SwimSwam Pulse: 52% Think Honda’s 200 Fly WR Was More Impressive Than Ledecky, Li

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 which world record swim was most impressive:

Question: Which SCM world record swim was most impressive?


In a span of one week, three short course meter world records fell by the wayside, and all by significant margins.

At the Japanese Short Course Championships in Tokyo, Tomoru Honda put up a time of 1:46.85 in the men’s 200 butterfly, annihilating the world record of 1:48.24 set by Daiya Seto in 2018.

At the Chinese Championships five days later in Beijing, Li Bingjie knocked more than two and a half seconds off the world record in the women’s 400 freestyle, clocking 3:51.30 to erase Ariarne Titmus‘ 2018 mark of 3:53.92.

Then, at the second stop of the FINA World Cup circuit in Toronto, Katie Ledecky broke the world record in the women’s 1500 freestyle by nearly 10 seconds in 15:08.24, lowering Sarah (Kohler) Wellbrock‘s 2019 record of 15:18.01.

When we look at the stats, all three stack up very similarly. While Ledecky’s margin over the previous world record is eye-popping, when we break it down on a per 50-meter basis, it actually slightly trails the other two records in terms of margin, and it also lags slightly behind on the FINA point table.

Event Old WR New WR Margin Margin per 50m FINA Points
Men’s 200 fly 1:48.24 1:46.85 1.39 0.3475 1039
Women’s 400 free 3:53.92 3:51.30 2.62 0.3275 1034
Women’s 1500 free 15:18.01 15:08.24 9.77 0.3257 1032

In the poll, 52 percent of readers selected Honda’s record in the 200 fly, and it’s hard to argue with. Chad le Clos first went sub-1:49 in 2013, clocking 1:48.56, and for nine years we saw le Clos, Seto and Tom Shields go 1:48-something nine more times, and it seemed like that was the threshold where this record would sit for some time—or at least until LCM world record holder Kristof Milak put his focus on short course.

But then Honda came out of nowhere, not only cracking 1:48, but going sub-1:47.

29 percent of readers picked Ledecky’s world record, which seems low given that she took down the old record, regardless of distance, by nearly 10 seconds. However, of the three records, Ledecky’s was the only one anyone could’ve predicted prior to the competition she was racing in, given her dominance in LCM and the fact she had never contested the SCM version of the event.

Li’s 3:51.30 world record trails but still picked up nearly 19 percent of votes. It was an incredibly impressive swim, especially when we consider she did it by negative-splitting the race. Also we have to factor in that Ledecky and Summer McIntosh went head-to-head in the same event a few days later in Toronto, and while they were also under the old world record, were still a full second and a half back of Li.

Below, vote in our new A3 Performance Pollwhich asks: Who was the biggest surprise performer of the 2022 FINA World Cup?

Who was the biggest surprise performer of the 2022 FINA World Cup?

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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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20 days ago

Honda won with his VTEC power.

22 days ago

I remember when Ledecky won against Friis with new world record 15:35 it was sensational. When she first swam under 15:30 with world record 15:28 this result earned her The Best Race of the Year title. When she first swam her 1500SCM what else could we expect but the the world record. Nothing impressive, right? Spoiled people.

Reply to  Yozhik
22 days ago

Look at the FINA points and the margin per 50 metres. Honda wins both.

Fraser Thorpe
22 days ago

Does anyone know what the highest FINA points swim ever is? Is there anyway to calculate historical swims? I assume Mary T, Janet and Thorpe’s best swims would be thresholds…

There's no doubt that he's tightening up
Reply to  Fraser Thorpe
22 days ago

Tarzan once broke the 200 free WR by 7 seconds, 2:15.2 down to 2:08.0, would be 1178 FINA points

22 days ago

I was honestly expecting Beata Nelson to perform well. She’s a known talent in short course, and she doesn’t have any major international meets lined up right now thanks to current selection procedures.

beach bumjason
22 days ago

Think of it this way. The Old 200 Meter long course fly was 151.51. This would have been the same if Milak went around 150.12 to break it.

Reply to  beach bumjason
22 days ago

Wouldn’t say that. The 200 LCM fly is a MUCH more hotly contested event, the SCM version has rarely had top talent taper down for it. MP would have held the record had there been a reason to race it in 2005-2008 seriously .

Last edited 22 days ago by Ragnar
There's no doubt that he's tightening up
Reply to  Ragnar
22 days ago


Similarly Titmus’ 3:56 current LCM WR is far more impressive than Titmus former 3:53 SCM WR.

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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