World Championships Preview: Men’s 100 Backstroke


  • Day 3, Tue August 4th (Day 11)
  • 2013 World Champion: Matt Grevers, USA – 52.93 (SEE RACE VIDEO ABOVE)
  • 2013 Silver Medalist: David Plummer, USA – 53.12
  • 2013 Bronze Medalist: Jeremy Stravius, FRA – 53.21

2014-2015 LCM Men 100 Back

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American Matt Grevers began his stellar international career by winning the silver medal at the 2008 Olympics. Since that point he has gone on to win the Olympics in 2012 and the World Championships in 2013.

Last year, Grevers finished the summer with a disappointing result at the Pan Pacific Championships finishing second behind Ryosuke Irie of Japan. The result was especially disappointing since he posted a 53.09 which did not match his season’s best of 52.74 and was well off his lifetime best of 52.08.

He has a season’s best of 53.27.

Expect Grevers to have a better performance than he did last summer on the Gold Coast; he will challenge for the gold and once again put up a time under the 53 second mark.

Christopher Walker-Hebborn of Great Britain comes into the event with the world’s top time of 52.88. Walker-Hebborn had a breakout summer in 2014 winning the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow and following that up with a win at the European Championships in Berlin.

Walker-Hebborn’s gold medal performances were impressive, just as  his improvement over the last three years has been. He entered the 2013 season with a lifetime best of 54.26 and has brought that down to a 52.88.

So far this year the Brit has continued to show that he is one of the best in the world in this event coming into Kazan as one of only a handful of men who have put up a time under the 53 second mark in their careers.

Ryosuke Irie of Japan was another athlete who had an extremely successful 2014 season winning both the Pan Pacific Championships and the Asian Games.

He won the Asian Games in a lifetime best time of 52.34 tying Jiayu Xu of China with the world’s fastest time in 2014.

Irie has experienced success on the world stage in the past earning the bronze in this event at both the 2012 Olympics and the 2011 World Championships.

After beating Grevers at the Pan Pacific Championships Irie will be coming into Kazan with a lot of confidence. He now knows that he cannot only reach the podium, but that he has the ability to perform at a level that may earn him the gold.

Over the past three years Australian Mitch Larkin has gone from a lifetime best of 55.11 to a 53.10, which he posted earlier this year.

Last summer Larkin finished second to Walker-Hebborn at the Commonwealth Games and went on to place fourth at the Pan Pacific Championships.

The 22 year old has had more success in the 200 backstroke, but continues to improve his performance in the 100 meter distance to a point where he will be contending for a medal in Kazan.

Jeremy Stravius of France shared the 2011 World Championship gold in this event with teammate Camille Lacourt. Since that time Stravius has won the bronze at the 2013 World Championships and the silver at the 2014 European Championships.

Stravius has a lifetime best time of 52.76 which he recorded in Shanghai, but his fastest time after that point is a 53.09.

Of course the Frenchman will have a chance at a medal in Kazan, but he will have to put up a lifetime best to do so.

The man who shared the 2011 World Championship title with Stravius comes into the event with a season’s best of 53.60 in the 100 and a 24.56 in the 50.

In 2014, Lacourt suffered an unusual hip injury that prevented him from competing after the French National Championships in April. In October it was discovered that he had a benign tumour on his hip which he was treated for at that time.

Although it looks like Lacourt is healthy, his time away from the pool may have an effect on his performance in Kazan.

American David Plummer first represented his country on the international stage in 2010 when he finished fifth at the Pan Pacific Championships. He then went on to finish in the same spot at the 2011 World Championships.

Plummer truly made his mark in 2013 when he won the silver at the World Championships. He has a lifetime best of 52.98 and a season’s best of 53.90.

Plummer will have the confidence he gained from his performance in 2013 and desire for redemption after missing out on the chance to compete at the Pan Pacific Championships.

Over the last two years Jiayu Xu of China has improved his lifetime best in this event by almost a full two seconds going from a 54.24 to a 52.34.

Xu posted his lifetime best at the Chinese National Championships and went on to finish second to Irie at the Asian Games. He has a season’s best time of 53.47.

Xu does not have much international experience besides the Asian Games, something that may hurt him in this event. If he can perform as he did at the 2014 Chinese National Championships he will be in the hunt for a medal.

18 year old Russian Evgeny Rylov got his first taste of international success last summer when he won the 50 backstroke and tied for the Simone Sabboni for the gold in the 100 backstroke at the Youth Olympic Games.

Rylov has taken another big step forward since that point, recording a lifetime and season’s best time of 53.17. His improvement over the last two years has been phenomenal improving by over five seconds in the event.

If he can continue to improve at the rate he has been, Rylov will have not only a shot at being in the top eight, but possible a podium finish.

Brazilian Guilherme Guido has already shown this summer that he is primed to perform well in Kazan. At the Pan Am Games Guido took the silver in the men’s 100 backstroke and set a new games record of 53.12 leading off the Brazilian 4 x 100 medley relay.

Last summer Guido finished eighth at the Pan Pacific Championships.

If Guido was not fully rested at the Pan Am Games in Toronto, he will have a shot at the top eight in Kazan.


  1. Ryosuke Irie, JPN – 51.93
  2. Matt Grevers, USA – 52.10
  3. Jiayu Xu, CHN – 52.22
  4. Evgeny Rylov, RUS – 52.64
  5. Chris Walker-Hebborn, GBR – 52.63
  6. Mitch Larkin, AUS – 52.75
  7. David Plummer, USA – 52.88
  8. Jeremy Stravius, FRA – 53.19

Dark Horse:

Camille Lacourt, FRA


Day 1, Sun August 2nd (Day 9)

Day 2, Mon August 3rd (Day 10)

Day 3, Tue August 4th (Day 11)

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)

  • W 100 Free
  • M 200 Back
  • W 200 Breast
  • M 200 Breast
  • M 4×200 Free Relay

Day 7, Sat August 8th (Day 15)

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

It’s a strong field. This may be Grever’s last shot at a major international gold medal, as I believe he will be past his prime provided he even makes the Rio team next year. Prediction: 1. Grevers 2. Walker-Hebborn 3. Irie

8 years ago

I am getting so bloody excited now!!! Fina starting with a week of diving just teases us swim fans too much…

Some of these times are ridiculous, from fans and Swimswam – I don’t see Grevers swimming as he was in 2012, I do think he’ll nip in and take good though.

1. Grevers – 52.7
2. Irie – 52.9
3. Xu – 52.9
4. Walker-Hebborn – 53.0
5. Larkin – 53.1

I am usually a little on the conservative side though.

8 years ago

My bet:
Gold/Silver: Irie/Grevers
Bronze: CWH/Xu/Rylov
I think CWH and especially Xu/Rylov are completely unpredictable. Noone knows if the two young guys Xu and Rylov can repeat their times or even improve, CWH seems to be the safest bet for the bronze medal. I dont think that one of those 3 will be able to fight for Gold or Silver.

8 years ago

I’m interested to see how Vyatchanin responds to the times from Worlds. In 2013 when he didn’t get to go, he posted a 53.06, which would have been good for silver and within less than two-tenths of the winning time from Grevers, and he was swimming outdoors with the sun in his eyes.

That’s the only disadvantage I see him having this year as well (seriously though, whose brilliant idea was it at US Swimming to hold Summer Nationals OUTDOORS in San Antonio in 100 degree heat??), but I expect that he will post times in the 100 and 200 back that would challenge the podium again this year.

I have a strong feeling that the Japanese team will… Read more »

8 years ago

I believe Aussie Mitch Larkin can upset Irie and Hebborn. This kid has been a steady improver over his shortish career to date.

Do I have to type my username and email everytime I comment on a separate site?

8 years ago

OK, I don,t know if Aaron peirsol is the greatest backstroker of all time but do you realize that both his 100 and 200 backstrokes were done with a techsuit.
I don,t see anyone breaking that record either in Kazan or rio.
I agree, the predictions are outlandish. A sub 53 time in the men,s 100 backstroke is still rare and yet the predictions have almost the whole 8 finalists going sub 53.

Reply to  carlo
8 years ago

Yes, he wore a tech suit but only legs. He didn’t wear the full body suit.

8 years ago

i hope ryan murphy swims the 100 back in medley relay prelims and beats everybody’s time.

ole 99
8 years ago

I’m going with Jiayu Xu for the win and I’ll risk backlash by predicting the US fails to medal.

About Jeff Grace

Jeff Grace

Jeff is a 500 hour registered yoga teacher who holds diplomas in Coaching (Douglas College) and High Performance Coaching (National Coaching Institute - Calgary). He has a background of over 20 years in the coaching profession, where he has used a unique and proven teaching methodology to help many achieve their …

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