SwimSwam’s Top 100 For 2021: Men’s #50 – #41

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 #50-#41

As we crack into our top 50, we’re starting to see some themes arise in this next batch of ten swimmers. A number of these guys are one-event standouts, but in events where there’s already another clear gold medal favorite. That forces a tough balance between swimmers with a high likelihood of a single silver or bronze medal vs swimmers with a lower probability, but perhaps a higher ceiling of multiple medals.

#50: Felipe Lima, Brazil –Lima was a 2019 World Champs silver medalist, but in a non-Olympic event (50 breast). He’s a decent long course 100 breaststroker, though, and a good ISL scorer.

#49: Andrew Seliskar, United States – internationally, Seliskar has mostly been confined to the 200 free, where he’s won a handful of relay medals. But Seliskar had a great 2020 in the short course IMs and could see his NCAA versatility start showing up on the world stage with a good 2021.

#48: Vladimir Morozov, Russia – the Russian sprint king had a pretty lackluster 2020 in the ISL, but that appeared to be at least partly fueled by a lack of pool access during the pandemic. Morozov is still a high-level sprinter in multiple strokes, and should be an ISL/World Cup force in 2021.

#47: Wang Shun, China – Wang was the Rio Olympic bronze medalist in the 200 IM, and finished 2020 ranked #2 worldwide in the 200 IM and #3 in the 400 IM. The men’s IMs look fairly open in the post-Phelps era, and Wang maybe has one of the higher multi-gold-medal ceilings of anyone in this range.

#46: Luca Urlando, United States – college freshman Urlando has been a rising butterfly star for the past several years, and the stars are seeming to align for a solid Olympic run this year. A dislocated shoulder sidelined Urlando for a time last year, but the Olympic delay gave him even more time to get healthy and to train with a Georgia staff well-acquainted with putting swimmers on the Olympic team.

#45: Tamas Kenderesi, Hungary – Kenderesi ranked second worldwide in the 200 fly in both 2019 and 2020. That included a big win over world record-holder Kristof Milak at Hungarian Nationals in December. Both Urlando and Kenderesi face tall tasks to win gold, but should be top medal contenders in the 200 fly.

#44: Mehdy Metella, France – Metella was 4th in the world with a 50.85 in the 100 fly back in 2019, and at one point was 47.6 in the 100 free, though that was 2017 and he’s fallen out of medal contention there since.

#43: Yan Zibei, China – Yan is one of the best breaststrokers on the planet. The only reason he falls out of the top 40 is that he’s pretty much a one-event Olympic threat, and that event has a clear-cut gold medal favorite ahead of him. The #7-ranked 100 breaststroker of all-time, Yan should be a strong candidate for a minor medal.

#42: Shaine Casas, United States – Casas could very well have surged even higher on this list with a more normal 2020. He was in line for some smash performances at the canceled NCAA Championships, and was really starting to pop in long course backstroke. Making the Olympic team might be his toughest test, but Casas has a legitimate shot at an Olympic medal if he can make the team.

#41: James Guy, Great Britain – Guy was the 2015 world champ in the 200 free, but has never surpassed the 1:45.14 he went to win that gold medal more than five years ago. He’s more recently surged in the 100 fly, though the 200 free is now looking much more open at the Olympic level than the fly.

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3 months ago

The ceiling for Casas is limitless. I think he’ll make the team this year, but maybe only in one event. But I could see him continue to improve and be one of the biggest stars of the decade.

Thinking ahead, I can see him having a Phelpsian schedule in Long Course. He can already compete in the 100/200 back and 100 fly, and I could see him expanding to the 200 fly, 200/400 IM, and be in the hunt for free relay spots.

Reply to  Hmmmm
3 months ago

i doubt we will see another swimmer who dares take on the Phelpsian schedule successfully

Mr Piano
Reply to  Khachaturian
3 months ago

What Phelps did in 2008 took such a toll on him that he didn’t want to replicate it again, and he “failed” his first attempt. Even so, it took 2 miracles for Phelps to get there in 08. The relays are becoming less US dominant, and the individual events more specialized. Unfortunately they added the mixed medley relay to the Olympic schedule, so that further cheapens the results, along with the 800 free, but even so, doubt anyone will be getting 8/8 anytime soon

Samuel Huntington
3 months ago

Wang Shun should be higher.

Reply to  Samuel Huntington
3 months ago

Agreed, the same is true for Morozov. I don’t get why guys who could win mutltiple individual medals would be ranked below guys like Metella or Urlando and only slightly ahead someone like Lima. Personally i have Wang and Morozov in my top 25. There are only about 20 guys who could win multiple individual medals:
Le Clos

Reply to  AnEn
3 months ago

Andrew and morozov?

Sorry But I don’t see them winning any individual medal while your list does not include Fratus and specially Wellbrock

Reply to  Breast4life
3 months ago

Morozov could medal in the 50 and 100 free. In the 50 free he should be among the favorites for a minor medal, but of course in the 100 free it will be difficult to even qualify (against Minakov/Girev).
Andrew could medal in the 200 IM and maybe the 50 free or 100 fly (if Rooney doesn’t get back to his best shape).
Fratus can win 1 medal at best.
Wellbrock could win 2 medals in the pool (800 and 1500 free), but i think Morozov winning a medal in the 100 free is more likely than Wellbrock in the 800 free and i also didn’t name him, because i already named Grgic, Detti and Paltrinieri as… Read more »

3 months ago

@bradenkeith how come Casas gets ranked higher than urlando? Seems as though urlando is a shoe-in to make the team with a very good shot at a medal. And while Casas has a chance at a medal his chances at making the team are going to be harder than Luca’s.

Reply to  Fly&Die
3 months ago

For one, the gap between #46 and #42 across all events is, essentially “even par.” So, don’t read too much into 4 places.

Luca has more unknowns. His injury was more serious than Shaine’s was. Luca has a change of coaches as well.

Both have PBs that would have medaled at Worlds in 2019.

To us, Casas has a better shot at more medals or finals. He could make the 200 IM or 200 back (they conflict in trials so probably not both?), has an outside shot in the 100 fly as well and 400 free relay. Luca will probably make the 2fly, will probably make the 800 free relay. They probably have about equal shot in the 100 fly.… Read more »

Reply to  Braden Keith
3 months ago

Big thing you are forgetting, Luca is training in a program that trains for the Trials and Games. History has proven that.

tea rex
Reply to  Fly&Die
3 months ago

If we are looking at swimming beyond just the Olympics, Casas is a no-brainer. Very similar talents in the NCAA format, but Casas is better all around, including maybe even the 200 fly.

Will 37
Reply to  tea rex
3 months ago

You can literally pick any event and your argument will be pretty valid except for the 2fly

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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