After the action-packed year that was 2022, we’re gearing up for another exciting year over here at SwimSwam, and part of that is releasing our third annual Top 100 list—check out last year’s rankings here.
We’ve taken a more statistically-driven approach this year, while also taking into account things such as potential, World Championship medal opportunities, injuries, and versatility. Long course is weighted significantly more than short course, though performance potential in both formats is taken into account.
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
#30: Josh Liendo, Canada – After winning a pair of senior international medals individually to close out 2021 at the Short Course World Championships, Liendo exploded in the long course pool last year, making his way to the podium in the men’s 100 free and 100 fly at the World Championships in Budapest. Liendo won bronze in both, and also placed fifth in the 50 free, as he finished 2022 ranked fifth in the world in the 100 free (47.55), tied for sixth in the 100 fly (50.88) and ninth in the 50 free (21.61). The 20-year-old Canadian experienced big drops in time last year, and showed he can perform at his best when the pressure’s on. After a successful Worlds, he gutted out a gold medal victory in the 100 fly at the Commonwealth Games despite being off his times in his other events. Now in the NCAA at the University of Florida, look for Liendo to continue to establish himself as one of the world’s best sprinters.
#29: Ben Proud, Great Britain – Proud entered rarefied air last year, as he became the first swimmer to win the same event at the World Championships, Commonwealth Games and European Championships in the same year, doing so in the men’s 50 free. The 28-year-old Englishman swam between 21.32 and 21.42 in the event four times in 2022, with only Caeleb Dressel (21.29) faster than him. Proud swam his fastest times in four years last year en route to his incredible run of victories, and he also came just .03 shy of defending his SC world title in the event, placing second to Jordan Crooks in Melbourne, 20.46 to 20.49. Proud also made the LC World Championship final in the 50 fly, placing seventh after producing the second-fastest swim of his career to lead the semi-finals in 22.76, good for fourth in the world rankings. He appears to be firing on all cylinders and will be tough for anyone to beat in the 50 free this year.
#28: Tomoru Honda, Japan – After winning bronze in the men’s 200 fly at the World Championships in 1:53.61, lowering his PB of 1:53.73 from the Olympics, Honda closed 2022 off with a bang. In late October, he obliterated the short course world record in the 200 fly by nearly a second and a half in 1:46.85, and then in December, he clocked 1:52.70 in the long course event to tie for #4 all-time. The 21-year-old has started to develop a high-level ability in some other events, including going 51.69 in the 100 fly and 4:10.75 in the 400 IM last year, but for now, the 200 fly is Honda’s primary event. He finds himself in a tough spot with the fastest swimmer of all-time by a wide margin, Kristof Milak, ahead of him, but he’s currently #2 and will have a good test at the World Championships on home soil with Milak and Frenchman Leon Marchand.
#27: Maxime Grousset, France – After being the surprise fourth-place finisher in the 100 free at the Tokyo Olympics, Grousset followed up with a standout 2022 that included winning silver in the 100 free and bronze in the 50 free at the World Championships. The 23-year-old Frenchman finished the year ranked fourth in the world in the 100 free (47.54) and fifth in the 50 free (21.57), and also cracked the top 10 in the 50 fly, sitting ninth at 22.90. After a strong showing in Budapest, Grousset carried that momentum over to the European Championships where he won silver in the 50 fly (22.97) and neared the podium with another sub-48 swim in the 100 free. He closed things off by claiming silver in the 100 free (45.41) at Short Course Worlds in Melbourne, where he also placed fifth in the 50 free (20.90) and showed off some versatility by placing sixth in the 200 free (1:41.56) and posted the top time in the 100 IM semis before getting DQed. Look for Grousset to continue to evolve as a world-class sprinter.
#26: Daiya Seto, Japan – It’s difficult to know how Seto will perform in the long course pool this year, though he’s got to be motivated to swim well on home soil with the World Championships being held in Japan. Seto has been a bit up-and-down since he appeared to be on track for a sensational Olympic performance in 2020 prior to the postponement. Last year, he won bronze in the 200 IM at Worlds and finished the year ranked sixth (1:56.22), and in the 400 IM, placed sixth in Budapest and ranked fifth in the world (4:09.07). We’ll have to wait and see if Seto, now 28, will be able to return to career-best form that will put him in the hunt for medals in Fukuoka, but if his form at Short Course Worlds is any indication, there’s a decent chance. In Melbourne, Seto won his sixth straight title in the 400 IM—coming within a second of his world record in 3:55.75—and he also nearly broke the world record en route to gold in the 200 breast (2:00.35) and added a silver in the 200 fly (1:49.22) and placed fifth in the 200 IM (1:51.39).
#25: Elijah Winnington, Australia – Winnington got some redemption at the 2022 World Championships when he won gold in the men’s 400 free, having come into the Tokyo Olympics ranked #1 in the world before falling short of the podium in seventh. After hitting 3:44.6 in 2019, 3:43.9 in 2020 and 3:42.6 in 2021, Winnington fired off three of the four-fastest 400 free swims of his career last year, highlighted by his world-leading 3:41.22 at the World Championships that won gold. Having also made the 200 free final in Budapest with a PB of 1:45.53 in the semis, the 22-year-old Aussie followed up by winning the Commonwealth title in the 400 free (3:43.06) and adding a bronze in the 200 free (1:45.62) in Birmingham. He’ll be the man to beat once again this year in the 400 free.
#24: Lukas Märtens, Germany – Märtens emerged as the next great European freestyler in 2022, first dropping a 14:40.28 swim in the 1500 free in late March before clocking 1:45.44, 3:41.60 and 7:41.43 in the 200, 400 and 800 at the Swim Open – Stockholm in April. Although the German native wasn’t quite able to match those times in the summer, he came close, winning silver in the 400 free at Worlds (3:42.85) while taking fourth in the 1500 (14:40.89) and seventh in the 200 (1:45.73). The recently-turned 21-year-old followed up at the European Championships by winning gold in the 400 (3:42.50) and silver in the 800 (7:42.65), proving that his performances in the spring were no fluke. He’s got a range we haven’t seen since Sun Yang, being able to go up to the mile and down to the 200, and while it’s hard to say if he’ll ever be a world champion in either of those events, he’s certainly got a chance this year in the 400 and 800. Märtens finished 2022 ranked second in the world in the 400, fifth in both the 800 and 1500, and ninth in the 200 free.
#23: Michael Andrew, USA – One of the most versatile sprinters in the sport, Andrew’s biggest hurdle to breaking through and winning a major long course title hasn’t been ability, it’s been figuring out which events to focus on and then delivering when it matters most. He essentially took last year off of the 200 IM—the event in which he might have the most potential—and still ranked sixth or better in the world in five different events. Andrew was on fire at the U.S. Trials in Greensboro, breaking the American Record in the 50 breast (26.52)—which was later broken by Nic Fink—while dropping his fastest 100 breast time since the 2021 Olympic Trials (58.51). Those two swims ranked Andrew third in the world last year, and then at the World Championships, he clocked a best time of 21.41 in the 50 free to win silver, set another PB in the 50 fly (22.79) to earn bronze, and added another bronze in the 50 breast (26.72). The 23-year-old narrowly missed winning a fourth medal, placing fourth in the 100 fly (51.11), with his lone individual disappointment coming in the 100 breast where he missed the final in ninth. Perhaps most impressively, Andrew threw down a 50.06 fly split on the American medley relay as the U.S. ultimately fell just short of the Italian team to win silver. Held back by inconsistency in the past, Andrew had an excellent showing at the World Championships overall, but it will be interesting to see if he puts a target more on the 100 breast, 100 fly and/or 200 IM (over the stroke 50s) this year in preparation for 2024.
#22: Tom Dean, Great Britain – Dean took on an incredibly busy schedule in 2022, and dealt with the heavy workload with ease, combining to win 14 medals across both the LC and SC World Championships, the European Championships and Commonwealth Games. The 22-year-old Brit won bronze in the 200 free in Budapest, ranking third in the world with his time of 1:44.98, and he also placed fifth in the 200 IM, clocking 1:56.77 to finish the year ranked seventh. Most notably, Dean dropped relay splits of 46.9/1:43.5 in the 100 and 200 free at Worlds, showing he may have big time drops forthcoming individually. He came through with a PB of 47.83 in the 100 free at the Commonwealth Games (ranked 13th), winning silver in that event, the 200 free and 200 IM while putting up more incredible relay splits including a 46.7 in the 400 free relay. Finally, he finished the year off at SC Worlds, winning bronze in the 200 free (1:40.86), trailing Hwang Sunwoo and David Popovici, two swimmers who will be primary opponents of Dean moving forward.
#21: Hunter Armstrong, USA – It’s been an eventful last 12 months for Armstrong, who followed up his somewhat surprising runner-up finish in the men’s 100 back at the 2021 U.S. Olympic Trials by breaking the world record in the 50 back, turning pro early and joining the elite sub-52 club in the 100 back in 2022. Armstrong blasted a stunning 23.71 in the 50 back at the International Team Trials in April, breaking the world record of 23.80 held by Russian Kliment Kolesnikov, and he also beat Ryan Murphy head-to-head in the 100 back, clocking a PB of 52.20, to qualify for two individual events at Worlds. Armstrong then won silver in the 50 back (24.14) and bronze in the 100 back (51.98) in Budapest, becoming just the sixth man in history under 52 seconds in the 100. The 22-year-old walked away with five total medals after contributing on three U.S. relays, and despite a relatively ‘off’ showing at Short Course Worlds, he came back with a sizzling 52.68 100 back in January at the PSS stop in Knoxville. An undeniable long course specialist, Armstrong turning pro early seems to be working out, and he’s now training alongside Murphy at Cal. The men’s backstroke events are loaded right now, but Armstrong is right there in gold medal territory in both the 50 and 100.
Joshua Liendo at #30 is a Federal crime.
Who thinks winnington goes 3:40? Also, fun tidbit; martens is top 20 in the 200 back this year. I am looking forward to seeing the two Duke it out.
I can’t remember where but at some point last year he said the goal is to bring the 400 free WR back into Australian hands.
Dean has produced multiple WR breaking swimmers. It wouldn’t surprise me if he manages to add Elijah.
I think Winnigton is talented enough to swim 3:40.
He has shown his potential since junior, his hurdle is his own mind.
Last I recall, Winnington beat Martens last year and should be expected to be as good this year, so why the ranking when Martens will struggle against the Euro 3+Finke in the 800/1500?
I guess Martens has a realistic medal chance in more than one event where Winnington doesn’t really… I think you could justify it either way, and they’re right next to each other.
I suppose, though 1 gold ranks over a myriad of minor medals, plus the 4×200 is a fairly safe medal event for AUS. Martens is yet to drop a banger time at a major meet, that is my main criticism of him.
I’m not quite sure I’d agree the 4×200 is safe for a medal for Aus. USA and GB should both beat Aus comfortably at full strength. That leaves a bronze at best…
Michael Andrew is ranked too high. He has never won individual medal at either LCM worlds or Olympics and he has been swimming pro for almost a decade.
How come he is ranked higher than many swimmers that won recent world championship or Olympics individual medals?
He’s too high probably, but he won 3 individual medals at 2022 LCM worlds
Winnington is a favorite to win individual gold, MA is nowhere near favorite to win individual gold.
Winnington swam fastest time in 10 years and become the third fastest in textile.
MA fastest times are nowhere near fastest time in ALL OF HIS EVENTS
I have 100% winnington above him lol, I just corrected your first post since you said something factually wrong.
I don’t understand these lists. How is Michael Andrew ahead of individual world champions?? Is having a bunch of 2nds and 3rds now better than winning? Or is just because he’s American?
Being American gets extra double points
…yes? I think it’s plenty defensible to have a guy that can medal across a wider discipline than everyone but the all-time greats ahead of a guy that is just really good at one event.
Like if you’re building a swim team, are you gonna pick Ben Proud before you pick Michael Andrew? (Pretend it’s in-shape Andrew and Peak Proud.)
Peak proud is a 21.1 just in case your forgetting. Which is much better than anything Andrew has done. Swimming is an individual sport far more than a team sport. The ranking is about the swimmer not how the team. I’m not a fan of 50m only swimmers I think it shows they are very limited (especially when they can’t beat swimmers who swim huggers distances as well) compared to people who are more versatile however I’d still rather have 1 individual gold than a bunch of silvers and bronzes
Sure, but Peak Proud gets you that one gold in the 50 free. He also maaaybe gets you an OK 100 in a relay, but it could also be a 49.5.
MA gives you similar medal potential in the 50 free – for all you can say about MA, his 50 free is pretty consistently elite – plus actual medal shots in the 100 fly/breast. (And that’s not even getting into his 2 IM or any 50s of strokes, where that’s again all Andrew; Proud’s only in sniffing distance of MA in the 50 fly.)
It’d be like saying you want the guy that can hit 45 home runs but has an on-base percentage of 0.250 over a… Read more »
I thought Duncan Scott would be in this category. Higher??
You can certainly argue strongly for it.
His gold medal prospects in all his events have really decreased over the last year.
Duncan Scott’s year was majorly impacted by sickness. If you look at his potential, he clearly has the ability to medal in the 200 free and 200/400IM, and I feel like we haven’t seen the best of him yet. That’s more medal chances than most of this section of the list.
I feel like his window is slim for a medal in the 400IM. I can’t see him going under 4:08, and he’s certainly not beating Foster or Marchand. Still a top 20 swimmer for sure given his 200 free/200 IM and relay utility
Winnington, world champion and fastest time in years in a 400 for anyone, should be ranked in the 11-20 list. Why are MA and Armstrong ranked better than him?
I can guess on Armstrong, at least…because he has the fastest time in, Oh, HISTORY in the 50 back and maybe because he has the fastest time in the world this year in the 100 back…again, just guessing.
What about Michael Andrew?
Why would he be ranked higher than Winnigton?
It’s January. Not sure fastest time if the year means much yet lol.
I can think of one quality they share that Elijah doesn’t lol
How much does having American nationality weigh into the ranking?
It seems quite a lot.
I think it’s fair to have MA at around #25. It is Winnington that’s ranked too low.
I’m surprised to see Seto so low–not saying it’s wrong, just that I’m surprised.
He’s just gotten done being a monster at short course worlds: two golds (in near world record times) and a silver. Most of the swimmers here (and even in the next ten) are of roughly the same quality, but in far fewer events.
I’d imagine that Seto’s ranking is due either to a projected age-related decline or to a heavy priority of long course over short course. I agree that Seto is better at short course, but he’s no slouch in the big pool (1:56/4:06 IMs, 1:52 fly), and his recent performances suggest he could still be at or near these marks. How many other people… Read more »
2023 doesn’t have any major short course events, so long course is even more heavily favoured for this year’s list
^^ this is true.
How about Andrew?
Why would he be ranked higher than Winnigton when Winnington has much much bigger chance to win individual gold than Winnigton? Elijah Winnington is also younger than MA.
It seems the rules are random or not applicable across all swimmers.
Seto could win two bronzes in the best case scenario (maybe very slim chance of silver). I don’t think he’ll swim 200 fly at Worlds. If I’m not wrong, He hasn’t competed it internationally since Tokyo.
Don’t forget the GOAT Lochte