25 Best Male Swimmers of 2015

Kosuke Hagino
Photo Courtesy: Joao Marc Bosch

By Andrew Ross, Swimming World College Intern

I’ve always wondered what and how swimmers would be rated if there was a swimming video game. ESPN has been doing NBA rankings the last four years where they rate all the players on a scale of 1-10 and rank their score to get an accurate depiction of who the best players are. Golf also has individual player rankings determined by a specific formula.

I’ve wanted to see what a list for swimming would look like so I scored the individual world rankings (top 24) like a championship meet to get as close to an accurate ranking system as possible. First place gets 32 points with a world record counting as double points. I also only accounted for Olympic events so the 50s were not scored. Sure, it has flaws but that’s the point of rankings, right? I also did the same to the 2014 world rankings to give a comparison on what swimmers are improving and which ones aren’t.

So, without further ado, the first individual world ranking list; the 25 best male swimmers of 2015:

  1. Kosuke Hagino JPN      103     Age: 21           5’9”     156LB

Kosuke Hagino Doha 2014

Photo Courtesy: FINA Doha 2014

2014 rank: 1

400 IM: 4:08.54, 2nd, 200 IM: 1:56.30, 3rd, 200 Free: 1:45.82, 5th, 400 Free: 3:45.19, 7th

Wait, who? An injury kept him from competing in the World Championships. Otherwise, everyone might know his name by now. He could have won two or three gold medals and definitely four medals in total had he been healthy in Kazan. But the 21-year-old will have to wait until next year to show the world what he can do. He also could be one of the busiest swimmers at the Olympics as he is also a good backstroker. Whether you think he should be ranked ahead of Phelps is your opinion, but one thing is certain: this could be the next Phelps when the real one is all done with the sport of swimming.

  1. Chad Le Clos RSA     99       Age: 23           6’1”     172LB

FINA World Championships Chad le Clos

Photo Courtesy: R-Sport / MIA Rossiya Segodnya

2014 rank: 2

100 Fly: 50.56, 2nd, 200 Fly: 1:53.68, 3rd, 100 Free: 48.16, 6th, 200 Free: 1:46.10, 9th

Le Clos is one of the best racers in the world. I cannot wait to watch him, Phelps and Cseh go at it in Rio. He sparked a little controversy after he talked trash to Phelps after Le Clos won the 100 fly gold in Kazan. But regardless, he is a great competitor and he is definitely a favorite to repeat gold in Rio in the 200 as well as challenge in the 100 fly and 200 free.

  1. Michael Phelps USA     96       Age: 30           6’4”     194LB

michael-phelps-200-butterfly-

Photo Courtesy: Peter Bick

2014 rank: 7

200 IM: 1:54.75, 1st, 100 Fly: 50.45, 1st, 200 Fly: 1:52.94, 1st

The greatest swimmer of all time had a roaring 2015 with three number one ranked times. He will, once again, be the swimmer to watch in Rio as this could actually be his last meet ever. He already has more medals than anyone ever and he still has three world records, so Phelps is essentially swimming for the joy of it, which could be game over for the rest of the world.

  1. Adam Peaty GBR     89       Age: 20           6’3”     189LB

Adam Peaty world-championships

Photo Courtesy: R-Sport / MIA Rossiya Segodnya

2014 rank: 27

100 Breast: 57.92, 1st (WR), 200 Breast: 2:08.34, 5th

He was the only man to break a world record in 2015 and I think he still has room to improve. After all, he is still only 20 years old. But, his best times from the year were at the British Nationals in April. If he wants to be considered a great swimmer, he is going to have to be at his best in the Olympics. A 2:13 will not cut it for him. Regardless, he is in line to win three medals in Rio with both breaststrokes and an improving British medley relay.

  1. Sun Yang CHN    84       Age: 23           6’6”     196LB

sun-yang-world-championships-2

Photo Courtesy: Maria Dobysheva

2014 rank: 6

400 Free: 3:42.58, 1st, 200 Free: 1:45.20, 2nd, 1500 Free: 14:55.11, 6th

Sun is still one of the most famous swimmers in the world, even though he hasn’t touched his times from the London Olympics. He is a great racer who always dictates the pace in the distance events. He hangs out with the field and then destroys everyone in the last 50. An illness kept him from competing in the 1500 final in Kazan and he probably would’ve been beaten had he swam it. Regardless, the target will be on his back in Rio, where he will try to defend his two gold medals.

  1. Daiya Seto JPN      80       Age: 21           5’9”     159LB

daiya-seto-world-championships

Photo Courtesy: Maria Dobysheva

2014 rank: 4

400 IM: 4:08.50, 1st, 200 Fly: 1:54.46, 6th, 200 IM: 1:56.82, 6th

Seto had a relatively disappointing World Championships, but rebounded to defend his 400 IM title. With a lot of attention on Phelps and Le Clos in the 200 Fly next year, Seto could fly under the radar and be the spoiler. He swam a 1:54.0 in the 2014 Asian Games and if he gets a medal in the 400 IM, his confidence could be through the roof for the rest of the meet.

  1. Laszlo Cseh HUN    68       Age: 29           6’2”     181LB

FINA World Championships Laszlo Cseh

Photo Courtesy: R-Sport / MIA Rossiya Segodnya

2014 rank: 49

200 Fly: 1:53.48, 2nd, 100 Fly: 50.87, 3rd, 200 IM: 1:58.31, 14th

This man has swum just about every event on the international stage over the last 10 years. It is crazy to think that he has a chance to win a gold next summer after the Olympics because I thought he was done after the plastic suits were banned. Cseh should be a part of the two best races in the Olympics next summer: the 100 and 200 butterfly.

  1. Cameron McEvoy AUS     66.5    Age: 21           6’0”     160LB

Cameron McEvoy

Photo Courtesy: Delly Carr

2014 rank: 11

100 Free: 47.94, 2nd, 200 Free: 1:45.94, 7th, 50 Free: 22.03, 20th

McEvoy had a breakout 2014 and a good 2015, but couldn’t get the elusive gold in the 100 to carry on the Australian tradition. But, did anyone see his medley relay split? That 46.60 was cooking. If he replicates that in Rio, Australia’s relays will be dangerous.

  1. Mitchell Larkin AUS     60       Age: 22           6’2”     159LB

mitch-larkin-world-championships-2015

Photo Courtesy: R-Sport / MIA Rossiya Segodnya

2014 rank: 28

200 Back: 1:53.58, 1st, 100 Back: 52.37, 2nd

The dual world champion took everyone by surprise in Kazan. It looks like there is a new sheriff in town as the Australian could be the first non-American to win an Olympic gold in a men’s backstroke event since Martin Lopez-Zubero in 1992.

  1. Dan Wallace GBR 60       Age: 22

article-0-1FFCB1DF00000578-302_634x419

Photo Courtesy: Getty Images

2014 rank: 23

200 IM: 1:57.59, 8th, 400 IM: 4:12.78, 8th, 400 Free: 3:46.15, 11th, 200 Free: 1:47.04, 22nd

Wallace is one of the best racers and closers in the world. No. 10 might be a little high for him now, but he is still young and could be close to getting a medal next year in Rio. He is rapidly improving in the IMs and can run anyone down the last 100 if he is close.

  1. James Guy GBR 59       Age: 19           6’2”     183LB

james-guy-fina-world-championships

Photo Courtesy: R-Sport / MIA Rossiya Segodnya

2014 rank: 42

200 Free: 1:45.14, 1st, 400 Free: 3:43.75, 3rd

This guy (no pun intended) sent shockwaves throughout the world when he went toe-to-toe with Sun Yang in the 400 in Kazan. He then beat a stacked field in the 200 free to claim gold. To top it off he anchored Great Britain to a shocking victory in the 4×200 free relay (1:44.74). But what I am most surprised with is that One Direction hasn’t called him in for an audition to fill their empty slot. He fits the look after all.

  1. Ryan Murphy USA 57       Age: 20           6’3”     195LB

Ryan Murphy NCAA champion

Photo Courtesy: Peter H. Bick

2014 rank: 31

100 Back: 52.18, 1st, 200 Back: 1:55.00, 5th

The NCAA swimmer of the year continues to move on up in the world rankings and he climbed all the way to number one with a 52.18 in the 100 back. He did that in a mixed relay, but could not quite catch that swim later in the meet. He is still young but he is the backstroker of the future for the United States.

  1. Ryan Lochte USA 55       Age: 31           6’2”     194LB

ryan-lochte-world-championships-2

Photo Courtesy: Maria Dobysheva

2014 rank: 5

200 IM: 1:55.81, 2nd, 200 Free: 1:45.36, 3rd

This ranking is misleading as Lochte did not swim the 100 fly, 400 IM or 200 back; events that have been on his program the last few years. 2016 is likely his last go around and he will be looking to close his illustrious career with a bang.

  1. Mack Horton AUS 55       Age: 19           6’3”     194LB

mack-horton

Photo Courtesy: Speedo

2014 rank: 21

400 Free: 3:42.84, 2nd, 1500 Free: 14:44.09, 3rd

He had a great national meet in March, but could only get one medal at the Worlds in the 800. He is still young, but there are talks already that he is the next Grant Hackett. He is sort of the savior for distance swimming in Australia after their strong tradition was halted when Hackett retired. He is just going to have to step up in the big meets to prove he is for real.

  1. Tyler Clary USA 54       Age: 26           6’1”     185LB

tyler-clary-world-championships

Photo Courtesy: Maria Dobysheva

2014 rank: 3

400 IM: 4:11.71, 5th, 200 Back: 1:56.26, 7th, 200 Fly: 1:55.86, 19th

He has been a mainstay on the national team since 2009, but Clary is starting to lose his spark. He is no longer the young gun chasing the veterans. He is now the veteran in danger of losing his spot to a young gun.

  1. Connor Jaeger USA 52       Age: 24           6’1”     170LB

connor-jaeger-fina-world-championships-1

Photo Courtesy: Maria Dobysheva

2014 rank: 30

1500 Free: 14:41.20, 2nd, 400 Free: 3:44.81, 6th

Jaeger had a huge 2015 with a silver in the 1500 in Kazan. He also added an American record in the 1500 and is already among the talks for the gold medal in that race at the Olympics next year. Jaeger has been consistently improving since bursting onto the scene in 2012 and he is definitely a wild card for the 1500 gold medal.

  1. Vlad Morozov RUS 51.5    Age: 23           5’11”  161LB

vlad-morozov-world-championships-2015

Photo Courtesy: Maria Dobysheva

2014 rank: 16

100 Free: 47.98, 3rd, 50 Free: 21.56, 5th

The new Russian Rocket didn’t medal individually in Kazan but could still make some waves in Rio in the sprints. If the Olympics were short course meters, this guy would easily be the best swimmer of the meet. But, he will have to prove himself in the long course version.

  1. Josh Prenot USA 51       Age: 22           5’11”  167LB

josh-prenot-pan-pacs-2014 (1)

Photo Courtesy: Delly Carr

2014 rank: NR

200 Breast: 2:08.90, T8th, 400 IM: 4:13.15, 10th, 200 IM: 1:58.38, T15th

The Cal senior had a huge 2015 topped with a gold in the 200 breast and IM at the World University Games along with a silver in the 400 IM. Now that he has the confidence and experience, it will be interesting to see how he will do at the US Olympic Trials in those crowded events.

  1. Ryan Cochrane CAN 51       Age: 26           6’4”     180LB

Jul 17, 2015; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Ryan Cochrane of Canada celebrates after winning the men's 400m freestyle final the 2015 Pan Am Games at Pan Am Aquatics UTS Centre and Field House. Mandatory Credit: Rob Schumacher-USA TODAY Sports

Photo Courtesy: Rob Schumacher/USA Today Sports Images

2014 rank: 15

1500 Free: 14:51.08, 4th, 400 Free: 3:44.59, 5th

He has finished second or third in the 1500 in every major meet since 2008 but still does not have a gold medal. Rio will likely be his last chance to get the elusive gold but he will not only have to battle Sun Yang, but Connor Jaeger and Gregorio Paltrinieri over 1500 meters.

  1. Ryosuke Irie JPN 49       Age: 25           5’10”  137LB

ryosuke-irie-pan-pacs-2014

Photo Courtesy: Delly Carr

2014 rank: 10

200 Back: 1:54.62, 4th, 100 Back: 52.99, 7th

He has been a factor in every major meet in the 200 back since 2009, but he still does not have a gold medal. He had an off 2015, but Japan usually swims well in the Olympics so he will be one to watch in Rio.

  1. Xu Jiayu CHN 49       Age: 20           6’0”     160LB

Photo Courtesy: Joao Marc Bosch

Photo Courtesy: Joao Marc Bosch

2014 rank: 14

100 Back: 52.74, 5th, 200 Back: 1:55.13, 6th

This is another guy to look out for in the coming years. Xu did not medal in Kazan but he swam a 52.34 in the Asian Games in 2014. He is definitely capable of going fast, it’s just a matter of doing it in the big moment.

  1. Ross Murdoch GBR 48.5    Age: 21           6’0”     163LB

Ross Murdoch

Photo Courtesy: British Swimming

2014 rank: 13

100 Breast: 59.09, 4th, 200 Breast: 2:08.90, T8th

An injury kept him from the 200 in Kazan, but he made the most of his time in the pool with a bronze in the 100. He is considered a 200 specialist and it is scary to think what he can do when healthy. He will be swimming the Olympic Trials in Scotland, so the 200 breast world record could be in jeopardy.

  1. Evgeny Rylov RUS 47       Age: 18           6’0”     152LB

(140820) -- Nanjing, Aug 20,2014 (Xinhua) -- Evgeny Rylov of Russian Federation celebrates after the final of Men's 50m Backstroke of Nanjing 2014 Youth Olympic Games in Nanjing, capital of east China?s Jiangsu Province, on August 20, 2014. Evgeny Rylov won the gold. (Xinhua/Yue Yuewei) (lyq)

Photo Courtesy: Xinhua/Yue Yuewei

2014 rank: NR

200 Back: 1:54.60, 3rd, 100 Back: 53.14, 9th

The Russian crowd fueled him in Kazan but can he duplicate those results in Brazil? Regardless, he has a bright future in the sport. He could be the next Aaron Peirsol, but what do I know?

  1. Sebastiaan Verschuren NED 46       Age: 26           6’4”     183LB

Gian Mattia D'Alberto / lapresse 19-08-2014 Berlino sport 32mi Campionati Europei LEN di nuoto nella foto: Sebastiaan verschuren NED Gian Mattia D'Alberto / lapresse 19-08-2014 Berlin 32rd LEN European Swimming In the photo: Sebastiaan verschuren NED

Photo Courtesy: Gian Mattia Dalberto/Lapresse

2014 rank: NR

200 Free: 1:45.91, 6th, 100 Free: 48.25, 9th

He has been one of the best closers in the world the last few years. But, his lone individual international medal was at the 2010 European Championships in the 200 free. That could change within the next year.

  1. Nathan Adrian USA 44       Age: 26           6’6”     227LB

nathan-adrian-world-championships-2015

Photo Courtesy: Maria Dobysheva

2014 rank: 29

50 Free: 21.37, 2nd, 100 Free: 48.31, 12th

His 100 has not been the same since he won in London but his 50 this year was incredible. Adrian has been the go-to sprinter for the US since 2009. That experience will definitely benefit him next year for the Olympics.

The rest:

  1. Yasuhiro Koseki JPN 43       Age: 23           6’2”     181LB

200 Breast: 2:07.77, 2nd, 100 Breast: 59.73, 13th

  1. David McKeon AUS 42       Age: 23           6’5”     187LB

400 Free: 3:44.28, 4th, 200 Free: 1:46.33, 11th

  1. Jack Conger USA 42       Age: 21           6’4”     174LB

200 Fly: 1:54.54, 8th, 100 Fly: 51.33, 9th

  1. Joseph Schooling SIN 41.5    Age: 20           6’0”     163LB

100 Fly: 50.96, 4th, 200 Fly: 1:55.73, 15th, 100 Free: 48.58, 25th

  1. Mehdy Metella FRA 39       Age: 23           6’3”     200LB

100 Fly: 51.24, 6th, 100 Free: 48.37, 13th

  1. Dmitriy Balandin KAZ 39       Age: 20           6’5”     187LB

100 Breast: 59.38, 6th, 200 Breast: 2:09.22, 14th

  1. Thiago Pereira BRA 38       Age: 29           6’2”     148LB

200 IM: 1:56.65, 4th, 400 IM: 4:13.94, 15th

  1. Matt Grevers USA 37       Age: 30           6’7”     229LB

100 Back: 52.66, 4th, 200 Back: 1:57.43, 16th

  1. Tom Shields USA 36       Age: 24           6’3”     190LB

100 Fly: 51.03, 5th, 200 Fly: 1:55.75, 17th

  1. James Magnussen AUS 35.5    Age: 24           6’6”     207LB

100 Free: 48.18, 7th, 50 Free: 21.98, T16th

  1. Conor Dwyer USA 34.5    Age: 26           6’5”     194LB

200 IM: 1:57.96, 10th, 200 Free: 1:46.64, 16th, 400 Free: 3:47.53, 19th

  1. Roberto Pavoni GBR 34       Age: 24           5’9”     157LB

200 IM: 1:57.79, 9th, 400 IM: 4:13.81, 13th

  1. Evgeny Koptelov RUS 33.5    Age: 21           6’3”     159LB

200 Fly: 1:54.79, T9th, 100 Fly: 51.50, 12th

  1. Ning Zetao CHN 32       Age: 22           6’3”     179LB

100 Free: 47.84, 1st

  1. Marco Koch GER 32       Age: 25           6’1”     180LB

200 Breast: 2:07.76, 1st

  1. Florent Manaudou FRA 32       Age: 24           6’6”     223LB

50 Free: 21.19, 1st

  1. Gregorio Paltrinieri ITA 32       Age: 21           6’3”     159LB

1500 Free: 14:39.67, 1st

  1. Marco Orsi ITA 31.67  Age: 24           6’2”     200LB

50 Free: 21.86, T9th, 100 Free: 48.50, T19th

  1. Jan Switkowski POL 31       Age: 21           6’4”     179LB

200 Fly: 1:54.10, 4th, 200 Free: 1:47.03, 21st

  1. Cody Miller USA 31       Age: 23           5’11”  174LB

100 Breast: 59.51, 8th, 200 Breast: 2:09.08, T11th

  1. Kevin Cordes USA 30       Age: 22           6’5”     180LB

200 Breast: 2:08.05, 3rd, 100 Breast: 1:00.27, T23rd

  1. Danila Izotov RUS 29.5    Age: 23           6’4”     186LB

200 Free: 1:46.25, 10th, 100 Free: 48.41, T15th

  1. Radoslaw Kawecki POL 29       Age: 24           6’1”     163LB

200 Back: 1:54.55, 2nd, 100 Back: 53.90, 24th

  1. Cameron van der Burgh RSA 28       Age: 27           6’0”     190LB

100 Breast: 58.49, 2nd

  1. Michael McBroom USA 28       Age: 24           6’2”     170LB

1500 Free: 14:57.07, 10th, 400 Free: 3:46.69, 16th

11 comments

  1. Joydeb Mondol

    25 best times 13second, 2013 my age 17

  2. Ray House

    Impressive list. An incredible amount of work and time has to go into getting your name on this list. Something for a young fella to shoot for! Just saying :-).

  3. avatar
    superfan

    What was your critieria in these rankings?

  4. avatar
    LOLLERcoaster

    I can’t take this list seriously. It’s funny, actually. Incredibly biased, and ignorant of facts. Is this a comedy article?

  5. Robeson White

    Hagino is only 5’9″ thus proven height does not matter in the sport of swimming.

  6. Mark Van Deren

    I was hoping to make the list. I guess two days a week in the 86 degree YMCA pool and no meets isn’t cutting it, huh?