World Championships Preview: Men’s 100 Butterfly

2013 World Championships 100 Butterfly Race Video courtesy of Universal Sports Network, a SwimSwam partner.

At the 2013 World Championships in Barcelona, the men’s 100 butterfly was one of the most tightly-contested races of the meet with only 59-hundredths of a second separating first from eighth and only two-tenths of a second separating second from eighth. A similarly competitive race can be expected in Kazan as there is only 37 one-hundredths of a second separating the world’s top ranked time and eighth ranked time so far in 2015.

The man who won the gold in 2013 was South African Chad le Clos, who currently sits fifth in the world rankings with a time of 51.66. In Barcelona at those 2013 World Championships, le Clos posted a new national record and lifetime best of 51.06 to win the first 100 fly to begin the original “post-Phelps” era.

Since the 2012 Olympics, where he took home the silver medal, le Clos has stood atop the podium at every major international competition he has participated in, which includes the 2013 World Championships and the 2014 Commonwealth Games.

There is no reason to think that le Clos will not come home with the 100 butterfly gold, based on that recent history. The one factor that could get in the way of gold for the South African is the number of events he chooses to swim in Kazan. The 100 fly comes toward the end of the meet, on day 7 of 8, and so if le Clos holds on to his 5 individual event schedule (something he’s struggled to successfully complete), that’s the opening for his competition.

At the 2013 World Championships, Konrad Czerniak from Poland finished two spots behind le Clos and collected the bronze. Czerniak currently holds the top ranked time in the world in 2015, having posted a 51.37 at the Spanish Championships in March. His lifetime best is a 51.15 which he recorded at the 2011 World Championships where he finished second to the aforementioned absentee Michael Phelps.

By winning the 100 butterfly at European Championships last summer Czerniak has shown once again shown the ability to be among the leaders at the top international competitions.

American Tom Shields season’s best is 52.12, which currently ranks 19th in the world. Last year though, Shields ended the long course season tied with Chad le Clos with the world’s second fastest time of 51.29, and was the U.S. National Champion. With the advantage of no double taper in 2015, this will be the year for Shields to break-through and prove that he’s an Olympic medal contender even with the return of Phelps next season.

Shields has not had a lot of international success in the long course arena, but has in the short course realm. That includes the 2012 Short Course World Championships where he took home a silver in the 100 butterfly and a bronze in the 50 butterfly, and the 2014 Short Course World Championships he earned a silver in the 100 butterfly finishing behind just le Clos.

Pavel Sankovich of Belarus finished just over half-a-second behind Czerniak last summer in Berlin to win the bronze. This was the first time that Sankovich has reached the podium at a major international competition. At the European Championships, the former NCAA star posted a lifetime best of 51.83.

This season Sankovich has once again improved his best posting a 51.57 at the Belarus Open, a time that currently has him ranked third in the world.

Yauhen Tsurkin of Belarus finished ahead of Sankovich at the Belarus Open posting a lifetime best of 51.44. His time ranks second in the world, and both swimmers were under the old Belarusian National Record.

Tsurkin also finished seventh in the event at the 2013 World Championships in Barcelona while last summer in Berlin he took gold in the men’s 50 butterfly, but did not qualify for the final in the 100 butterfly.

The top-ranked American of 2015 won’t actually compete in the event in Kazan. Jack Conger ranks 4th in the world this year, but didn’t qualify for the U.S. World Champs team last summer. Instead, he’ll go to Gwangju, South Korea to swim in the World University Games this coming weekend.

The American representation is far from thin, though, even without Conger and last year’s world leader Michael Phelps, who was suspended from the team in the fall for a well-publicized DUI. 2014 National Champ Tom Shields is the top entrant – he was tied for the second-best time in the world last year at 51.29. That equaled le Clos’ best swim and was just a tenth behind Phelps. Newly-professional Tim Phillips moves up to take Phelps’ roster spot, and Phillips finished last year with the 5th-best time in the world at 51.49. The Americans still have a shot at two medals, even without Phelps and Conger, after an unbelievable year that saw a brutal 100 fly field at the U.S. National Championships and Pan Pac Championships just to earn these spots.

Australian Jayden Hadler is tied with le Clos for fifth in the world rankings with a season’s best of 51.66. Last summer Hadler finished fourth at the Commonwealth Games and second in the B final of the Pan Pacific Championships. Like Conger Hadler has improved a great deal in the past year coming into the season with a lifetime best of 52.33.

Pawel Korzeniowski of Poland has experienced more success in the 200 butterfly, but should challenge for a place in the top eight in Kazan. In Barcelona at the 2013 World Championships he finished second in the 200 butterfly, but failed to qualify for the final in the 100 butterfly.

At the 2014 European Championships Korzeniowski finished sixth, five places after teammate Konrad Czerniak.

Korzeniowski’s greatest international success in the 100 butterfly came at the 2013 Universiade where he took the event in a time of 51.75, finishing five one-hundredths of a second ahead of Yauhen Tsurkin. His season’s best time of 51.71 is also a lifetime best and places him seventh in the world rankings.

Last summer Frenchman Mehdy Metella suffered disappointing loss in a swim-off against Hungarian Laszlo Cseh to determine the final spot in the final at the European Championships. Metella has a season’s best of 51.74 which currently ranks eighth in the world. He came into the season with a lifetime best of 51.96 his season’s best of 51.74.

Metella, unlike many of those ranked in the top eight in the world does not have much experience on the international stage.

Cseh currently ranks 14th in the world with a season’s best of 51.97. At the 2013 World Championships he the came away with the silver, the same colour of medal which he collected at last year’s European Championships.

Cseh has a lifetime best of 51.45. The Hungarian is a veteran who has had incredible international success and can never be counted out.

Takuro Fuji ranks ninth in the world with a lifetime best time of 51.77. Fuji was the highest ranking Japanese swimmer at the 2013 World Championships finishing. Despite having a best time of 51.84 at the 2014 Pan Pacific Championships Fuji placed 10th in the prelims posting a time of 53.00.

Look for Fuji to bounce back from that disappointment with a much better effort in Kazan.

Russian Vyacheslav Prudnikov ranked seventh in the world last year recording a time of 51.60. So far this year the fastest time that Prudnikov has put up is a 51.94.

Prudnikov had an extremely poor performance in the prelims of the 2014 European Championships posting a time of 52.99. His motivation should be extremely high to swim well this summer with the World Championships in his home country.

20-year old Joseph Schooling from Singapore had a breakout summer in 2014 taking silver at the Commonwealth Games and gold in the 100 butterfly at the Asian Games.

Schooling finished 2014 with a season’s best of 51.76. Being one of the youngest swimmers in the field he has the potential to make another significant drop in his time and challenge for a medal.


  1. Chad le Clos, RSA                    51.06
  2. Konrad Czerniak, POL            51.15
  3. Joseph Schooling                     51.76
  4. Tom Shields, USA                    51.29
  5. Laszlo Cseh, HUN                    51.45
  6. Pavel Sankovich, BEL             51.57
  7. Tim Phillips, USA                    51.49
  8. Yauhen Tsurkin, BEL             51.44

Dark Horse:

Li Zhuhao, China

Zhuhao broke the Junior World Record at last year’s Asian Games where he swam a 51.91 to earn a silver medal. By the time Rio or Budapest in 2017 roll around, he might be a favorite, but for now, he’ll have to fight nerves and inexperience against a monstrously-competitive field if he wants to make the A-final.



Day 1, Sun August 2nd (Day 9)

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)

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

Wow. You are right about Le Clos and Schooling being 1st and 3rd. =)
Will we see a sub 50 in Rio?

Victor P
8 years ago

Le Clos – 50.86
Czerniak – 51.05
Shields – 51.22

The beach
8 years ago

The U.S. Should have a dual meet at the end of August between our world championship team and those not on it but should be. What an absolutely terrible decision to pick the team last year and leave Phelps off the team.

Reply to  The beach
8 years ago

Phelps proposed to be off worlds. So what is us swimming blame? Or Phelps should back off on his word and proposal?

Lane Four
8 years ago

I have noticed a trend here on SwimSwam. You say what everyone wants to hear and you are rewarded with lots of positive thumbs up. You state a opinion which is obviously in so many other’s minds but no one else will express, and you are given quite a few thumbs down. Since I have now been on both sides (yes, with my violin, Gina), I realize how fickle the comments section is. It is nice being “popular” but it is also freeing to not care one way or the other.

Reply to  Lane Four
8 years ago

Saying that Le Clos is going to win the 100 fly, normally attracts heaps of abuse from the Phelpamanics, despite all of the evidence that points to the contrary. Not only do people give you downvotes, they start moaning about how ugly his stroke is and how he has been trash talking(not true) and how they would love to see him get beaten. For once the comment section is pretty balanced and evidence based. Long may it continue.

Reply to  Lane Four
8 years ago

Not even worth complaining about, but it is true that the comment section is fickle. I suppose the only solution is to continue voicing your opinions and stop thinking of arrows as rewards/punishments.

Reply to  sven
8 years ago

BTW, I wasn’t sure what the meta-rules are for rating a post about rating, so I decided to let Lady Luck decide. The coin says tails. Nothing personal, I am but an instrument through which She makes Her will known.

8 years ago

This is race isn’t that interesting considering the GOAT won’t be here when he should . Predict that Le Clos wins easily with a sub 51 performance with Schooling getting a minor medal with a low 51 performance , probably 51.2

Reply to  Crannman
8 years ago

Agreed Cranman, Le Clos going sub 51 is a solid choice. Schooling going 51 low is also a solid prediction, but minor medals are going to be very tight. Tom Shields should get his hands on one of them.

8 years ago

My pick: Tom Shields

Reply to  calswimfan
8 years ago

I definitely think Shields has as good a chance to medal as Schooling. And Czerniak has certainly been inconsistent!

Lane Four
8 years ago

With Michael not swimming, I really don’t care. This is one race that has lost all of its luster.

Gina Rhinestone
Reply to  Lane Four
8 years ago

Lane Four should be kept empty & a tiny violin left on the blocks .

Lane Four
Reply to  Gina Rhinestone
8 years ago

Which song would be played? Your choice, Gina. 🙂

Gina Rhinestone
Reply to  Lane Four
8 years ago

Message to Michael .

Reply to  Gina Rhinestone
8 years ago

First time I’ve ever laughed at a comment from you… In a good way at least

Reply to  Lane Four
8 years ago

This is like saying I don’t like watching basketball unless Michael Jordan is playing. Which makes you really just a bandwagon swimming fan.

samuel huntington
8 years ago

I give le clos the edge for gold, after that I have no idea

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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