Top 10 Performances from the 2020 FINA Champions Series

2020 FINA Champions Series

The 2020 FINA Champions Series concluded in Beijing on Sunday after what was an exciting 4 days of racing across the two meets.

In case you missed any of the action, here are my top 10 performances from the series. Update: This list has been re-ordered to reflect a 1-10 ranking (random order when first published). 

#1 Daiya Seto‘s 200 Butterfly Asian Record – Beijing

Daiya Seto‘s entry into the second leg of the 2020 FINA Champions Series in Beijing caused quite a stir as he delivered two exceptional swims on day 1 of the competition. The 25-year-old set a new Asian Record in the 200m butterfly in a time of 1:52.53, lowering the previous mark of 1:52.97 which was set by Takeshi Matsuda in 2008.

His time makes him the 3rd-fastest performer ever in this event, behind current world record holder Kristof Milak (1:50.73) and former WR holder Michael Phelps (1:51.51).

Not only that, but he also posted another remarkable swim in the 200IM, clocking a time of 1:55.55 to take his second win of the meet. Seto has continued his record breaking form from last year after he broke the world record in the 400IM (SCM) at the ISL Grand Finale in Las Vegas in December (3:54.81).

#2 Yang Junxuan‘s 200 Free Chinese Record – Beijing 

Yang Junxuan became the first Chinese women ever under the 1:55 mark in this race, posting a time of 1:54.98. The previous record of 1:55.05 was set by Pang Jiaying at the 2008 Beijing Olympics and earned her a silver medal in the event.

Yang is the current World Junior record holder in this event with 1:55.43, but as she turns 18 this year is no longer eligible to lower that mark.

In this race she faced off with Hong Kong swimmer Siobhan Haughey who she had also beaten in Shenzhen. They are now tied for 14th fastest 200 free ever, and both sit 0.12 off Rikako Ikee‘s Asian Record of 1:54.85.

#3 Liu Xiang‘s 50 Freestyle Asian Record – Beijing

The 3rd Asian Record of the Beijing meet came in the form of Liu Xiang‘s 24.03 in the 50 Freestyle, 0.01 off her own previous mark of 24.04 which she set in 2017. In Shenzhen, she tied this mark of 24.04 but managed to lower it by the finest of margins just 4 days later.

Liu is the current world record holder in the 50 backstroke, making history back in 2018 when she became the first woman ever to go under the 27 mark in 26.98.

#4 Ryosuke Irie‘s 100 and 200 Backstroke Double – Beijing

Backstroke veteran Ryosuke Irie faced home favourite Xu Jiayu in the 100m backstroke in Beijing where they couldn’t be separated, winning in a dead-tie in a time of 52.97.

Irie hasn’t been under the 53 mark since 2018 when he posted a time of 52.53 in August of that year. A tough race here and a blistering last 10 metres ensured he went under that mark once again.

On day 2 he backed up his joint-win in the 100 with another victory, this time in the 200m back. He dominated the pace from the beginning, turning a second ahead of the rest of the field at 50 metres. He finished a hefty 3 seconds ahead of second place Jacob Pebley.

He posted the world’s 2nd fastest time in this event back in 2009 with a 1:52.51, but was a whole second faster here in Beijing than he was last year at the World Aquatics Championships in Gwangju.

#5 Danas Rapsys vs Sun Yang in the 200 Free

In what was one of the most anticipated races of the meet, Lithuania’s Danas Rapsys took on Sun Yang of China in the 200 freestyle to deliver two of the most exciting races of the tournament. They first went to head-to-head on day 1 in Shenzhen, where Rapsys out-touched Sun by just 0.03 to claim victory in a time of 1:46.50.

Sun Yang established a a half-second lead at 150 only to be chased down by Rapsys who split 26.19 on the final length (versus Sun’s 26.71). However, Sun denied Rapsys a second win in this event when they rematched in Beijing, taking almost a full second of Rapsys’ previous winning mark with his 1:45.55.

Rapsys currently holds the fastest time in the world this season which he set at the Doha World Cup in November (1:45.50).

The pair also faced off in the 400 freestyle, however, Sun dominated that event both times – winning in 3:44.07 in Shenzhen (over 2.5 secs ahead of 2nd place Rapsys) and in 3:44.98 in Beijing (over 4.5 secs ahead of 3rd place Rapsys).

#6 Arno Kamminga‘s 100 Breaststroke Dutch Record – Shenzhen

24-year-old Arno Kamminga delivered a monster 2nd 50 here (30.54) to take the win after touching 3rd at the 50 metre mark, winning in a time of 58.61.

He downed his own Dutch Record by 0.04 in the process, having set the previous mark of 58.65 at the Swim Cup Amsterdam in December. This time also stands as the fastest in the world this season.

Kamminga has now slipped under the 59 mark on 3 occasions, an impressive feat considering his personal best stood at 59.49 six months ago.

He posted that time while competing at the World Championships in Gwangju, finishing 13th overall. In fact, his time at this meet would have earned him a bronze medal in Gwangju.

#7 Andrei Minakov‘s Relay Split in Beijing

Andrei Minakov turned the 4×100 Mixed Medley Relay on its head for Team Liu in Beijing, splitting 51.57 on the butterfly leg and ensuring their victory by a 3 second margin.

Team Kapas, who took a risk by putting both male swimmers first for the backstroke and breaststroke legs, had a 5 second lead at the 200 mark. Minakov chased down Boglarka Kapas of Hungary and was instrumental in securing a win for his team.

17-year-old Minakov had a hectic summer last year, competing at the World, European Junior and World Junior Championships. He collected 16 medals in total including a world championship silver in the 100 butterfly. He has been under the 51 mark twice, with a personal best of 50.83.

#8 Siobhan Haughey‘s Double 100 Freestyle Win

In the ISL season, Siobhan Haughey broke multiple Hong Kong records throughout her stint for DC Trident and now holds the LCM records in all the individual freestyle events.

She came into the FINA Champions Series in what was a very stacked female freestyle field, featuring Dutch swimmers Ranomi Kromowidjojo and Femke Heemskerk, as well as Sweden’s Michelle Coleman.

Haughey overcame her competition on both occasions in China, winning in 53.47 in Shenzhen and 53.33 in Beijing.

For her achievements last year she was awarded the Swammy Award for asian female swimmer of the year.

#9 Vladimir Morozov‘s 50 Freestyle in Beijing

Vladimir Morozov was one of the stand-out athletes from this past short course season, delivering some stellar swims throughout the course of the ISL and positioning himself right in the mix of an already stacked male sprinting field.

In Beijing, he won the 50m freestyle in a time of 21.55, taking 0.15 off his time from Shenzhen (21.70). The Russian record holder in this event currently sits joint 11th alongside Bruno Fratus in the list of all-time performers.

Although, it’s worth noting that the list features a few times from retired swimmers such as Alain Bernard, Ashley CallusFrederick Bousquet and George Bovell, so in the current climate he is much higher up the list.

#10 Molly Hannis‘ 50 Breaststroke – Beijing 

America’s Molly Hannis won this event in the last 10 metres, as Alia Atkinson looked sure to be getting her hands on the wall first. She touched in 30.34, 0.10 ahead of the Jamaican SCM 100m World Record holder. Hannis holds the world #4 spot with her 29.71 from 2018, but didn’t go sub 30.40 in 2019.

In Shenzhen Hannis came 2nd behind Martina Carraro in this event, but lowered her time by 0.15 in Beijing.

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2 years ago

Didn’t Seto go 1.55 in the 200IM which was even faster than his winning time at the World Championships? It surely deserves to be on the list.

2 years ago

I think they sort of just added it to number 1- it’s mentioned at the end of the 200 fly wrap

2 years ago

What about all of Schooling’s and Farris’ practice achievements, as documented on SwimSwam?

2 years ago

Why isn’t Pickrem beating Hosszu on this list?

2 years ago

I’d put Liu Xiang way higher, and Morozov a lot lower. Don’t see how a 21.5 is better than two 24.0s.

Daniel Takata
Reply to  Dee
2 years ago

It doesn’t. Morozov is #9 and Liu Xiang is #3.

Reply to  Daniel Takata
2 years ago

They changed it. Originally Morozov was 3, Liu was 9.

2 years ago

Chinese 200 free should be higher and not sure Hannis 50 breast be on the list at all. Olympic year and it is a 50 stroke.

Daniel Takata
Reply to  Superfan
2 years ago

If Chinese 200 free were higher, it would be #1, since it is #2 on the list. Do you think a 1:54.98 in women’s 200 free (14th performer of all time) is better than a 1:52.53 in men’s 200 fly (3rd performer of all time)?

Reply to  Daniel Takata
2 years ago

Did the author change the order?