2019 FINA World Championships Predictions: Kristof Milak Trying to Dethrone Chad Le Clos in Men’s 200 Fly

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Photo Courtesy: deepbluemedia/Giorgio Scala

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The men’s 200 butterfly at the World Championships looks to be the Kristof Milak show. The Hungarian burst on to the scene, seemingly out of nowhere, at the 2017 Worlds with a silver medal in one of the fastest fields ever assembled in the 100 fly. Milak then followed that up with four gold medals at the World Junior Championships in Indianapolis. His 200 fly at the 2017 European Juniors (1:53.79) would have won him a bronze medal in Budapest. And he was just 17-years-old.

Milak proved 2017 was not a fluke when he won the European title last summer at 1:52.79. The impressive part for Milak was that he was within a tenth of Michael Phelps’ world record pace through 150 meters. And he looked disappointed when he finished that race last summer in Glasgow. Did he think he could take down Phelps’ world record or did he just want to break 1:52? Either way, Milak has clearly set his goals high and if he is on point in Gwangju, then it will be hard for anyone to catch him.

The closest swimmer to Milak is fellow Hungarian Tamas Kenderesi, who won the bronze medal in Rio. Kenderesi was a big favorite to win a medal at the 2017 Worlds in Budapest, but fell to fourth place. Kenderesi was second at Europeans last summer and actually lowered his best time this year with a 1:53.42 in March. He is in good form thus far in 2019 but his season best times the last two years have been outside of the major meets. Will that trend continue for Kenderesi?

The reigning World Champion is South Africa’s Chad Le Clos, who has medaled at every major long course meet in this event since shocking Phelps for gold at the 2012 Olympics. Le Clos is one of just five swimmers to break 1:53 but he hasn’t done that in seven years. Le Clos won the gold at Commonwealth Games last summer with a 1:54. He didn’t have a rest meet at the conclusion of last summer, but he has always showed up to the fight. If Le Clos can win gold in the 200 fly in Gwangju, then he becomes the second man to win the 200 fly three times after Phelps won five golds. Eight men have won at least three world titles in the same event, so Le Clos will be joining an exclusive group if he can pull off the gold medal.

Japan’s Daiya Seto has been enjoying a tremendous year. Seto won bronze in Budapest behind Le Clos and Laszlo Cseh, who won’t be swimming the 200 fly in Korea. Seto is currently fourth in the world for 2019 at 1:54.44, not far off his best of 1:54.03 from 2017. The Japanese will be looking to gain some momentum heading into the Olympic year where they will be hosting the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo. With Kosuke Hagino sitting out this year to find his love for the sport again and Rikako Ikee battling leukeumia, Seto seems to be the best gold medal hope for Japan. Seto’s chances at a gold at Worlds will be greater in the 400 IM, but he will definitely have a chance to win a medal in the 200 fly.

Australia’s David Morgan, who has been a consistent member of the Australian team, is ranked sixth in the world. He has never won a medal at a Worlds or Olympics, but put up a good 1:55.26 at the Trials in June. Australia has actually never won a medal at the World Championships in the 200 fly so if Morgan can get down to a 1:54, he could make history for the Aussies.

The United States will be sending Justin Wright and Zach Harting to Worlds in this event. Neither of them are ranked in the top 50 in the world this year with Wright (1:57.93) and Harting (1:58.56) needing major drops to factor in Korea. Wright and Harting were sixth and ninth in the world last year with their tapered times so they have some room to improve.

Current Records:

World Record: 1:51.51, Michael Phelps, USA – 2009
Championships Record: 1:51.51, Michael Phelps, USA – 2009
American Record: 1:51.51, Michael Phelps – 2009

2017 World Champion: Chad Le Clos, RSA, 1:53.33
2018 Virtual World Champion: Kristof Milak, HUN, 1:52.79 (Europeans)
2019 Fastest Times:

  1. 1:53.19, Kristof Milak, HUN
  2. 1:53.42, Tamas Kenderesi, HUN
  3. 1:54.44, Daiya Seto, JPN
  4. 1:54.64, Federico Burdisso, ITA
  5. 1:55.26, David Morgan, AUS
  6. 1:55.48, Chad Le Clos, RSA
  7. 1:55.70, Leonardo De Deus, BRA
  8. 1:56.01, David Thomasberger, GER

*USA’s Gianluca Urlando was a 1:53.84 in June but will not be swimming at the 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. Kristof Milak
  2. Daiya Seto
  3. Chad Le Clos

Dan’s Picks:

  1. Kristof Milak
  2. Daiya Seto
  3. Chad Le Clos

David’s Picks:

  1. Kristof Milak
  2. Chad Le Clos
  3. Daiya Seto

Diana’s Picks:

  1. Kristof Milak
  2. Tamas Kenderesi
  3. Daiya Seto

Taylor’s Picks:

  1. Kristof Milak
  2. Tamas Kenderesi
  3. Daiya Seto

2019 FINA World Championships Predictions:

Day 1:

Day 2:

Day 3:

Day 4:

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