SwimSwam’s Top 100 for 2021: Men’s #30 – #21

by Robert Gibbs 53

February 03rd, 2021 International, News, Opinion

We’re kicking off the year 2021 with a countdown of the top 100 women and top 100 men in world-level swimming heading into the Olympic year. We’ll break down the list into multiple installments, so stay tuned as we continue with our lists.

We’ve placed a heavy priority on individual Olympic medal potential and world record potential, but we’ve also weighed potential for impact at other world-level events like Short Course Worlds, the ISL season, and the World Cup. These lists are, by nature, subjective. If you disagree, leave your thoughts/ranks in the comments.

See also:

Men’s #21-30

We’ve got a little bit of everything in this tier. We’re still not up the point where anyone is the favorite for gold medal, but the flip side is the most of the men in this group could be in the mix for Olympic medals in multiple events.

The further into the list we get, the more heavily we way recent performances, generally, so one thing that most of these ten guys have in common is that they had solid 2020 seasons, whether at big domestic meets, or in the ISL. The few guys who didn’t do anything hugely noteworthy in 2020 are guys who track record or trajectory still makes them serious contenders, but who would probably be a few rungs higher had they gotten to swim more at bigger meets this year.

Like we said, there’s a pretty even mix across the disciplines here, with three mid/distance freestylers, two backstrokers, two breaststrokers, an IMer, a sprint freestyler, and a free/fly type. An interesting note about this group of ten is that, collectively, they could challenge for an Olympic medal in every event except the 200 fly, and it definitely wouldn’t be surprising if more than one was to come away with Olympic gold.

#30: Chase Kalisz, United States – If we had make this list two years ago, Kalisz probably would’ve been ranked in the top ten. Michael Phelps’ former training partner dominated the IM events for the first two years of the quad, sweeping golds at 2017 Worlds and 2018 Pan Pacs. But he looked much less dominant in 2019, settling for a bronze in the 200 IM and 10th in the 400 IM in Gwanju. Still, we’ve seen plenty of US swimmers experience a down year the year before the Olympics, then pull it together when it counts, and with Kalisz having been 1:57/4:13 in December 2019, and with a pretty wide open IM field, Kalisz stands as good a chance of anyone in this discipline to pull down multiple medals.

#29: Elijah Winnington, Australia – He was one of many Australians to sit out the ISL season, but that didn’t stop him from hitting some great SCM times, becoming the 3rd-fastest Aussie ever with his 3:37 in the short course 400 free. Additionally, he hit long course lifetime bests of 1:45.79 in the 200 free and 3:43.90 in the 400, potentially moving him into contention for a spot on Australia’s 4×200 free relay, which is likely to earn a medal, as well into medal contention in the 400 free.

#28: Mykhailo Romanchuk, Ukraine – The Ukrainian has been as consistent as just about anyone else in the 1500m over the last few years, netting silver medals at 2017 and 2019 Worlds, and then posting the 2nd-fastest time in the world in 2020 with his 14:41.63 last March, just before the pandemic started shutting things down. His 7:43.90 from March could also put him in the running for a medal in the 800 free.

#27: Maxime Rooney, United States – There’s a solid argument for ranking Rooney higher, even though he didn’t compete, let alone win a medal, at the World Championships in 2019. He hit lifetime bests in the 100 fly (50.68), 100 free (47.61), and 200 free (1:46.68) at the 2019 USA Summer Nationals. Those 100 fly and 100 free times would’ve netted him silver and bronze, respectively, at 2019 Worlds. His 200 free time gives him an outside shot at the USA 4×200 free relay team as well. He also had a solid ISL season, helping the LA Current to a 4th-place finish. All together, Rooney has a realistic shot at three relay medals and an individual medal this summer. The counter-argument, though, is that Rooney had a similar breakout meet at 2015 Summer Nationals and was unable to crack the USA’s 2016 Olympic team, and that the USA’s depth is so great, that there’s no guarantee he’ll make the team in any of those events, despite the world-class times.

#26: Matthew Wilson, Australia – It feels tough to have a guy who tied the 200 breast world record in 2019 ranked this low, but such is the depth in the 200 breast right now. He just missed the final in the 100 breast at 2019 Worlds, but he set a new Oceanic record in the 100 breast (SCM) with his 56.89 last November, so if he can find a little more speed in long course version, he stands an outside chance at picking up a minor medal in that event as well.

#25: Florent Manaudou, France – Like several other top swimmers, the pandemic has complicated his training, but he still had an outstanding 2020 ISL season, contributing in the 50 free, 100 free, and 100 IM for Energy Standard. Now, he’ll be training exclusively in France, back with CNM, the same club he was swimming with when he earned Olympic gold in 2012. He clocked a 21.56 in the long course 50 free at the beginning of 2020, just 0.06s behind Vladimir Morozov for the fastest time in the world last calendar year. We saw Anthony Ervin win gold in Rio after a long break from swimming, and right now Manaudou may be the best bet to upset Caeleb Dressel in the 50 free.

#24: Gabriele Detti – “Mr. Bronze” has secured 3rd-place in the 400m freestyle at the last three major worldwide long course meets: the 2016 Olympics and the 2017 and 2019 World Championships. With the fastest long course time in the world in 2020 in the 400 free (3:43.73) and the 3rd-fastest time in the 800 free (7:46.04) and his track record of consistency, it feels like we should be able to pencil Detti for at least one minor medal this summer.

#23: Kliment Kolesnikov, Russia – He won the 2018 Swammy for World Swimmer of the Year, thanks to standout performances at the European Championships, the Youth Olympic Games, and the Short Course World Championships. Since then, he’s arguably taken a bit of a backseat to Russian teammate Evgeny Rylov on the long course side, part in thanks to a shoulder injury that limited his performance at 2019 Worlds. But Kolesnikov could still be in line for two relays medals as part of Russia’s 4×100 free and medley relays, and he’s riding high after a great ISL season which saw him break the World Record in the short course 100 back.

#22: Ryosuke Irie, Japan – If you were to just glance at international medals over the last few years, your first thought might be that the veteran backstroker is too high on this list; he didn’t medal in the Olympics, or at the last three World Championships. But the 31 year-old started 2020 by going 52.59/1:55.35, which ended up as the #1 and #2 times worldwide in 2020, hit a lifetime best of 49.91 in the 100 back (SCM) in ISL competition, and then wrapped up 2020 with yet another long course 1:55, meaning he is very much in the medal conversation heading into this summer, especially when you figure in the excitement that comes with swimming at home for the Olympics.

#21: Ilya Shymanovich, BelarusShymanovich is an elite sprint breaststroker who ended up 12th overall in MVP points across the 2020 ISL season. He followed that up less than a month later by smashing the world record in the short course 100 meter breaststroke. Most of Shymanovich’s medal production internationally has come in short course – and of course, the long course sprint breaststrokes have one pretty big obstacle to Shymanovich’s gold medal potential. But Shymanovich (58.2 in the long course 100 breast in 2019) is the #2 performer in all of history in the long course 100 breast, and was one bad semifinals swim away from a silver medal at 2019 Worlds. He has as good a shot as anyone to become just the second man ever under 58 seconds in the event.

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Hswimmer
7 months ago

Irie should be higher

AnEn
Reply to  Hswimmer
7 months ago

I think he should be lower than Detti, Romanchuk and possibly also Kalisz, Manaudou and Wilson.
Detti, Romanchuk and probably also Kalisz are medal contenders in two events and are probably more likely to medal in those two than Irie is. Manaudou and Wilson are only medal contenders in only one event, but i would say that they are still more likely to medal than Irie.

Rafael
Reply to  AnEn
7 months ago

Fratus has a higher chance of 2 medals than manadou is you count the relays.. Brazil is a contender with ITA AUS for Bronze on 4×100 while France won´t medal in any relay

Maybe they considered ISL results a lot

AnEn
Reply to  Rafael
7 months ago

I don’t count relays. It makes no sense to count relays when it comes to ranking individual swimmers.
Not sure why you mentioned Fratus, he isn’t on this list.

lollo
Reply to  Hswimmer
7 months ago

I agree. Irie should be much higher for both 100&200. I believe he will get medals for both events so as medley at the Olympic.

Rafael
7 months ago

Detti and Winnington pretty much cancel themselves.. if one succeds the other will not.. so I think is tough putting both on the top 30 list..

AnEn
Reply to  Rafael
7 months ago

How so?
1) Winnington could medal in the 200 (where Detti doesn’t compete) and Detti could medal in the 800 (where Winnington doesn’t compete)
2) They could both medal in the 400 free
3) By that logic you also couldn’t put more than 1 out of Murphy/Rylov/Xu/Larkin/Kolesnikov/Irie in the top 30

Personally i give Detti much better chances of winning at least one medal.

Rafael
Reply to  AnEn
7 months ago

I would not put Irie on top 30.. of the ones you listed I think Irie will be the one without any medal as JPN medley Relay won´t medal..

Togger
7 months ago

Think there’s a typo on Shyamonovich, says he’s a breastroker rather than a flyer.

Crk
Reply to  Togger
7 months ago

Got em

Khachaturian
Reply to  Togger
7 months ago

He added a new rule to butterfly that you can do pull outs so maybe it is confusing people.

Crk
7 months ago

I understand that the 2br field is exceptionally deep this year, so it will be really competitive even to medal, but I think Matthew Wilson has just as much of a medal chance as shymanovich, and more of a chance at the wr, considering he went sub 2:07 in 2019. If shymanovich has to compete against peaty, kamminga, wilby, etc.. he will also have to swim pretty well to medal, just as wilson will.

Lopez
Reply to  Crk
7 months ago

Also dolphinovic went into 2019 with a 58.2 and choked in the semis. Wilson also has a shot at bronze in the 4×100 medley if Aus find a sub 51 split in the fly.

Corn Pop
Reply to  Lopez
7 months ago

I Think that should be Dolfynovich.

AnEn
Reply to  Crk
7 months ago

I can’t disagree with you, although i feel that there are more guys who could beat Wilson at his best than there are guys who could beat Shymanovich at his best. Wilson could be beaten by Chupkov, Kamminga, the two japanese guys and maybe Stubblety-Cook. Shymanovich could be beaten by Peaty, Wilby and Kamminga. Wilson certainly is closer to the world record (although i don’t think that he has a realistic chance to beat it). Maybe you could justify ranking Shymanovich higher when you look at his short-course season. On the other hand i would say that Wilson has a better chance of beating Chupkov than Shymanovich has of beating Peaty.

Lopez
7 months ago

Kolesnikov>Irie:

  • 100back: Kolesnikov was 1.4 sec faster in SCM after destroying everyone a few months back, he also holds the WR in the 50 LCM and has also gone 52.5 LCM in the past. Would not be surprised if he goes 52.0 in Tokyo.
  • 200back: They have the same time LCM(last quadrennial), I’d say they are equally favorite for bronze.
  • Kolesnikov has a 47.0 split for a country that is a top 3 contender in the 4×100 free.
  • Russia>Japan in the 4×100 medley.
  • Yes the games will be held in Japan, but the Russian has his golden medallion.

Also he is a lot younger, and no, I’m not Russian.

Rafael
Reply to  Lopez
7 months ago

I would say top 2 contender in 4×100 free..

AnEn
Reply to  Lopez
7 months ago

I think if you just look at the numbers, then Kolesnikov definitely should be ranked higher than Irie, but i still understand why someone would rank Irie higher: Kolesnikov has been very inconsistent, so there will always be some doubts around him. In my opinion Kolesnikov is more likely to win a medal (or even gold) in Tokyo than Irie is, but i would also say that he is more likely to be eliminated in prelims.

Casas 100 back gold in Tokyo
Reply to  AnEn
7 months ago

Kolesnikov had a shoulder injury two months prior to the 2019 World Championships. Other than his performance in Gwangju, I can’t remember when he showed inconsistency.

AnEn
Reply to  Casas 100 back gold in Tokyo
7 months ago

He was great in 2018, then he pretty much “disappeared” until the last short-course season. That is what i mean with inconsistency. The last decent long-course times of him i could find were 53.03 and 1:56.07, both from April 2019.

Corn Pop
Reply to  AnEn
7 months ago

Kliment was still growing in those years .

SAMUEL HUNTINGTON
Reply to  Lopez
7 months ago

Agree, I think Kolesnikov is going to be a star at the Olympics. The Russian relays are going to be right there for gold.

swimfan210_
Reply to  Lopez
7 months ago

Agree that he’s one to watch. 2018 was the year when we went his LCM PB’s. He beat his SCM PB in the 100 back from late 2017, which he went leading into 2018. He was injured in 2019, and we’ve already seen him come back strong. He just needs to get some LCM racing in.

lolololol
7 months ago

lol

AnEn
7 months ago

Will Cseh really be ranked in the top 20?

getagrip
Reply to  AnEn
7 months ago

Lol now I know all of your dozens of comments have just been trolls.

Love Laszlo, great swimmer for a long time, but…it will be a miracle if he makes an Olympic final, let alone wins a medal.

I haven’t looked through the whole Hungarian rankings, but there’s some chance that he doesn’t even make the team.

Rafael
Reply to  getagrip
7 months ago

He might make the team on 200 IM but his best since 2018 was 1:57:90…

He has no records of 400 IM.

On 100 fly he is behind Milak and Szabo and his best was 51,6

On 200 Fly he is behind Milak Kenderesi and he just went 1:55 at best

So.. he may go to OG.. but won´t medal at all

Monday Morning Grind
Reply to  Rafael
7 months ago

Bronze in Athens and silver in Beijing in the 400 IM. Yes his best swimming there is probably behind him though.

Rafael
Reply to  Monday Morning Grind
7 months ago

No records os 400 IM in the last years..

AnEn
Reply to  Rafael
7 months ago

Are you sure that you are a swimming fan? Cseh is one of the biggest legends of this century in the 400 IM (for example he won silver in 2008 with a time of 4:06.16, ahead of Lochte) and in 2017 for example he went 1:53 in the 200 fly at worlds and won silver. If it wouldn’t have been for Phelps and Lochte, Cseh would have won 4 individual olympic golds and would probably be considered the greatest swimmer of this century (so far).

Cseh could realistically final in 2-4 events (200/400 IM, 100/200 fly). It will be difficult to make the team in the fly events, but he doesn’t have much competition in the IM events. I think… Read more »

MX4x50relay
Reply to  AnEn
7 months ago

He’s just old now

PeatyPiper
Reply to  AnEn
7 months ago

Cseh for 200IM gold 2021

Rafael
Reply to  AnEn
7 months ago

He did not swim 400IM since 2017.. I checked times since 2018 and he has 0 recorded times on top 5 of Hungary on 400 IM.

I Am not saying he is not a swimming legend, but he won´t medal now.. dude just got old.. that´s it

Rafael
Reply to  AnEn
7 months ago

I saw that my first reply was not as obvious as I thought.

I want to say about his times since 2018.

AnEn
Reply to  Rafael
7 months ago

He probably won’t medal, but that’s not my point. My point was that he should be ranked in the top 100. I just looked at the rankings again and in my opinion there are roughly 30 guys who should be ranked below him, so i would rank him around #70. Even in the top 50 there are 3 guys (Haas, Seliskar, Lima) i would rank below him. The more i think about it, the more doubts i have whether James Guy should be ranked much higher than him. At the last worlds they were about equal in the 100 fly and they both got eliminated in the semifinal of their second event. Cseh would have made the 200 IM final… Read more »

AnEn
Reply to  getagrip
7 months ago

What are you talking about? I was seriously wondering if Cseh will be ranked in the top 20, since he hasn’t been ranked so far. I definitely don’t think that he should be ranked in the top 20, but personally i think that he should be ranked in the top 100.

Also it is interesting that you think just because someone makes a troll post (which i didn’t, but let’s assume for the sake of your argument that i did), you can assume that all of the comments of said person can be considered troll posts.

Texas A&M
7 months ago

Kalisz and Cordes seem to have run out of gas.

Khachaturian
Reply to  Texas A&M
7 months ago

Every american breastroker has run out of gas

N P
Reply to  Khachaturian
7 months ago

Not Wilson. Not Fink. Not Licon.

Breast4life
Reply to  N P
7 months ago

If dressel did not rise usa world not even medal in 2019 medley relay. The recent sucess on usa men medley relays is not because of their breaststrokers at all

Last edited 7 months ago by Breast4life
PeatyPiper
Reply to  Breast4life
7 months ago

I think Russia will definitely be dangerous on all three relays this year. However, in the medley I think they are a more consistent threat than GB to usa, given GB has a bit of a shaky first leg.

N P
Reply to  Breast4life
7 months ago

I agree, but my point is that “running out of gas” implies they’re getting worse, but they’re not. US men’s breaststroke right now is not on the level of Britain or Russia or China or Japan, but they’re not getting worse across the board.

Rafael
Reply to  N P
7 months ago

Instead of running out ot gas, they are actually laging behind..

AndreMajeske
Reply to  Breast4life
7 months ago

At worlds I think Wilson had the 2nd fastest overall split behind Party.

Rafael
Reply to  AndreMajeske
7 months ago

Peaty 57,20 (Could been faster)
Koseki 58,16
Zibei 58,26
Wilson 58,65
Prigoda 58,68
Joao Gomes 58,80

No Kamminga and Dolphinianovic

AUS Wilson was slower on final than semis

Fink at 2019 Pan AM was faster than Wilson (58,57)

Last edited 7 months ago by Rafael
Bub
Reply to  N P
7 months ago

I still have Finnerty and Nowicki for 2021