SwimSwam’s Top 100 For 2024: Men’s #80-71

After the record-setting year that was 2023, we’re gearing up for another exciting year over here at SwimSwam, and part of that is releasing our fourth annual Top 100 list—check out last year’s rankings here.

Similar to 2023, we’ve taken a statistically driven approach reliant primarily upon world rankings and World Championship medals. We’ve also taken into account things such as potential, Olympic medal opportunities, injuries, and versatility. Long course is weighted more than short course, though performance potential in both formats is factored in.

We’ve also moved Russian and Belarusian swimmers way down this list because of their likely absence from the Olympics or either World Championship meet. While that doesn’t preclude them from swimming fast at domestic meets (including whatever Russia comes up with to replace the Olympics), those swims just won’t mean quite as much without the international spotlight.

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.

Braden Keith, Sophie Kaufman, Anya Pelshaw and Mark Wild contributed to this report.

Men’s Rankings:

  • #100 – #91
  • #90 – #81
  • #80 – 71
  • #70 – 61
  • #60 – 51
  • #50 – #41
  • #40 – #31
  • #30 – #21
  • #20 – #11
  • #10 – #1

Young blood features prominent in this next set of male swimmers, particularly in the form of Petar Mitsin and Dong Zhihao, who both set World Junior Records last year and are on the upswing in their progression heading into Paris.

#80: Mewen Tomac, France – Tomac just missed a medal in the 200 backstroke at the 2023 World Championships, finishing 4th in a personal best time of 1:55.79. He’s one half of the French backstroking duo pushing themselves up the rankings; Tomac and Yohann Ndoye-Brouard could help give the French fans something to cheer for this summer. At the European Short Course Championships, Tomac earned his first individual podiums on the senior international stage by winning gold in the 50 and 100 back. He did make the 100 backstroke final at Worlds, but the 200 back is probably his best shot at a medal in front of a home crowd.

#79: Nandor Nemeth, Hungary – Nemeth is one of Hungary’s staple 100/200 freestylers. The 24-year-old helped the nation to medals in the 4×200 free (gold) and 4×100 free (silver) at the 2022 European Championships. Individually, he’s been able to consistently make the 100 free final at international meets but typically finishes in the bottom half of the field (his highest finish at the Worlds/Olympic level is 6th). He swam a personal best 47.62 in Fukuoka which is a positive sign for him, though he’ll need to drop more time to compete for a medal.

#78: Katsuhiro Matsumoto, Japan – At 26, Matsumoto was one of the veterans in the 200 free field at the World Championships last year. The 2019 World silver medalist in the event, Matsumoto lost a swim-off to Felix Auboeck and missed the final. Though he was faster in 2023 than 2022, that makes two years in a row that Matsumoto has been locked out of the 200 free final. There’s been an influx of young talent in the event, with swimmers such as David Popovici, Hwang Sunwoo, and Matt Richards starting to take over. That leaves Matsumoto as a swimmer who’s fighting to final rather than fighting to medal, though getting back to his 1:44.65 form (his PB from 2021) would go a long way. Outside of the 200 free, he also had a good 2023 in the 100 free (47.85) and 100 fly (50.96), though both came while racing domestically rather than internationally.

#77: Jordan Crooks, Cayman Islands – It’s no secret that Crooks’ best event is the 50 free. One of his biggest assets in the event, his explosive turn, isn’t part of the long course version of the race. After a breakthrough 2022 that included becoming the short course world champion, Crooks showed in 2023 that he’s capable of being a threat in the big pool as well. He finaled in both the 50 and 100 free in Fukuoka, setting a Cayman Islands National Record (21.73) in the 50 semis and then matching it in the final. Making those two finals is a big confidence booster for Crooks heading into the Olympic year. If he can continue to improve in the big pool, he could work his way into the medal conversation for the 50 free (the 100 free is a bigger ask given who else we expect in that field). He could also play a major role at the 2024 SC Worlds at year’s end.

#76: Petar Mitsin, Bulgaria – At the 2023 European Junior Championships, Mitsin sent shockwaves through the sport by breaking Mack Horton‘s nine-year-old 400 freestyle World Junior Record with a blistering 3:44.31. The Bulgarian teen dropped four seconds in about two months–a huge improvement curve. Mitsin didn’t compete at the 2023 World Championships, so we didn’t get a look at him at the senior level last year. Limited senior international experience is certainly a question mark about the upstart mid-distance phenom headed into the Olympic year. The added context of a pair of 3:40s less than a month later makes Mitsin’s path to the podium that much more difficult. But if he’s in the 3:44 range or faster he could mix it up in the final. And, it seems like Mitsin isn’t close to his ceiling yet. The 18-year-old also has a competitive range with swims of 1:46.50 in the 200 free (#40 in the world), 7:47.45 in the 800 free (#18) and 1:56.73 in the 200 fly (#52) last year.

#75: Lucas Matzerath, Germany – A sprint breaststroke specialist, there’s going to be a lot riding on the 100 breast for Matzerath this year. Luckily for him, he’s hitting his stride at the right time. In 2023, he broke the 59-second barrier for the first time, swimming a German Record of 58.74 in the prelims at the World Championships. He’ll likely need to drop time to break up the grip Qin Haiyang, Arno Kamminga, Nic Fink and Nicolo Martinenghi have on the front of the 100 breast field, but his 5th place finish and personal best show that he’s capable of it. He’s expected to race in Doha, where he could become the first German man to win a World Championship medal in the 100 breast.

#74: Ilya Borodin, Russia – Borodin’s prime is being stunted due to the Russian ban on international racing over the last two years. After swimming a lifetime best of 4:08.05 in the 400 IM in the summer of 2022, he clocked 4:09.12 last April which ranked #5 in the world and would’ve snuck in for a medal if done in the World Championship final. Even better in short course, having won silver in the 400 IM in a time of 3:56.47 at the 2021 SC Worlds, Borodin would be in the medal hunt if he were to be racing at the Paris Games, but Olympic participation for Russian and Belarusian swimmers is up in the air outside of those who were confirmed for the 2024 Worlds in Doha. Borodin, who will turn 21 next month, also swam a lifetime best of 1:57.30 in the 200 IM last year, good for 13th in the world. He seems like someone who should continue to progress into the 4:06 range given his progression, but perhaps motivation is dimming given the situation.

#73: Oliver Morgan, Great Britain – Morgan breathed new life into the British medley relay in Fukuoka, setting a lifetime best of 53.25 in the 100 back on the lead-off leg, though they fell outside of the podium after four teams went sub-3:30. Individually, Morgan is coming off a breakout year that included drops of 1.45 seconds in the 100 back and more than four seconds in the 200 back. The 20-year-old could find his way into the 100 back final in Paris after narrowly missing out in 9th at the 2023 Worlds, and he was also 9th in the 200 back, though he would need another seismic drop to truly contend in that race (1:57.17 best time). Given his youth (20) and the seismic drops he made last year, putting himself into medal contention isn’t out of the question.

#72: Destin Lasco, USA – Lasco had an up-and-down debut World Championship campaign. He helped the U.S. men to a bronze medal by swimming on the prelim 400 free relay, and then after seeming in control during the heats of the men’s 200 back, he was a bit off in the semis (1:59.16) and finished 16th. That came after he dropped a lifetime best of 1:55.63 at U.S. Nationals earlier in the summer to make the team individually. On paper, Lasco has what it takes to join his fellow Cal Bear Ryan Murphy on the podium—1:55.34 earned bronze in Fukuoka—and be a part of the legacy of American backstroke. He’s shown in his NCAA career that he can go fast at the right time and 2024 will be a big test for Lasco to do that in the long course pool, first at the Olympic Trials then again in Paris if he makes the team.

#71: Dong Zhihao, China – Dong’s improvements in the 200 breaststroke were overshadowed by his countrymate Qin Haiyang; but, Dong still had a successful 2023. The 18-year-old first broke the 200 breast World Junior Record in May, bringing it sub-2:09 for the first time. He then reset it multiple times at Worlds, bringing the mark down to 2:08.04 with his 4th-place effort in the final. Dong has a strong shot at a medal in Paris though he’ll need to improve his 3rd 50 to stay in the mix on the back half with swimmers such as Zac Stubblety-Cook, the defending champion, who are known for their closing speed. If he can continue to improve in the 100 breast, he could potentially leapfrog Yan Zibei for China’s second spot in that event, having set a PB of 59.73 last year.

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Andrew
4 months ago

Matzerath probably has the most untapped potential out of any elite male breaststrokers atm.

Dude is 6’7 or something, an absolute unit but his “power through” form is what’s holding him back from going 57

Leoyu
4 months ago

Really excited to see Dong’s progress through this calendar year. Hope he could get to 2:07 at some point. He’s got a good shot of a first 200brst world title in Doha, and solid bronze medal chance at the Olympics

NoFastTwitch
4 months ago

That’s why he’s ranked 77, and not in the top 30.

Andy Hardt
Reply to  NoFastTwitch
4 months ago

I’m actually surprised Crooks is only 77th. Even just looking at long course, he made two finals last year, has a very decent chance for a medal in the 50, and is still at an age where many sprinters make big improvements (plus he’s been on an upward trajectory).

Add in his short course exploits, where he’s the reigning world champ in the 50 free, and based on his yards times swimming, could also do very well in the 50 fly (and possibly the 100s). There’s a short course worlds this year, so it’s not hypothetical.

Compare him to say Borodin, who is also a super-talented young swimmer. Crooks’ 50/100 free are roughly analogous to Borodin’s 400/200 IM. The difference… Read more »

Diehard
4 months ago

I am impressed by Dong’s last 50 of his 200 breast. That seems to be the trend in swimming the 2breast….they can make up a lot of ground coming home in 31! He is young and if he can stay in the race on 3rd 50, watch out!

Leoyu
Reply to  Diehard
4 months ago

His 31.3 split at the Berlin world cup might be the fastest last 50 split in the entire history of 200brst stroke.

Beatriz Cortez
Reply to  Leoyu
4 months ago

I think it is.

The previous fastest last split was ZSC’s 31.63 when he broke WR in 2022.

Dong will be extra dangerous in Paris.

Last edited 4 months ago by Beatriz Cortez
Jimmy DeSnuts
4 months ago

Crooks is the definition of a short course merchant. He’s the one that deserves the type of hate that KD got for her NCAA success. His stroke just won’t work for LC without that turn and those underwaters. Dressel got by in LC because his stroke was still really good without the underwater and his start was so good that nobody could catch him. Crooks doesn’t have anywhere near the start Dressel had, and his stroke isn’t good enough to be faster than 21.5 LC. Don’t get me wrong, that’s an elite 50 free, but it’ll never be the best.

WV Swammer
Reply to  Jimmy DeSnuts
4 months ago

Not sure you can call him a SC merchant when he has a 21.7/47.7 to his name…

NoFastTwitch
Reply to  Jimmy DeSnuts
4 months ago

That’s why he’s ranked 77, not in the top 30

Mr Piano
Reply to  Jimmy DeSnuts
4 months ago

No swimmer deserves hate. Some swimmers will always be much stronger in short course (Ryan Hoffer), and others need a long course pool to fully shine (Popovici). That’s just how it is sometimes.

RealSlimThomas
Reply to  Jimmy DeSnuts
4 months ago

How could you possibly argue that Dressel “got by” in long course? He’s far more versatile than you realize. He has the range to swim a 1:46 200 freestyle and 1:59 2IM.

Swammer
Reply to  RealSlimThomas
4 months ago

Don’t forget about his 1:56 200 fly

Mr Piano
Reply to  RealSlimThomas
4 months ago

He got by with his 7 Olympic and 15 World Championship titles.

Jimmy DeSnuts
Reply to  RealSlimThomas
4 months ago

yes im very aware of his versatility, i always support him in my comments and im a huge fan of him. by “got by” i really meant that he was successful in LC. I think the reason i phrased it the way i did was because no matter how good he was long course it was never as good as he was SC. Trust me, I’m aware of his long course times and the magnitude of his success in the big pool, but 17.6, 42.80,39.90 49.28, and 47.78 are all more impressive than his LC times. Hell, if you look on swimcloud his SCY 100 breast (50.03) is ranked as a better event for him than the LC 50 free,… Read more »

bobthebuilderrocks
Reply to  Jimmy DeSnuts
4 months ago

I know you’re a troll, but this is idiotic. Crooks went 47 LCM this past summer. Go outside and touch grass, Jimmy.

Jimmy DeSnuts
Reply to  bobthebuilderrocks
4 months ago

yes and then got his ass kicked by 6 people in the final. like i said, elite but not at the top. I have no doubt Crooks will get into plenty of finals in his LC career. What I do doubt is that he’ll ever stand on a podium, much less the top of one.

Beatriz Cortez
Reply to  Jimmy DeSnuts
4 months ago

“He’s the one that deserves the type of hate that KD got for her NCAA success.”

No one did. KD has proven she’s successful in LCM. Just because some people don’t think KD will sweep 100 free, 200 IM, 200 Br all in WR time in Paris doesn’t mean they hate her.

Gretchen Walsh on the other hand still has to prove she can have equal success in LCM as she did in SCY.

Last edited 4 months ago by Beatriz Cortez
snailSpace
4 months ago

Tbh I don’t get why Lasco is that much above Tomac. They are about the same age and Tomac was better individually at Worlds (although Lasco has the better 200 PB. Then again, I’m pretty sure Tomac has the better 100).
Nemeth is terrific in semis so I’m pretty sure he will make the final in Paris as well, but he literally never PBs in finals, so his placement makes sense.

oxyswim
Reply to  snailSpace
4 months ago

Tomac has been .07 faster than Lasco in the 100 BK, but Lasco is in the conversation for FR relay spots and medals. The argument to keep Tomac closer to Destin is that he’s shown more on an international stage so far.

Troyy
Reply to  oxyswim
4 months ago

Destin has so much competition in the backstrokes he could very well miss the team in both.

Beatriz Cortez
Reply to  Troyy
4 months ago

He can still qualify for free relay and win relay medal.

snailSpace
Reply to  oxyswim
3 months ago

Yeah, the 4×100 free relay is a good argument. He was like 4th at trials (or 3rd? I don’t remember) so he’s most likely making the team and is most likely medaling. Still, Lasco one place ahead would make more sense to me, as Tomac will have two individual events in Paris and Lasco might not even have one.

Swimz
Reply to  snailSpace
3 months ago

Lasco will make the Paris team 100×4 free..my guesses
Alexy, King, Guiliano, Lasco, Santo, Dressel…
100 back is a lock for USA Armstrong plus Murphy..
Maybe Armstrong will make the 100 free relay too..that guy knows how to touch the wall first coming from behind

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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