2019 FINA World Championships Predictions: Chase Kalisz Looking to Repeat in Men’s 200 IM

Chase Kalisz will be looking to repeat his 200 IM gold from 2017. Photo Courtesy: SIPA USA

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USA’s Chase Kalisz carried on the tradition for the United States in the men’s 200 IM at the 2017 World Championships. The Americans have won eight straight World titles in this event, stretching back to 2003 when Michael Phelps obliterated the world record in Barcelona. The last time a non-American won the men’s 200 IM at the World Championships, George W. Bush was in office and Tom Brady had yet to win a Super Bowl. Although this streak is not as well-known as the USA men’s backstroke streak at the Olympics, it is still noteworthy. Kalisz carried the torch that was passed on to him from Phelps and current world record holder Ryan Lochte. Can Kalisz extend that streak to nine straight world championships?

Kalisz has always been known as a good in-season swimmer, but he hasn’t looked as crisp this year. Granted, his best in-season time is a 1:57.21 from 2017 and he was a 1:57.68 in January, but he doesn’t seem to be the overwhelming favorite this year. Of course, he could prove all the critics wrong and go a 1:55 in Gwangju. Even though he is not ranked at the top of the world rankings for 2019, he is still a favorite to win the gold medal.

Australia’s Mitch Larkin has seemed to come out of nowhere as a 200 IMer this last year. He was second to Kalisz last summer at Pan Pacs with a 1:56.21, which put him second in the world for 2018. Larkin now has the top time in the world at 1:55.72 from June and is looking dangerous. Larkin has always been known as a backstroker, winning the world titles in the 100 and 200 back in 2015, and winning the Olympic silver medal in 2016 in the 200. But he has reemerged as an IMer in 2019 and has put himself in the running to end the American streak. It wouldn’t be the first time Larkin has threatened to end an American streak as he was one of the favorites to end the backstroke streak in Rio. An Australian has never won this event at the World Championships, and they only have silver from Ian Thorpe in 2003 and bronze from Justin Norris in 2001. If Larkin wins the gold, it would be historic.

China’s Wang Shun has always been a quiet contender in this event. He won a bronze in Rio, running down the likes of Lochte and Thiago Pereira, and also won a bronze in Budapest two years ago. Wang has always been a great closer in the 200 IM and if he turns within a half second of the leaders in Gwangju, then he is capable of stealing the gold.

A notable piece that will be missing this summer is Japan’s Kosuke Hagino. He pulled out of consideration for the World Championships this year, citing lack of motivation for the future. He will not be swimming at Worlds to focus on preparing for the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo. Hagino won the silver medal in Rio as well as in Budapest. He was beat by Wang last summer at the Asian Games but he would have been a medal favorite in Gwangju had he been at 100%.

Daiya Seto will be filling Hagino’s void in this event as he is searching for his first medal in this event at the world level. Seto won the 400 IM world title twice but has yet to win a medal in the 200. Seto was a 1:56.69 in April so he has shown he has the speed. The 25-year-old seems to have yet hit his peak in this sport. Without Hagino and without 100 butterflyer Rikako Ikee, Seto is now one of the faces of Japanese swimming to get a gold medal next summer in Tokyo. Although Seto’s best chance is in the 400 IM, the 200 IM will be a nice warmup for the 400 later in the week.

Switzerland’s Jeremy Desplanches is another outside chance at a medal. The 2018 European champion also seems to be a late bloomer as he was just off his best time earlier this year in April. Desplanches was eighth in Budapest but moved up to 18th all-time with his swim in the semifinals. If he can put together a similar swim in the finals, then he could have a chance at a medal.

The big mystery is if Great Britain’s Duncan Scott will be swimming this event at Worlds. He was a 1:56.65 in April, which was the fastest time in the world for a while. Scott also qualified to swim the 100 and 200 free, which means he will be on the 4×200 free and 4×100 medley relays. A mixed relay is also a possibility for him, so he may decide to scratch the 200 IM heats as the week progresses. This event comes after the 200 and 100 free, events where he is a medal favorite, so he may decide to give it a rest after putting it all out there. But if Scott does decide to swim, then he is certainly capable of a medal. He didn’t swim it at the 2017 Worlds, but he did win the silver, behind Larkin, at Commonwealth Games last year.

Current Records:

World Record: 1:54.00, Ryan Lochte, USA – 2011
Championships Record: 1:54.00, Ryan Lochte, USA – 2011
American Record: 1:54.00, Ryan Lochte – 2011

2017 World Champion: Chase Kalisz, USA – 1:55.56
2018 Virtual World Champion: Chase Kalisz, USA – 1:55.40 (Pan Pacs)
2019 Fastest Times:

  1. 1:55.72, Mitch Larkin, AUS
  2. 1:56.65, Duncan Scott, GBR
  3. 1:56.66, Wang Shun, CHN
  4. 1:56.69, Daiya Seto, JPN
  5. 1:56.89, Jeremy Desplanches, SUI
  6. 1:57.68, Chase Kalisz, USA
  7. 1:57.70, Caio Pumputis, BRA
  8. 1:57.89, Qin Haiyang, CHN

*Michael Andrew was a 1:57.49 in April but will not be swimming the 200 IM at World Championships.

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. Wang Shun
  2. Chase Kalisz
  3. Mitch Larkin

Dan’s Picks:

  1. Chase Kalisz
  2. Mitch Larkin
  3. Wang Shun

David’s Picks:

  1. Chase Kalisz
  2. Mitch Larkin
  3. Wang Shun

Diana’s Picks:

  1. Mitch Larkin
  2. Chase Kalisz
  3. Duncan Scott

Taylor’s Picks:

  1. Chase Kalisz
  2. Mitch Larkin
  3. Wang Shun

2019 FINA World Championships Predictions:

Day 1:

Day 2:

Day 3:

Day 4:

Day 5:

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1 comment

  1. Peter Robinson

    Why is the Chinese drug cheat Swimming?

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