movement on this world record. And as far as Peaty goes, everyone loves a comeback story. Both great choices to root for 🙂

2 months ago

The 400FS is one of the most improved events in men’s swimming, both in terms of times and depth. It will probably take 3.43 – 3.44 to make it through to the final. It will come down to who after a hard heat swim can come back in the evening and drop the necessary seconds. My order would be: Short, Maartens, Winnington, Hafnaoui. I’m leaning towards Short because he strikes me as the toughest swimmer. I can see Hafnaoui going under 3.40 and winning it but given his inconsistency and the depth of the field, he could just as easily miss the final.

2 months ago

I think there will be a slew of swimmers under Biedermann’s world record. My gut tells me the qualifying times being swum today strongly support this Olympics could be the best yet for breaking world records – men and women combined.

Reply to  Rob
2 months ago

Short, Winnington, Martens and Hafnaoui are all realistic shots to break it (maybe Kim but he’s much further off than the others). Titmus and McIntosh both seem like contenders to break the women’s.

Could certainly have both go down in the same session. But neither 400s in Tokyo were won in a season leading time.

Greg P
Reply to  Rob
2 months ago

It’s not even gonna be close to 2008 Olympics

Reply to  Greg P
2 months ago

Agreed. 2008 had 17 WRs in finals alone. No way Paris is getting WRs in 17 events.

Like if I had to list realistic chances: M50/100/400/1500 free, 100 back, 100 fly, 200 breast, 200/med relay. W50/100/200/400 free, 100/200 back, 100 breast, 100 fly, 3x relay, mixed medley.

That’s 21 possible events, some of which are a stretch. We’re not getting 17/21

Reply to  Sub13
2 months ago

Both women’s IM records could go also, I’d say its much more likely than somebody beating Sarah’s 100 free record.

Reply to  anty75
2 months ago

both men’s too

Reply to  jeff
2 months ago

Men’s IM records are a bit tougher but agree its not impossible.

Reply to  Sub13
2 months ago

Also Brits certainly have a chance to beat 4*200 men’s relay record if everyone will be on form.May be US also, we’ll know more after trials…

Reply to  anty75
2 months ago

I included that as one of the events. I don’t think US can do it but GB can

2 months ago

Hafnaoui may be the biggest question mark of anyone in swimming for Paris. He could show up and win 3 golds and break 2 WRs, or miss all 3 finals.

Greg P
Reply to  John26
2 months ago

This exactly.

Such an enigma.

2 months ago

This is a really tough one. I could see Short Hafnaoui and Mertens all doing it, maybe even in the same race!

2 months ago

Fun fact:

A World Record has not been broken at the USA Swimming Olympic Team Trials in the post supersuit era.

Suggestion for SwimSwam poll:

How many American Records will be broken at the USA Swimming Olympic Team Trials?

Greg P
Reply to  Weinstein-Smith-Ledecky-Sims
2 months ago

I’m actually surprised.

I thought Ledecky broke WRs in the trials.

Fun fact indeed.

2 months ago

How about the USA Swimming Olympic Team Trials event previews? It’s 42 days and counting. Tick! Tick! Tick! Tick!

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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