Our Top 100 For 2022 series continues with the women’s 51st through 75th-ranked swimmers for the upcoming 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 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.
- #100 – #76
- #75 – #51
- #50 – #41
- #40 – #31
- #30 – #21
- #20 – #11
- #10 – #1
#75: Martina Carraro, Italy – Carraro was the surprise bronze medalist in the 100 breast at the 2019 World Championships and has only gotten faster since, establishing a PB of 1:05.85 in the Olympic prelims before ultimately placing seventh in the final. The 28-year-old won a pair of bronze medals at the European Championships earlier in the year, including one individually in the 100 breast, and also figures to be in the medal conversation in the 50 breast in 2022. Similar to the problem a lot of the American swimmers have, Carraro needs to overcome a pair of talented swimmers just to get there, however, with Benedetta Pilato and Arianna Castiglioni ranking 1-2 in 2021 in the 50.
#74: Katharine Berkoff, USA – The 2019 World University Games champion in the 100 backstroke, Berkoff is coming off a four-medal performance at the 2021 SC Worlds in Abu Dhabi, including two relay golds and an individual bronze in the 100 back—recording a time that ranks her inside the all-time top 10 in the process. However, it’s difficult to really know where she fits into these rankings because her sole focus for the first few months of the year will be on short course yards and the NCAA Championships. She’ll then have to quickly transition and prep for U.S. World Trials and face the absolutely stacked lineup the American women have to offer in the 100 back. She was fourth in the event at last year’s Olympic Trials, posting three consecutive 58-second swims, and if she could manage to get on that Worlds team she’s a surefire medal contender. The NC State junior could also be a podium challenger in the 50 back—at SC Worlds she didn’t race the 50 back individually, but her lead-off time from the women’s medley relay (25.88) would’ve been .02 off of bronze—and has clearly proven she can compete with the best of the best if she happens to land back at SC Worlds in 2022.
#73: Maria Kameneva, Russia – Kameneva has been Russia’s top female sprinter dating back to the mid-2010s, but tends to fly a bit under the radar from the broader European perspective due to the presence of names like Sarah Sjostrom, Ranomi Kromowijdojo and Pernille Blume. But Kameneva, 22, has elevated her game as of late, winning a bronze in the women’s 100 back at the European Championships in May while also finishing the year ranked inside the world’s top 10 in the 50 free (24.20). Her true strength lies in the short course pool, however, as Kameneva was the top female scorer on the Aqua Centurions in the ISL’s third season and then won bronze at SC Worlds in the 100 IM (and took fourth in the 50 free, breaking the Russian Record in 23.48). Kameneva is a legitimate medal threat at LC Worlds in the 50 back and will be in the running for multiple medals at LC Euros and SC Worlds in 2022.
#72: Anna Hopkin, Great Britain – Hopkin’s career took a big step forward in 2019, following up her abbreviated NCAA career at Arkansas by making the World Championship final in the 50 free, placing seventh. She then won four relay golds and individual bronze at the 2021 European Championships, and despite not racing the 50 free in Tokyo, made the 100 free final and placed seventh, rattling off a PB of 52.75 in the prelims that ranked her sixth in the world at year’s end. The 25-year-old was also a top performer for the DC Trident in the ISL, and seems to be continuously improving.
#71: Erika Brown, USA – An excellent short course swimmer, Brown earned herself an individual spot on the U.S. Olympic team by placing second in the women’s 100 free final, going on to win a pair of relay medals in Tokyo. While her current best times don’t indicate there’s a clear path to an individual podium at the LC World Championship level, Brown is one of the more valued members of the Cali Condors in the ISL, having scored 234.25 points in Season 3 to rank 15th among female swimmers.
#70: Molly Renshaw, Great Britain – Renshaw asserted herself as a challenger for gold in Tokyo in the women’s 200 breaststroke, roaring to a new British Record in April in a time of 2:20.89. The 25-year-old then went out and won the European Championship title in the event the following month, and went on to place seventh in the Olympic final. She was also the bronze medalist in the razor-thin 200 breast final at SC Worlds in December, and enters 2022 as one of the world’s best in the event.
#69: Pernille Blume, Denmark – Blume’s ranking is criminally low given her ability, but it remains to be seen if she’s ‘all-in’ on 2022 or if she’ll continue to explore outside interests and slowly ramp things up in the lead-up to 2024. The 2016 Olympic champion in the 50 free, Blume got back on the podium at the Games in Tokyo, earning bronze, and was also the European Championship silver medalist in the event earlier in the year. The 27-year-old is one of just a handful of women in history with multiple sub-24 LCM swims in the 50 free (all coming in 2018), and has also been 52-high in the 100 free six times, including in the Tokyo Olympic prelims (ultimately placing 10th). If she opts to vie for 2022 World Championship glory in the 50, she’ll be a contender and is probably rated too low. But that’s not entirely clear at the moment.
#68: Taylor Ruck, Canada – Ruck’s relatively low ranking is another that could end up looking bad, because she’s undoubtedly capable of winning multiple individual medals at the LC World Championship level. However, it’s difficult to gauge exactly where she’ll be at this year, opening up about her struggles with an eating disorder last month. Ruck’s issues began after her breakout year in 2018, which makes her performances at the 2019 World Championships (three relay medals, three top-five finishes individually) and the 2021 Olympics (two relay medals, one individual final) all the more impressive. Now back training at Stanford, Ruck could be a familiar face on podiums at the Commonwealth Games and LC Worlds if she rounds back into top form.
#67: Katinka Hosszu, Hungary – The writing was on the wall coming in, but that didn’t stop many from picking Hosszu to repeat as the Olympic champion in the women’s 200 and 400 IM last year. The 32-year-old was far from her best in Tokyo, placing seventh in the 200 and fifth in the 400, which brings into question her status in 2022. She did mention in an Instagram post she was planning on racing the FINA World Cup late in the year before contracting COVID-19, but right now it’d be difficult to pick her to win a medal at Worlds barring a massive swing in her form. She’s got the talent to get there, but at 32, that might not be enough.
#66: Freya Anderson, Great Britain – Anderson is one of the most talented, versatile female freestylers out there who’s career is just getting started. Anderson’s major international resume in terms of medals are primarily from relays, but she swept the 100 and 200 free at the 2019 SC Euros and then got on the podium with a 200 free bronze at LC Euros in 2021 (.15 off of gold). The 20-year-old missed making an individual final in both Tokyo and SC Worlds in Abu Dhabi, but had a solid ISL season for the London Roar (including a sub-4:00 400 free) and seems primed to take things to the next level in this abbreviated Olympic cycle, starting in 2022.
#65: Kayla Sanchez, Canada – Sanchez is another up-and-coming freestyler whose stock is rapidly rising. Sanchez has been a huge factor in the success of the Canadian women’s relays in the past few years, and even scratched the 100 free semis at the Olympics to be fresh for a relay. At 20, Sanchez is already a two-time Olympic medalist and two-time LC World Championship medalist, and is coming off of winning four relay medals (three gold) at the 2021 SC World Championships. She’s also extremely valuable in the ISL, capable of contributing in backstroke and IM along with freestyle, and scored 159 points for the Toronto Titans last season. The talent is there, and just like Anderson, 2022 projects to be the year she really breaks out on an individual level after so much relay success.
#64: Paige Madden, USA – It’s certainly no easy task being a mid-distance freestyler in the U.S. during the Katie Ledecky era, but Madden has performed well since graduating from the University of Virginia 10 months ago. Madden took second to Ledecky in the 400 free at the Olympic Trials, was third in the 200 free, and went on to record a critical 1:55.2 split as the U.S. beat out Australia for silver in the 4×200 free relay in Tokyo. The 23-year-old also put up a best time to make her first Olympic final in the 400 (4:03.98), ultimately placing seventh overall, and added an individual bronze medal at SC Worlds in the 200 free. Also a valued member of the Tokyo Frog Kings in the ISL, look for Madden to continue making her presence felt in some big spots in 2022.
#63: Emily Seebohm, Australia – Seebohm has spent more than a decade atop the sport on the women’s backstroke scene, and kept things rolling in 2021 by winning an individual bronze in the 200 back at the Tokyo Olympics. The 29-year-old was also extremely impressive in the 100 back, placing fifth while coming within two-tenths of her personal best time from 2012. Seebohm is no longer Australia’s top female backstroker, a claim that goes to double Olympic champ Kaylee McKeown, but Seebohm is still very capable of getting on major international podiums. 2022 also represents an opportunity to build on her incredible Commonwealth Games haul that currently sits at 15 medals.
#62: Beata Nelson, USA – A true short course specialist, Nelson went relatively unknown outside of the American audience during her collegiate career at Wisconsin. That changed in a big way in 2020, as Nelson was a top performer in the ISL’s second season in Budapest, highlighted by her near American Record en route to winning the 200 back in the league final. She was even better in Season 3, winning 15 races and finishing the campaign ranked fourth in scoring—and first on the Cali Condors—with 396 points. Nelson also broke the American Record in the 100 IM, but wasn’t able to compete at the SC World Championships due to the U.S. selection criteria. While that’s one hurdle on her path to earning selection to the 2022 SC Worlds, Nelson in undisputably one of the best short course swimmers in the world.
#61: Phoebe Bacon, USA – Bacon is one of a number of elite female backstrokers in the U.S., but came through and snagged the runner-up spot at Trials—beating world record holder Regan Smith in the process—to qualify for the Olympic team in the 200 back. Having swum a PB of 2:06.46 in Omaha, the 19-year-old went even lower in her first Olympic final, placing fifth in a time of 2:06.40, just over two-tenths shy of a medal. The NCAA champion in the 200 back as a freshman in 2021, Bacon is already one of the best backstrokers in the world and only figures to get faster in the coming years. In 2022, her first focus will be in the NCAA, but after that, look out for at LC Worlds.
#60: Beryl Gastaldello, France – Gastaldello emerged as one of the top short course swimmers in the world in 2020, finishing the second ISL season as the third-highest scorer overall. Following that, the French native surprisingly failed to earn an individual berth at the Tokyo Olympics, serving relay-only duties, but came back with another notable ISL season with the LA Current, scoring 101 points in six matches, and finished out the year at SC Worlds. In Abu Dhabi, Gastaldello won silver in the 100 IM and had some quick relay splits to suggest she’s destined to return to top form this year.
#59: Marie Wattel, France – Wattel is coming off a big year, winning the European title in the 100 fly and earning silver in the 100 free, and then showing up at the Tokyo Olympics on top form. The 24-year-old dropped over eight-tenths in the 100 fly semi-finals (56.16) to qualify second overall, and wound up sixth in a historically fast final. Wattel also neared a berth in the final in the 100 free, placing ninth, and then had a solid showing for the London Roar in the ISL. Wattel remains a medal threat in the 100 fly at major international meets in the coming years, though things are only getting faster at the top.
#58: Kathleen Dawson, Great Britain – Dawson absolutely crushed 2021, claiming four medals at the European LC Championships in Budapest, including individual gold in the 100 back, breaking the European Record in 58.08. The 24-year-old then placed sixth in the Olympic final, and won gold as the lead-off swimmer on Great Britain’s mixed 400 medley relay. Dawson finished 2021 ranked third in the world in the 50 back (27.19) and fourth in the 100 back (58.08), meaning she’ll be in contention for some hardware at the 2022 World Championships, not to mention the Commonwealth Games.
#57: Mollie O’Callaghan, Australia – Given her relative lack of experience and individual success, O’Callaghan may appear to be ranked too high, but the 17-year-old is truly one to watch as we move towards Paris 2024. In Tokyo, O’Callaghan surprised by leading off the Australian women’s preliminary 4×200 free relay in a World Junior Record of 1:55.11, initiating a bit of controversy over the coaching staff’s lineup selection for the final. Having already set aside four others to swim the final, O’Callaghan didn’t get to swim again, but she had made her mark. Her time would’ve been fifth in the individual 200 free final, four-tenths outside of bronze, and she also swam a solid lead-off (53.08) and a blistering relay split (52.35) in the 100 free at the Games. She’s also in the midst of becoming an elite backstroker, with LCM bests of 27.75 and 58.86 in the 50 and 100. Given her age and talent, O’Callaghan’s ceiling is high, and individual success could be coming in short order, with Australia’s loaded freestyle group the only hurdle in getting her there.
#56: Minna Atherton, Australia – Atherton is one of the most talented backstrokers on Earth, and with a bit more consistency, could be ranked somewhere significantly higher. She had an explosive 2019, winning silver in the 100 back at the World Championships and then breaking the world record in the SCM event in the ISL, clocking a blistering 54.89. But in 2021, Atherton missed the Australian Olympic team, placing fifth in the 100 back at Trials, and then had a bit of an up and down ISL season, though she still scored 182.75 points and showed flashes of brilliance, including winning the backstroke skins in the league final. The 21-year-old is capable of competing with the best, but whether or not we see that in the coming year remains a question.
#55: Ingrid Wilm, Canada – The surprise story of the ISL season, Wilm came out of nowhere to become one of the top performers in the league, period, finishing as the 11th-highest scorer overall (and tops among LA Current women) with 287 points. This included 11 event wins in the women’s backstroke events, lowering Kylie Masse’s Canadian Record in the 100 at 55.61, making her the fastest swimmer in the league all season (Masse has since reclaimed the record). Wilm, 23, did not get to compete at the SC World Championships, but enters 2022 with newfound confidence having finally broken through. She’s still a solid LC swimmer, having placed third at the Canadian Olympic Trials in the 100 back and hitting a PB of 59.88, and if she can show improvements in that realm she’ll be one to watch for in the lead-up to Paris. But right now, she’s incredibly valuable by virtue of her short course swims alone.
#54: Simone Manuel, USA – Manuel appeared nearly unbeatable in major international finals from 2016 through 2019, winning Olympic gold and back-to-back World titles in the 100 free, plus a victory in the 50 free at 2019 Worlds. However, she failed to make the final of the 100 at the U.S. Olympic Trials in June, and squeaked onto the team in the 50, going on to place 11th in Tokyo. The 25-year-old revealed she had dealt with overtraining syndrome in the lead-up to Trials, and a bounceback would see her get back to the top of the sport in the women’s sprint free events. Manuel is one of the few top pro swimmers that hasn’t raced at all in the ISL, so it’s difficult to gauge her current form. She’s a good candidate to be back near the top come the next Olympics, but she would need a rapid turnaround to get back there in 2022.
#53: Boglarka Kapas, Hungary – The 2019 world champion in the 200 fly, Kapas fell just shy of a medal in Tokyo, placing fourth. The 28-year-old has had a long run of success in the distance free events over the last decade, but has shifted her focus towards the 200 fly as of late. She remains among the world’s elite in the event, having consistently produced 2:06s, and will be favored to win a third straight European title in the event next year.
#52: Barbora Seemanova, Czech Republic – Seemanova is a swimmer on the rise, coming off of an upset win in the 200 freestyle at the European Championships in May. The 21-year-old then made the Olympic final in the event, placing sixth while breaking the 1:56-barrier for the first time. Seemanova added a silver medal in the event at SC Euros in November, took fourth in the 100 free, and proved to be an astute rookie selection by Iron in the ISL, ranking 22nd in league scoring with 246.5 points despite her club missing the final. Though she’s flying a bit under the radar, Seemanova could very well be fighting for a spot on the World Championship podium in the 200 freestyle this year, and her ISL stock is rising quickly.
#51: Arianna Castiglioni, Italy – Castiglioni ranks as one of the top female breaststrokers in the 50 and 100-meter distances, exiting 2021 as the world’s second-fastest in the 50 (30.15) and sixth-fastest in the 100 (1:05.67). The 24-year-old won silver at the European Championships in the 100, but was denied an individual entry at the Olympics due to the Italian logjam in the event (with Bendetta Pilato and Martina Carraro). Despite that, Castiglioni moved forward and had an excellent performance in the ISL, winning five times and scoring 147.5 total points, and then added a European SC title in the 50 breast in November. The year ended with a thud, however, as she was one of many swimmers disqualified in breaststroke at SC Worlds, with it occurring in both the 50 and 100 breast. She’s a podium contender at LC Worlds if she gets those DQ issues ironed out.