SwimSwam’s Top 100 For 2023: Men’s #40-31

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.

Men’s Rankings:

#100 – #76
#75 – #51
#50 – #41
#40 – #31
#30 – #21
#20 – #11
#10 – #1

#40: Matt Temple, Australia – Temple’s breakthrough swim came at the 2021 Australian Olympic Trials, when he dropped a time of 50.45 in the men’s 100 fly, a swim that currently ranks him ninth all-time. Now 23, Temple is entering his prime and although he hasn’t been able to get back down to 50-mid territory in the 100 fly, he remains one of the world’s best while also having a strong freestyle in his arsenal. Temple placed fifth in the 100 fly at the 2022 World Championships in 51.15, also delivering a pair of 50-point relay splits, and followed up by taking silver at the Commonwealth Games in 51.40. The Aussie saved his best performance of the year for last at SC Worlds, placing seventh in the 100 fly (49.32) while throwing down some blistering relay splits of 20.7 (50 free), 45.9 (100 free), 21.7 (50 fly) and 48.3 (100 fly). In the latter, his 48.34 fly split propelled the Australians to a tie for gold and a new world record in the 400 medley relay. If he can harness the momentum he created in Melbourne and carry it through to 2023, Temple will be a force.

#39: Yohann Ndoye-Brouard, France – After missing the turn in the semi-finals of the Tokyo Olympics in the 100 back, something he later revealed was due to a degenerative eye issue that he has since had surgery for, Ndoye-Brouard has continued to establish himself as one of the world’s top backstrokers and is riding a ton of momentum entering 2023. At the age of 20, the Frenchman ended up clocking 52.77 leading off the men’s 400 medley relay at the end of Tokyo Games, and he followed up with four more sub-53 100 back swims in 2022, including placing fourth at the World Championships in a PB of 52.50.He also won the European title in the 200 back in a best of 1:55.62, and reeled off multiple sub-25 50 back swims, with his quickest coming in at 24.79. Having finished 2022 ranked fifth in the world in both the 100 and 200 back in long course, the 22-year-old finished the year by placing fourth in the 200 back (1:49.23) and eighth in the 100 back (49.78 in semis) at SC Worlds. We saw three men break 52 seconds in the World Championship final last year in the 100 back, so it will take a big drop for Ndoye-Brouard to move up a spot in that event this year, but in the 200 back, he’s less than half a second shy of being ranked #2 in the world and the opportunity is there.

#38: Andrei Minakov, Russia – Minakov is elite in both the 100 free and 100 fly, with his most notable international result coming in the latter, winning silver at the 2019 World Championships in a time of 50.83. The Russian native, who is currently competing with Stanford in the NCAA, reeled off a 47.57 swim in the 100 free in October 2020 (previously the World Junior Record), and although he missed the Olympic final in the event, finished 2021 ranked eighth in the world after clocking 47.71 leading off the 400 free relay in Tokyo. He also finished fourth in the Olympics in the 100 fly (50.88), and although he didn’t compete much last year in long course, he’s still just 20 and has the ability to contend for major medals in multiple events.

#37: Ksawery Masiuk, Poland – The reigning world and European junior champion in the 50, 100 and 200 back, Masiuk is riding a massive wave of momentum after a breakout year. The Polish native, who only turned 18 in December, won bronze in the 50 back at the World Championships and also placed sixth in the 100 back. Having entered 2022 with respective personal best times of 25.05, 53.91 and 1:58.41 in the 50, 100 and 200 back, Masiuk finished the year ranked sixth in the world in the 100 (52.58), seventh in the 50 (24.44) and ninth in the 200 (1:56.62). Elite across all three distances, Masiuk is leading the charge of the next generation of great backstrokers and was a Worlds medalist in the 50 at 17. After four sub-53 swims in the 100 last year, it wouldn’t be a shock to see him be the next man to challenge the 52 barrier.

#36: Chase Kalisz, USA – Kalisz has been a staple on the U.S. team at international meets for the last decade, having won at least one individual medal at nine consecutive major championships (Olympics, Worlds and Pan Pacs). At the 2019 World Championships, Kalisz missed the final in the 400 IM, which has historically been his best event. He bounced back by winning the Olympic title two years later, and when some questioned whether he would have the motivation to continue training for the grueling race after accomplishing his ultimate goal, Kalisz came back with his fastest swim in five years to claim bronze at the World Championships in 4:07.47. He also took fourth in the 200 IM at Worlds (1:56.43), and despite Leon Marchand and Carson Foster appearing to be the clear 1-2 in the 400 IM for the next few years, Kalisz is still holding firm at #3. Now 28, he’s back training with Bob Bowman (and Marchand) at ASU and said he’s been doing the most mileage of his career. Kalisz performed exceptionally well at the U.S. Open in December, including nearly matching his 200 IM time from Worlds in 1:56.52, and is on track to extend his individual medal streak in Fukuoka.

#35: Ahmed Hafnaoui, Tunisia – After a breakout 2021 that was highlighted by his stunning Olympic gold medal victory in the 400 free, Hafnaoui essentially sat out of competition last year, missing the World Championships in order to finish up his studies in Tunisia in order to put him in position to enroll at Indiana. The 20-year-old was ruled a partial qualifier based on academics upon arrival in Bloomington and therefore hasn’t competed collegiately this season, but has been training at IU under coach Ray Looze and it appears to be working. Hafnaoui won the 400 free (3:47.41), 800 free (7:53.10), and placed second to Olympic champ Bobby Finke in the 1500 free (15:07.07) at the Pro Swim Series event in Knoxville in January, all promising times given they were done under heavy training. It will be interesting to see what level he can get to this summer in Fukuoka after one year away, but he’ll seemingly be in the hunt for medals in all three distance events.

#34: Kieran Smith, USA – Smith had a solid showing at the World Championships last year, though he was off his best times set at the Olympics and failed to return to the podium individually. The University of Florida grad placed sixth in Budapest in the 200 free (1:45.16) and seventh in the 400 free (3:46.43, 3:45.70 in prelims), swims that ranked him seventh and 11th in the world for the year, respectively. His big swim in Budapest came in the 800 free relay, as Smith dropped the second-fastest split in the field (1:44.35) to anchor the Americans to a dominant gold medal victory. The 22-year-old finished the year on a high, winning the 400 free (3:34.38) and delivering several key relay legs at the Short Course World Championships. That included a 1:41.04 lead-off leg on the world record-setting 800 free relay and a pair of sub-46 100 free splits. Having now turned pro and putting all of his focus on performing on the international stage, look for Smith to return to the 1:44/3:43 range that he showed in Tokyo this year, making him a medal contender at Worlds. He also swam a PB of 48.50 in the 100 free at the U.S. Trials in 2022, putting him within striking distance of getting on the 400 free relay.

#33: Felix Auboeck, Austria – Auboeck is coming off the best year of his career, having rewritten the Austrian Record book with best times in the 200 free (1:45.11), 400 free (3:43.58) and 800 free (7:45.32) in 2022. Those performances ranked him fourth, sixth and eighth in the world, respectively, as he narrowly missed the medals by placing fourth in the 400 and fifth in the 200 at the World Championships. The now 26-year-old followed up by winning bronze in the 200 (1:45.89) and taking fourth once again in the 400 (3:45.76) at the European Championships. Auboeck has found a new gear since moving to Loughborough University, seamlessly transitioning from being more distance oriented to a 200/400 specialist, and remains a prominent factor in the medal conversation in those races.

#32: Noe Ponti, Switzerland – After his breakout bronze medal victory in the 100 fly at the Tokyo Olympic Games, Ponti has turned into a true all-around butterfly threat. In 2022, he got back under 51 seconds in the 100 fly (after going 50.74 and 50.76 in Tokyo) at the European Championships, winning silver in 50.87 to rank fifth in the world, and he also hit three consecutive 1:54s in the 200 fly at Worlds, ultimately placing fourth while his best time of 1:54.20 ranked fifth worldwide. In the 50 fly, though he only ranked 13th last year in long course at 23.04, he showed a new level of speed by joining the elite sub-22 club in short course, earning silver at SC Worlds in 21.96. The 21-year-old Swiss native has developed the drop-dead speed for the 50 and the endurance for the 200, and while he could win medals in those races, his progress in both should help him get even better in the 100 and push for a podium spot alongside Dressel and Milak.

#31: Mykhailo Romanchuk, Ukraine – Romanchuk has consistently been on the podium at major international meets in the men’s distance events, and although he does have numerous European titles and a SC World crown to his name, he’s fallen just shy every time out at the Olympics or LC World Championships. The Ukrainian native made the podium in both the 800 (bronze) and 1500 free (silver) in Tokyo, and amid an unimaginably difficult year that continues in his home nation, the 26-year-old won bronze in the 800 free at the 2022 World Championships and then claimed gold in the 1500 at Euros, beating Gregorio Paltrinieri on Italian soil, no less. Romanchuk finished the year ranked second in the world in the 1500 free (14:36.10) and third in the 800 free (7:40.05), both best times, but when everyone’s at full strength, it’s hard to put him ahead of Paltrinieri, Bobby Finke or Florian Wellbrock in either race.

Read the full story on SwimSwam: SwimSwam’s Top 100 For 2023: Men’s #40-31

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