2019 FINA World Championships Predictions: Michael Andrew’s Time to Shine in 50 Back?

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Photo Courtesy: Peter H. Bick

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The men’s 50 back at the World Championships is wide open considering the three medalists from 2017 are not returning. Camille Lacourt has retiredJunya Koga has been suspended and Matt Grevers did not qualify to swim this event. That leaves the door wide open for the next champion and that could be American Michael Andrew. Andrew has the second-fastest time in the world after Russia’s Mark Nikolaev, but Nikolaev won’t be swimming this event in Gwangju, thus leaving Andrew as the top seed. Andrew was a 24.39 at the Sette Colli in Rome in June, which puts him 13th all-time. He has indicated that he wants to be the fastest in the world in all four 50s. He will have a chance to prove that in Gwangju as he is swimming all four 50s at Worlds.

Andrew will have his hands full with China’s Xu Jiayu, who was fifth in Budapest two years ago. Xu was a 24.47 in March and sits 14th all-time. He has a quick start, producing a .51 in the Budapest final, which was quicker than anyone else. He will probably be first to the 25 but it is a matter of putting together the full 50.

The world record was actually set last year with Russia’s Kliment Kolesnikov taking down Liam Tancock’s super suit world record from 2009 at 24.00. Kolesnikov just turned 19 and is no longer in the junior ranks, as he won this event (and five other events) at the Youth Olympics last year. Kolesnikov’s season best is a 24.58 from the FINA Champions Series in April. He will have a target on his back as the world-record holder. This will be his second trip to the World Championships and he is looking to improve on his 17th place finish in Budapest from 2017.

USA’s Ryan Murphy could be another popular pick for the gold medal in this event. The 50 back is not an Olympic event so many of the big names may choose to sit this event out in favor of other events, especially since the 4×100 medley relay is at the end of the session. Murphy is on the entry lists but his season best is only a 24.91 from the FINA Champions Series in Indianapolis. Murphy, however, has shown he has the speed in the 50 back when he was second at the Short Course World Championships in December behind Russia’s Evgeny Rylov.

Rylov is the other Russian entry in this event as the 200 back star will get a crack at the shortest distance. He was a 24.78 in June and he is also dangerous to win a medal.

South Africa’s Zane Waddell was also a popular bronze medal pick here as he was a 24.78 in April a few weeks after he helped Alabama win the 200 medley relay at NCAAs in March. Waddell had the fastest 50 back in short course yards this year with a 20.22 at SECs so he has plenty of speed. How will he fare without a turn? It shouldn’t be a problem for Waddell, who won the World University Games with a 24.48. Keep an eye on Ireland’s Shane Ryan, who enters action as the fourth seed and was the bronze medalist at last year’s European Championships.

Current Records:

World Record: 24.00, Kliment Kolesnikov, RUS – 2018
Championships Record: 24.04, Liam Tancock, GBR – 2009
American Record: 24.24, Ryan Murphy – 2018

2017 World Champion: Camille Lacourt, FRA – 24.35
2018 Fastest Time: Kliment Kolesnikov, RUS – 24.00 (Europeans)
2019 Fastest Times:

  1. 24.39, Michael Andrew, USA
  2. 24.47, Xu Jiayu, CHN
  3. 24.48, Zane Waddell, RSA
  4. 24.58, Kliment Kolesnikov, RUS
  5. 24.59, Robert Glinta, ROU
  6. 24.65, Jeremy Stravius, FRA
  7. 24.78, Evgeny Rylov, RUS
  8. 24.84, Michael Laitarovsky, ISR

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. Xu Jiayu
  2. Michael Andrew
  3. Zane Waddell

Dan’s Picks:

  1. Michael Andrew
  2. Xu Jiayu
  3. Zane Waddell

David’s Picks:

  1. Kliment Kolesnikov
  2. Xu Jiayu
  3. Ryan Murphy

Diana’s Picks:

  1. Michael Andrew
  2. Xu Jiayu
  3. Kliment Kolesnikov

Taylor’s Picks:

  1. Michael Andrew
  2. Xu Jiayu
  3. Zane Waddell

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