Cate Campbell
Courtesy of: USA Today Sports
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PHOENIX, Arizona, July 16. DOWN and back. The 100 freestyle is the most anticipated race of any major international swim meet. For nearly 100 years, it has been the race that has determined the fastest man in the pool, even with the advent of the 50 freestyle. Who will carry that title in Barcelona?

Swimming World correspondents Jeff Commings, David Rieder and Julia Wilkinson-Minks are offering their medal predictions for each event throughout this series and a brief analysis of their top-three selections. Though the 100 freestyle is always unpredictable, all three surprisingly have the same medal outcome in the men's race.


Men 100 freestyle

Wilkinson-Minks
Gold:
James Magnussen
Silver: Nathan Adrian
Bronze: Vladimir Morozov
Dark horse: Nikita Lobintsev

Last year, after dropping a 47.10 bomb on the sprint freestyle world at the Australian trials, James Magnussen failed to repeat his performance and lost the Olympic gold medal by a single hundredth to Nathan Adrian. After that, Magnussen is much hungrier for this win than Adrian, and his times so far this year have shown it. I do think that Adrian will have a much better race than he did in Indianapolis: he looked frustrated during his post-race interview, and far from satisfied with his winning time that only ranks fifth so far in the world this year. Vladimir Morozov dropped an impressive 100 only a few days ago at World University Games, but will he be able to repeat it in only a few weeks' time? As the Russian team continues to clean up in Kazan, speculation begins to swirl about how rested they may actually be. His teammate, Nikita Lobintsev, has also been a dominant force in Kazan. The question is: can the Russians carry this speed all the way to Barcelona? Or are they ready too soon?


Commings
Gold:
James Magnussen
Silver: Nathan Adrian
Bronze: Vlad Morozov

I've been dreading making my predictions for this race since Adrian posted a 48.10 at the USA Swimming nationals. The fact that Adrian couldn't join James Magnussen and Vlad Morozov in the 47-second club before worlds puts his ability to race for gold in question. But then again, he didn't break 48 last year until the Olympics, and we all know how golden that turned out. Adrian is likely playing a very secretive poker hand, and we'll know what his trump card is when he swims the 400 free relay on day one in Barcelona. Until now, it's all a guessing game, and that applies to Magnussen and Morozov as well. It's very likely Morozov was fully tapered when he went 47.62 at the World University Games last Sunday, and Magnussen had to be on a pretty good resting cycle when he swam 47.67 at the French Open two weeks ago. Can they replicate those times again? I don't think we'll see a swim under 47.5 in Barcelona, but it will be such a close race that we'll be glad we live in an era when computers decide the outcome, and not the human eye. I'm anxious to see who else gets into the championship final. American Jimmy Feigen and Brazilian Marcelo Chierighini are possibilities if they can swim just a tenth or so faster in the semifinal. Australian James Roberts could redeem a disappointing Olympics by getting into the big final as well.

Rieder
Gold:
James Magnussen
Silver: Nathan Adrian
Bronze: Vladimir Morozov
Darkhorse: Florent Manaudou

After Nathan Adrian touched out James Magnussen in an exciting 100 free Olympic final, I have Magnussen turning the tables and getting the better of his American rival. However, this race will still be extremely close, and I expect both to beat Adrian's Olympic-winning time of 47.52. Adrian only clocked 48.10 at U.S. Nationals, but he knew what he had to do to win that race while saving his firepower for Magnussen. Vladimir Morozov has been on fire all year, from NCAAs to the World University Games, and he should be in the mix for his first individual medal in this final. France's Yannick Agnel would be in the mix if he decided to jump back into individual action in Barcelona, while Cameron McEvoy, Marcelo Cherighini, Jimmy Feigen and Nikita Lobintsev could all be surprise contenders, along with Manaudou, the 50 free Olympic champ who has yet to show he can hold on for two full laps.



Women 100 freestyle

Wilkinson-Minks
Gold:
Cate Campbell
Silver: Missy Franklin
Bronze: Aliaksandra Herasimenia
Dark horses: Bronte Campbell and Ranomi Kromowidjojo

With a world-leading time from April that puts her six tenths of a second ahead of the rest of the field, Cate Campbell is the heavy favorite to win this race. I think there are a lot of women behind her who will battle it out for the medals, but I don't know if even Missy Franklin, with her busy schedule, will be able to stop this Aussie. Aliaksandra Herasimenia was last summer's silver medalist in this event, and the co-world champion in 2011, plus recently rocketed to third in the world this year at World University Games. Barring that she has not rested too much too soon, this bodes well for World Championships in a few weeks. Bronte Campbell has also had some strong swims so far this year, and I don't think the psychological benefits of having your sister with you in the ready room should be underestimated. Ranomi Kromowidjojo has not been quite as impressive as she was last year: coming into London, she was seeded first in the world with the only sub 53-second swim. This year she arrives in Barcelona tied for seventh, but I just can't sleep soundly counting out the Olympic gold medalist.


Commings
Gold:
Ranomi Kromowidjojo
Silver: Cate Campbell
Bronze: Missy Franklin
Dark horse: Aliaksandra Herasimenia

Ranomi Kromowidjojo (my favorite name in swimming!) didn't need to fully taper to qualify for the Dutch team going to world championships, so there was no point in showing her cards early in the season. It's not likely the reigning Olympic champion will falter in Barcelona, even with a resurgent Cate Campbell doing so well in these past few months. Anyone who can swim four times under 53.5 in a span of six months should be watched, though I worry that she's rested a little too much this year. Will she have it in her to go at least one more swim under 53 seconds? She's going to need it if she wants to overtake Kromo for the gold. Missy Franklin's freestyle has improved drastically since London, and I believe her newly-found confidence in the sprint free will carry over to a gold medal. She'll need to have a stronger front half of the race and not depend so much on that fast and furious final 15 meters. Herasimenia, the reigning co-world champion, could be a factor, but only if she didn't peak too soon at World University Games.


Rieder
Gold:
Cate Campbell
Silver: Ranomi Kromowidjojo
Bronze: Missy Franklin
Darkhorse: Britta Steffen

Kromowidjojo won the Olympic gold last year, but Campbell has been posting phenomenal times all year in the 100 free. While injuries and illness have limited Campbell over the past four years, particularly in the 100, she has finally shown her potential in the race this year. She leads the world rankings by six tenths of a second, having posted a 52.83 in April. Franklin, meanwhile, posted a lifetime best time of 53.43 at U.S. Nationals, and she figures to drop time in most of her events when she gets to Barcelona based on the time drops she posted at the Olympics last year. Campbell's sister Bronte could be in the medal mix, as will Jeanette Ottesen Gray, Femke Heemskerk and even Camille Muffat. Steffen, the 2008 Olympic champion and 2009 World Champion, has rebounded from an awful season last year, where she finished 12th in London. She has consistently swum in the 54-low range all year, and she should definitely factor into the final in Barcelona.


Tomorrow: 800 freestyle relay

Missed our previous previews? Click the links below.
400 freestyle ---- 400 freestyle relay ---- 100 butterfly ---- 100 backstroke ---- 200 freestyle ---- 100 breaststroke ---- 800 freestyle ---- 200 butterfly ---- 50 breaststroke ---- 200 individual medley ---- 50 backstroke

Agree or disagree with our world championship medal predictions? Sound off below in our comments section.