Women’s 50m Freestyle World Championship Preview: Women Inch Towards Steffen’s World Record


  • Day 8, Sunday, August 9th
  • 2013 World Champion: Ranomi Kromowidjojo, NED – 24.04 (SEE RACE VIDEO ABOVE)
  • 2013 Silver Medalist: Cate Campbell, AUS – 24.14
  • 2013 Bronze Medalist: Francesca Halsall, GBR – 24.30

The women’s 50 freestyle has really evolved ever since the suit era in 2009. The gold medal winning time dropped by nearly a second from 2007 to 2009, with a world record performance from Germany’s Britta Steffen in 23.73, which still stands today. The last two championships have seen the event remain relatively fast, as the gold medal winning 24.53 wouldn’t even have medalled in 2011 (24.49 for bronze) or 2013 (24.30 for bronze).

James Sutherland, Women's 50 free 2015 World championship Preview

The times continued to improve last year, as three different swimmers cracked 24 seconds. Based on of how the event has consistently gotten faster the last four years, we can expect this to continue in Kazan, as the women continue to inch closer and closer to Steffen’s record.

Take a look at the top times from around the world this season:

2014-2015 LCM Women 50 Free

View Top 26»

Cate Campbell burst onto the international scene as a young 16 year old who won the bronze in the 50 free at the 2008 Beijing Games. She has had ups and downs since then but has proven to be one of the best female sprinters in the world the last few years, including a silver medal in the event at the 2013 World Championships, a gold at last summers Pan Pacific Championships, as well as a silver at last summers Commonwealth Games. Along with the medals, she also tied with Francesca Halsall (the women who beat her at the Commonwealth Games) for the top time in the world last year at 23.96. Campbell once again has the top time in the world for 2015 at 24.03. Based off her recent results and experiences, I think we will see Cate Campbell at the top of the podium in Kazan.

Francesca Halsall won gold at the Commonwealth Games last summer and also swam 23.96, so she should put up a good race for Campbell. She is ranked fifth in the world this year.

Ranomi Kromowidjojo is the 2012 Olympic gold medallist in the event and the defending world champion. She also took gold at the Short Course worlds in December, and certainly isn’t going to let her world championship title slip away without a fight.

Sarah Sjostrom, more well known for her prowess in the sprint butterfly events, is also exceptional in the freestyle events. She also broke 24 seconds last year in 23.98, and will look to do so once again in Kazan.

Cate’s sister Bronte Campbell has come onto the scene as one of the top 50 freestylers in the world as well, including a bronze at the Commonwealth Games and silver at the Pan Pacs last year.

Arianna Vanderpool-Wallace of the Bahamas has slowly been making her way onto the international scene for a number of years. She seems to have taken off the last few years, posting very quick times in the 50 free the last two years (ranked sixth last year, third this year). She should be a good bet for a final, and certainly has medal potential.

Jeanette Ottesen has proven to be a force in both the sprint butterfly and freestyle, and has posted a fast time this year and will be in the hunt in this event. Femke Heemskerk has had an incredible season, posting top times in the 50, 100 and 200 freestyles.

Although the 50 may be a little short for Femke Heemskerk, she is still ranked 8th in the world in the event this year and should be able to be faster this summer.

Simone Manuel of the United States is my darkhorse pick. She broke out and established herself making the final at the 2013 worlds, and then won the US nationals in 2014 in a personal best 24.56. The times put up this year have been incredibly fast, and Manuel will most likely need a lifetime best performance to get her into the final 8. (She also proved herself with a big performance anchoring the tie break mixed medley relay at the 2013 duel in the pool, bringing the US victory). Others to watch for in this event include Aliaksandra Herasimenia of Belarus, Etiene Medeiros of Brazil, and Chantal van Landeghem of Canada.


  1. Cate Campbell, AUS                              23.83
  2. Francesca Halsall, GBR                        23.91
  3. Ranomi Kromowidjojo, NED              23.94
  4. Sarah Sjostrom, SWE                            23.99
  5. Bronte Campbell, AUS                          24.07
  6. Ariana Vanderpool-Wallace, BAH     24.17
  7. Jeanette Ottesen, DEN                         24.28
  8. Femke Heemskerk, NED                     24.32

Darkhorse: Simone Manuel, USA            24.47


Day 1, Sun August 2nd (Day 9)

  • M 400 Free
  • M 400 Free
  • W 4×100 Free Relay
  • M 4×100 Free Relay

Day 2, Mon August 3rd (Day 10)

  • M 100 Breast
  • W 100 Fly
  • M 50 Fly
  • W 200 IM

Day 3, Tue August 4th (Day 11)

  • M 200 Free
  • W 100 Back
  • W 1500 Free
  • M 100 Back
  • W 100 Breast

Day 4, Wed August 5th (Day 12)

Day 5, Thur August 6th (Day 13)

  • M 200 IM
  • M 100 Free
  • W 200 Fly
  • W 50 Back
  • W 4×200 Free Relay

Day 6, Fri August 7th (Day 14)

Day 7, Sat August 8th (Day 15)

  • W 50 Fly
  • M 50 Free
  • W 200 Back
  • M 100 Fly
  • W 800 Free
  • MIXED 4×100 Free Relay

Day 8, Sun August 9th (Day 16)

  • M 50 Back
  • W 50 Breast
  • M 400 IM
  • W 50 Free
  • M 1500 Free
  • W 400 IM
  • M 4×100 Medley Relay
  • W 4×100 Medley Relay

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8 years ago

Vanderpool-Wallace.. Go bolles!!

8 years ago

1. Cate Campbell (finally)
2. Ranomi Kromowidjojo
3. Bronte Campbell

Sadly, as a Brit, I fear Halsall just isn’t in quite the same shape as she was in 2014. She suffered a big setback with a shoulder injury this winter and I just don’t think she will catch up the big chunk of time she missed.

8 years ago

Campbell sisters, Halsall, Sjostroem and Kromowidjojo look like they will contest the medals. Don’t discount Vanderpool-Wallace, Ottessen and Manuel. Predictions for this one are so tough as a 50m event and you could suggest the results are determined by Cate Campbell’s start, and whether Sjostroem shows up. I hope Halsall takes gold – she is a deserved World Champion and should’ve been by now. I think all 3 medalists may also go Sub 24… Steffen’s WR on the line?

1. C. Campbell
2. F. Halsall
3. S. Sjostroem
4. R. Kromowidjojo
5. B. Campbell
6. A. Vanderpool-Wallace
7. J. Ottesen
8. S. Manuel

Aussie Coach
8 years ago

Bronte Campbell really is a darkhorse here.

Any of the top 5 predictions listed can win this, and I’d out money on Bronte being on the podium.

8 years ago

With a better star, Cate would be almost unbeatable. But I think that if Bronte, Sjostrom, Halsall or even Ranomi realizes a “Ruta-esque” start, she will be beaten… 5 competitors in the mix, that’s a lot for a race which is often unpredictable.

Reply to  Aigues
8 years ago

Start* of course

Reply to  Aigues
8 years ago

Cate might be a little bit slow off the blocks sometimes, but she’s very good underwater. Certainly has a better start than Sjostrom.

M Palota
8 years ago

I’m going to go out on a bit of limb here and pick Bronte to beat Cate. I thinks she’s really coming into her own and I think she’s got more 50 speed than her sister.

Halsall is always tough and I think she’s on the podium, too.

Bronte: 23.8-ish
Cate: 23.8-ish
Fran: 23.9-ish

8 years ago

Whilst Kromowidjojo cannot be discounted in either this race or the 100; it hasn’t been clearly evident that she’s returned all the way back to her former levels. She’s been good but a rung or two below the current pacesetters.

I see it being between C1 & Sjostrom. On last year’s form Halsall would be there with them but I’m not sure she’s back to that level … but she cannot be overlooked. C2 is maybe just off the gold medal pace but if one of the three previously mentioned is “off” then she may pick up a medal.

Victor P
8 years ago

C. Campbell – 23.81
Sjostrom – 23.88
B. Campbell – 23.96

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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