World Championships Preview: Men’s 50 Breaststroke


  • Day 4, Wed August 5th
  • 2013 World Champion: Cameron van der Burgh, RSA – 26.77 (SEE RACE VIDEO ABOVE)
  • 2013 Silver Medalist: Christian Sprenger, AUS – 26.78
  • 2013 Bronze Medalist: Guilo Zorzi, RSA – 27.04

2014-2015 LCM Men 50 Breast

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Going into Kazan, the World Record holder, and hot-as-can-be Brit, Adam Peaty is the top seed and favorite in the men’s 50 breaststroke. He’s the defending European Champion, holds the top spot in the World Rankings in both the 50 and 100 breaststrokes, and at just 20 years old, shouldn’t slow down any time soon.

As he has in every event, Peaty has made some outstanding improvements in the 50 breaststroke over the last few years. In 2013 he had a lifetime best of 27.61 by the end of 2014 he had set a world record posting a time of 26.62 in the semi-final in Berlin.

Petty, while on paper a favorite, has a few challenges in front of him. The first that he has put an increased focus on the 200 breaststroke this season. This hasn’t yet affected his performance in the sprint event, but it is not often that an athlete can be at their best in both the 50 and the 200 breaststroke at the same time.

The other challenge is a lack of experience. Just as his age can work in his favor, it can work against him. This meet will be his first long course World Championships, though he did pretty well en route to silver at last year’s Short Course World Championships – not quite as high-pressure of a meet, but still a global stage.

Over the past year South African Cameron van der Burgh has watched Peaty break both his 50 and 100 breaststroke world records, something that has perhaps provided the 100 meter Olympic champion with a little extra motivation.

The South African won gold in this event at both the 2009 and 2013 World Championships, and at the Commonwealth Games last summer, he won gold in 50 breaststroke beating Peaty by two one-hundredths of a second.

In Kazan he will have the opportunity to challenge Peaty not only for his third World Championship gold in this event, but also to own the world record again. That motivation will make van der Burgh tough to beat.

Before suffering a shoulder injury Australian Christian Sprenger was the top ranked swimmer in this event in 2014. Even battling the injury Sprenger was still able to come away from the Commonwealth Games with a bronze in the 50 breaststroke.

The Aussie has not looked great this year, still presumably battling through the after effects of his injury, but his performance in the 50 has been much better than the 100.

The Australian has a great deal of experience having earned podium finishes at both the Olympics and World Championships.

The 100 breaststroke will be a tough race for Sprenger in Kazan, but his performances this year shows that he may have worked his way back to a point where he can contend in the shorter distance.

Brazilian Felipe Franca won the silver in this event at the 2009 World Championships and then gold at the 2011 World Championships.

He has a lifetime best of 26.76 which he posted in 2009 and a textile best of 26.87, which he recorded in 2012.

Franca finished the 2014 season with a time of 27.04 which ranked fifth in the world.

The combination of his experience and having put up strong performances this year look for Franca to be in the hunt for a medal.

Slovenian Damir Dugonjic finished eighth in this event at the 2011 World Championships. In 2013 Dugonjic posted a lifetime best time of 26.83 in the semi-finals and went on to finish fourth in the final recording a time of 27.05.

The Slovenian was able to reach the podium at the 2014 European Championships where he collected the bronze behind Peaty and Lithuanian Giedrius Titenis.

After experiencing the success he did in Berlin Dugonjic once again should make a strong push for a podium finish at a major international competition.

American Brendan McHugh has made his mark in the swimming world over the last year. McHugh won the 50 breaststroke at the 2014 US Nationals recording a time of 27.10. A time which ranked seventh in the world.

McHugh swam at Penn, not traditionally a Division I power, where he was known for his academic excellence as much as he was his swimming performances.

He was not a standout at NCAA Championships, earning just two honorable mention All-America honors after finishing 14th in both the 100 and 200 breaststroke in his final year of competition in 2012. He also did not have noteworthy performances on the national stage, finishing 10th in the 100 breaststroke and 16 in the 200 breaststroke at the 2012 Olympic Trials.

The 25-year old law student may be a late bloomer, but his recent performances suggest that he could have a chance to compete in the final in Kazan.

Brazilian Felipe Lima currently ranks eighth in the world and has a lifetime best of 27.11 which he recorded in the prelims of the 50 breaststroke at the 2013 World Championships.

Lima has not experienced as much success on the international in the 50 as he has the 100, it won’t be easy but he has the ability to finish in the top eight.

American Kevin Cordes has a season’s best of 27.54. Cordes posted his lifetime best of 27.33 at the 2014 US Nationals.

The American finished 21st in this event at the 2013 World Championships in Barcelona, and it has never been quite as strong of a race for him as his 100 and 200, where his ultra-efficient stroke and massive-frame give him an advantage.

Last summer Cordes showed that he can compete for a podium finish at a major international competition in the 100 breaststroke. At the Pan Pacific Championships Cordes qualified for the final of the 100 breaststroke with the fastest time of 59.70, but was disqualified in the evening session, which left him out of the U.S. roster in that 100. That leaves him with a little more motivation (and focus) for this 50. His big wild card is time spent training with two of the world’s best coaches (Jozsef Nagy and Sergio Lopez) this summer after leaving his collegiate training grounds in Arizona. So far, the results have been positive, but consistency is always the challenge for Cordes.

Giedrius Titenis finished 29th in this event at the 2013 World Championships posting a time of 27.93. Last summer Titenis took the silver at the European Championships recording a lifetime best of 27.34.

Titenis did win the silver in Berlin, but the time was not extremely impressive, in fact his time ranked 11th in the world in 2014.

Serbian Caba Siladji has a lifetime best of 27.09, which he recorded at the 2014 Turkish Open. Siladji then went on to finish fourth at the 2014 European Championships.


  1. Cameron van der Brugh, RSA – 26.76
  2. Adam Peaty, GBR – 26.62
  3. Felipe Franca, BRA – 26.87
  4. Damir Dugonjic, SLO – 26.83
  5. Christian Sprenger, AUS – 26.74
  6. Brendan McHugh, USA – 27.10
  7. Felipe Lima, BRA – 27.11
  8. Caba Siladji, SRB – 27.09

Dark Horse – Kevin Cordes, USA – 27.33



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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7 years ago

There are still 28 events left to predict. You could probably save time by putting men’s and women’s relays together in the same article. I understand you’re busy with your lives and stuff, but like, I want more! How long does it take to write one of these? If it’s about an hour, you could probably crank out at least 2 at a time, if its closer to 2 hours I am a bit more understanding.

7 years ago

This event is so difficult to predict simply because 1) it’s an event that isn’t swum at all meets and 2) the top 7 in the world are all within .4 seconds, with 2-7 separated by just .2!! On one hand you’ve got the young Adam Peaty and his incredible stroke rate and the brilliant success he’s had this year in the 100, and then on the other you’ve got Cameron van der Burgh and his consistency. Personally, I think Peaty’s finally overtaken van der Burgh in these shorter breastroke distances…. but it’ll be an insanely close race for sure.

7 years ago

Very bold prediction. I like it! The 100 breast is the race where Peaty is pretty much the clear favorite. Realistically I think he is the favorite in the 50 as well BUT van der Burgh has a much better chance of upsetting him because Adam has much less room for error.

7 years ago

Can’t wait for the prediction of the 200!

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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