Swimming

2022 World Championships: Day 7 Finals Preview

2022 FINA WORLD AQUATICS CHAMPIONSHIPS

It’s time for Day 7 of the 2022 FINA World Championships in Budapest. In this session, there will be the finals of the women’s 50 butterfly, men’s 50 freestyle, men’s 100 butterfly, women’s 200 backstroke, mixed 4×100 freestyle relay, and the women’s 800 freestyle.

The session will also include the semi-final heats of the women’s 50 free, men’s 50 back, and women’s 50 breast.

Day 7 Finals Heat Sheets

Day 7 Finals Full Schedule:

Women’s 50m Butterfly Final
Men’s 50m Freestyle Final
Women’s 50m Freestyle Semifinals
Women’s 50m Breaststroke Semifinals
Men’s 100m Butterfly Final
 Women’s 200m Backstroke Final
Men’s 50m Backstroke Semifinals
Women’s 800m Freestyle Final
Mixed 4x100m Freestyle Final

Women’s 50 Butterfly

Sarah Sjostrom courtesy of Fabio Cetti

There is a battle brewing between Swish world record holder Sarah Sjostrom and American Torri Huske after the pair took the top 2 seeds out of the semi-finals. Sjostrom is the defending World Champion in this event, and has won this event at every edition of the World Championships since 2015. Huske, meanwhile, has been having a great meet so far that has included 4 medals, two of which have been gold. In the semi-finals, Huske broke the 50 butterfly American record after changing her technique and appears to be gaining the confidence necessary to race one of the most dominant swimmers in history.

Not to be overlooked, Frenchwoman Melanie Henique qualified 3rd for finals and owns a lifetime best of 25.17, which easily ranks as the second-fastest in the field behind Sjostrom.

Men’s 50 Freestyle

Great Britain’s Ben Proud posted the top time in the semi-finals by a wide margin, setting himself up as the gold medal favorite following the withdrawal of Caeleb Dressel. Proud did not medal in this race in 2019 after grabbing bronze in 2017, meaning that any podium finish, nevermind a gold, would be a big improvement for him.

Behind Proud, the field is much tighter. France’s Maxime Grousset qualified in a tie for 8th for the final, but swam a new personal best of 21.59 to best Bruno Fratus in the swim-off for the final qualifying spot. His time would’ve ranked 2nd had he swam it in the semi-finals. Italian Lorenzo Zazzeri posted a best time in the semis of 21.70 to take that second qualifying spot behind Proud. Meanwhile, American Michael Andrew, who ranks as the 3rd fastest swimmer in the world this season comes in ranked 5th.

Men’s 100 Butterfly

Another event that will be affected by Dressel’s absence, the 100 butterfly is shaping up to be a battle between Hungarian Kristof Milak and Dressel’s world record. Milak, who finished 2nd in this event to Dressel at last summer’s Olympic Games, currently ranks as the second-fastest performer in history with his time of 49.68 from the Olympics. In front of a home crowd, Milak has already broken the world record in the 200 butterfly here, and will certainly be adding more hardware to his collection.

It should be a dogfight to determine the rest of the podium. Naoki Mizunuma qualified second for the final in a time of 50.81, setting a new Japanese National record in the process. Noe Ponti is the reigning Olympic bronze medalist and owns a lifetime best of 50.74 from the Olympic Games. Canadian Josh Liendo and American Michael Andrew also look to be in the mix while taking on tough doubles with the 50 freestyle finals shortly before this. They will have about 35 minutes between the 100 fly final and this race.

Women’s 200 Backstroke

Australian Olympic Champion Kaylee McKeown has her work cut out for her if she wants to defend her title after a strong semi-finals performance by American Phoebe Bacon. The pair raced side-by-side in the second semi-final, with Bacon edging McKeown with a time of 2:05.93 to McKeown’s 2:06.41. Bacon has been having a strong meet so far through the first two rounds of the event, but McKeown is one of the fastest swimmers of all-time in this race, setting up for a great battle.

Bacon’s American teammate Rhyan White leads a slew of fellow qualifiers who could also contend for the podium, including Kylie Masse, Margherita Panziera, and Peng Xuwei.

Women’s 800 Freestyle

Katie Ledecky

19th FINA World Swimming Championship, Budapest, 2022
courtesy of Fabio Cetti

This race is all Katie Ledecky. In her signature event, Ledecky should post a dominant performance, and her main opponent should be the clock. This year, Ledecky has already been 8:09.27, which stands as the fastest time in the world by 8 seconds. If she can match, or better that time here, Ledecky will be within range of her own Championship Record 8:07.39.

Ledecky has a chance to become the first swimmer to win the same event five straight times at the World Championships, and would win the distance treble (400, 800 and 1500 free) for the fourth time if she manages to claim victory.

The battle for second should be much more interesting, especially after Lani Pallister, the 2nd seed out of prelims, pulled out of this race due to COVID-19 protocols. Fellow American Leah Smith, therefore, moves up into the second seed and could provide a strong 1-2 punch with Ledecky. China’s Li Bingjie also appears to be in contention after posting a time of 8:17.39 earlier this season, which ranks her 2nd in the world this season behind Ledecky.

Mixed 4×100 Freestyle Relay

The Americans qualified first for the final with their time of 3:24.48 in the prelims of the race. That team consisted of Ryan Held, Drew Kibler, Erika Brown, and Kate Douglass. Expect Held to be joined by Brooks Curry, Torri Huske, and Claire Curzan in the final, which should be a strong relay. The Americans’ biggest challengers will be Canada and Australia, who qualified 2nd and 3rd out of prelims.

It should be a dogfight for the podium between those three teams, but Italy and Great Britain may also push the field with their depth in the freestyle events.

SEMIFINAL QUICK HITS

In a loaded women’s 50 breaststroke semi-final there are multiple potential gold medal contenders competing including Lara Van Niekerk, Benedetta Pilato, Lilly King, and Anna Elendt. With such a tight field, expect some big names to miss out on making the final.
Newly-minted world record holder and 100 backstroke bronze medalist Hunter Armstrong will contest the semi-finals of the 50 backstroke alongside American teammate Justin Ress. Armstrong qualified 4th for the semis during prelims, while Ress nearly matched his personal best to take the top seed in a time of 24.24.
Swedish superstar Sarah Sjostrom leads the women’s 50 freestyle with her time of 24.40. She’ll be challenged by several big names including Kasia Wasick, Meg Harris, Torri Huske, Erika Brown, Zhang Yufei, and Anna Hopkin. Sjostrom, Huske, Zhang and Marie Wattel will have somewhere in the 15-20 minute range between their 50 free final and the 50 fly semis.

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