SwimSwam’s Top 100 for 2022: Women’s #100-76

Coming off of an incredible year that was full of non-stop action, highlighted by the Tokyo Olympic Games, we won’t be slowing down in 2022 as the major international competition schedule is jam-packed with high-end meets.

We’re kicking off the year with a countdown of the top 100 women and top 100 men in world-level swimming for 2022, a series we began last year.

The rankings are weighted heavily towards the 2022 Long Course World Championships, factoring in individual medal and world record potential, but we’ve also accounted for other major international events such as the Commonwealth Games, Asian Games, Short Course Worlds and the ISL season.

We’ll be breaking down the top 100 into multiple installments, so keep an eye out as they’re released.

These lists are, by nature, subjective. If you disagree, leave your thoughts/ranks in the comments.

See also:

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

Women’s #100 – #76

This group of swimmers includes those potentially in the mix for a minor medal at the LC World Championship level, though more likely to be an individual finalist, while also providing value to their respective club in the ISL (should they compete). This batch includes both names on the rise and those looking to rebound after losing some ground in 2021.

#100: Arina Surkova, Russia – A truly dynamic sprinter, Surkova was 10th in the 50 free in Tokyo and 14th in the 100 fly, but her true specialty lies in the 50 fly, where she owns an elite best time in the short course pool of 24.87. The 23-year-old is a potential medal contender at LC Worlds in the 50 fly will be vying for a finals berth in the 50 free, and is also an asset in the ISL.

#99: Ellen Walshe, Ireland – Walshe followed up her Olympic debut in Tokyo with an explosive start to her NCAA career at Tennessee, and continued to show off her short course ability with an exceptional performance at SC Worlds in December. Walshe, 20, won silver in the women’s 400 IM while narrowly missing a finals berth in the 100 fly and 200 IM, placing ninth in both. While she still appears a ways away from a LC World Championship medal territory, the same thing could’ve been said heading into SC Worlds, where she found her way onto the podium. If her recent short course success translates into the long course pool, Walshe will make some noise in 2022, though her focus will be fixated on short course yards through March.

#98: Mary-Sophie Harvey, Canada – Harvey is an incredibly talented swimmer in a number of events that just hasn’t had that real breakout at a major international meet. That well-roundedness has perhaps prevented her from taking that next step in a way, having finished fourth in the 100 back, 200 IM and 400 IM, and fifth in the 200 free, at the Canadian Olympic Trials in 2021—but it’s really proven to be an asset in the ISL. Harvey became an incredibly valuable member of the ISL champions Energy Standard last season, winning multiple IM events while also scoring big points in the backstrokes. At the end of 2021, she raced at the French Elite Championships in Montpellier and established LC lifetime bests in the 100 back and 200 back, and came close in the 200 IM. If she can carry that momentum forward into 2022 she’s got a great chance to make a major international impact in LC while also continuing to be a top ISL performer.

#97: Kelsey Wog, Canada – Wog had a bit off an ‘off’ showing at the Tokyo Olympics following a strong performance at the Canadian Trials, ending up DQed in the 200 breast semis at the Games after placing sixth in the event at the 2019 World Championships. Still just 23, Wog has the ability to be among the best in the world in the SCM 200 breast and could also vie for a finals spot in the 100 breast, 200 breast and 200 IM at the 2022 LC Worlds. The Commonwealth Games also provide excellent medal opportunities.

#96: Yu Liyan, China – Yu closed out 2021 as the fifth-fastest woman in the world in the 200 butterfly, having recorded a time of 2:07.03 at the Chinese Olympic Trials in April. The 21-year-old went on to place sixth in the event at the Tokyo Games, and while she’s still about a second and a half shy of medal contention, the event has been thin at the top for years and Yu could slide into a podium spot at the World Championships with a small improvement.

#95: Meg Harris, Australia – The primary reason why Harris ranks this low is because she’s lost a little bit in the depth chart of women’s freestyle sprinting in Australia. Harris’ 100 freestyle time from the Olympic Trials of 52.92 is only four-tenths shy of what it took to win individual bronze in Tokyo, but it still only made her the fourth-fastest Aussie in 2021. Also a top-tier swimmer in the 50 free (24.51) and 200 free (1:56.29), Harris projects to be a major relay asset for Australia in 2022, but will need to leapfrog a few names to make an impact individually.

#94: Tang Muhan, China – A prominent member of China’s world record-breaking 800 free relay in Tokyo, Tang was perhaps the forgotten teenager to put together a very strong performance in the 400 freestyle final. While Ariarne Titmus and Katie Ledecky had their epic battle for gold, and Li Bingjie overtook Summer McIntosh for bronze, Tang essentially equaled her prelim time to move up from eighth to fifth in the final, clocking 4:04.10. Just 18, Tang split a blistering 1:55-flat on that 800 free relay and has a ton of potential moving forward. While she should be a factor in a final or two at Worlds, the Asian Games could be an opportunity to really breakthrough.

#93: Anna Ntountounaki, Greece – Ntountounaki broke out in 2021 and became the first Greek woman to win gold at the European Championships, tying with France’s Marie Wattel in the 100 butterfly (57.37). Ntountounaki bettered her time in the event at the Tokyo Olympics, placing ninth (57.25), and finished out the year by adding two more individual medals at the European SC Championships in the women’s 50 and 100 fly. Having also proven to be a valuable contributor to the LA Current in the ISL, scoring 113.5 points across eight matches last season, the 26-year-old appears to be hitting her peak as we enter 2022. She also finished last year ranked sixth in the world in the 50 fly (25.65).

#92: Elizabeth Dekkers, Australia – Dekkers is on the verge of being a medal contender on the global stage in the 200 butterfly, having clocked in a time of 2:07.25 last April that placed her eighth in the world to close out 2021. Swimming about a second slower at the Aussie Olympic Trials two months later, Dekkers didn’t make the team for Tokyo, but has the tools to challenge for a spot on the podium come 2022 Worlds if she can make a slight improvement.

#91: Katie Shanahan, Great Britain – One of the few swimmers to crack the top 100 that didn’t compete in Tokyo, Great Britain’s Shanahan proved to be an incredibly versatile swimmer for the London Roar in the ISL while having some notable LC performances throughout the year. Shanahan, who turned 17 in June, was sixth in the women’s 200 backstroke at the European Championships in May, and then followed up her ISL campaign by making the final of the 400 IM at SC Worlds, placing eighth. A true all-around talent, Shanahan’s trajectory indicates she’ll be a factor in both backstroke and medley events at major international meets moving forward.

#90: Eneli Jefimova, Estonia – Jefimova only just turned 15 in late December, and will certainly be one to watch this year as she’s already made an impact at the senior international level. Jefimova was a finalist at the LC European Championships in the women’s 100 breast, a semi-finalist in the event at the Tokyo Olympics, and then won 100 breast silver at the SC European Championships—all at the age of 14. The Estonian is in the vicinity of being fast enough to make a World Championship final based on her current best times, and in a few months time, she could easily find herself in the medal conversation.

#89: Lana Pudar, Bosnia and Herzegovina – Like Jefimova, Pudar was a European Junior champion in 2021, and has been quickly ascending her way up the international ranks as of late. After making her Olympic debut at 15, placing 19th in the women’s 100 fly, Pudar went on a national record-breaking spree on the FINA World Cup circuit, and culminated things by winning bronze in the 200 fly at the SC World Championships in Abu Dhabi. Having also made the final of the 100 fly there, and finishing the year ranked 14th in the world in the LC event, Pudar has limitless potential that should continue to take off in 2022.

#88: Maddy Gough, Australia – Gough, 22,  smashed the Australian Record by six seconds in the women’s 1500 freestyle at the Olympic Trials, clocking a time of 15:46.13 that ranked her fifth worldwide in 2021. Though she ultimately was nearly 20 seconds slower in the Olympic final, placing eighth, she showed a drastic 12-second improvement from 2019 with her Trials swim and figures to be a long-term medal contender in the women’s mile moving forward.

#87: Bailey Andison, Canada –  Andison started the year off with a very notable sub-2:10 200 IM in late March, and ultimately got on the Canadian Olympic team in the event after Kelsey Wog dropped it for Tokyo to focus on breaststroke. But the 24-year-old Andison really made her mark in 2021 in the ISL, winning eight events over the course of the season for the DC Trident, including six in the 400 IM—finishing the year as the league’s fastest swimmer in the event (4:26.31). At Short Course Worlds, she placed fifth in the 400 IM, though her fastest time from the ISL season would’ve been second.

#86: Tessa Cieplucha, Canada – Cieplucha, the former Tennessee Lady Vol, had a big year in both the long course and short course pool in 2021, first going toe-to-toe with Sydney Pickrem at the Canadian Olympic Trials en route to qualifying for the Olympic team in the 400 IM. After a strong showing for the Toronto Titans in the ISL, Cieplucha became the short course world champion in the 400 IM in Abu Dhabi, clocking a time of 4:25.55 in the final. In addition to being a factor to make the final of the 400 IM at 2022 Worlds, Cieplucha should be in the mix for medals at the Commonwealth Games, along with more hardware if she opts to compete at the 2022 SC Worlds.

#85: Yuliya Efimova, Russia – Where does she go from here? After missing the Russian Olympic team in her pet event, the 200 breaststroke, Efimova still went to a fourth Olympic Games and finished fifth in the 100 breast, and continued to compete throughout the latter half of the year, including a very notable 2:18.0 200 breast at the Russian SC Championships. Nonetheless, there remain questions on where her motivation lies, and if she’s committed to going all-in on the LCM 200 breast moving forward. If not, she can be a finalist in the 100 breast, but would need a late-career resurgence to factor into the medals.

#84: Ajna Kesely, Hungary – Kesely is a swimmer that found success fast and furious early in her career and is eyeing a rebound of sorts in 2022. After picking up some international hardware at the 2018 Euros, and then narrowly missing a medal at the 2019 Worlds, Kesely failed to make an individual final at the Tokyo Olympics, taking ninth in the women’s 1500 free, 10th in the 400 free and 13th in the 800 free. Still just 20, Kesely recently turned the page and took up the now-retired Peter Bernek as a coach (having previously worked under Gyorgy Turi, who came up against abuse accusations in late November), and noted that “it’s been a terrible year, and it’s been beautiful and instructive.” Moving forward, Kesely made the 800 free final at SC Worlds to close 2021, and remains a possible medal threat in the distance free events on the big stage if she can return to form.

#83: Rikako Ikee, Japan – Ikee’s journey is well documented, from being one of the best female swimmers in the world to being diagnosed with leukemia in early 2019 to completing the road back by qualifying for the 2021 Olympics on home soil. While Japan’s stringent qualifying standards only allowed Ikee to swim relays at the Games, she remains one of the most talented athletes in the sport and could very well be contending for medals at LC Worlds. Her time of 25.56 in the 50 fly from the Japanese Trials already makes her a medal contender in Fukuoka, and her best times are elite across the 50/100/200 free and the 100 fly as well. It remains to be seen if she gets back to where she was in 2018, but even if she’s somewhat close she’ll outpace the ranking we’re giving her here.

#82: Rebecca Smith, Canada – Smith has racked up some international medals in recent years on the Canadian relays, but has largely been denied entries in individual events due to being behind swimmers like Penny Oleksiak, Taylor Ruck and Kayla Sanchez. The 2021 Short Course Worlds felt like a breakthrough, however, as Smith won individual silver in the 200 freestyle while breaking the Canadian Record in 1:52.24. She also anchored Canada’s 800 free relay that narrowly missed the world record in a blazing 1:51.68—the #2 split in history—and will push for some individual events at the 2022 LC World Championships along with the Commonwealth Games. There’s a bit of a logjam on the Canadian 200 free scene with Oleksiak and Summer McIntosh, plus Ruck if she returns to form, but Smith seems to have found that next gear that should propel her beyond being a relay-only swimmer moving forward.

#81: Merve Tuncel, Turkey – Tuncel, who turned 17 on January 1, is coming off a sweep of the women’s distance events at the European Juniors last summer, finishing 2021 ranked 11th and ninth in the world in the 800 and 1500 free, respectively. She went on to place 12th and 11th in those two events at her first Olympics, and followed up with a trio of top-six finishes at SC Euros. Tuncel is strong in both LC and SC, and is on the rise in a big way. She’s also a swimmer that could potentially be targeted by an ISL club, though her two best events are currently not raced in the league.

#80: Emily Escobedo, USA – Escobedo has really hit her stride in recent years, asserting herself as one of the best 200 breaststrokers in the world in both long course and short course. The only problem? She’s only third-best in the U.S., at least that was the case last year in LC. The 26-year-old placed third at the Olympic Trials behind Annie Lazor and Lilly King—the eventual bronze and silver medalists in Tokyo, respectively—in a time of 2:22.64 that ranked her 10th worldwide at year’s end and would’ve made the Olympic final. Escobedo has also been among the top 200 breaststrokers in the ISL over the last few seasons, and really used all of that SC racing to good use at the 2021 Worlds in Abu Dhabi, winning the gold medal in the 200 breast in a time of 2:17.85. While she’s got a difficult path in order to represent the U.S. at the 2022 LC Worlds, she’s a true medal contender if she does.

#79: Tang Qianting, China – Tang was essentially unheard of entering the year, going on to place a very respectable 10th in the women’s 100 breast at the Tokyo Olympics while also splitting 1:05.7 on China’s prelim medley relay that secured their spot in the women’s final (they were eighth, three-tenths outside of missing a second swim). Tang swam the final and China ended up finishing fourth. But her real breakout came at the Short Course World Championships to end the year, as the 17-year-old won an upset gold medal in the 100 breast in an Asian Record time of 1:03.47. All of a sudden an X factor of sorts in the 100 breast for the 2022 LC Worlds, Tang’s stock is on the rise.

#78: Melanie Henique, France – One of the world’s best 50 fly swimmers, Henique blasted her way to a new French Record in the LC event at the French Elite Championships in June, clocking 25.17 to finish the year ranked #1 in the world. One month prior she won silver at the European Championships, getting edged out by Ranomi Kromowidjojo, and then Henique headed to her second Olympic Games where she finished 11th in the 50 free. Also a solid point scorer for Iron in the ISL, Henique enters 2022 as a legitimate threat to challenge for World Championship gold in the 50 fly.

#77: Leah Smith, USA – Smith was one of the established American veterans who failed to qualify for the Tokyo Olympic Games, though there’s optimism she can get back on the World Championship team in 2022. Having made the move to train at the University of Texas with coach Carol Capitani and the women’s team after the summer, Smith appears rejuvenated, producing a very solid showing at the U.S. Open in December. Given that she’s so well versed across the 200-1500 free and the medley events, it feels like she’ll get on that Worlds team somewhere, making her an instant threat to medal individually. Despite missing the Olympic team, Smith was the fifth-fastest swimmer in the world in 2021 in the 400 IM, and although she was well off her best, also cracked the top 15 in the 400 free.

#76: Svetlana Chimrova, Russia – Chimrova was consistently a top performer in the 200 fly throughout 2021, highlighted by her victory in the event at the SC European Championships. The 25-year-old also won bronze in the 200 fly at LC Euros, took fifth at the Olympic Games and then placed fourth at SC Worlds in December. Also putting up respectable showings in the 100 fly at all four meets, Chimrova added a trio of wins in the 200 while competing for the NY Breakers in the ISL, including posting the league’s #2 time overall at 2:03.76. She really seems to have found a nice rhythm in the 200 fly as of late, making her a podium contender in 2022.

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1 year ago

Lia Thomas top 5

1 year ago

Don’t sleep on ________*_

* Swimmer then appears higher in the rankings than the commenter thought, but the commenter never comes back to eat crow

1 year ago

Tang Muhan went 1:54.2 in September

Reply to  swimfan210_
1 year ago

Yes she’s way too low in this ranking.

Reply to  swimfan210_
1 year ago

And a gold medalist like wut

gordon wheeler super fan #69
1 year ago

if gordon wheeler isn’t number 1 i’m gonna sue

Big Mac #1
Reply to  gordon wheeler super fan #69
1 year ago

What about ______ ?!?!?!

1 year ago

Can’t wait for the “What about ______ ?!?!?!” comments

Reply to  CanSwim13
1 year ago

What about ______ ?!?!?!

Big Mac #1
Reply to  CanSwim13
1 year ago

What about ______ ?!?!?!

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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