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
#50: Lorenzo Galossi, Italy – Galossi had an incredible 2022 that saw him break into the upper echelon of men’s distance swimming despite only turning 16 in May. After recording a time of 7:46.28 in the 800 free at the Italian Championships in July, Galossi got down to 7:43.37 the following month at the European Championships, crushing the World Junior Record while winning the bronze medal. Galossi also won the 400 and 800 free at the European Junior Champs, and got down to 3:45.93 in the 400 free in Italy. There’s no telling what his ceiling is given his performances at such a young age, but Galossi figures to be an immediate medal threat at the World Championship level.
#49: Alessandro Miressi, Italy – A true 100 freestyle specialist, Miressi has been in the conversation of medal threats in the event since breaking through and winning the European title in the event in 2018. The Italian native produced the fastest swim of his career (47.45) to earn silver at the European Championships in 2021, and he followed up by placing sixth in Tokyo. After winning the SC world title to close out 2021, the 24-year-old placed eighth at LC Worlds in 2022, and then earned bronze at both Euros and SC Worlds to round out the year. Although sub-48 swims in the 100 free are becoming more common, Miressi has done so 17 times, showing impressive consistency. He’s also helped lead the Italians to an uptick in relay success recently, which shows no sign of slowing down.
#48: Samuel Short, Australia – Kieren Perkins, Ian Thorpe, Grant Hackett, Mack Horton, Elijah Winnington…Samuel Short? Short appears to be on track to be the next great Australian 400 freestyler, though it’s worth noting Winnington is still just 22 and Horton is still very much in the mix. So much so, in fact, that Short failed to qualify for the event at the 2022 World Championships, placing third at the Trials behind Winnington (3:43.10) and Horton (3:44.06) in a time of 3:44.34. That swim still ranked the now 19-year-old Short eighth in the world for the year, and he did qualify to swim the 800 and 1500 free in Budapest, placing ninth and 14th, respectively, while also splitting 1:46.4 on the silver medal-winning 800 free relay. Short finished the summer on a high at the Commonwealth Games, smashing his best time to win gold in the 1500 free (14:48.54) while taking second to Winnington in the 400 free (3:45.07). Along with his top-eight world ranking in the 400, that swim in the mile put him seventh worldwide in 2022. One of the few top-tier 400 freestylers who can swim up to the 1500 at an elite level, Short will be one to watch as he aims to carry on the great Australian distance free tradition.
#47: Apostolos Christou, Greece – Christou surprised many when he popped off a 52.09 swim in the semi-finals of the men’s 100 backstroke at last year’s World Championships, catapulting him into the top 10 on the all-time performers’ list. Although the Greek native fell to fifth in the final in 52.57 (and finished in the same position in the 50 back), Christou came back with a very impressive showing at the European Championships, winning the 50 back (24.36) and claiming silver in the 100 back (52.24). It’s rare to see a swimmer in their mid-20s have such a significant time drop, as Christou, who turned 26 in November, had never broken 53.2 in the 100 back before the start of 2021. The way he backed up his World Championship swims at Euros indicates he’s in the hunt for a spot on the podium in both the 50 and 100 back this year. In 2022, he ranked sixth and fourth worldwide. In 2023, Christou will also be a factor at SC Euros, coming off of placing fifth in the 100 back and sixth in the 50 back at SC Worlds.
#46: Chad Le Clos, South Africa – Talk about a turnaround. After a difficult long course season that included leaving the World Championships after one prelim swim and only winning one medal at the Commonwealth Games, “Chad Le Clos 2.0″ emerged in the fall and had an incredible short course season to remind us that he’s still one of the world’s premier butterfliers. The 30-year-old won double gold at the Short Course World Championships in the 100 fly (48.59) and 200 fly (1:48.27), swimming the fastest time of his career in the latter. However, despite the re-emergence in SC, Le Clos doesn’t hold the same edge over his competitors in long course. In 2022, he ranked 22nd in the world in the 100 fly (51.61) and 20th in the 200 fly (1:55.75), and in 2021, he was 47th (51.87) and 11th (1:54.93). We’re not counting him out of working his way into the medals at the 2023 World Championships, but the stars would have to align perfectly. This year will be telling to see if he can translate his late 2022 SC success to the big pool or not.
#45: Matt Sates, South Africa – Sates is a wildly versatile swimmer with an incredible skillset, but is still seeking that next gear in long course. The 19-year-old is coming off a big short course season that included winning the 200 IM (1:50.15) and earning bronze in the 400 IM (3:59.21) at the Short Course World Championships, becoming the second-fastest swimmer of all-time in the former. In LC, Sates placed eighth in the 200 IM, 11th in the 400 IM and 12th in the 200 free at the World Championships last year, and he also failed to secure a medal at the Commonwealth Games. The one-time Georgia Bulldog did hit new best times in the 200 IM (1:57.43), 400 IM (4:11.58) and 200 free (1:45.91) in the big pool last year, but all came on the Mare Nostrum Tour and he failed to match those times when medals were on the line. The next step will be honing in on achieving optimal performance at the biggest meet(s) of the year.
#44: Lewis Clareburt, New Zealand – Clareburt took his game to a new level last year. He had a solid performance at the World Championships, placing seventh in the 200 IM (1:57.63 in the semis) and fourth in the 400 IM (4:10.98), but really delivered at the Commonwealth Games, where the New Zealander set new best times in the 200 fly (1:55.60) and 400 IM (4:08.70) to win double gold. That 400 IM performance launched the 23-year-old up to fourth in the world last year, and he was also 11th in the 200 IM and 18th in the 200 fly. The 400 IM will clearly be his primary medal opportunity at the World Championships this summer, where he’ll likely vie for bronze behind Leon Marchand and Carson Foster, but if he can continue to improve, finals spots in the 200 fly and 200 IM are well within reach.
#43: Lewis Burras, Great Britain – Burras really came into his own in 2022, first cracking the 48-second barrier in the 100 free at the British Championships in 47.88 before dropping a 47.63 at the World Championships, obliterating the British Record by more than two-tenths. That swim earned him a berth in the final, where he ultimately placed seventh, and he ended up in the same spot in the 50 free, having hit a best of 21.77 back in April before adding three more sub-22 swims in Budapest. At the Commonwealth Games, the 22-year-old was well off form in the 100 free, but his 50 was on fire, getting his PB down to 21.68 to earn silver behind English teammate Ben Proud. Burras finished the long course season ranked seventh in the world in the 100 free and 10th in the 50 free, joining Caeleb Dressel, Maxime Grousset and Josh Liendo as the only four men to be in the top 10 of both events. Burras also performed well at SC Worlds (20.9/46.6), and is quickly on the rise in the sprints.
#42: Isaac Cooper, Australia – Cooper really came into the limelight at the Short Course World Championships in Melbourne, as the Aussie native racked up five medals, including two individually (50/100 back) and two relay golds. Cooper, who turned 19 earlier in January, put up blistering times of 22.52 in the 50 back and 49.46 in the 100 back, and also showed his versatility by leading off the victorious 200 free relay in 21.24. In long course, Cooper set a new Australian Record in the 50 back (24.44) before making the World Championship final and taking eighth. He’s still in the 53-mid range in the 100 back, so there’s room to grow there, but between what he showed at SC Worlds and his 24.4 50 back, Cooper is an elite backstroker who’s on the come-up.
#41: Pieter Coetze, South Africa – Coetze is a true all-around backstroker. That may sound silly, but it’s not as common as one might think. He’s strong in the 50, 100 and 200 in both short course and long course, and at 18, he figures to be in major finals in all of them for the foreseeable future. Having won the 100 back at the Commonwealth Games and the 200 back at the World Junior Championships (while medaling individually in all six back events across both meets), Coetze finished the year ranked seventh in the 200 back (1:56.05), ninth in the 100 back (52.95) and 12th in the 50 back (24.58). After not competing at the LC World Championships, the South African native was sensational at SC Worlds, clocking 22.84 in the 50 back and 49.60 in the 100 back to place fifth and fourth, respectively, and set new African Records in both. It’s rare to see a backstroker with such a wide-ranging skillset.
Read the full story on SwimSwam: SwimSwam’s Top 100 For 2023: Men’s #50-41