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
#75: Nandor Nemeth, Hungary – Nemeth dropped three sub-48 swims in the 100 free at the World Championships, including a Hungarian Record (at the time) of 47.69 to win a swim-off to make the final, and he also showed he’s got some ability in the 200 free with a 1:45.7 relay split. He then finished fifth in the 100 free at the European Championships while adding a fourth 47-second swim leading off Hungary’s 400 free relay that went on to win silver. At 23, Nemeth is now finding a level of consistency that, combined with his talent, makes him a medal threat in the 100 free.
#74: Fernando Scheffer, Brazil – After his breakthrough bronze medal victory in the 200 free at the Tokyo Olympic Games, Scheffer missed the final at the World Championships, placing ninth in a time of 1:46.11. The Brazilian did rebound with a strong 1:45.52 lead-off on the 800 free relay, ranking him 10th in the world for the year, and at 24, it’s easy to see him returning to the 1:44.6 form he had in 2021.
#73: Mewen Tomac, France – Tomac has been a name on the rise in the men’s backstroking scene ever since he broke 53 seconds in the 100 at the 2021 European Championships, clocking 52.86 before ultimately placing fifth in 53-flat (while it took 52.88 to win gold). The 21-year-old Frenchman narrowly missed a spot in the final at the World Championships last year, placing ninth in the 100 back, but 2022 was the year in which he came into his own in the 200 back, taking fifth at Worlds in a personal best time of 1:56.35. Tomac also performed well at SC Worlds, going sub-23 in the 50 back, sub-50 in the 100, and sub-1:50 in the 200.
#72: Trenton Julian, USA – Julian finished 2022 ranked sixth in the world in the men’s 200 fly, having clocked a personal best time of 1:54.22 at the U.S. Trials in April. At the World Championships, he fell from fourth in the prelims (1:55.04) to 16th in the semi-finals (1:56.45), but still had a solid performance with a pair of 1:45 splits on the American 800 free relay that ultimately won gold. He also fell from first in the heats of the 200 fly at SC Worlds (1:49.93) down to seventh in the final (1:50.94) while having some strong relay splits that resulted in four medals. Julian was added to the U.S. Center for SafeSport database in May 2022, which could put his competition status at risk in the future.
#71: Brendon Smith, Australia – Following up his bronze medal in the 400 IM at the Tokyo Olympics, Smith had a solid 2022 that included a fifth-place finish in the event at the World Championships and then claiming silver at the Commonwealth Games. The 22-year-old Australian is extremely versatile, and put some of that on display in his ISL career that included 3:37.1/3:59.3 SCM swims in the 400 free/IM, but he’s yet to really establish himself outside of the 400 IM in long course. His bid for a medal at SC Worlds was denied after being disqualified in the prelims of the 400 IM, and worldwide, the event is somewhat wide open behind Leon Marchand and Carson Foster moving forward.
#70: Qin Haiyang, China – Given that Qin swam times of 2:07.3 in the 200 breast and 1:57.0 in the 200 IM back in 2017 at the age of 18, it’s difficult to not feel as though he hasn’t fulfilled that potential over the last five years. Disqualified in the prelims of the 200 breast at the Tokyo Olympics, Qin failed to earn a second swim in either of his specialty events at the 2022 World Championships. Now 23, the Chinese native did rebound with impressive form at Short Course Worlds, winning bronze in the 200 breast (2:02.22) and taking fourth in both the 50 breast (25.82) and 100 breast (56.33). It remains to be seen if Qin can deliver at a major long course meet, but his showing at SC Worlds indicates he’s back on track.
#69: Yan Zibei, China – Yan has been one of the world’s premier sprint breaststrokers for the last four years. He’s now broken 59 seconds in the LC 100 breast at least six times, highlighted by his 58.63 Asian Record at the 2019 World Championships that won him the bronze medal. He tied for sixth in Tokyo, and at the 2022 World Championships, proved he was still in the upper echelon of male breaststrokers by placing fifth in the 100 breast and seventh in the 50 breast.
#68: Bruno Fratus, Brazil – Fratus has achieved a level of consistency rarely seen in the sport, having won a medal in the 50 freestyle at three consecutive World Championships from 2015 to 2019, and then after falling short in 2016, claiming bronze in the event at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games. The 33-year-old Brazilian has recorded an unthinkable 100-plus sub-22 50 free swims in long course, and really got the short end of the stick when he lost a swim-off for a spot in the final at last year’s World Championships after clocking a time (21.62) that was just .05 short of what it ultimately took to win a medal. With his sole focus square on the long course 50 free, he’ll be in the medal conversation until he shows signs of slowing down. He hasn’t yet.
#67: Flynn Southam, Australia – It was a big year for the rising Australian star, as Southam won three relay gold medals at the Commonwealth Games and then swept the boys’ 50 free (22.36), 100 free (48.23) and 200 free (1:47.11) at the Junior Pan Pacific Championships (he also had multiple sub-1:47 swims in the 200 free earlier in the year). The 17-year-old ranked 22nd in the world in the 100 free, and although he declined a spot on the LC World Championship team last year, figures to be Australia’s #2 option in the event moving forward alongside Kyle Chalmers. Southam, who had multiple sub-48 relay splits in LC, had several impressive performances in December at SC Worlds, winning five relay medals. The men’s 100 free is getting increasingly competitive—16 men were sub-48 in 2022—but Southam is an undeniable talent who is rising rapidly.
#66: Diogo Ribeiro, Portugal – Few swimmers seemingly came out of nowhere to burst onto the scene in 2022 more than Ribeiro, as the now 18-year-old crashed the door down with some monstrous swims in the sprints. Ribeiro made his way onto a major podium by claiming bronze in the 50 fly at the European Championships (23.07), and he showed signs he’ll be a future player in other events by placing ninth in the 100 free (48.52) and eighth in the 100 fly (51.61 in the semis). Just two weeks later the Portuguese native swept the boys’ 50 free (21.92), 50 fly (22.96) and 100 fly (52.03) at the World Junior Championships. His stock is on an upward trajectory.
#65: Hubert Kos, Hungary – Just over two months after his 18th birthday, Kos dropped a time of 1:56.99 in the semi-finals of the men’s 200 IM at the 2020 European Championships (in 2021). Although he fell to fifth in the final (after qualifying first), the Hungarian native has continued to display his potential on the international stage, winning bronze in the 400 IM (4:03.16) and placing fourth in the 200 IM (1:52.87) at the 2021 SC Euros, and then last summer, he was sixth in the 200 IM at the World Championships (1:57.26) before winning the European title (1:57.72). Kos also placed fourth in the 100 fly (51.33) and 400 IM (4:13.77), and added a finals appearance in the 200 back to show off his versatility. He has since moved to Arizona State University to train alongside 200/400 IM world champion Leon Marchand under Bob Bowman, so look for Kos to become an even bigger player on the world stage this year.
#64: Ilya Kharun, Canada – 2022 was an eventful year for Kharun, changing his sporting citizenship from the U.S. to Canada and being removed from the American Junior Pan Pac team in the process, but the 17-year-old finished the year out on a high with a phenomenal performance at the Short Course World Championships. Kharun set new World Junior Records in the 50 fly (22.28) and 100 fly (49.03), winning silver behind Chad Le Clos in the latter, and he also clocked 1:50.86 in the 200 fly prelims before placing eighth in the final. Kharun also delivered some very strong freestyle splits on the Canadian relays, and his long course resume shouldn’t be discounted, with best times of 52.3/1:56.6 in the fly events. Kharun trains with the Sandpipers of Nevada and thus has an excellent endurance base, including winning multiple U.S. open water national titles, which makes his performance in the sprint fly events at SC Worlds even more impressive. His swims at the end of the year indicate there are big drops coming in long course, and the path to World Championship qualification in Canada will be a much smoother one relative to the battles he would have to emerge from to make the U.S. team.
#63: Matt Richards, Great Britain – Richards has been a name on everyone’s radar in the men’s 100 free for the last three and a half years, ever since he won the European Junior title at 16 in a time of 48.88. His best form in the long course pool came in 2021, hitting a pair of 48.23s, and he also dropped a 1:45.77 in the 200 free—an under-appreciated swim given he represents the same country as Tom Dean and Duncan Scott, who went 1-2 in the event at the Olympics. Richards did win Olympic gold after hitting a 1:45.01 split in Tokyo on the 800 free relay, and although 2022 wasn’t his strongest year in long course individually, he did put up several 47-second 100 free relay splits and finished things out with a bang in short course, clocking 45.85 in the 100 free and 1:41.50 in the 200 free at the British Winter Nationals in December. Having only turned 20 in December, Richards’ potential to challenge for major international medals in the 100 and 200 is there.
#62: Alberto Razzetti, Italy – Razzetti has been in the top-tier of swimmers in the 200 fly and 200/400 IM over the last few years, and had a big end to 2021 when he won the SC European and SC World title in the 200 fly while also winning medals in the IM events. The Italian won his first European title in long course last year, topping the 400 IM field in Rome, and he wrapped 2022 ranked 10th in the world in the 200 fly (1:54.87), 14th in the 200 IM (1:57.82) and 10th in the 400 IM (4:10.60), with both medley times just shy of his 2021 bests. Looking ahead, Razzetti is still just 23 and one of Europe’s top names, but would need to produce some time drops to make a real impact at LC Worlds. However, he’ll be a favorite for medals at SC Euros this year.
#61: Gui Caribe, Brazil – Caribe has been a sensation through the first five months of his collegiate career at the University of Tennessee, firing off times of 18.91 in the 50 free and 41.44 in the 100 free (SCY) in November. If it wasn’t for his teammate Jordan Crooks also recording historic midseason swims, Caribe’s times would’ve sent shockwaves through the swimming community much more than they have. But he proved his long course abilities are on par with what he can do in the yards pool, dropping times of 21.87 and 47.82 in the 50 and 100 free at the Brazilian Summer Championships last month. At the time of his commitment to Tennessee in the summer of 2021, Caribe’s LCM best times were 22.78 and 49.73. The improvements he’s made in the last year and a half are alarming for freestylers around the world, and with Brazil’s depth chart thinning in the sprints, he figures to lead the country’s charge in the coming years.
#60: Drew Kibler, USA – Now all-in on his pro career after wrapping up his time in the NCAA at Texas last year, Kibler finished 2022 ranked fourth in the world in the men’s 200 free, having finished in the same position at the World Championships with a personal best time of 1:45.01. The 22-year-old showed impressive consistency with four swims 1:45.54 or faster between U.S. Trials and Worlds, and he’s also emerged as one of the top Americans in the 100 free, clocking a PB of 48.25 back in April. At Short Course Worlds last month, Kibler once again was fourth in the 200 free (1:41.44), finishing behind the same three swimmers he did at LC Worlds: David Popovici, Hwang Sunwoo and Tom Dean. While that’s a daunting trio to take on in the coming year, not to mention the expected re-emergence of Duncan Scott, Kibler is right there and continues to get faster.
#59: James Wilby, Great Britain – Wilby has an incredible resume of international medals in the breaststroke events (and medley relays), and despite being on the older side of the sport’s top athletes, turning 29 in November, he kept that momentum going in 2022. Wilby won the men’s 100 breast at the Commonwealth Games and then followed up by claiming the 200 breast at the European Championships, and he also had his fastest career split (58.82) to help Great Britain win bronze in the 400 medley relay at Worlds. Despite missing the medals in fourth, his individual swim in the 100 breast was even more impressive in Budapest, going 58.93 to rank sixth in the world. Wilby was one of just three swimmers to rank in the world’s top 10 last year in both the 100 and 200 breast, keeping him in the sport’s top-tier moving into 2023.
#58: Dylan Carter, Trinidad & Tobago – Carter went on an unprecedented tear on the FINA World Cup circuit in the fourth quarter of 2022, going undefeated in the men’s 50 free, 50 back and 50 fly across three stops, finishing the year ranked third, fourth and fifth in the world, respectively. Although Carter’s short course ability has generally been better than his long course performances, the 26-year-old delivered some impressive at the World Championships in Budapest, placing fourth in the 50 fly (22.85), 14th in the 100 free (48.30) and 17th in the 50 free (21.91-swim-off time). His ranking is primarily based on what he did in short course meters last year, but don’t count Carter out at LC Worlds in 2023, especially in the 50 fly.
#57: Luke Greenbank, Great Britain – Greenbank has become a mainstay on major international podiums over the last four years in the 200 back, winning bronze at the 2019 World Championships and Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, and then upgrading to a silver at the 2022 World Championships. The 25-year-old went sub-1:55 in the event six times in 2021, and although he didn’t go 1:54 in 2022, he still ranked second in the world with his time of 1:55.16 from Worlds. Greenbank did show signs of fatigue last year with a busy summer, falling to fifth in the 200 back at the Commonwealth Games and then taking third at the European Championships. He’s still a medal hopeful moving forward, but with plenty of young swimmers rising quickly, it’s far from a certainty.
#56: Ilya Borodin, Russia – One of the world’s premier 400 IMers, Borodin really made an impact at the 2021 Short Course World Championships when he came within two-tenths of upsetting Daiya Seto, moving into #3 all-time at the age of 18 in 3:56.47. Although he couldn’t compete internationally last year, Borodin made a big leap in long course in 2022, bringing his Russian Record down from 4:10.02 to 4:08.05 to rank fourth in the world for the year. The 19-year-old also went 3:58.08 in SCM in November, and would be an interesting addition to the fray with Leon Marchand and Carson Foster at the 2023 World Championships if eligible.
#55: Jordan Crooks, Cayman Islands – Crooks really had an incredible 2022. After an impactful first season in the NCAA that included him becoming the fastest freshman ever in the 50-yard free, he broke through by winning the short course world title in the 50 free last month while moving into a tie for fourth all-time (20.31). The 20-year-old, who made history with Cayman Islands’ first swimming gold medal at Worlds, also had three 45-point swims in the 100 free, tying for sixth in the final. Having established himself in short course, the question now becomes whether or not Crooks can follow that up in long course. At the 2022 World Championships, he was 19th in the 50 free (22.20) and 21st in the 100 free (48.79). If he can show similar form to what he has in short course pool in the big pool, watch out.
#54: Guilherme Costa, Brazil – Costa has been steadily climbing the ladder in the men’s distance freestyle scene. In 2019, his best finish at the World Championships was 21st (800 free), and he followed up by making the Olympic final in the event in Tokyo (eighth) while also taking 11th in the 400 free and 13th in the 1500 free. Then came the 2022 World Championships, where the Brazilian broke through by winning bronze in the 400 free (3:43.31), placing fifth in the 800 free (7:45.48) and sixth in the 1500 free (14:48.53), lowering the South American Record in all of them. The 24-year-old finished the year ranked third, ninth and sixth in the world in the three events, respectively, and is a medal contender in all of them.
#53: Daniel Wiffen, Ireland – Wiffen’s absence at the Short Course World Championships was unfortunate, as the times he produced on the other side of the world would’ve won gold in the men’s 800 and 1500 free, and it would’ve been interesting to see if Gregorio Paltrinieri would’ve been able to respond to Wiffen and swim faster than he did in Melbourne. Wiffen, 21, placed eighth in the 800 free at LC Worlds (after a 7:46.32 in the heats), narrowly missed the final in the 1500 free (14:57.66) in ninth, but showed improvement with a silver medal victory in the mile at the Commonwealth Games, shattering his Irish Record in 14:51.79. He finished 2022 ranked 11th in the world in both the 800 and 1500 in long course, but what he did in short course at the end of the year tells us there are some bigger drops to made this year. Wiffen came within a few tenths of the European Record in the 800 free (7:25.96) and moved into sixth all-time in the 1500 free (14:14.45) last month in short course meters, doing so around the same time Paltrinieri went 7:29.99/14:16.88 to win gold at Worlds. Something to watch for this year is if Wiffen can carry that SCM momentum over into the LCM pool.
#52: Antonio Djakovic, Switzerland – After placing 11th in the 200 free and 10th in the 400 free at the World Championships, Djakovic, 19 at the time, came through with a massive performance at the European Championships, winning silver in both events and setting new Swiss Records with respective times of 1:45.32 and 3:43.93. Djakovic finished the year ranked fifth in the world in the 400 free and eighth in the 200 free, and he also had a solid performance at SC Worlds, placing fifth in the 400 free (3:37.86). At 20, he’ll be a force on the international scene moving forward.
#51: Pan Zhanle, China – Pan may not yet have a Wikipedia page, but he will soon. The 18-year-old tied the Chinese Record in the 100 free semis at the World Championships in a time of 47.65, a swim that ranked him eighth in the world for the year, and then went on to place fourth in the final. He also split 1:45.7 on China’s 800 free relay, indicating there’s a future in the 200 free, and Pan then went one better at SC Worlds, breaking the Asian Record in the 100 free with a time of 45.77. If it wasn’t for the presence of David Popovici, who was just ahead of him in Melbourne in 45.64, Pan’s swim would’ve also been a World Junior Record. He’s flying under the radar, but is the same age as Popovici and already among the world’s best in the 100 free.
Read the full story on SwimSwam: SwimSwam’s Top 100 For 2023: Men’s #75-51