2019 FINA World Championships Predictions: Can Great Britain Take Down the Americans in the Men’s 4×100 Medley Relay?

james-guy-gbr-2017-world-champs
Great Britain has threatened to take down the Americans in the men's 4x100 medley relay. Photo Courtesy: SIPA USA

Editorial content for the 2019 World Championships coverage is sponsored by FORM Swim Goggles. See full event coverage. Follow FORM on Instagram at @FORMSwim #swimwithform FORM Swim-Logo

The final event of the 2019 FINA World Championships will be the men’s 4×100 medley relay. The United States has won six of the last eight World titles in this event, and the years they did not win were because of disqualifications. The United States hasn’t actually touched second at the Worlds since 2001 when Australia’s Ian Thorpe won the relay for them. The Americans are favorites this summer, but it won’t be easy.

The four best Americans this year in their respective 100s have been Ryan MurphyMichael AndrewCaeleb Dressel and Zach Apple. The freestyle leg could go to any number of swimmers with the likes of Blake Pieroni and Nathan Adrian also available as options. The one glaring weakness for the Americans is the breaststroke leg. Andrew’s season best time of 59.52 is only 17th in the world, which will hinder their chances for another gold medal. The Americans’ biggest challengers should be the British, who were second in Rio and in Budapest. They are headlined by Adam Peaty, who is Mr. 57 in the 100 breast.

Peaty is likely to go a low 57 or high 56 (like he did at the Olympics) and like in the women’s relay, that will be the key for the British and the Americans. If Andrew (or Andrew Wilson) can keep close to Peaty, that will spell good news for the Americans. The British also have a key disadvantage compared to the Americans, that being the backstroke leg. USA’s Murphy is a favorite to win the 100 back gold while Britain’s Luke Greenbank has only managed a 53.92 this year. Those discrepancies could cancel each other out, leaving the race to come down to the final two legs.

The British and the Americans are fairly even on the butterfly and freestyle. Caeleb Dressel has the upper hand over James Guy on fly while Duncan Scott has a slight advantage over Pieroni on the freestyle. The Brits have never won this event on the world level, and this could be the year they change that.

The top time in the world in 2018 actually came from China, which won a thriller at the Asian Games over Japan. China swam with Xu Jiayu, Yan ZibeiLi Zhuhao and Yu Hexin last summer to swim the fastest time in the world at 3:29.99. Can China do that again at the World Championships? If it does, it would be the first time an Asian country won a men’s relay at the World Championships. Xu is one of the best backstrokers in the world and is just one of three swimmers to ever break 52 in the event. Yan is currently ranked fourth in the world in the 100 breast while Li is 12th in the world in the 100 fly.

China’s strength comes in the front half as does Japan’s, which had the second-fastest time in the world in 2018. The Japanese have strength up front with Ryosuke Irie and Yasuhiro Koseki, who have been consistent performers this decade. Japan’s Achilles heel the last 15 years or so has been the anchor leg. But the Japanese now have Katsumi Nakamura likely anchoring and he was a 48.12 earlier this year.

Australia could also factor into the medals. Its strengths are in the backstroke and freestyle with Mitch Larkin and Kyle Chalmers. The Australians just don’t have breaststrokers and butterflyers to compete with the likes of the United States and Great Britain. Matthew Wilson, who is much better at the 200 breast, is Australia’s best breaststroker this year at 59.67. David Morgan and Matthew Temple actually tied for first in the 100 fly at the Trials in June with a 51.47, which is world class and will keep them in the race. Chalmers has the top time in the world this year in the 100 free and has been known to be a strong finisher. If he is close on the anchor leg, he could run down anyone on the final 25.

The Russians won the bronze medal in Budapest two years ago and had the sixth-fastest time last year. The Russians have four strong legs on their team. Evgeny Rylov is a medal favorite in the 100 back and so is Anton Chupkov in the 100 breast. (If there was a 4×200 medley relay, the Russians would be a huge gold medal favorite). The only question mark for Russia is its back half. Andrei Minakov and Vladislav Grinev are both inexperienced at the World Championships, with both guys making their Worlds debuts this year. Minakov has had a very good junior career, winning six gold medals at the 2018 Youth Olympics and four more medals at the 2017 World Juniors. Can Minakov replicate that on the senior level? Vlad Morozov is also an option for the freestyle leg.

Current Records:

World Record: 3:27.28, United States, 2009 – Aaron Peirsol, Eric Shanteau, Michael Phelps, Dave Walters
Championships Record: 3:27.28, United States, 2009 – Aaron Peirsol, Eric Shanteau, Michael Phelps, Dave Walters
American Record: 3:27.28, 2009 – Aaron Peirsol, Eric Shanteau, Michael Phelps, Dave Walters

2017 World Champion: United States, 3:27.91 – Matt Grevers, Kevin Cordes, Caeleb Dressel, Nathan Adrian
2018 Fastest Times:

  1. 3:29.99, China (Asian Games)
  2. 3:30.03, Japan (Asian Games)
  3. 3:30.20, United States (Pan Pacs)
  4. 3:30.44, Great Britain (Europeans)
  5. 3:30.52, Australia (Pan Pacs)
  6. 3:32.03, Russia (Europeans)
  7. 3:32.16, Brazil (Pan Pacs)
  8. 3:33.52, Germany (Europeans)

Swimming World’s team of Andy RossDan D’AddonaDavid RiederDiana Pimer and Taylor Covington will be selecting their choices for the medals at World Championships in each event. Read below who everybody picked.

Andy’s Picks:

  1. United States
  2. Great Britain
  3. Russia

Dan’s Picks:

  1. United States
  2. Great Britain
  3. China

David’s Picks:

  1. United States
  2. Great Britain
  3. Australia

Diana’s Picks:

  1. United States
  2. Great Britain
  3. China

Taylor’s Picks:

  1. United States
  2. China
  3. Great Britain

2019 FINA World Championships Predictions:

Day 1:

Day 2:

Day 3:

Day 4:

Day 5:

Day 6:

Day 7:

Day 8:

2 comments

  1. Chris Laybourn

    GB ready to upset the Americans!!!

  2. Bennie Bouwer

    Would be great upset Unlikely to happen