SwimSwam’s Top 100 For 2022: Women’s #30-21

Our Top 100 For 2022 series moves into the top 30, with the 30th through 21st-ranked female swimmers for the coming year.

Rather than a ranking based on the performances that we saw in 2021, the series is geared towards who we expect to be the top performers in 2022.

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 that will take place during the year. Note that long course gets a priority, but short course ability and ISL scoring potential are baked into the ranks as well.

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:

#30: Erica Sullivan, USA – Sullivan had a breakout showing last summer in the women’s 1500 free, dropping four seconds to qualify for the Olympic team in 15:51.18, and then taking nearly 10 seconds off of that to win a silver medal in Tokyo in a time of 15:41.41. Sullivan negative-split that race, sitting back in fifth at the halfway mark, and actually out-split gold medalist Katie Ledecky by two and a half seconds over the last 750. The 21-year-old Las Vegas native, currently in her freshman season at the University of Texas, is also strong in the 800 free, though she appears to have much more in the tank after almost hitting a PB opening up the mile in Tokyo (8:23.02 best at Trials, 8:23.23 opening up the 1500 prelims at the Olympics). She’s a medal contender at LC Worlds in the mile, no doubt, but will have to be on her toes at World Trials with fellow Sandpiper swimmer Katie Grimes on the up and up. It also remains to be seen how Sullivan adjusts to the new training environment in Austin, and how focusing on short course yards and NCAAs has on her long course success.

#29: Cate Campbell, Australia – Campbell got a bit of personal redemption in 2021, getting on the Olympic podium in the women’s 100 freestyle (bronze) after falling to sixth in Rio despite being the overwhelming favorite coming in. The 29-year-old Aussie had a strong year overall, ranking second in the world in the 50 free (23.94) and third in the 100 free (52.52), and as long as she’s in the field, is in the mix to medal at the LC World Championship level in both events. Campbell did say post-Tokyo that she likely wasn’t done, but needed a bit of a reset. After Rio, she opted out of the 2017 World Championships, so it remains to be seen if she’s committed to 2022 Worlds, but it’s hard to imagine her sitting out of the Commonwealth Games, an event she has found a ton of success in previously (six gold, two silver medals). She’s also been a clutch performer for the ISL’s London Roar in previous seasons, but did not compete due to Australia’s travel restrictions in 2021 (though she may not have anyway).

#28: Ranomi Kromowidjojo, Netherlands – Kromowidjojo has stood near the top of the women’s sprinting elite for over a decade, and has shown no signs of slowing down despite continuously taking on a tireless schedule at the age of 31. The Dutch native was fourth in the 50 free final in Tokyo, .09 shy of a medal, but finished the year ranked third in the world after blasting a scintillating 23.97 to win the European title in May. Kromowidjojo was also the 2021 European gold medalist in the 50 fly, posting a world-leading time of 25.24, and then after a very impressive ISL season, finished out the year by winning gold in the 50 fly (24.44) and silver in the 50 free (23.31) at SC Worlds. At least in the long course pool, her focus has slowly strayed away from the 100 free as she gets older, but seems to have only enhanced her speed, making her a gold medal threat in both the 50 free and 50 fly in Fukuoka.

#27: Yang Junxuan, China – One of the country’s many female swimmers that have risen through the ranks quickly over the last few years, Yang was the catalyst of China’s epic gold medal-winning and world record-setting swim in the women’s 4×200 freestyle relay at the Olympic Games, leading off in a National Record time of 1:54.37 to outpace individual 200 free gold medalist Ariarne Titmus. That swim set China up to pull off a massive upset over the Aussies (and Americans) in Tokyo, and also ranked Yang third in the world at the end of 2021. The 19-year-old was fourth individually in the 200 free at the Games, and also hit a PB of 53.02 in the 100 free prelims before scratching the semis to focus on that record-breaking relay. She’s a surefire medal challenger in the 200 free moving forward, likely has a sub-53 100 free in her sights, and projects to pick up a big medal haul at this year’s Asian Games.

#26: Claire Curzan, USA – Curzan has been a well-known name in the United States for a few years now, shattering numerous National Age Group Records, but she really made a name for herself on the global stage at the SC World Championships in December. After making her Olympic debut in Tokyo, placing 10th in the 100 fly, Curzan stacked up six medals in Abu Dhabi (two of each color), including a pair of individual bronzes in the 50 and 100 fly, setting World Junior Records in both. In long course, the 17-year-old finished 2021 ranked inside the world’s top 10 in three events—50 free (24.17), 100 back (58.82) and 100 fly (56.20)—and is also an elite performer in the 100 free and 50 fly. If her performance at SC Worlds is any indication, she appears to be well on her way to making a serious impact at LC Worlds, though all of her best events are loaded with big names.

#25: Benedetta Pilato, Italy – Pilato’s rapid rise to the top in the women’s 50 breaststroke has been nothing short of astonishing, given the level of success she’s achieved while still only 16 years of age. She burst onto the scene in 2019, winning silver at the World Championships in the 50 breast behind Lilly King at the age of 14. She was also the European SC champion in the event at the end of the year, and then followed through by winning the LC Euro title this past May, breaking King’s world record in a time of 29.30. Her first Olympics didn’t go as planned, getting disqualified in the 100 breast heats, but the Italian came back with a strong short course season that included earning a pair of silvers in the 50 breast at Euros and Worlds. Pilato has been steadily improving in the 100 breast, ranking eighth in the world in 2021 in 1:05.84 (LCM), but is undoubtedly the best pure 50 breaststroker in the world, and likely has more time to chop off given that she’s still so young.

#24: Summer McIntosh, Canada – It’s hard to put in perspective how quickly McIntosh rose to the top of the sport last year. After rewriting the Canadian Age Group Record books for years, McIntosh hit a new level of success in 2021, starting off at the Canadian Olympic Trials where she recorded the fastest 200 free time ever for a swimmer aged 15 and under despite being just 14 (1:56.19). She followed through with a phenomenal performance at the Tokyo Games, placing fourth in the 400 free (4:02.42) and ninth in the 200 free, hitting a new PB in the latter leading off the Canadian relay in 1:55.74. Finishing the LC season ranked fifth in the 400 free and 10th in the 200 free worldwide, the Etobicoke native had an exceptional showing for the Toronto Titans in the ISL season and then picked up a silver medal at SC Worlds in the 400 free (3:57.87). She also qualified second into the 800 free final (8:13.37) before scratching, and added a fifth-place finish individually in the 200 free (1:53.65). Needless to say, the future is bright for McIntosh, who turned 15 in August. And while she’s now established as a world-class freestyler, she’s also strong in the 200 fly and 400 IM (having won both events in the ISL), two events we should be watching out for in 2022 and beyond.

#23: Li Bingjie, China – Li broke out at the age of 15, winning silver in the women’s 800 free and bronze in the 400 free at the 2017 World Championships. That was followed by a strong 2018, winning seven medals between the Asian Games and SC World Championships, but then had an ‘off’ 2019, failing to make the final in the 200, 400 or 800 free at LC Worlds in Gwangju. The 19-year-old Chinese native came back in a big way in 2021, hitting back-to-back Asian Records in the 400 free in Tokyo, winning the bronze medal in a time of 4:01.08. Though she wasn’t quite at her best in the 800 or 1500 free, taking 10th in both, Li did swim a key leg on China’s gold medal-winning 4×200 free relay that broke the world record, splitting 1:55.30. She closed the year out by dominating the 400 free (3:55.83) and 800 free (8:02.90) at SC Worlds, giving her a ton of momentum moving into 2022 as one of the world’s best distance freestylers.

#22: Evgeniia Chikunova, Russia – It became clear that Chikunova was the future of the women’s 200 breaststroke after putting up a blistering time of 2:21.07 at the age of 14 back at the 2019 European Junior Championships. That time would’ve won silver at the World Championships that year, and the Russian has continued to assert herself as one of the best in the world in the two and a half years since. Now 17, Chikunova hit a best time of 2:20.57 at the Tokyo Olympics, taking fourth in the final in 2:20.88, and then had a standout short course season that included winning the Euro title and taking second at Worlds. She’s also been steadily developing her speed for the 100-meter event, cracking the 1:06-barrier in the Olympic final to take fourth in 1:05.90. Along with the American trio (Lilly King, Lydia Jacoby, Annie Lazor) and South African Tatjana Schoenmaker, Chikunova is a serious medal contender at the 2022 World Championships in both the 100 and 200 breast.

#21: Torri Huske, USA – Huske’s breakout meet came at the Olympic Trials in June, as she made the jump from “NAG Record holder” to “American Record holder” with an unbelievable performance in the women’s 100 fly. Huske, 18 at the time (now 19), broke Dana Vollmer’s nine-year-old national record in the semi-finals at Trials in 55.78, and brought it down to 55.66 in the final. After also challenging for a spot at the Games in the 50 free (third) and 200 IM (fourth) at Trials, Huske managed to hold her form and perform under pressure (again) at the Olympics, placing fourth in the 100 fly final (55.73), .01 outside of a medal. That women’s 100 fly final in Tokyo saw the top-four finishers all produce one of the 10-fastest swims of all-time, with Huske on the outside looking in when it was time to hand out the medals. Now in her freshman year at Stanford, Huske left The Farm in December to compete at SC Worlds, showing off her versatility by placing fourth in the 50 fly (24.88) and 100 fly (55.75) and sixth in the 100 free (51.93), also leading off the silver medal-winning 4×200 free relay in 1:54.72. The Arlington, Va., native may not have an individual major international medal to her name yet, but was only .07 back of world #1 Maggie MacNeil in the 100 fly in 2021 and has a lot of untapped potential in the 50 fly that should get explored this year at LC Worlds.

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ooo
3 months ago

With what Ruta did recently show in SCM with very little training, couldn’t she be considered as a top 100 prospect for 2022?

Admin
Reply to  ooo
3 months ago

She could be, but she hasn’t actually committed to retaking an international calender yet.

Elise
3 months ago

Lydia Jacoby went 1:04.95 in the Olympic final winning gold. A couple of months later, she races at the SC World Cup (winning silver and bronze medals), swam at the SC World Championships (out of final in 50 Breast), and has been swimming SCY (off her best times there). I can’t tell if Jacoby is one (more suited for LC at the moment and will have another huge year of success with taper in the LCM format), or two (simply had a great swim and isn’t exactly the best breastroke run the world expected to win multiple titles and break WR’s, but is more of a world class racer, expected to race whoever is next to her to the end,… Read more »

Kate Douglass NCAA MVP
Reply to  Elise
3 months ago

She went 1:05 low in a relay too in LCM so I don’t think it was just one good swim, shes probably just better at LCM

I think Emma Weyant is in a simillar boat, shes insane at LCM but her SCM and SCY times havent matched those standards yet

jamesjabc
3 months ago

Other post in mod approval queue:

Considering this list is apparently geared towards LCM, it’s strange to see people on the list with no LCM success last year ranked top 30 while others who broke LCM records are outside the top 50.
SwimSwam is always biased towards Americans. That’s just factual and normally I don’t care that much. But this is pretty blatant. Americans who performed well are based on their performance. Americans who didn’t perform are apparently based on their “potential”. While some swimmers from other countries who performed excellently are left off the list altogether.
I will be interested to see how this plays into the top 10. In my mind, the top 5 has to… Read more »

Last edited 3 months ago by jamesjabc
jamesjabc
Reply to  jamesjabc
3 months ago

Just to add: The #1 most blatant and ridiculous American favouritism is Erika Brown. She swam one event in Tokyo, the 100 Free, in which she placed 13th, and ranked 20th for the year with her best time being 85th fastest swim of the year. That is her only event, and her lifetime best would not have made the final in any other event.

She was ranked #71 as the 20th best performer in one event. This is above Anna Hopkin at #72 (ranked 6th for the year in 100 free), Heemskerk off the list completely (ranked 8th for the year in 100 free), Meg Harris #95 (ranked 10th for the year in 100 free) and Bronte Campbell off the… Read more »

Calvin
Reply to  jamesjabc
3 months ago

I agree completely but Femke retired so there’s no point in having her in the list.

jamesjabc
Reply to  Calvin
3 months ago

Yes true. I will retract my statement about Heemskerk haha. But I don’t think that weakens my point. Having someone who only swims one event ranked above people who beat them in that event and swim other events is nonsensical.

Andy Hardt
3 months ago

To add to the discussion of the top few swimmers, I think we’re overlooking Katie Ledecky (believe it or not). I sometimes like to ignore a swimmer’s previous swims when looking at how their current times stack up.

For each of the swimmers below, I’m going to rank their best 2021 performances on the all-time list **while leaving out their own pre-2021 swims**. It’s not necessarily the right way to compare Ledecky with Titmus, but I do think it’s a good way to compare either of them to McKeon, McKeown, Zhang, etc.

Ledecky
400 free: 3rd best performance/2nd best performer
800 free: World Record by 1.26 seconds; top three times in history
1500 free: World Record by… Read more »

Ledecky will go 3:55 in Paris
Reply to  Andy Hardt
3 months ago

THANK YOU!!! Some people even leave Ledecky out of the top five its insane

Joel
Reply to  Andy Hardt
3 months ago

I think you are underrating that 100 free performance from McKeon. And didn’t she also swim extremely fast at the Aussie trials in the 100 and 200 free?

Robbos
Reply to  Andy Hardt
3 months ago

Ledecky comes out as the best swimmer overall no doubt, if you ranked the greatest swimmers in history based on current swimmers Ledecky would come out on top, IMO she is GOAT. Her time in the 800free 2021 was 8 secs slower then the world record.
But I thought this list was about top swimmers in 2022 based on swims in 2021. I would also like to add that McKeon’s swim in the 100free in the final was faster then lifetime bests from Sjostrom, Campbell, or Manuel in the final of a major event. Sjostrom fastest time in 3 olympics & 4 WCs in the individual free come anywhere near McKeon.
Her 100 free is the 2nd fastest… Read more »

There's no doubt that he's tightening up
Reply to  Andy Hardt
3 months ago

Ledecky (and Peaty, and to a lesser extent Milak this year) are getting marked down by some because they are being compared with previous versions of themselves, rather than the rest of the field (past or present).

I think the five names you listed are a clear top five though. Maybe Schoenmaker has a case. I’d certainly find it hard to justify a top 6 that isn’t some permutation of Titmus, Ledecky, McKeown, McKeon, Zhang, Schoenmaker.

Robbos

Exactly, Ledecky won 2 gold medals in times 1.3 (800) faster then anyone else ever in the world & 3 secs (1500) faster then anyone else ever in the world. She also swam her 2nd fastest time in winning silver in the best race of the Olympic swimming event. Not to mention the fastest leg in the 4×200 that almost won Gold.
Easily in the top 5 & can understand argument for no 1, though for me not.

Rafael

7th would clearly be ohashi
Then we can open some discussion.

AnEn

Why would it be hard to justify ranking Ohashi (two olympic golds) over Schoenmaker (one olympic gold and one silver)? I think you could also justify ranking Sjöstrom ahead of Schoenmaker (if you believe that Sjöstrom will fully recover). Smith might also have a case.

jamesjabc
Reply to  Andy Hardt
3 months ago

You kind of answer your own question in the first paragraph: Your ranking is based on selectively ignoring previous swims in order to make Ledecky look better. If you’re going to ignore their own previous swims (presumably on the basis that they can’t be beaten by themselves so they aren’t relevant), you really should be ignoring any previous swims that aren’t likely to be repeated. This list is about 2021 performances and making predictions about 2022. Comparing the performances to world records that are a decade old doesn’t make sense for this list anyway. So the list should be based on current performances only as far as I’m concerned. To be clear, Ledecky is obviously top 5, but you are… Read more »

Ledecky will go 3:55 in Paris
Reply to  jamesjabc
3 months ago

As a huge ledecky fan (as you probably know by now), I agree with this

She’s the GOAT, and it’s disrespectful to leave her out of the top five, but mckeon and mckewon were better than her this year

jamesjabc
Reply to  Ledecky will go 3:55 in Paris
3 months ago

Totally agree. If swimming as a sport just ended today and we had to choose a GOAT, I feel like Ledecky is probably going to be a clear consensus as the female GOAT.

Robbos
Reply to  jamesjabc
3 months ago

Totally agree, being an Aussie, big Titmus fan, but even she has admitted, she would not be where she is today without Ledecky, who has set the bar so high that only Titmus has come close in the 400 (Titmus), in the 800 no-one is remotely close, 1500 is a newer event, but Ledecky also way out in front,

AnEn
Reply to  Andy Hardt
3 months ago

Not sure how Ledecky is overlooked? She can’t reasonably be ranked any lower than 4th (behind McKeon, McKeown and Titmus).

Chlorinetherapy
3 months ago

My top 5 would be (in any order)

McKeown
Titmus
Haughey
MacNeil
McKeon

Rafael
Reply to  Chlorinetherapy
3 months ago

Macneil and Haughey out.. Ledecky in, then Schoenmaker or zhang (I would go with Zhang)

Last edited 3 months ago by Rafael
Rafael
Reply to  Rafael
3 months ago

and I did not consider Ohashi.. I would also add Ohashi before counting Macneil and Haughey..

Sub13
Reply to  Chlorinetherapy
3 months ago

You didn’t put any Americans in the top 5. Big mistake in this crowd lol

Rafael
Reply to  Sub13
3 months ago

Apart from ledecky no american could be top 5, with a strecht you could have one more on top 10

Sub13
Reply to  Rafael
3 months ago

I agree. But I think Ledecky is top 5, and since the vast majority of this user base appears to be American, they’re going to downvote you if you don’t say America is the best lol

AnEn
Reply to  Rafael
3 months ago

Not a stretch to have Smith in the top 10 (Ledecky, Smith, Titmus, McKeown, McKeon, Schoenmaker, Sjöstrom, Zhang Yufei, Haughey, Ohashi). I don’t think that Masse/Oleksiak/McIntosh should be ranked ahead of Smith. You could argue that King and Flickinger should be ranked 11th and 12th.

Virtus
Reply to  Chlorinetherapy
3 months ago

Bugging for no zhang or schoenmaker.

Uhhh
3 months ago

This should be called top 100 USA swimmers for 2022

wow
3 months ago

If we’re talking prospects, Curzan needs to be much higher.

Stewart 100 back gold in Fukuoka
Reply to  wow
3 months ago

I won’t rank her ahead of Huske until she really shows she can get it done when it counts in long course. People were hyping about Curzan all year long before last year’s trials but it was eventually Huske who broke the American record and went 55 at Olympics.

Joel
Reply to  Stewart 100 back gold in Fukuoka
3 months ago

Agree. Curzan and Huske were predicted( by the USA commentators on here) to blitz the Olympics. It didn’t happen.

jamesjabc
Reply to  wow
3 months ago

If you’re talking prospects, this list seems to have randomly assigned who they think will improve based on nothing. There are teenagers with multiple Olympic golds outside the top 50, and also women pushing 30 who didn’t make the Olympic team in the top 50 lol.

swim fast
3 months ago

I think there should be a ranking of different swimming strokes

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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