SwimSwam’s Top 100 For 2024: Women’s #40-31

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.

Women’s Rankings:

#40: Lara van Niekerk, South Africa – van Niekerk has established herself as one of the world’s best pure sprint breaststrokers over the last few years, highlighted by a standout 2022 that saw her win bronze at LC Worlds, silver at SC Worlds and gold at the Commonwealth Games in the 50 breast. That momentum continued in 2023, as she was .02 shy of her lifetime best in May to rank #4 in the world (29.75) and missed a repeat Worlds medal by .05 in Fukuoka. Progress in the 100 breast has been a bit more up and down, however, as she missed the semis in Fukuoka after missing the final one year earlier in Budapest. The 20-year-old still has youth on her side, and does own an elite best time (1:05.47) from 2022 and was 1:06.65 last year. It remains a question of whether or not she can fire on all cylinders in the 100 in Paris, but there’s no doubt she’ll be in the hunt for a world title in Doha in the 50.

#39: Claire Weinstein, USA – One of the most intriguing young talents in the United States, Weinstein has proven to be able to perform under pressure with selection on the line. At the 2022 U.S. Trials, less than two months after her 15th birthday, Weinstein placed 2nd to Katie Ledecky in the 200 free to qualify for the 2022 World Championships. After gaining international experience in Budapest, placing 10th in the 200 free while leading off the victorious American 800 free relay in a personal best time of 1:56.71, Weinstein had another big domestic swim in 2023. At U.S. Nationals, the 16-year-old upset Ledecky in the 200 free in a new PB of 1:55.26, a time that stood up as the 6th-fastest in the world for the year. At the World Championships, however, Weinstein missed the 200 free final in 12th (1:57.03) and was left off the U.S. 800 free relay. With plenty of experience under her belt at such a young age, look for Weinstein to make an impact in Paris. Whether or not that results in an individual medal remains to be seen—she’ll need to be 1:54 in the 200 free. With bests of 4:06.2 and 8:21.0 in the 400 and 800, she could also be in the hunt in those races, too, but drops will be necessary.

#38: Peng Xuwei, China – Barring another upset at the U.S. Trials, gold and silver in the women’s 200 backstroke in Paris is essentially locked up with Kaylee McKeown and Regan Smith dominating the event. That third spot, however, is fairly wide open, and Peng took full advantage of that in Fukuoka, snaring the bronze medal in 2:06.74, a significant improvement after being in the 2:08s in the two previous years. Also a consistent 59-mid backstroker, Peng, who turned 21 in January, is a legitimate Olympic medal contender in the 200 back and is still at an age where another time drop wouldn’t be surprising. The main thing working against her is that whoever snags the second U.S. spot will have likely had to go at least 2:05 to get there, so a medal is no slam dunk.

#37: Lana Pudar, Bosnia and Herzegovina – Pudar has the weight of a nation behind her. Possibly Bosnia and Herzegovina’s most-accomplished athlete, already, since the breakup of Yugoslavia, she was 4th at last year’s World Championships in the 200 fly and earned her second straight BIH Sportswoman of the Year award. Having turned 18 in mid-January, Pudar is an Olympic medal contender in the 200 fly to be sure, and she could also make some noise in the 100 fly after cracking the world’s top 10 last year (56.95). She’ll also race both events in Doha.

#36: Abbey Weitzeil, USA – As an established veteran, Weitzeil is coming off arguably the most impressive year of her career, having set lifetime bests in the 50 free (24.00) and 100 free (52.92) at U.S. Nationals. Despite ranking #2 in the world for the year in the 50, Weitzeil narrowly missed a medal in Fukuoka by taking 4th (24.32), and was 6th in the 100 free (53.34) with her PB ranking #8 worldwide. Now 27, the former Cal Golden Bear played a key role on the U.S. relays in Fukuoka, collecting four medals, and that will remain the case in Paris if she’s able to maintain this form. The real question will be if she can deliver that elusive individual medal that she’s yet to claim at the Olympics and LC World Championships.

#35: Benedetta Pilato, Italy – Not unlike van Niekerk, Pilato has had more of a presence atop the global leaderboard in the 50 breast compared to the 100-meter event, winning silver at the 2019 World Championships at just 14 and then setting the world record in 2021 in 29.30. After being disqualified in the 100 breast in her Olympic debut in Tokyo, the Italian broke through in the 100 by winning the 2022 world title, clocking 1:05.93 in an objectively slow final. Pilato set a PB of 1:05.70 earlier in 2022 and was 1:05.75 last year, ranking 9th in the world, though she missed qualifying for the Italian team at Worlds in the event. The now 18-year-old won bronze in the 50 breast in Fukuoka and will be in hunt for her first title in the event in Doha after winning three consecutive medals from 2019 to 2023. In terms of Paris and the 100 breast, Pilato is still in the hunt for a medal—despite Ruta Meilutyte going 1:04.62, it still only took 1:05.94 to claim bronze in Fukuoka.

#34: Isabel Gose, Germany – Gose had what might be regarded as her big international breakout at the 2022 European Championships, winning gold in the 400 free and adding individual medals in the 200 and 800 free. However, the German native has been chipping away at the elite fields we see at the Olympics and World Championships in her young career and seems to be on the precipice of a medal. She was a finalist in the 400 free and placed 9th in both the 200 and 800 free at the Tokyo Olympics at 19, and then at the 2022 World Championships, was a finalist in all three events and placed as high as 5th in the 400 free. In Fukuoka, at 21, Gose was once again a finalist in all three, setting lifetime bests across the board. Despite falling short of the podium, her impressive range tells us we could see her with a medal in 2024 in either the 800 (8:17.95) or 1500 (15:54.58). Her best event has been the 400 free, but she faces the daunting task of competing in the same era as four of the five women in history to have broken 4:00. Prior to Paris, she’ll tackle all three distances in Doha and vie for the podium.

#33: Elizabeth Dekkers, Australia – Dekkers’s name may not yet carry the same weight in the echelon of Australian butterfliers that Susie O’Neill’s, Jessicah Schipper’s, and Emma McKeon’s does, but Dekkers is still just a teenager and already is a Commonwealth gold medalist in the 200 fly. A win that catapulted her to a Short Course Worlds bronze and a runner-up finish at the 2023 World Championships. Dekkers currently ranks as the 14th fastest performer in the 200 and could easily medal in the Olympics. The only thing working against Dekkers is that she only has one event in which she is in medal contention, and it includes three of the five fastest women ever: Regan Smith, Zhang Yufei and Summer McIntosh.

#32: Simona Quadarella, Italy – If It weren’t for Katie Ledecky, Quadarella would be a lot higher up on this list. The reigning Olympic bronze medalist in the 800 free, Quadarella has medaled at every long course World Champs dating back to 2017. At the most recent one, she took silver in the 1500 (15:43.31) and ranks as the 4th fastest ever in the event (15:40.89 from 2019). If the Italian wishes to continue her streak of consecutive medals, she’ll have to hold off a strong and growing field in the women’s distance freestyle events. She’s not old by any stretch, having turned 25 in December, but other than Ledecky, is the oldest swimmer that ranked in the top 10 last year in the 800 free and second-oldest (to Australian Moesha Johnson) in the 1500.

#31: Marrit Steenbergen, Netherlands – Steenbergen, who won a pair of relay medals at the 2015 World Championships in Kazan, has seen a career resurgence over the last two years. After an incredible European Championship campaign (four gold and seven total medals) and four medals including an individual title at Short Course Worlds in 2022, the Dutchwoman picked up the bronze medal in the 100 free at the 2023 World Championships. The now 24-year-old was also a finalist in the 50 free, 200 free and 200 IM in Fukuoka, and ranked top-10 in the world for the year in the 100 free (52.71), 200 free (1:55.51) and 200 IM (2:09.16). Steenbergen is versatile, has proven she can perform on the big stage, and tends to fly under the radar, making her a dangerous swimmer in both Doha and Paris.

In This Story

44
Leave a Reply

Subscribe
Notify of

44 Comments
newest
oldest most voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Eli
3 months ago

One thing I find funny about Weinstein is that she’s so good in open water, but still her best event is the 200 free. It just shows how much of a focus sandpipers puts on open water, whether that’s training or racing it.

CY~
3 months ago

Madi Wilson just announced her pregnancy 🎉

Backnbutter
3 months ago

Weinstein #39 and Dekkers #33 in the same bracket is intriguing hmmm… both are teenagers on the rise.
Weinstein is not a realistic individual medal hope vs Dekkers already a WC silver and strong medal hope and proven big meet performer.

I guess either a minor relay medal or high confidence in Weinstein’s trajectory is Swimswam’s reason or perhaps a podium 1 event swimmer is similar to a relay medalist… hmmm.

Just Keep Swimming
Reply to  Backnbutter
3 months ago

Eh. Dekkers is 6 places higher, has a realistic ceiling of silver in one event and (if all the top players are at their best) has a real possibility of no medals. Weinstein is very unlikely to medal individually, but very likely to get at least a silver medal in the relay. I don’t have a problem with the difference between these two specific performers.

The main problem is compared to MOC when she was in a similar spot. After Tokyo she was faster than Weinstein’s current PB while the competition was much lower, plus had a great time in a second event which Weinstein doesn’t have. And she was ranked 20 spots lower.

Imonar
3 months ago

“Whether or not that results in an individual medal remains to be seen—she’ll need to be 1:54 in the 200 free.”

No, she needs to be 1:53 low if she wants to medal.

Just Keep Swimming
Reply to  Imonar
3 months ago

1:53 low likely won’t be needed for a bronze, but a 1:53 something almost certainly will. Even if McIntosh dips, no way MOC/Titmus/Haughey are going 1:54

Caleb
Reply to  Just Keep Swimming
3 months ago

This is probably true but ya never know; people don’t always swim their best in the Olympic final. Also I doubt McIntosh swims this one.

Imonar
Reply to  Caleb
3 months ago

Even if McIntosh doesn’t swim 200, MOC/Titmus/Haughey will swim 1:53.

So a 1:54 won’t medal.

commonwombat
Reply to  Imonar
3 months ago

Tend to agree.

Whilst I’m in the McIntosh skips 200free camp; ALL four of the peak contenders have “repeat form” when it comes to producing sub 1.54s.

The most likely scenario to produce a 1.54 medalling is most likely one of the 3 main contenders either scratching due to illness/injury OR someone delivering an absolute shocker allowing someone from the lower tier a podium shot.

IMO
Reply to  Imonar
3 months ago

She couldn’t even make the USA finals relay in Fukuoka, only going 1:57. This is a reach.

Sub13
3 months ago

Ok let’s have a guess at the last 3 categories. I think I have everyone. No particular order within category:

21-30: Berkoff, Pallister, Jacoby, Curzan, Grimes, Bingjie, Huske, Fairweather, Schouten, Yiting (Grimes and Huske most likely to be bumped up)

11-20: Meilutyte, A Walsh, G Walsh, Jack, Mac Neil, Chikunova, Smith, King, McKeon, Jack (Meilutyte and Smith most likely to be bumped up)

1-10: MOC, McIntosh, McKeown, Ledecky, Titmus, Sjostrom, Zhang, Douglass, Haughey, Schoenmaker (Haughey and Schoenmaker most likely to be bumped down)

Sub13
Reply to  Sub13
3 months ago

Wait. I thought Forrester had already been listed but apparently she hasn’t. I must have a double up somewhere because she’s obviously on the list. Where’s my mistake?

Troyy
Reply to  Sub13
3 months ago

Maybe SwimSwam missed someone. Forrester probably should’ve already been listed.

Imonar
Reply to  Sub13
3 months ago

Weird that Forrester has not been listed.

Pretty sure they forgot, she can’t be higher than this and she can’t be lower as well.

Sub13
Reply to  Imonar
3 months ago

She’ll be around 25th I reckon. Medal threat in 2 individual events, guaranteed to make the team, possible 200 free relay medallist

Texas
Reply to  Sub13
3 months ago

You listed Shayna Jack twice

CanSwimFan
Reply to  Texas
3 months ago

Easy fix! 😉

Sub13
Reply to  Texas
3 months ago

Yes!

Stick Forrester in 21-30 and replace Shayna Jack’s clone with Grimes

Personal Best
Reply to  Sub13
3 months ago

Looking at those swimmers you’ve listed in the 11-20 range and you realise how exciting women’s swimming is right now.

You put MacNeil, Smith, King, McKeon in that tier and you think, who could have been listed higher? Till you look at the 1-10 tier and you realise the big names there too.

Imonar
Reply to  Sub13
3 months ago

I don’t know about Gretchen Walsh in 11-20 when her strongest event 50 fly won’t be in Paris and she skip Doha.

Especially when you put Bingjie and Huske lower in 21-30.

Sub13
Reply to  Imonar
3 months ago

I was guessing what SwimSwam is going to do. Neither of the Walshes are in my personal top 20 but I think SS will have them both in there

Imonar
Reply to  Sub13
3 months ago

Understood.

gitech
3 months ago

I think the position for Abbey Weitzeil is too good, i suppose that Simone Manuel wont be. So these women (1-30) Will be:

30-11

jenna forrester, Erika Fairweather,
tes schoutenn, yu yiting, lydia jacoby, lani pallister, Claire curzan, Alex walsh, chikunova, K.Berkoff, gretchen walsh, shayna Jack, Li binjie, lilly King, emma Mckeon, maggie mcneil, katie grimes, tatjana Schoenmaker, torri huske, siobhan Haughey.

the top 10 that I think swimswam will put:
zhang yu fei, ruta, summer mcintosh, kaylee Mckeown, Kate Douglass, ariarne titmus, regan smith, sarah Sjöström, Katie ledecky, mollie o’ callaghan. (No order)

Last edited 3 months ago by gitech
Andy
Reply to  gitech
3 months ago

Agree with most of the top 10 apart from Ruta. I think she would be the favourite to win the 100 breast but not an overwhelming favourite given there’s not a huge gap on the competition. As 50 breast isn’t an Olympic event and she has no relay medal potential, the 100 breast is all she has (and none of us would be that surprised if she finished 4th and completely missed the medals). I wouldn’t have Cam McEvoy in the top 10 in the men’s list and he’s a much bigger favourite to win Olympic gold in his event than Ruta is to win hers

I’d prob put Haughey in the top 10 over her. She’s the fastest… Read more »

Troyy
Reply to  Andy
3 months ago

Good analysis 👍

Rafael
Reply to  Andy
3 months ago

Zhang might have a shot of 4 relay medals

China is probably the 3rd best Women 100/200 free relay, might even be 2nd on 200 free if all live up to expectation from last 3 years
Has a minor shot on women medley and favorite on Mixed

Last edited 3 months ago by Rafael
Jimmyswim
3 months ago

Did I miss something or is Curzan in the top 30? She has some good times but it seems more likely than not that she will miss the team altogether, at least individually. Seems odd to rank her above multiple individual medallists from last year when she missed the team.

RealSlimThomas
Reply to  Jimmyswim
3 months ago

Let’s speak in hypotheticals. If she makes the team in any of these individuals, then she is a medal contender (comparing best times to Fukuoka results): 50 free, 100 back, 200 back, and 100 butterfly. Additionally, she has a high likelihood to swim on the 4×100 freestyle.

SwimSwam writers value world rankings (she has), World Championship medals (none individually I can think of – maybe relay), potential (she has), Olympic medal opportunities (she has), injuries (none that I can think of), and versatility (she has – maybe to a fault).

Imonar
Reply to  RealSlimThomas
3 months ago

I mean, MOC was ranked very low at #57 in 2022 edition despite winning 2 Olympics gold, 200 free WJR, no injury, and huge upside.

What makes you think Curzan deserve much higher ranking despite having no better accomplishments or bigger potential than MOC at the age of 17 yo in 2022?

jeff
Reply to  Imonar
3 months ago

MOC had 53.08/1:55.11 PBs by end of 2021. Curzan is 58.3/2:06.3 in the backstrokes, 56 low in the 100 fly, is still the WJR holder in the 50 free, and has multiple 52 point 100 free relay splits.

Last edited 3 months ago by jeff
Just Keep Swimming
Reply to  jeff
3 months ago

Curzan hasn’t been close to her best in the 50/100 free or 100 fly for a while. Last year 24.9 50 free, 54.5 100 free, 56.6 100 fly. Can’t really rely on her times from over 1.5 years ago.

At best she is an individual bronze threat in the 100/200 back but faces a major challenge to even make the team and very unlikely to swim any relay finals.

jeff
Reply to  Just Keep Swimming
3 months ago

I mean last year she didn’t really get a chance to do any full taper swims considering she ended up being hospitalized the week before trials and didn’t make the team, so judging based off just her times last year isn’t all that useful either

Just Keep Swimming
Reply to  jeff
3 months ago

She had another 7 months to enter a number of competitions where she could have tapered. Six individual world records were broken outside of worlds/trials events last year. If you’re going to rank her above people who literally medalled at worlds 6 months ago, pretty odd to use times she hasn’t been close to in almost 2 years.

Imonar
Reply to  jeff
3 months ago

Important question:

When did Curzan swam those times?

MOC blasted 100-200 free PBs just a few months before the top 100 list was published.

Curzan is perennially over ranked. She was ranked at #16 in last year edition. And what did she do last year?

Here’s some of the swimmers ranked lower than Curzan:

Ruta Meilutyte, Tatiana Schoenmaker, Alex Walsh, Chikunova, Li Bingjie, Yu Yiting, Simona Quadarella, Shayna Jack, Meg Harris, Erika Fairweather, Elizabeth Dekkers, etc etc etc

jeff
Reply to  Imonar
3 months ago

Am I missing something or have like none of those people been ranked yet lol

edit: oh I see you probably mean past tense; I point you back to the fact that she was effectively out for the summer after missing the team because of being hospitalized

Last edited 3 months ago by jeff
Imonar
Reply to  jeff
3 months ago

Pretty sure she wasn’t hospitalized the whole year.

jeff
Reply to  Imonar
3 months ago

yeah, just the only time of the year where she would swim LCM tapered

Owlmando
Reply to  Imonar
3 months ago

Gotta hype up home team, nawamean?

RealSlimThomas
Reply to  Imonar
3 months ago

I’m not commenting on MOC at all I’m purely speculating why Curzan could be so high.

Imonar
Reply to  RealSlimThomas
3 months ago

And I am showing you how the selection criteria is inconsistent.

Robbos
3 months ago

Don’t sleep on Claire Wienstein, she is young & going very fast, a 1.55.26 is very fast for any 16 year old in history not named Summer McIntosh.

jeff
Reply to  Robbos
3 months ago

you could very easily argue that she’s overrated even at this rank given that she is completely shut out of individual medals barring anything crazy happening

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 …

Read More »