World Record Holders Pan & Meilutyte Miss Semi-Finals on Day 2 of Worlds

Braden Keith
by Braden Keith 22

February 12th, 2024 News


The preliminary rounds of racing at the 2024 World Aquatics Championships were hit by some substantial misfires.

In spite of thin fields that should allow top names to cruise into semi-finals, a defending World Champion and the newest World Record holder both were unable to do so.

In the women’s 100 breaststroke, Lithuanian Ruta Meilutyte finished 17th in 1:07.79. According to’s database, Meilutyte has been faster than that swim no fewer than 69 times in her career, including in finals of two World Cup stops last year and at various mid-season meets.

The timing of this meet is a bit odd for her, as she rarely races in February (she hasn’t swum a February 100 breaststroke since 2010, when she was 12 years old), but she is the defending World Champion in both the 50 meter breaststroke and 100 meter breaststroke and the former World Record holder in this 100.

She’s not the only World Record holder to have missed out on a second swim on Monday. The other, and perhaps more shocking, is China’s Pan Zhanle, who finished a stunning 38th place in the men’s 200 free preliminaries in 1:51.03.

Pan’s swim is even more surprising given that roughly 14 hours earlier, he broke the World Record in the 100 freestyle, swimming 46.80.

While not all 100 freestylers can swim good 200 freestyles, Pan had been part of a new generation that can, along with the swimmer whose record he broke David Popovici.

Pan has a best time of 1:44.65 in the 200 free, done at last year’s Chinese National Championships, and he was the silver medalist at the Asian Games.

But Pan has been slowly coming down in his event specialization. Early in his career, he was a distance swimmer – he swam 15:33.48 in the 1500 free in long course when he was only 14, and 7:59.15 in the 800 free last May.

At this meet, he entered the 50 free, so maybe we’ll see the evolution of this shifted focus later in the meet. Still, adding six-and-a-half seconds in 10 months, even with a shift in training focus, at a meet where Pan is clearly performing close to a peak, is a surprising result.

Other Notable Non-Qualifiers on Monday Morning:

  • As Australia continues to look for solutions, Plan A’s, and Plan B’s to the breaststroke leg of its women’s medley relay, Abbey Harkin finished 25th in the 100 breast prelims in 1:09.01. Amid injuries, Harkin swam both the prelims and finals legs of Australia’s medley relay at last year’s World Championships, ceding more than two seconds to Lilly King of the victorious Americans in a race that the US won by 1.3 seconds. Harkin joined the injured list when she underwent knee surgery late last year, so this swim is probably more of a check-in for her.
  • 19-year-old Ksawery Masiuk of Poland finished 17th in the men’s 100 backstroke in 54.33, missing a swim in the semi-finals by a tenth. The 2022 World Junior Champion in the event and was 6th at Worlds last year. He’s on the front edge of a badly-needed new generation of backstrokers rising through the ranks, and while the 100 back isn’t expected to be one of the banner races at the Olympics, the field at these World Championships is, at least, pretty deep, with 11 guys going under 54 seconds. Britain’s Luke Greenbank also missed out, swimming 54.93 for 23rd place.

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Michael Mooney
16 days ago

I want to see their blood/drug tests! In a world of fakeness.

16 days ago

Miscalculating the required time to move on is as old as swim meets with prelims/finals. Every big meet has a few missed targets. As far as I know, virtually every swimmer seeded in the top five or so will do some balancing of energy consumption. We can all read results — most swimmers have a faster time in semis than prelims; and in finals over semis. They didn’t all suddenly get faster. Coaches check with some swimmers about their thoughts/plans. Eight-seed swimmers may be reminded they cannot play with the cut line. Top seed swimmers might be reminded they don’t have to win the prelims. Particularly when a key relay or later finals is coming up.

Sometimes a B-Final winner… Read more »

16 days ago

I heard Pan had a low fever so that’s probably why

Reply to  Nathan
16 days ago

I mean he broke a world record so there’s probably more to it than just that

17 days ago

Breaking a world record comes with a lot of excitement and attention. Something most youth may not be used to. Could it be that he caved under pressure? Or perhaps he’s saving his energy for the 50/100 freestyle events.

This is why I don’t think he’s the favorite to win this year’s olympics.

Sun Yangs Hammer
17 days ago

He finally woke up to the fact distance is cringe and sprint is based

17 days ago

He was going hard in the Kelce Suite

17 days ago

Bro found his speed limit…

17 days ago

I don’t think Pan’s swim/nap was more shocking than Ruta not advancing. I’m definitely more surprised by her swim.

About Braden Keith

Braden Keith

Braden Keith is the Editor-in-Chief and a co-founder/co-owner of He first got his feet wet by building The Swimmers' Circle beginning in January 2010, and now comes to SwimSwam to use that experience and help build a new leader in the sport of swimming. Aside from his life on the InterWet, …

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