SwimSwam Pulse: 46% Pick Men’s 200 Back As Next Super-Suited WR In Danger

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, or you can find the poll embedded at the bottom of this post.

Our most recent poll asked SwimSwam readers to pick between five of the tougher remaining world records from the super-suit era.


Question: Which of these world records will fall first:

  • Men’s 200 back – 1:51.92 – 45.9%
  • Men’s 400 IM – 4:03.84 – 26.7%
  • Men’s 400 free – 3:40.07 – 13.6%
  • Men’s 800 free – 7:32.12 – 7.0%
  • Men’s 200 free – 1:42.00 – 6.8%

Almost half of voters picked the 200 back from our list of five, with the 400 IM the clear-cut #2.

Aaron Peirsol set the 200 back world record to 1:51.92 back in July of 2009. Prior to that swim, no man had been under 1:52.8, and since the ban of the super-suits, no man has been under 1:52.9. The 1:53s, however, have become much more attainable in recent years. Mitch Larkin was 1:53.1 back in 2015. Ryosuke Irie was 1:53.2 in 2014. More recently, Russia’s Evgeny Rylov has been 1:53.3 and 1:53.4 over the past two years (2018 and 2019), while American Ryan Murphy went 1:53.5 in 2018.

There’s still a long ways to go for Rylov, Murphy, or another young talent to reach that record. But it’s much less distance than some of the other records in our poll.

Michael Phelps‘ 4:03.84 remains the top swim in the history of the 400 IM by 1.3 seconds. Since the fall of the suits, though, Ryan Lochte (4:05.18 in 2012) and Chase Kalisz (4:05.90) have both cracked 4:06. Japan’s Kosuke Hagino (4:06.05 in 2016) and Daiya Seto (4:06.09) have also moved into the top 5 all-time, and about a quarter of voters picked the 400 IM as the next mark to fall.

The three freestyle swims in our poll were clearly behind the back and IM events. Paul Biedermann‘s 1:42.00 in the 200 free has been a notoriously tricky mark to best. Since the end of the suit era, only Yannick Agnel (1:43.14 in 2012) has even come close. Outside of Agnel, the closest post-2010 swim to the world record has been a 1:44.38 from Danas Rapsys.

Biedermann also holds the 400 free record at 3:40.07. Ian Thorpe was only .01 slower many years earlier, though it’s not exactly pre-supersuits, as Thorpe was an early pioneer of the full-body racing suit that often even extended to his wrists. But in 2012, Sun Yang came within seven one-hundredths of Biedermann’s record. Outside of Sun, though, no one has been within 1.4 seconds of Biedermann’s swim.

Maybe most surprising is that 7% of voters picked the 800 free. Zhang Lin was 7:32.12 in 2009; no one has been within 6.4 seconds of that time since. However, with the 800 free now added to the Olympic program, there’s reason to believe we’ll see a big uptick in top distance swimmers prioritizing that event – and that’s probably the reason voters were somewhat more bullish on someone rising up to challenge Zhang’s record in the near-ish future.


Below, vote in our new A3 Performance Pollwhich asks voters which of the following women’s world records will fall first:

Which of these world records will fall first:

View Results

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A3 Performance is an independently-owned, performance swimwear company built on a passion for swimming, athletes, and athletic performance. We encourage swimmers to swim better and faster at all ages and levels, from beginners to Olympians.  Driven by a genuine leader and devoted staff that are passionate about swimming and service, A3 Performance strives to inspire and enrich the sport of swimming with innovative and impactful products that motivate swimmers to be their very best – an A3 Performer.

The A3 Performance Poll is courtesy of A3 Performance, a SwimSwam partner

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4 months ago

I went with the 400Im because of Seto. Who is the backstroker everyone expects to get the record?

Reply to  Taa
4 months ago

I think it’s more there being multiple contenders rather than the one hope. And the Olympic being delayed is not going to help Seto. He was primed to go this year. Who knows what could happen in the future. That’s why I went with 200 back

Reply to  Pvdh
4 months ago

is there one swimmer you’re leaning towards? I would pick Rylov

4 months ago

Yes Rylov or Kolesnikov since he’s so young and would be my bet to make a sudden drop

Reply to  Taa
4 months ago

Same here. I feel with the Olympics (hopefully) in Tokyo next summer, Seto has at least an outside shot at the 400 IM record. I can’t really imagine anyone breaking the 200 back record in the next year or two (though I do feel it is second most likely to fall).

Reply to  Taa
4 months ago

Agree. The top backstrokers have not come close to the WR and I don’t see either a change in technique that will make people faster or a sublime talent coming along to break it.
Seto looks really good right now. It will be challenging to break the WR but I think he has the best shot.

4 months ago

100 Free? 50 Free?


Reply to  Jared Anderson
4 months ago

Ah, makes sense.

Jalen Stimes
4 months ago

Women’s 200 Fly is INSANE!! Imagine if Mary T. Meagher was a swimmer today in her prime. She swam a 2:05.9 without nice flipturns, the suit, or even goggles.

Reply to  Jalen Stimes
4 months ago

Won’t be broken on my lifetime…..

Reply to  Jalen Stimes
4 months ago

Flipturns. And don’t forget without the fins swimmers use nowadays

Reply to  Anonymoose
4 months ago

can’t forget the rockets the swimmers nowadays are attaching to their legs these days… and the suits with the micro propellors… Mary T had to swim uphill in the rain every race, she’d be so fast now

About Jared Anderson

Jared Anderson

Jared Anderson swam for nearly twenty years. Then, Jared Anderson stopped swimming and started writing about swimming. He's not sick of swimming yet. Swimming might be sick of him, though. Jared was a YMCA and high school swimmer in northern Minnesota, and spent his college years swimming breaststroke and occasionally pretending …

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