SwimSwam’s Top 100 for 2021: Women’s #100-76

Jared Anderson contributed to this report

The Olympic year is here. Again. Maybe. And 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.

Who are the top 100 male and female swimmers you need to know about, you need to watch, with the biggest event in swimming less than 6 months away.

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:

WOMEN’S #100 – #76

The first batch of our top 100 are contenders for minor medals at the Olympic and long course World Champs level, including some of the standouts in short course meters who have proven valuable in arenas like the International Swimming League.

#100: Kate Douglass, USA – Douglass seems to be on the precipice of a long course breakout. We already know she’s deadly in every stroke in yards (49-point fly, 51-high back, 59-mid breast, 46-high free, 1:50.9 IM is wild, not to mention 2:03 breast, 1:56 fly, 1:44 free), but the LCM is starting to come through. In November 2020, she broke 25 in the 50m free (24.99), posted a 55.2 100 free and 57.4 100 fly, while she’s been strong in IM and breast, too. Based on her progression in yards already this season, she could very quickly become a medal threat in the 100 fly, though that isn’t a surefire bet by any means.

#99: Erika Fairweather, New Zealand – A 2003-born distance star, Fairweather could be New Zealand’s best shot at a medal on the women’s side, with 2019 bests of 55.6/1:57.9/4:08.

#98: Mary-Sophie Harvey, Canada – Harvey swims all the events you wouldn’t want to race as an age grouper, toting a 4:36 in the 400 IM and a 1:57 200 free in long course. It’s been several years since she’s gone bests in LCM, but she did show positive signs with SCM bests in the 200 free, 50 back, 200 fly, 100 IM and 200 IM during the 2020 ISL season.

#97: Emma Weyant, USA – A breakout 2019 saw Weyant claim the U.S. Summer Nationals title in the 400 IM with a 4:35.47, a huge performance for her first time under 4:40. The 2021 400 IM field is murky, and Katinka Hosszu certainly doesn’t have the kind of lead over the rest of the world like she did in previous years, when a Hosszu IM win was as certain as the sky was blue.

#96: Madison Wilson, Australia – Days before the pandemic hit Australia, Wilson had an incredible meet at the New South Wales Open Championships, logging lifetime bests in LCM in the 50 free (24.74), 100 free (53.50) and 200 free (1:56.60). Wilson first came up as backstroker, making the 2016 Australian Olympic team in the 100 back individually and making the final, but she might be an Aussie qualifier in 2021 in a free event this year.

#95: Svetlana Chimrova, Russia – Chimrova holds Russian records in both butterfly events, and she’s a true double-distance fly threat, though her 57.17 is from 2017 and her 2:07.33 from 2018.

#94: Brianna Throssell, Australia – With a very similar skillset to both Wilson (two spots above) and McLaughlin (below), she’s like McLaughlin in that she was primarily known for her 200 fly, but her 100/200 free and 100 fly have progressed further in the last few years. Throssel was 1:55.6 with a flying start on Australia’s winning 4×200 free relay at 2019 Worlds.

#93: Katie McLaughlin, USA – McLaughlin has made the U.S. roster for three different long course summer championships since 2015. She swam the 200 fly at 2015 Worlds, the 100 fly, 100 free and 200 free at 2018 Pan Pacs and the 100 fly at 2019 Worlds. Over the last few years, her 200 free has become her most potent event, and an out-of-championships 1:56.48 PR in June 2019 makes her a candidate for an individual 200 free spot on Team USA in Tokyo. She was also 1:55.3 with a flying start for Team USA on the 4×200 in 2019.

#92: Merve Tuncel, Turkey – At 15, Tuncel broke four Turkish records in the span of a week in late 2020. She’s been 4:06/8:28/16:03 in long course meters, climbing the world rankings, and her 4:06 in the 400 free, for context, would rank her third in the U.S. 15-16 age group behind only Katie Ledecky and Janet Evans.

#91: Melanie Henique, France – Henique was on fire in December, claiming French records in long course in the 50 free (24.34) and 50 fly (25.24). She was top 50 in the ISL Season MVP Rankings in the fall, too.

#90: Siobhan Marie O’Connor, GBR – O’Connor is one of the best swimmers in British history, and we can’t forget that she blasted a 2:06.8 in the 200 IM at the 2016 Olympics to take silver behind the Iron Lady. She hasn’t been nearly as good since then, though.

#89: Marie Wattel, France – Wattel is a strong sprinter, and she was 10th out of all women (18th overall) in the 2020 ISL Season MVP Rankings. Her 57.00 in the 100 fly in long course has her ninth in the world since January 1, 2017.

#88: Kelsey Wog, Canada – Wog was a huge contributor during the 2020 ISL season, ranking 20th overall in the MVP rankings. Her 2:22.8 long course best in the 200 breast puts her in a solid position, as nobody has been under 2:20 for more than three years.

#87: Maria Kameneva, Russia – The fastest 50 and 100 freestyler in Russian history, Kameneva has been 24.21 in the 50 and 53.45 in the 100. At 2019 Worlds, she was fifth in the 50 free (24.31), just two-tenths from the podium.

#86: Beata Nelson, USA – The #8-ranked female swimmer for the ISL season, Nelson’s SCM abilities are quite impressive. Racing fly, back and IM at various meets for the Cali Condors, Nelson’s underwaters are absurd, and her sprint versatility in almost every discipline is a huge asset in the ISL setup. Should her LCM come around, Nelson is probably a medal threat in both backstrokes and the 200 IM, but we haven’t seen her develop in the big pool yet.

#85: Abbie Wood, GBR – Wood was a bright spot on a lackluster New York Breakers roster during the 2020 ISL season, and she was top 40 in the MVP rankings, just three spots down from fellow IM’er Katinka Hosszu. Her 2:11/4:37 IM in LCM could get hacked down after she torched SMOC’s 200 IM British record during ISL competition with an SCM 2:04.77.

#84: Anastasia Gorbenko, Israel – It certainly feels like the Israeli wunderkind is on the verge of greatness. At 15, she secured long course Israeli records in the 50 back, 200 breast and 200 IM, and before she turned 17 she added national marks in the 100 back and 400 IM. Since turning 17, she’s added SCM national records in the 50 free, 100 back, 50 breast, 100 breast, 100 IM, 200 IM and 400 IM, the latter five coming during the 2020 ISL season. An all-around talent, Gorbenko has the makings of a truly elite IMer.

#83: Anastasia Kirpichnikova, Russia  – Kirpichnikova came careening onto the world stage in December, when she smashed Russian records in the 800 free (8:22.65) and 1500 free (15:53.18). She’s one of a few lurkers in the distance events who could surprise for a minor medal with a huge swim on the big stage.

#82: Delfina Pignatiello, Argentina – With a thunderous 15:51.68 in 2019, Pignatiello is a front-runner, alongside Kirpichnikova, for a medal in the 1500. The South American record holder is the sixth-fastest woman in the world since Rio in the 1500 free.

#81: Elena Di Liddo, Italy  – The Italian record-holder in the 100 fly (57.04), Di Liddo was edged out of the 100 fly bronze medal at the 2019 World Championships by four-tenths.

#80: Reona Aoki, Japan – Aoki dropped a 1:05.9/2:21 LCM combo in the breaststroke events in 2018, though she hasn’t beaten her times in long course since then. Still, she was great in the ISL season, including SCM times of 1:04/2:20, and she finished fourth in the 100 breast at the 2019 World Championships.

#79: Madisyn Cox, USA – The women’s 200 IM will be a gauntlet to get through just to make the American 2021 Olympic team. Cox, though, is a great racer who has a bronze medal in this event from the 2017 World Championships. She’s also quite good at the 200m free and 200m breast, and would be a dangerous ISL swimmer (though her fall med school plans would probably keep her out of that conversation).

#78: Anna Hopkin, GBR – Since finishing college in the States at the University of Arkansas with British coach Neil Harper, Hopkin has really elevated her game. A great sprint presence for the London Roar in the ISL, Hopkin was part of three British SCM relay records from 2019. She made the 2019 World Champs final in the 50 free, and just missed the 100 free final after going the third-fastest time in prelims.

#77: Bethany Galat, United States  – One of the best American 200 breaststrokers of this Olympic cycle, Galat won the 2017 World Champs silver in this event. Her 2:21.77 from that swim still has her at the #5 performer in this event since Rio, and while she missed the 2019 Worlds team (she was edged by Micah Sumrall and Lilly King at Pan Pacs, the last qualifier meet for Worlds), she’s been 2:21.84 since 2017. Further, she won silver at the 2018 SCM World Champs, silver at the 2019 Pan Am Games (behind another American, Annie Lazor) and was ranked sixth in the 200 breast for the 2020 ISL season.

#76: Emily Seebohm, Australia  – The ridiculously talented young backstrokers worldwide have crowded the field for Seebohm, who was a force at the 2012 Olympics during Missy Franklin’s debut days. She’s been no slouch since then, though; she won gold in the 100 back at the 2015 World Champs, silver at the 2017 Worlds and silver at the 2018 Pan Pacs. Seebohm was also a great ISL talent this past season, ranked T-24th overall in the MVP rankings, one slot ahead of American Michael Andrew.

In This Story

53
Leave a Reply

Subscribe
Notify of

53 Comments
newest
oldest most voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
dave
1 year ago

See also:

#100 – #76
#75 – #51
#50 – #41
#40 – #31
#30 – #21
#20 – #11
#10 – #1

How?

Troyy
Reply to  dave
1 year ago

They aren’t published yet.

M D E
2 years ago

Crazy seeing Seebohm so low, not that it is incorrect or anything, just shows how bonkers womens backstroke is at the moment.

She is honestly probably more likely to make the Aus team as a medley swimmer.

Last edited 2 years ago by M D E
Hswimmer
Reply to  M D E
1 year ago

I agree 200 IM more open and she’s done it before internationally

Swimfan95
Reply to  M D E
1 year ago

Agreed. Still has a chance to qualify in the backstrokes if the younger ones misfire at trials but seems unlikely.

But luckily enough she has depth in other events so if she’s going to make the team she has a chance to qualify in the 200im and perhaps a prelims slot in the 400 free relay

Last edited 1 year ago by Swimfan95
Troyy
Reply to  Swimfan95
1 year ago

Don’t like her chances for the 400 free relay.

Swimfan95
Reply to  Swimfan95
1 year ago

I’ll admit to agreeing that she’s probably an extreme outside shot now (in the aus 100 free pecking order) but if she makes the team she’s atleast an option but a slim chance (particularly if the Campbell sisters decide to swim the prelims which they’ve usually done at the major meets)

torchbearer
Reply to  M D E
1 year ago

Wouldnt be a bad idea, it is a weak event in AUS too..

SwimJon
2 years ago

Kameneva, Wog and Galat and Hopkin I would have placed in the next bracket … eapecially Wog

AnEn
2 years ago

Not quite sure why Fairweather is in this list? Would be interesting to know why she made it but for example Gose didn’t make it.

swimmer10234
Reply to  AnEn
2 years ago

Agree. Although she has good rate of improvement a 4.07 LC currently is not going to get a minor medal with Leah Smith, Ledecky and Titmus all under 4.00.

Casas 100 back gold in Tokyo
Reply to  swimmer10234
1 year ago

Smith under 4? No.

DEAN IS GOD
2 years ago

Y’ALL BETTER HAVE IKEE
QUEEN

iLikePsych
Reply to  DEAN IS GOD
2 years ago

I wonder if they’re going to have Sjostrom with an asterisk, or move everyone else up 1 on the list (didn’t want to mention this in the other thread about her injury)

AnEn
2 years ago

Not sure Seebohm will even qualify for the olympics. Personally i would probably rank Wood, Chimrova and Hopkin (who all could make 2 individual finals) higher.

tea rex
Reply to  AnEn
2 years ago

It’s sad and crazy to think because Seebohm is still swimming pretty well. Australian backstroke is brutal with McKeown and Atherton. If 3 swimmers were allowed per country, AUS and USA could have 6 lanes in the Olympic final.

Troyy
Reply to  tea rex
2 years ago

O’Callaghan might leapfrog her in the 100 soon too.

torchbearer
Reply to  tea rex
1 year ago

And she doesnt squeeze into the 4×100 free relay anymore either…

Robbos
Reply to  AnEn
2 years ago

You could say that about a lot of American swimmers, such is the depth of American swimming. It’s just that the Australian backstrokers are hot at the moment & if Seebohm does qualify, she will be in the final & a potential medalist.

commonwombat
Reply to  Robbos
1 year ago

Think both McKeown & Atherton will shut her out of the 100back (O’Callaghan the most likely X factor/bolter).

Better chance of making the team in 200back where Atherton is less proven over this distance LCM but it would most likely require her getting down around her best times (2.05 mid-high) which, whilst it would most certainly make the final, would realistically see her shooting for bronze at best. Its been a few years since she’s been down that low and whilst her ISL was good, she was nowhere near her peak times.

Her best chance of making the team is the 200IM, where McKeown has a lock on one spot IF she chooses to swim it but the 2nd spot… Read more »

AnEn
2 years ago

I think there is a mistake in the part about Galat. I don’t think that she won the 2019 world champs silver in the 200 breast.

J H
Reply to  AnEn
2 years ago

That is why the article mentions her as 2017 silver medalist and missing 2019 worlds team.

AnEn
Reply to  J H
2 years ago

It does now, when i commented it read “Galat won the 2019 World Champs silver in this event”.

Dee
2 years ago

SMOC at #90 is a killer when you think about her talent, but it’s entirely fair after recent seasons.

Last edited 2 years ago by Dee

About Karl Ortegon

Karl Ortegon

Karl Ortegon studied sociology at Wesleyan University in Middletown, CT, graduating in May of 2018. He began swimming on a club team in first grade and swam four years for Wesleyan.

Read More »