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 existing world record will be the last to be broken:
Question: Which LCM world record will stand the longest?
- Women’s 200 fly (2:01.81) – 58.3%
- Men’s 200 free (1:42.00) – 19.5%
- Men’s 800 free (7:32.12) – 13.4%
- Men’s 400 free (3:40.07) – 4.4%
- Women’s 50 fly (24.43) – 3.6%
- Women’s 200 IM (2:06.12) – 0.8%
There are world records, and then there are world records that are seemingly untouchable.
There are currently nine world records set pre-2010 that remain, with the polyurethane suits being banned at the beginning of the decade after we saw an astonishing 43 records broken at the 2009 World Championships in Rome.
While a few of the records listed above haven’t been seriously approached by anyone in more than 12 years since they were set, a clear top pick emerged in the poll when asking readers which record would stand the longest: the women’s 200 butterfly.
Based on the numbers, that result is hard to argue with. In 2009, Liu Zige swam to a time of 2:01.81. Only one swimmer in history, Australian Jessicah Schipper, has been within two seconds of that time, winning the 2009 world title head-to-head over Liu in 2:03.41.
Zhang Yufei produced the third-fastest swim of all-time en route to winning Olympic gold last summer, but that was still well shy of Liu’s WR in 2:03.86.
The men’s 200 free sits second in the poll, with Paul Biedermann‘s 1:42.00 from 2009.
The closest a swimmer has come since that race was Yannick Agnel, who won Olympic gold in 2012 in 1:43.14. The fastest time since 2013 was done in Tokyo, when Great Britain’s Tom Dean won Olympic gold in 1:44.22.
While the gap between Liu and Zhang is smaller than the one that exists between Biedermann and Dean, the women’s 200 fly was well ahead in the poll. This is likely due to the fact that numerous men have been entering the 1:44 territory over the last few years, while Zhang’s 2:03.8 in Tokyo was very much a one-off in the 200 fly. Only two other swimmers have broken 2:05 since 2014.
The men’s 800 free is another record that looks untouchable, with Zhang Lin‘s mind-boggling 7:32.12 from 2009. Since that performance, only Sun Yang (7:38.57) and Gregorio Paltrinieri (7:39.27) have broken the 7:40 barrier.
However, given that it only became an Olympic event last year, an increased focus on the men’s 800 free could see this record approached more seriously after a few more years of swimmers’ zeroing in on it.
Another Biedermann record, the men’s 400 free, earned just over four percent of votes. There’s perhaps some hope to see that one fall soon, with Germany’s Lukas Märtens hitting a 3:41.6 earlier this year.
The women’s 50 fly is a blistering record at 24.43, as Sarah Sjostrom remains the only swimmer sub-25 in history. However, there’s not much belief that it will last the longest.
Bringing up the rear was the women’s 200 IM, where Katinka Hosszu holds the standard at 2:06.12. While it’s not a time that’s been threatened since Hosszu and Siobhan Marie O’Connor battle head-to-head at the 2016 Games in Rio, Alex Walsh just dropped a 2:07.84 at the U.S. World Trials, the fastest non-Hosszu swim since 2017.
The men’s 400 IM has seemingly gone backwards in recent years, in terms of the time required to win a major title. Kosuke Hagino and Chase Kalisz were 4:06.0 and 4:05.9, respectively, to win the 2016 Olympics and 2017 Worlds, but 4:08.9 (2019 Worlds) and 4:09.4 (2021 Olympics) have won the last two titles.
Peirsol’s 200 back record is still way out there, with Ryan Lochte being the only swimmer to have dipped under the 1:53 barrier in a textile suit (1:52.96 in 2011).
The only other individual long course world records that remain from 2009 appear to be well within reach as soon as this year: men’s 50 free (20.91), men’s 100 free (46.91) and women’s 200 free (1:52.98).
Below, vote in our new A3 Performance Poll, which asks: What was the biggest (World Championship qualifying) surprise performance on the women’s side at the 2022 U.S. International Team Trials:
The A3 Performance Poll is courtesy of A3 Performance, a SwimSwam partner.