2019 FINA World Championships Predictions: Wide Open Battle Brewing in Men’s 200 Freestyle

Photo Courtesy: Peter H. Bick

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The men’s 200 free is one of the more wide open events on the schedule for the upcoming World Championships in Gwangju. Reigning World and Olympic Champion Sun Yang of China is one of the favorites but will have his hands full with the likes of Great Britain’s Duncan Scott and Australia’s Kyle Chalmers.

Sun won the Olympic title in 2016 and the world title in 2017. But in 2019 the world title is within reach of several athletes. 2018 European champion Scott had a big breakthrough last summer by winning his first individual medal in an international senior meet. Scott, who was the 2015 European Junior Champion in the 100 and 200 free, won six medals at the 2018 Commonwealth Games, including a gold in the 100 free and bronze in the 200. Those efforts caused Scott to be selected as the flag bearer for Scotland in the Closing Ceremonies.

Scott returned later in the year to win four more medals at the European Championships in front of a home crowd in Glasgow. How will Scott swim in front of an Asian crowd that will be in favor of China’s Sun? Scott (1:45.34) had the number one time out of all four major international meets last summer while Sun (1:45.43) was second and Australia’s Chalmers was third (1:45.56) in a tie with American Townley Haas.

Chalmers has been on a roll the last 15 months. The 2016 Olympic Champion in the 100 freestyle sat out the 2017 Worlds to undergo heart surgery but has returned better than ever. Chalmers, now 21, has looked strong this season with the sixth fastest time in the world. Chalmers will be one of the favorites in the 100 free later in the week, but could set the tone with his 200 free on night three in Korea. “King Kyle” was featured on the cover of Swimming World Magazine for the July 2019 issue.

The top time in the world for 2019 actually belongs to 20-year-old Martin Malyutin of Russia, who was a 1:45.46 in April. Malyutin swam at Europeans last summer and was 32nd with a 1:49. He is a bit of an unknown as to what he is capable of on the world stage since his previous best before this year was a 1:47.54 on Russia’s prelims 4×200 free relay at Europeans last summer.

Malyutin is not far in front of Lithuania’s Danas Rapsys, who is another big wildcard in this event. Rapsys had the top time (1:45.12) in the world in 2018 but was beat by Scott in the Europeans final. Rapsys has shown he is in good form this year with his impressive swims at the FINA Champions Series, but he has yet to win a medal at the world level.

The Americans Haas and Andrew Seliskar are also expected to factor into the medals, but have not put up a time yet that would make them surefire favorites. Seliskar was a 1:46.89 at a Cal-Stanford summer duel meet while Haas was a 1:47.09 at the FINA Champions Series in Indianapolis. Haas has never been known as a good in-season swimmer but has been a 1:45 fully tapered the last three summers so he shouldn’t be counted out.

But the men’s 200 free is so wide open that it could be any number of the names mentioned above that could be standing atop the podium in Gwangju.

Current Records:

World Record: 1:42.00, Paul Biedermann, GER – 2009
Championships Record: 1:42.00, Paul Biedermann, GER – 2009
American Record: 1:42.96, Michael Phelps, USA – 2007

2017 World Champion: Sun Yang, CHN – 1:44.39
2018 Virtual World Champion: Duncan Scott, GBR – 1:45.34 (Europeans)
2019 Fastest Times:

  1. 1:45.46, Martin Malyutin, RUS
  2. 1:45.56, Danas Rapsys, LTU
  3. 1:45.63, Duncan Scott, GBR
  4. 1:45.63, Katsuhiro Matsumoto, JPN
  5. 1:45.73, Sun Yang, CHN
  6. 1:45.76, Kyle Chalmers, AUS
  7. 1:45.77, Dominik Kozma, HUN
  8. 1:45.88, Clyde Lewis, AUS

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

Andy’s Picks:

  1. Duncan Scott
  2. Kyle Chalmers
  3. Sun Yang

Dan’s Picks:

  1. Duncan Scott
  2. Sun Yang
  3. Kyle Chalmers

David’s Picks:

  1. Sun Yang
  2. Andrew Seliskar
  3. Duncan Scott

Diana’s Picks:

  1. Duncan Scott
  2. Sun Yang
  3. Kyle Chalmers

Taylor’s Picks:

  1. Duncan Scott
  2. Danas Rapsys
  3. Sun Yang

Read Up on Previous Picks:

Day 1:

Day 2:

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