SwimSwam’s Top 100 For 2024: Men’s #90-81

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

This next group of men is loaded with swimmers who can be Olympic finalists this year if they perform at the right time—something some of them struggled with last year.

#90: Brendon Smith, Australia – Smith had a good 2023, finishing 5th in the 400 IM at the World Championships in 4:10.37, ranking him #8 for the year as a whole. The top two in this race are way ahead of the field (Marchand/Foster), and Daiya Seto still looks pretty good too. Smith hasn’t gone a best time since Tokyo, but at only 23, he’s still easily in range of getting back there again. He also made the semis in the 200 IM in Fukuoka after nearing his PB at Aussie Trials (1:58.84).

#89: Yan Zibei, China – Yan’s stock has taken a hit because of Qin Haiyang‘s breakthrough. That hurts Yan’s value in these rankings, but he still showed himself as a reliable breaststroker in 2023. He finished 6th in the 100 breast (59.23) at Worlds and swam on China’s prelim medley relays. The men’s 100 breast is a crowded race right now though, and he’ll need to be closer to his personal best of 58.63 to make a run at a medal in Paris.

#88: Chen Juner, China – After breaking Wu Peng‘s super-suited 200 fly Chinese record in May in 1:54.16, Chen was unable to match that time at Worlds. He missed qualifying for semis, though his personal best would’ve moved him safely through to the final and earned him 6th. He rebounded with a bronze at the Asian Games but was nearly two seconds from his best (1:56.04). Chen, who will turn 20 next month, has the potential to be a factor in the 200 fly final, he just needs to swim fast at the right time. And although he would need drops to make any sort of an impact, he also cracked the world’s top 50 last year in the 100 free (48.40) and 100 fly (51.73).

#87: Petr Zhikharev, Russia – Zhikarev swam best times in both the 50 and 100 butterfly in 2023, most notably breaking 51 seconds for the first time in the 100 in April, clocking 50.88. That time would have put him right in the heart of the action in the Worlds 100 fly final and placed 5th. Two factors that keep Zhikarev from rising any further in the ranks are how crowded the 100 fly is as an event right now along with the fact that Russia’s eligibility to compete at international meets is still up in the air. He turned 24 in October.

#86: Hugo Gonzalez, Spain – At 24,  Gonzalez had one of his best years as a pro swimmer in 2023. He swam his first best time in the 200 backstroke since 2017, clocking 1:56.33 for 7th at Worlds. He also finaled in the 200 IM, swimming the second fastest time of his career. Of those two, the 200 back is the one where there’s a clearer path to an Olympic podium. But Gonzalez is expected to be at the 2024 Worlds in Doha, where he could win big with many of the swimmers who beat him last summer absent.

#85: Luke Hobson, USA – Hobson might be the U.S.’s next big hope in the 200 freestyle. After a breakthrough performance at U.S. Nationals to make his first Worlds team (1:45.12 in prelims), he missed the medals with a 5th place finish in Fukuoka, hitting a PB of 1:44.87 in the semis. He’s been quiet since the summer and will have to contend with several huge names—who have all been faster than his best—if he wants to make the jump onto the podium in Paris. Perhaps that’s why he’s one of just a handful of NCAA swimmers slated to race in Doha: more experience moving through the rounds of the 200 free on the international stage with a reduced field could do a lot for his experience and confidence levels.

#84: Kirill Prigoda, Russia – Similar to Zhikharev, Prigoda produced some elite times last year that ranked amongst the world’s best, but his status for any international medals is unknown—and probably thin at this point for Russians. Despite being a relative veteran, having turned 28 in late December, he’s been on the best form of his career of late, including hitting a best time of 58.92 in the 100 breast last year which ranked #9 in the world for 2023. He was even better in the 200 breast, emerging as the world’s fourth-fastest with a blistering 2:07.47 at Russian Nationals, just shy of his 2022 best of 2:07.25.

#83: Antonio Djakovic, Switzerland – Djakovic’s big breakthrough was in 2022, when he earned silver medals in the 200 and 400 free at the European Championships with respective lifetime bests of 1:45.32 and 3:43.93. The 21-year-old had a hard time matching that success in 2023; he missed the final of the 200 free in Fukuoka, though he did finish 6th in the 400 free. Djakovic is the Swiss National Record holder in the 200/400/800/1500 freestyle, but what makes it so hard to rank him higher is just how crowded his primary events (200/400) are. Both have well over eight swimmers capable of making the final which means that there will be some big names on the outside looking in. At least on the Worlds/Olympics stage, Djakovic hasn’t consistently shown himself capable of making sure that he isn’t one of the swimmers missing out after a poor prelim swim.

#82: Oleksandr Zheltyakov, Ukraine – Zheltyakov, who turned 19 in November, dropped a second-and-a-half last season to become the European Junior champion in the 200 back, swimming 1:55.79 in the final. He also won the 100 back at Euro Juniors, and swept the same events at World Juniors in Netanya, establishing a PB of 53.73 in the 100. In a world where 1:55 could medal at the Olympics, his upswing is coming at the right moment – though it will be with limited senior international experience.

#81: Szebasztian Szabo, Hungary – Szabo, the co-owner of the SC world record in the 50 butterfly (21.75), has found most of his international success in that event. That makes 2024 more of a challenging year for him as it’s a non-Olympic event. A pure sprinter, he also races the 50 freestyle and made the semis at Worlds, where he added time from prelims and finished 16th. His lifetime best is 21.60 from 2022 and his Worlds prelims time (21.67) would’ve earned him a finals lane–he just needs to put it all together at the right time. He’s on Hungary’s roster for the Worlds in Doha, which will give him more experience and a chance to final in both the 50 free and fly. He should also feature prominently at the end of the year at SC Worlds.

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GrameziPT
2 months ago

I would imagine that one of the best juniores in recent memory would land on the top100 list maybe in the the 100 to 80 spots. I don’t know if he mad the list but with times of 22.80 50 fly, 51.3 100 fly, 21.87 50 free and 47.98 in the 100 free, being only 19 yrs old…a final might be in the cards for Diogo Ribeiro. He already medaled at worlds 2023 (albeit in the 50 fly)

Tea rex
2 months ago

Seeing Wu Peng’s name (who recently came off retirement) made me think of Schoeman. Neither is one of the top 100 swimmers active, but are probably both active swimmers worth watching.

JimSwim22
2 months ago

Odd mix in this group of guys with a chance to medal and others that have never been top 20.

Sub13
Reply to  JimSwim22
2 months ago

It’s hard because the list is a combo of current achievements and future predictions. Young ones who look promising but don’t have convincing times yet seem to fit around this level, as do veterans who have an outside shot at a medal I guess

Noah
2 months ago

Didn’t know Hobson was going to Doha – seems weird because he’s the biggest taper swimmer ever

gitech
2 months ago

temple 48.99 in 100 free and shortly after 50.6 in 100 fly

Troyy
Reply to  gitech
2 months ago

The 48.99 came before the 50.60 which makes the fly more impressive.

Andrew
2 months ago

American bias for Hobson is wild. Almost no chance of medaling in either 2/4 free (cmon, he’s not beating Brits/DP/Hwang/etc)

owen
Reply to  Andrew
2 months ago

how is it biased? no one else in this section is going to medal either and he was 5th at worlds

rhode
Reply to  owen
2 months ago

Zheltyakov is my dark horse pick for 200 back medal.

Beatriz Cortez
Reply to  owen
2 months ago

Yan Zibei will most definitely medal as part of 4×100 mixed relay even if it’s only prelims swim

Caleb
Reply to  Beatriz Cortez
2 months ago

Hobson is equally a near-sure shot to medal in the 4×200, aside from anything else.

Horninco
Reply to  Andrew
2 months ago

Are we the 80’s or 20’s?

80 something for a guy that has a “chance” final in a couple events and be on 1 or 2 really isn’t bias it’s the opinion of one writer

Pretty sure every guy you mentioned or insinuated in your post will be ranked higher

But keep whining

Buttafly
Reply to  Andrew
2 months ago

85th for a 1:44 high guy seems more than fair. It’s not like they ranked him 20th

Andrew
Reply to  Buttafly
2 months ago

Fair enough

whoisthis
2 months ago

anyone else think hobson should be ranked slightly higher

snailSpace
Reply to  whoisthis
2 months ago

Agreed. Strong medal chance in the 4×200.

Beatriz Cortez
Reply to  snailSpace
2 months ago

I mean, Yan Zibei also has strong gold medal chance in 4×100 mixed relay and he’s ranked lower than Hobson

Last edited 2 months ago by Beatriz Cortez
snailSpace
Reply to  Beatriz Cortez
2 months ago

He is also less competitive in his individual event than Hobson, and the weakest part of his relay whereas Hobson (on paper) is arguably the strongest.
Scratch that, Yan Zibei is a prelim only swimmer in a world where Qin Haiyang exists. Hobson isn’t.
Not saying Hobson should be top 50 or something, but maybe somewhere in 80-71 wouldn’t have been too high.

Last edited 2 months ago by snailSpace
Horninco
Reply to  whoisthis
2 months ago

He’s hampered by a strong 200 free field and no elite 2nd event in LC but being one of the few guys that have gone sub 145 (and being pretty young) give him some benefit of the doubt (for most people)

Sub13
Reply to  Horninco
2 months ago

He seems to be essentially in exactly the same place as Max Giuliani. Almost identical 200 free PB, no real shot at a second event, solid chance at a 4×200 medal.

Will be interesting to see where they put MG in relation.

EDIT: Actually I forgot Giuliani has a decent 100 free and solid shot to make that relay so he might be a bit higher.

Last edited 2 months ago by Sub13
PFA
2 months ago

Just my belief Luke should be ranked higher. He is the only American to go under 1:45 and has potential to make the Olympic team in the 400 free. I think that warrants him to be a bit higher on the list.

Pescatarian
Reply to  PFA
2 months ago

Mens 400 free is arguably the weakest American event.

Beatriz Cortez
Reply to  PFA
2 months ago

He has the potential to make Olympic team in 400 free, but also little chance to make Olympic final in 400.

There is argument he should be ranked higher, but he is also already ranked higher than Olympic bronze medalist (Brendon Smith) and World Championship gold medalist (Yan Zibei)

Rafael
Reply to  Beatriz Cortez
2 months ago

Men 400 free we had 12 guys sub 3:45 last year, might need a 3:44 in prelims already

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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