By James Sutherland on SwimSwam
After the action-packed year that was 2022, we’re gearing up for another exciting year over here at SwimSwam, and part of that is releasing our third annual Top 100 list—check out last year’s rankings here.
We’ve taken a more statistically-driven approach this year, while also taking into account things such as potential, World Championship medal opportunities, injuries, and versatility. Long course is weighted significantly more than short course, though performance potential in both formats is taken into account.
We’ll be breaking down the top 100 into multiple installments, so keep an eye out as they’re released.
These lists are, by nature, subjective. If you disagree, leave your thoughts/ranks in the comments.
#100 – #76
#75 – #51
#50 – #41
#40 – #31
#30 – #21
#20 – #11
#10 – #1
#100: Mack Horton, Australia – Horton proved he can still be among the best 400 freestylers in the world in 2022, out-dueling Sam Short for the second spot in the event at the World Championships by clocking 3:44.06 to place second to eventual world champion Elijah Winnington at the Aussie Trials. That performance ranked Horton sixth in the world for the year, but he missed the final in Budapest and was well back of both Winnington and Short at the Commonwealth Games to earn bronze (3:46.49). Moving forward, 22-year-old Winnington and 18-year-old Short will more than likely be ahead of Horton and represent Australia in the 400 free, meaning the 26-year-old may be resigned to 800 free relay duties internationally.
#99: Luke Hobson, USA – Hobson had a breakout freshman year at the University of Texas in 2021-22, chopping four seconds off of Michael Phelps‘ 17-18 National Age Group Record in the 500-yard freestyle over the course of the season. After falling just shy of making the U.S. World Championship roster, Hobson had a very impressive summer that included a win over Kieran Smith in the 200 free at U.S. Nationals (1:46.14) and then a personal best of 1:45.59 in the event at the Duel In The Pool. The latter performance ranked the 19-year-old Hobson 13th in the world last year and less than six-tenths shy of the top American, Drew Kibler. Hobson will contend for an individual spot in the 200 free this year and surely be a player on the American 800 free relay. He’s also got the potential to move up in the pecking order nationally in the 100 free and 400 free.
#98: Rafael Miroslaw, Germany – Currently in his sophomore year at Indiana, Miroslaw broke through last year at the Swim Open – Berlin meet in April, breaking the German Record in the 100 free (47.92) and swimming a massive best time of 1:46.04 in the 200 free. The 21-year-old was one of 16 men sub-48 in the 100 free last year, the vast majority of which are sprinters and don’t have the 200 range that he does. Miroslaw may have taken a step back by missing a second swim at the World Championships in Budapest, but he projects to have a strong postseason in the NCAA with the Hoosiers and then could be a medal challenger come 2023 Worlds in Fukuoka.
#97: Marco de Tullio, Italy – With Italy being home to two of the top distance freestylers of the last eight years, Gregorio Paltrinieri and Gabriele Detti, de Tullio often gets lost a little bit in the shuffle, but he’s consistently been a top performer in the 400 free and made big strides in the 200 free last year. de Tullio swam a personal best time of 3:44.14 in the 400 free to finish fifth at the World Championships, and then clocked a 1:45.70 PB in the semi-finals at the European Championships before ultimately placing fourth (1:46.37). He can’t be counted out as a medal factor in the 400 free and in the mix for a spot in the final in the 200 free this year at Worlds.
#96: Henrik Christiansen, Norway – Christiansen had a lackluster long course year by his standards, failing to earn a top-10 finish at the World Championships and then falling well shy of his personal best times at Euros. However, the 25-year-old Norwegian showed signs that he was rounding back into top form at the Short Course World Championships in December, nearing his 2019 best times by winning silver in the 800 free (7:31.48) and bronze in the 1500 free (14:24.08) in Melbourne. It’s been some time since Christiansen swam his best times in long course, but his short course performances indicate he’s on track to get back there.
#95: Krzysztof Chmielewski, Poland – After making the 200 fly Olympic final less than two months after his 17th birthday in 2021, last year was a big one for Chmielewski, who repeated as the European Junior champion in the event and also claimed the World Junior title. The Polish native saved his best performance for the World Championships, placing ninth in the 200 fly in a personal best time of 1:55.01, one-tenth shy of a spot in the final. Chmielewski also took 11th at Worlds in the 1500 free (15:07.70), giving him a potential second event in which he could make a future impact, and if he continues to chip away at his PB in the 200 fly he’ll be a podium contender sooner rather than later.
#94: Danas Rapsys, Lithuania – Rapsys’ peak may have been interrupted by the pandemic, as he was the world’s fastest 200 freestyler (1:44.38) and fourth in the 400 free (3:43.36) in 2019, and has been unable to recreate that form since. In 2022, the Lithuanian finished 14th in the 200 free and 18th in the 400 free at Worlds, and then finished fifth in the 200 at Euros. He proved he’s still a top-tier swimmer at the Short Course World Championships, winning bronze in the 400 free (3:36.26) and posting a respectable seventh-place finish in the 200 free (1:41.74), but at 27, he seems to be slowly fading in two events where there are several swimmers five to seven years younger on the rise.
#93: Javier Acevedo, Canada – Acevedo is coming off a huge end of 2022, as the 24-year-old broke Canadian Records across four different SCM events between the FINA World Cup and the Short Course World Championships. Acevedo won silver at SC Worlds in the 100 IM (51.05), finished the year ranked top-10 in the world in all three backstrokes, and showed improved versatility with 46.1 and 1:42.2 freestyle splits on relays. Acevedo also won bronze in the LCM 50 back at the Commonwealth Games, setting a new Canadian Record of 24.97, and now appears to be a mainstay on the 400 free relay after splitting in the 47s. Acevedo is considerably better in short course than he is in long course, and without SC Worlds in 2023 and the ISL status known, the World Cup may be his lone opportunity to really show off his skills in the format this year.
#92: Finlay Knox, Canada – Knox is still just 22, but hasn’t had that big international breakout that may have seemed to be on the horizon after he won silver behind Carson Foster in the 200 IM at the 2019 World Junior Championships. Knox has been improving steadily in long course, breaking the 200 IM Canadian Record multiple times, but his fastest two swims came at the World Trials in 2022 (1:57.50) and Olympic Trials in 2021 (1:58.07), and he failed to earn a second swim at either major competition after the fact. He came through with a big showing on the international stage at Short Course Worlds, claiming bronze in the 100 IM and 200 IM, and has been adding secondary events to his repertoire recently, including clocking 51.8 in the 100 fly.
#91: Gabriel Jett, USA – Coming off a strong freshman year at Cal, Jett had a respectable showing at U.S. Trials last year, placing sixth in the 200 fly and 12th in the 200 free, but she showed in the summer, with a bit of time to prepare for a long course championship meet, he can take things to the next level. Jett fired off a winning time of 1:54.37 at Summer Nationals, ranking him seventh in the world for the year, and he also showed promise with best times in the 200 free (1:47.44), 400 free (3:52.16) and 100 fly (52.17). But the 200 fly is what lands him on the list, as he was just shy of Luca Urlando (1:54.10) and Trenton Julian (1:54.22) for the title of fastest American in 2022 and is riding a good wave of momentum.
#90: Lorenzo Mora, Italy – As a pure short course specialist, Mora’s stock suffers here despite the fact he’s coming off a very strong end of 2022. Mora reset the Italian SCM records in the men’s 100 back (49.04) and 200 back (1:48.45) at SC Worlds, winning silver in the former and bronze in the latter while adding three more relay medals—including a gold and world record in the 200 medley. The 24-year-old will be in the hunt for titles at SC Euros this year. In long course, he would need to take a big leap to be a factor of any kind.
#89: Jakub Majerski, Poland – After breaking through with a pair of sub-51 100 fly swims at the Tokyo Olympic Games, tying for fifth, Majerski stayed in the mix as one of the world’s best in the event by placing seventh at the World Championships (51.35) and then taking bronze at the European Championships (51.22). The 22-year-old is an immense talent and a return to 50-point territory would put him in the medal conversation at Worlds this year.
#88: Damien Joly, France – Despite turning 30 in June, Joly has managed to stay in the upper echelon of distance freestylers in the world, including a bit of a resurgent 2022. The Frenchman swam the second-fastest long course 1500 free of his career at the European Championships in 14:50.86, winning the bronze medal, and followed up with a very impressive silver at SC Worlds in 14:19.62, smashing the French National Record. Joly also made the final of both the 800 and 1500 free at LC Worlds in Budapest, and appears to be rejuvenated after a coaching change prior to racing in Melbourne.
#87: Sven Schwarz, Germany – Schwarz quietly made significant gains in 2022, dropping from 7:52.02 to 7:46.65 in the 800 free and 15:09.31 to 14:55.82 in the 1500 free to rank 12th and 13th in the world, respectively. The 20-year-old German also took off more than two seconds to get down to 3:47.70 in the 400 free, and got some major international experience by placing fifth in the 800 free at the European Championships. He was third on Germany’s depth chart last year in the 1500 behind Florian Wellbrock and Oliver Klemet, so he didn’t get to swim the mile at Euros, but Klemet has been inconsistent and Schwarz looks like a solid bet to join Wellbrock in the event this year.
#86: Wang Shun, China – As the reigning Olympic gold medalist in the 200 IM, Wang remains in the Top 100 despite a lackluster 2022 that saw race very infrequently. Wang, dealing with injury, placed 16th in the 200 IM and 17th in the 400 IM at the World Championships, with his semi-final time in the 200 more than six seconds slower than he went to win Olympic gold 11 months earlier. At 28, his time atop the sport may be coming to an end, though it seems he’ll push forward for one more Olympics next year, and with his level of ability, we can’t count him out.
#85: Katsuhiro Matsumoto, Japan – Matsumoto penciled himself in as one of the favorites for gold in the men’s 200 freestyle at the Olympics in 2021 when he hit 1:44.65 at the Japanese Trials in April, but he fell short in front of the home crowd in Tokyo and tied for 17th. Matsumoto then missed a second consecutive major final in the event at the 2022 World Championships, taking 12th in 1:46.63, putting the soon-to-be 26-year-old’s back against the wall as his window to be a medal contender winds down. However, he did rebound with a strong performance at Short Course Worlds, hitting times of 1:41.29 in the 200 free (ended up eighth in the final) and 3:36.87 (fourth place) in the 400 free. He also had a 1:40.66 200 free relay leg, meaning he’s still got some ability and will be one to watch at this year’s LC Worlds, where he’ll get a chance at redemption in front of his home crowd in Fukuoka.
#84: Simone Cerasuolo, Italy – Cerasuolo is a dynamic breaststroke talent, but we’re still waiting for his long course ability to catch up to what he’s been able to do in short course. The 19-year-old did have a big LC swim in the 50 breast at the European Championships, winning silver (26.85), and he also took bronze at SC Worlds in the event (25.66 in semis) and he’s now been sub-57 four times in the 100. The Italian native has yet to break 1:00 in the LC 100 breast, owning a PB of 1:00.08, which holds him back from being ranked higher.
#83: Szebasztian Szabo, Hungary – Szabo is a sprinting powerhouse capable of vying for major medals in the 50 free and fly in either short course or long course. At 26, he’s probably reached his ceiling, but he did rank seventh in the world last year in the 50 free (21.60) and 10th in the 50 fly (22.91) in long course, and won bronze at SC Worlds in the 50 fly (21.98) and placed fourth in the 50 free (20.84).
#82: Thomas Neill, Australia – Neill was a bit off at the Australian Championships in May, missing qualifying for the World Championship team. That certainly stunted his progress in 2022, but he came back with a very impressive performance at SC Worlds, winning silver in the 400 free (3:35.05), placing fifth in the 200 free (1:41.55), and also delivering a 47-flat 100 free relay lead-off (and 46.55 relay split). Neill showed a ton of promise when he placed ninth in the 200 free and split 1:44.7 on the 800 free relay at the Olympics in 2021, and we’re betting he has a re-emergence in long course this year and makes an impact in Fukuoka. The Australian depth chart is crowded in both the 100 free and 400 free, but Neill looks like the man to take over as the #1 option in the 200.
#81: Jack Cartwright, Australia – Injury has played a part in the slow progression of Cartwright, who looked to be on the fast track to podium contention in the 100 free after breaking 48 seconds at the 2017 World Championships (47.97) at the age of 18. Now 24, he’s coming off a strong 2022 World Championship campaign that included a 48.12 flat start swim and multiple 47-second relay splits. It could be crowded in the men’s 100 freestyle for Australia in the next few years, so an individual spot isn’t guaranteed at Worlds, but the high level of competition should help raise Cartwright’s level.
#80: Jacob Whittle, Great Britain – Whittle crashed down the door at the Tokyo Olympic Games when he swam a time of 48.11 in the men’s 100 freestyle while still 16, and he also produced a blistering 47.50 relay split. The British native didn’t quite match that level in 2022, though he did gain valuable international experience with a combined eight relay medals between the World Championships, Commonwealth Games and European Championships. Now 18, he’s one of the top sprinting talents in Europe and will be one to keep an eye on, especially as he continues to develop his 200 free.
#79: Yu Hanaguruma, Japan – Japan has historically been a factory for developing elite-level 200 breaststrokers, and last year it was Yu Hanaguruma who emerged and won a medal at the World Championships. The 22-year-old cracked 2:08 at the Japanese Trials in March in 2:07.99, ranking fourth in the world for the year, and he went on to tie for silver at Worlds in a time of 2:08.38. As of now, he’s the country’s top option in the event and a threat to return to the podium in Fukuoka.
#78: Joshua Edwards-Smith, Australia – The men’s 200 back has been a relatively wide-open event in recent years behind a few of the big names, and Edwards-Smith looks to be in the vicinity of becoming an individual medalist in the event as soon as this year. The 19-year-old may have missed the final at the World Championships (11th) and then taken sixth at the Commonwealth Games, but he finished 2022 off on a high note with a blistering swim of 1:55.42, making him the second-fastest Australian of all-time. That ranked Edwards-Smith fourth in the world for the year. His stock will continue to rise if he can get his 100 back under 54 seconds, currently sitting at 54.33 (51st in the world in 2022).
#77: Justin Ress, USA – Ress had a massive breakthrough in 2022, winning the world title in the men’s 50 backstroke after it initially appeared as though he was going to be disqualified. Ress, who clocked 24.12 in the final at Worlds, became the third swimmer in history sub-24 in the 50 back earlier in the year (23.92), and also showed improvement with best times in the 100 free (48.38) and 100 back (52.73) at U.S. Trials. The thing holding the 25-year-old back is the stacked nature of his primary events in the United States. With Ryan Murphy, Shaine Casas and Hunter Armstrong in the mix, Ress will need to be firing on all cylinders in order to qualify for the Worlds team in 2023. However, it’s hard to deny him as a favorite to do so once again in the 50 back as he’ll aim to defend his world title.
#76: Matt Fallon, USA – Fallon skipped the U.S. International Team Trials at the end of April due to final exams, meaning he didn’t get to vie for a spot on the World Championship team. But if he did, the 19-year-old Penn sophomore almost surely would’ve qualified for Budapest in the 200 breaststroke, as Nic Fink and Charlie Swanson tied for the win in 2:08.84, and Fallon fired off a personal best time of 2:07.91 a few months later at Summer Nationals. That swim launched him up into third in the world for the year, trailing only the current world record holder and world champion, Zac Stubblety-Cook, and the former world record holder and world champion, Anton Chupkov. The door is open for Fallon to be a World Championship medalist—in Budapest, Stubblety-Cook was the only swimmer sub-2:08.3.
Read the full story on SwimSwam: SwimSwam’s Top 100 For 2023: Men’s #100-76