Top Races To Watch At 2021 FINA World Cup – Berlin


The 2021 FINA World Cup Series kicks off in Berlin tomorrow, with a plethora of talent set to compete on both the men’s and women’s sides. Several notable International Swimming League (ISL) standouts will be taking advantage of the break in that competition’s action to rake in some more dough here, with more than $1.4 million up for grabs over the course of the entire circuit.

With Berlin’s entry lists finally published we can take a look at the intense schedule of racing up ahead and zone in on some of our key events to watch as the 3-day meet unfolds.

Men’s 100m Fly

Top talent to the tune of Chad Le Clos of South Africa, Tom Shields of the United States and Szabsztian Szabo of Hungary are registered for this fast and furious event. But Aussie Kyle Chalmers is also entered in the race, giving us a dark horse for gold among the contestants.

23-year-old Chalmers is entered in this race with a seed time of 52.07; however, that entry represents his personal best long course meters time.

FINA has Chalmers’ quickest short course time logged at the 52.49 he produced as an 18-year-old at the 2016 FINA World Cup. As such, we’re not entirely sure what to expect from the man who took 100m freestyle silver at this summer’s Olympic Games but we know he’s a major-league competitor who has undergone successful shoulder surgery last year.

Women’s 100m Back

She didn’t make the Aussie Olympic team for Tokyo but 21-year-old Minna Atherton has proven she has some mean short course swimming chops as she is the reigning World Record holder in this event. Clocking a time of 54.89 as a London Roar team member during season 1 of ISL, she is the 1fly woman to beat here in Berlin.

She’ll be chased by multi-national record holder and European Short Course champion Kira Toussaint of the Netherlands, along with fellow Aussie Holly Barratt and Swedish ace Michelle Coleman.

USA youngsters Kennedy Noble (17), JoJo Ramey (16) and Charlotte Hook (17) may put down something special as they embark on their first FINA World Cup circuit.

Men’s 100m Free

Always a marquis event, Chalmers will once again be in the thick of things as he fights off fellow countrymen and Olympic teammates Matt Temple and Zac Incerti. USA’s Blake Pieroni will also be one to watch, owning a PB of 46.15 in this SCM event from ISL season 2.

South African Matt Sates, set to join the University of Georgia in the spring, is a wild card in this race, with the 18-year-old coming off of a monster South African Short Course Nationals. In Pietermaritzburg just a couple of weeks ago, the future Bulldog took home 10 individual titles, including the 100m free. He posted a mark of 47.14 as a new lifetime best, but has a trajectory trending towards more time drops.

Women’s 100m Fly

Australia’s most successful Olympian Emma McKeon took home the bronze in this women’s 100m fly event in Tokyo, while Canada’s Maggie MacNeil captured gold. Both women will be among the stacked field in Berlin, with Sweden’s Louise Hansson also making a run at the podium.

Hansson already hit a new lifetime best of 55.26 just earlier this month while competing in the ISL. That ranks the former USC Trojan as the 7th fastest woman of all time.

Sitting just outside that list is on-fire McKeon, who owns a personal best of 55.39 from 2019, while MacNeil hasn’t raced this short course meters-format of the 100 fly since 2017.

Women’s 100m Breast

Lydia Jacoby of the United States surprised the world when she took home gold in the women’s 100m breast in her Olympic debut. Now get to see the 17-year-old Alaskan follow-up that performance with some short course racing.

The USA Swimming database displays Jacoby’s career-quickest as a 1:13.60 from 2018, although her 1:04.95 long course outing from Tokyo is what she enters this meet as the top-seeded swimmer.

Russian Olympian Yuliya Efimova, along with Anastasia Gorbenko of Israel, Tes Schouten of the Netherlands and Jessica Steiger of the host nation will be among those trying to shut down the gold medalist in this event here in Berlin.

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2 months ago

What’s going on with his hair in that photo?

Trying to make sense of it, but can’t.

Reply to  Rap
2 months ago

He bleached his hair for one of London’s matches during ISL season. Then he still had his beard, which was naturally dark

Steve Nolan
Reply to  Rap
2 months ago

That picture also makes his skin look like it’s the same shade of pink as de-aged Morty from the season 5 finale.

I mean I’m sure he looks fine, but something about that picture, there’s just a lot of things clashing.

Corn Pop
Reply to  Rap
2 months ago

He is auditioning for G of T new series. & learning Danish . Don’t be surprised to hear throat tonal Grrrhzzzhh & kkhhhhhheerhhs on the blocks. .

2 months ago

Jacoby going to go about 10 second PB lol

2 months ago

MacNeil could be the #1 ISL recruit ever if and when she decides to go that route. Outside of her obvious Olympic gold pedigree she is an absolute SCY beast in 3 strokes 50/100m with her underwaters. If she can ‘survive’ 25m of Breaststroke I wonder what her 100IM limit is!

Reply to  Njones
2 months ago

Agree! She would be a multi-event threat, relay star, and super skins performer in three strokes. I really hope we get to see her in the ISL next season.

Reply to  Njones
2 months ago

FWIW she can smash a 200 short course too

2 months ago

Wow just no mention at all of Masse in the 100 backstroke ?

Reply to  CanSwim13
2 months ago

I had to go check the entries to make sure she was still swimming after seeing her not mentioned, lol.

Just give the trophy to the condors already
2 months ago

Why didn’t they recruit Efimova
in an ISL team?


Why do you think

Breakers FTW

She tested positive for DEHA, a banned anabolic steroid in 2013 thus rendering her eligible to compete in the ISL under their rules pertaining to doping sanctions.

Corn Pop
Reply to  Breakers FTW
2 months ago

It is inot classed as an Anabolic Steroid .

JP input is too short

ISL took a really hard anti-doping stance. No previous infractions allowed.

NC Fan

in case you are being sincere and don’t actually know, the ISL has a stated zero tolerance policy preventing any demonstrated dopers from participating

Efimova is ineligible for ISL since she served a previous doping suspension

2 months ago

Kyle Chalmers is said to have a LCM PB of 52.07 in the 100BF but I think it is 51.37 which he did in a domestic meet in 2020.

2 months ago

51.37 in LC 100 Fly is 1.92 behind Dressel’s Olympic swim (and WR). Good for Chalmers for trying something different against a not-so-stacked field (no Dressel,not even Milak). Even though he finished 0.02 behind Seto’s ISL Season 3 best time, I enjoyed seeing Dressel give the 200 IM a go.

Reply to  Tony
2 months ago

Everything is about Dressel for this guy. Nothing else exists.

Reply to  Troyy
2 months ago

The greatest current swimmer is Caeleb Dressel, so why not?

2 months ago

Chalmers 100 fly long course PB is 51.37 from last year.

Guimaraes Cayley
2 months ago

I think Nicholas Santos will swim under his WR. Let’s see if that will be enough to win.

Reply to  Guimaraes Cayley
2 months ago

Berlin is a fast pool. It’d be exciting to see the old man swim anoter WR.

Last edited 2 months ago by FST

About Retta Race

Retta Race

Former Masters swimmer and coach Loretta (Retta) thrives on a non-stop but productive schedule. Nowadays, that includes having just earned her MBA while working full-time in IT while owning French 75 Boutique while also providing swimming insight for BBC.

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