SwimSwam’s Top 100 For 2023: Women’s #75-51

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 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.

Women’s Rankings:

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

#75: Anna Hopkin, Great Britain – Hopkin didn’t have the greatest 2022 in long course—she missed the medals in the women’s 50 and 100 free at the Commonwealth Games, was off her best times to take seventh in the 50 and ninth in the 100 at Worlds (also seventh in the 50 at Euros). However, the 26-year-old Englishwoman showed signs she’s back on track for a very strong 2023, setting personal best times at SC Worlds en route to winning bronze in the 50 free (23.68) and ripping a 51.81 lead-off leg on the British women’s 400 free relay.

#74: Kira Toussaint, Netherlands – Over the two-year period from December 2019 until late 2021, Toussaint was on fire, resetting all of her personal best times in backstroke (LCM and SCM), including breaking and then matching the world record in the SCM women’s 50 back (that has since been broken). And although she didn’t quite hit those highs in 2022, the Dutch native remains one of the top female backstrokers in the world. The 28-year-old ranked eighth in the world last year in the 100 back (LCM), swimming a time of 59.16, and four of the seven swimmers ahead of her are American (therefore giving her more medal opportunity than the ranking suggests at a meet like the World Championships). Despite being a bit off her best, Toussaint won bronze in the 100 back at Euros and placed fourth in the 50 back while making the final of both at Worlds. In 2023, she’ll be a favorite to three-peat in the 50 and 100 back at SC Euros.

#73: Merve Tuncel, Turkey – Tuncel has been an up-and-coming name on the radar for the last few years, and the now-18-year-old Turk is coming off a big 2022 that included a sweep of the girls’ 400, 800 and 1500 free at both the World and European Junior Championships. Tuncel also won her first major international medal at the senior level, claiming bronze in the 800 free at Euros, and despite being off her personal bests in 2022, her stock is rising and she figures to be a medal contender on the big stage moving foeard.

#72: Rhyan White, USA – White was undoubtedly one of the world’s top backstrokers last year. She ranked third in 2022 in the women’s 200 back (2:05.13), fifth in the 100 back (58.59) and ninth in the 50 back (27.45), but due to the stacked nature of women’s backstroke in the United States, only qualified to swim the 200 at the World Championships. The 22-year-old won bronze in a time of 2:06.96, and then last month, she was denied the opportunity to defend her short course world title in the event after having to pull out of the championships in Melbourne due to an undisclosed illness. With the list of potential World Championship medalists from the U.S. in the women’s backstroke events continuing to grow, White’s path to success on the international stage gets tougher.

#71: Analia Pigree, France – Pigree is a true one-event specialist, having become one of the world’s top performers in the women’s 50 backstroke. The 21-year-old took bronze in the event at the World Championships and then won the European title in the event, finishing 2022 ranked fourth in the world with her French Record of 27.27. Pigree does own a PB of 59.88 in the 100 back, but the 50 has truly become her bread and butter and she’ll be a threat to the world title for the foreseeable future.

#70: Margherita Panziera, Italy – Panziera didn’t hit personal best times last year, but the Italian did reassert herself as Europe’s top female backstroker, sweeping the 100 and 200-meter events at the European Championships—winning her third straight title in the latter. The 27-year-old, who has been sub-2:06 twice in the 200 back, took fourth in the event at Worlds last year in 2:07.27, and ranked in the same position for the year. A return to career-best form would also make her a medal contender in the 100 back (58.92 PB).

#69: Isabel Gose, Germany – After a strong performance at the Tokyo Olympics that included placing sixth in the women’s 400 free, Gose had an impressive 2022 that included winning the European title in the event in a near best of 4:04.13. That swim saw the German native upset home crowd favorite Simona Quadarella, showing that Gose can perform under pressure, and she also added a silver in the 800 free and bronze in the 200 free at the event. At 20, Gose will be in the hunt for top finishes at Worlds in the 200/400/800 this year.

#68: Claire Weinstein, USA – Weinstein was a revelation last year in the women’s 200 free, dropping a personal best time of 1:57.08 in the event to qualify for the World Championships at the U.S. Trials in Greensboro. At 15, the Sandpipers of Nevada product improved down to 1:56.94 in Budapest, placing 10th, and then she further improved leading off the U.S. women’s 800 free relay, clocking 1:56.71 to help propel the Americans to gold and a new world record of 7:41.45. Weinstein may have only ranked 18th in the world in the event for the year, but she’s shown progress in other events (including going 4:01.7/8:12.9 in the 400 and 800 at the FINA World Cup in SCM) and is on an upward trajectory, to put it mildly.

#67: Emma Weyant, USA – Weyant has won back-to-back medals in the 400 IM on the major international stage, earning silver at the Tokyo Olympics (4:32.76) and then claiming bronze at last year’s World Championships (4:36.00). As of now, that’s the only event in which she’s a legitimate contender to reach the podium internationally, but at 20, her ceiling is high with the potential to make an impact in the 200, 400 and 800 free as well.

#66: Abbie Wood, Great Britain – After a big 2021 that included a fourth-place finish at the Olympics in the 200 IM and one of the world’s top times in the 200 breast (2:21.69), Wood failed to reach the lofty standards she created for herself last year but remains an immense talent with a ton of potential to win major medals in 2023. The 23-year-old Brit had an off swim in the semis at Worlds in the 200 IM, where she would’ve easily placed in the top five, and she also made the 200 breast final despite being well off her PB by four and a half seconds. Wood rallied to win bronze at the 200 IM at the Commonwealth Games in 2:10.68, and she added four relay medals while competing for England. Her 200 IM was right on the cusp of her 2021 form last year, and if she can find that groove again in the 200 breast, she’ll be dangerous. Wood has also been a high-end SCM performer over the last few years, so watch for her there at SC Euros.

#65: Erin Gemmell, USA – Gemmell really broke out on the international stage last summer at the Junior Pan Pacific Championships, sweeping the girls’ 100 (54.13), 200 (1:56.15) and 400 free (4:05.07) while also winning four additional relay medals. Having just turned 18 in December, Gemmell finished the year ranked 10th in the world in the 200 free and 12th in the 400 free, and although individual spots in those events will be widely competitive in the U.S. this year, Gemmell’s improvements are promising. She also got some international experience under her belt at Short Course Worlds, placing fourth in the 200 free (1:52.56), sixth in the 400 free (4:01.82) and winning three relay medals.

#64: Melanie Henique, France – Despite recently turning 30, Henique is still one of the world’s premier sprinters, primarily in the 50 fly where she won silver in the event at the World Championships—an incredible feat considering it was her first LC Worlds medal since claiming 50 fly bronze in 2011. Henique has now been sub-25.5 in the 50 fly eight times in the last three years, making her a lock to be a medal contender in the event at Worlds, and she showed her freestyle ability at SC Worlds, anchoring France in 23.15 as the team set a new world record in the mixed 200 free relay.

#63: Beata Nelson, USA – Being a short course specialist has held Nelson back in terms of being recognized as one of the world’s best swimmers, but that didn’t matter on the FINA World Cup late last year, as the American went on an incredible run that saw her win nine events over the three stops and emerge as the overall series winner. That gave Nelson a whopping $152,000 in winnings. Due to no ISL season last year, plus the fact that USA Swimming’s outdated selection policy prevented her from competing at SC Worlds, Nelson didn’t have as much opportunity as she should have to display her skills on the big stage in 2022. The Wisconsin grad did show good form in long course, having placed third at the U.S. Trials in the 200 IM (2:11.80), so the door isn’t shut on her making the Worlds team this year, but at every opportunity, she’ll be one of the best in any short course meter event.

#62: Freya Anderson, Great Britain – Anderson has shown signs that she’s on track to become one of the world’s premier freestyle sprinters, and although not quite there yet, she’s knocking on the door. Anderson has been a bit up-and-down the last few years after being on fire during the 2020 ISL season, but still secured a fourth-place finish at the 2022 World Championships in the 200 free, hitting a PB of 1:56.05 in the semis that ranked her eighth in the world for the year. It’s easy to forget she’s still just 21 given all of her international experience. She also won silver in the 200 free and bronze in the 100 free at the 2022 Euros, and though she was off at the World Championships in the 100 free and missed the final, she’s not far from being in the medal conversation.

#61: Annie Lazor, USA – Lazor’s spot on major U.S. teams is at risk, but thus far she’s managed to hold her place after qualifying to swim the 200 breaststroke at the Tokyo Olympics and then making the World Championship team in the 100 breast last year. The 28-year-old remains elite, but will need to find herself on the right side of the touch once again at U.S. Trials in either event to make the World Championships. The problem is that her best event is the 200 breast, and right now the path to qualifying there is steep, with the reigning world champion in long course (Lilly King) and short course (Kate Douglass) standing in her way. Will see what Lazor can pull out this year.

#60: Anastasiya Kirpichnikova, Russia – If given the chance to compete at the highest level this year, Kirpichnikova will be one to watch coming off a breakout 2021 that included nearing the world record in the SCM women’s 1500 free (15:18.30). The Russian native spent 2022 training and competing in France, and produced some solid results including nearing best times in the LCM 800 free (8:24.76) and 1500 free (15:56.86), ranking 12th and sixth in the world, respectively. If Russian athletes are cleared to compete, Kirpichnikova will be favored to repeat as the European short course champion in the women’s 400, 800 and 1500 free, a treble she completed in 2021.

#59: Jenna Strauch, Australia – Strauch established herself as Australia’s top female breaststroker in 2022, winning silver in the 200 breast at the World Championships while hitting a sizeable personal best of 2:22.22 in the semi-finals to rank fifth in the world for the year. The 25-year-old was also in the hunt in the 100 breast at Worlds, qualifying second out of the heats with a PB of 1:06.16 before placing 10th, and she also came through with a sub-1:06 split on the Aussie women’s 400 medley relay. Strauch followed up that showing by winning silver in the 200 breast at the Commonwealth Games, and then narrowly missed a third straight medal in the event at SC Worlds, placing fourth. Look for her to continue to be a threat to make the 200 breast podium moving forward while also contributing on the Aussie medley relays.

#58: Yui Ohashi, Japan – Ohashi’s stock took a big hit last year coming off her incredible Olympic sweep of the women’s medley events on home soil. The 27-year-old Japanese star hit lightning in a bottle in Tokyo, and now it appears as though she’s trailing the elite IM scene internationally with the emergence of some young superstars. Ohashi placed fifth in the 400 IM and 13th in the 200 IM at the 2022 World Championships, and was well outside of medal contention at SC Worlds as well. If she can get back on her career-best form she could return to the podium, but her time as a gold medal contender has passed.

#57: Lydia Jacoby, USA – Jacoby went from the highs of winning Olympic gold at the age of 17 in 2021 to missing the U.S. World Championship team altogether in 2022, with her spot ultimately coming down to less than a tenth of a second at the International Team Trials in April. After winning the women’s 100 breast in Tokyo in 1:04.95, Jacoby was fourth at the U.S. Trials in 1:06.21, nine one-hundredths back of runner-up Annie Lazor (1:06.12) and a spot on the Worlds team. Had Jacoby been a tad faster in that one swim, the narrative surrounding her year could be entirely different—the 2022 world title was won in a time nearly a full second slower than her PB, and Jacoby has proven she can perform when the pressure is highest. Now in her freshman year at the University of Texas, the Alaska native seems to be adjusting to the training well, setting a U.S. National Age Group Record for 17-18 girls in the 100-yard breast in December, and although Lilly King, Lazor and Kaitlyn Dobler make the path to a spot on the Worlds team a difficult one for Jacoby, she arguably has the highest ceiling moving forward among them all.

#56: Elizabeth Dekkers, Australia – Dekkers took another big step in 2022, as the 18-year-old got down to 2:07.01 in the 200 fly to finish fifth at the World Championships and rank seventh in the world for the year. The Aussie native followed up by winning gold at the Commonwealth Games and snagging bronze at the Short Course World Championships in the event, and her 58.9 swim in the 100 fly shows potential for her to be a future threat there as well.

#55: Ingrid Wilm, Canada – Wilm broke out in a big way during the 2021 ISL season, unexpectedly emerging as one of the top female backstrokers in short course meters, and while that continued in 2022, she also made strides in long course. Most recently, Wilm tied for bronze in the 100 back at SC Worlds in 55.74, and her time leading off Canada’s medley relay (55.36) was the fastest of anyone the entire year and ranked her ninth all-time. She also placed fourth in the 200 back (2:01.78), and at the LC World Championships earlier in the year, narrowly missed a medal in fourth (27.43). The 24-year-old is here to stay as one of the world’s premier backstrokers.

#54: Sydney Pickrem, Canada – Pickrem has become somewhat unpredictable, frequently no-showing the 400 IM at major meets, but she’s a medal contender anytime she shows up in any medley event along with the 200 breast. The 25-year-old was 11th in the 200 IM at Worlds last year and then pulled out of the Commonwealth Games, but bounced back with a solid SC Worlds campaign that included three top-six finishes individually. At her best, she’s a factor for the medals in the 200 IM on the big stage, but if she is ruling out the 400 IM moving forward, that hurts her stock.

#53: Gretchen Walsh, USA – Walsh has been dynamic through her first season and a half with the Virginia Cavaliers in the NCAA, and despite missing the U.S. World Championship team last April, she showed big gains in the long course pool. Walsh narrowly missed earning a spot in the 50 free, clocking 24.53, and then followed that up by dropping a 24.47 in the summer to rank eighth in the world (also within a tenth of what it took to medal at Worlds). The 19-year-old also went 53.8 in the 100 free, 57.4 in the 100 fly, and earned top-five finishes back at Trials in the 50 fly (25.97) and 50 back (27.78) as well. Walsh is brimming with potential and it’s only a matter of time before she’s challenging for medals at the World Championships.

#52: Tes Schouten, Netherlands – Schouten had a massive short course season, winning silver in the 100 breast (1:03.90) and bronze in the 200 breast (2:18.19) at SC Worlds in Melbourne, setting new Dutch Records in both. The 22-year-old did the same thing in long course earlier in December, clocking respective times of 1:06.09 and 2:23.67, and this improvement curve indicates she’s well on her way to getting in the medal conversation at LC Worlds. Last year, she only swam times of 1:07.20 and 2:26.25 in the events, missing both finals.

#51: Lana Pudar, Bosnia and Herzegovina – Pudar, who will turn 17 on January 19, has been one of the world’s top junior butterfliers for the last two years, having won three gold and three silver medals in the girls’ fly events between the 2021 and 2022 European Junior Championships. The Bosnian and Herzegovinian record holder across 11 different events, Pudar took a big step forward last year. After winning bronze at the 2021 SC Worlds in the 200 fly, she then won gold in the event at the European Championships in Rome (2:06.81), and also earned bronze in the 100 fly (57.27). Those two swims were both new National Records, and ranked her sixth and 10th, respectively, in the world for 2022. She was also within a second of the #2 swimmer in the world last year in the 200, so she’ll surely be a factor for medals at Worlds this year. In Budapest, she finished sixth in the 200 fly and eighth in the 100 fly.

Read the full story on SwimSwam: SwimSwam’s Top 100 For 2023: Women’s #75-51

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