Top-10 Ranking: Ariarne Titmus World Record Leads Women’s Performances of Summer 2022

Ariarne Titmus
Ariarne Titmus -- Photo Courtesy: Delly Carr

Ariarne Titmus World Record Leads Top Women’s Performances of Summer 2022

A busy stretch of senior-level international competition wrapped up earlier this month with the World Championships, Commonwealth Games and European Championships all held in quick succession. Not all of the world’s top performers were in the same place at the same time, but most of the world’s top swimmers finished with some big performances to start off the new Olympic cycle. We previously ranked the top 10 men’s swims, and now here are the best women’s efforts, with the only individual world record of the year topping the list – with a bit of leniency allowed for its May delivery.

1. Ariarne Titmus: 400 Freestyle (Australian Championships) — 3:56.40 WR

The remarkable swim from 21-year-old Aussie Ariarne Titmus to take down Katie Ledecky’s world record in the 400 free at Australia’s top domestic meet in May stood up as the top women’s effort of the year. The record had lasted six years since Ledecky’s dominant effort at the 2016 Olympics, and after the two swimmers faced off in a legendary Olympic final last year, Titmus was practically alone as she swam the fastest eight laps ever by a female swimmer and ended Ledecky’s eight-year run as history’s top performer in the event.

2. Summer McIntosh: 400 IM (Commonwealth Games) — 4:29.01

Summer McIntosh was not yet 16 when she won a pair of individual gold medals at the World Championships (200 butterfly and 400 IM) and scored another two individual triumphs at the Commonwealth Games (400 IM and 200 IM). She also moved into sub-4:00 territory in the 400 free with silver medals at both Worlds (behind Ledecky) and Commonwealth Games (behind Titmus) and swam a 200 free that would have been good enough for a world title. But her best effort was the 4:29.01 in the Commonwealth Games 400 IM, faster than any swimmer in six years and behind only Olympic champions Katinka Hosszu and Ye Shiwen on the all-time list.


Katie Ledecky — Photo Courtesy: Andrea Staccioli / Deepbluemedia / Insidefoto

3. Katie Ledecky: 800 Freestyle (World Championships) — 8:08.04

After a decade of winning international gold medals in the distance races, Ledecky has set a ridiculously high standard for her own swimming, but her results in 2022 were her best in a long time. She swept the 400, 800 and 1500 free gold medals at Worlds, and her best swim was in the 16-lap race, where she swam the fifth-fastest performance in history, her fastest time in more than four years and move than five seconds quicker than any other human ever.

4. Alex Walsh: 200 IM (World Championships) — 2:07.13

After breaking out with an Olympic silver medal in the 200 IM last year, Alex Walsh established herself as the world’s premier 200 IMer this year with a series of sizzling performances at the NCAA Championships (in yards), U.S. International Team Trials and then World Championships. The global final was a dominant effort for the American as she posted the fastest split on the first three strokes on the way to a 1.44-second victory and the 10th-fastest mark in history. Only four swimmers had ever surpassed Walsh’s time of 2:07.13, and no one had been quicker since Katinka Hosszu in 2019.

5. Madison Wilson, Kiah Melverton, Mollie O’Callaghan & Ariarne Titmus: 800 Freestyle Relay (Commonwealth Games) — 7:39.29

The Australian women entered the Tokyo Olympics as strong favorites for 800 free relay gold, but they could not deliver. But at the Commonwealth Games, a team that included Titmus and Mollie O’Callaghan, the 18-year-old who won the 100 free world title and took silver in the 200 free, had enough to swim one second under the previous world record and two seconds faster than the United States’ winning time in the event from Worlds. O’Callaghan split under 1:55 for the first time, while Titmus anchored in a 1:52.82 split that was the fastest in history.

6. Torri Huske: 100 Butterfly (World Championships) — 55.64

It was a watered-down field in the 100 fly in Budapest, but Torri Huske was the dominant swimmer through prelims, semifinals and finals, and she made up for finishing just one hundredth off the podium in the event in Tokyo. In the final, Huske never trained, and she won by a half-second, clipping her American record while becoming the fourth-fastest swimmer ever. None of her top rivals (including Zhang YufeiEmma McKeon and Maggie Mac Neil) would even crack the 56-second barrier this year. The swim was the first international gold of Huske’s career, and she took on a big role for the U.S. at the World Championships as she swam four individual events and four relays. She ended up with six medals overall.

7. Mollie O’Callaghan: 100 Freestyle (World Championships) — 52.67

The World Champs final was not O’Callaghan’s fastest 100 free swim of the year, but it was the moment when she affirmed her spot as the next great Aussie sprinter, following in the lineage of McKeon, sisters Cate and Bronte CampbellLibby Trickett and Jodie Henry, to name a few from the last two decades. O’Callaghan is the best closer of that group, as she sat sixth in the Budapest final after 50 meters before overhauling a strong field that included world-record holder Sarah Sjostrom to claim gold.

SJOSTROM Sarah SWE 100m Freestyle Women Heats Swimming FINA 19th World Championships Budapest 2022 Budapest, Duna Arena 22/06/22 Photo Giorgio Scala / Deepbluemedia / Insidefoto

Sarah Sjostrom — Photo Courtesy: Giorgio Scala / Deepbluemedia / Insidefoto

8. Sarah Sjostrom: 50 Freestyle (World Championships) — 23.98

This was not Sjostrom’s fastest time of her career or even of the year, but it was enough to earn her 10th individual world title — 13 years after her first such honor at the 2019 World Championships in Rome. One day after winning her fifth consecutive world title in the 50 fly, Sjostrom got the better of Poland’s Kasia Wasick by two tenths in Budapest, a huge margin in the splash-and-dash.

9. Lara Van Niekirk: 100 Breaststroke (Commonwealth Games) — 1:05.47

A South African winning gold in the 100 breaststroke at the Commonwealth Games? Not a huge surprise, considering that Tatjana Schoenmaker was the Olympic silver medalist in the 100 breast last year before winning gold in world-record time in the 200 breast. But instead, it was 19-year-old Lara Van Niekirk winning gold over her decorated countrywoman by more than a second, jumping herself into elite breaststroke territory in the process. Van Niekirk also won Commonwealth gold in the 50 breast and Worlds bronze in the event. South Africa did not send any female swimmers to the Olympics as recently as 2016, but now, the nation has two of the best breaststrokers in the world, plus a third strong performer in Kaylene Corbett.

10. Maggie Mac Neil: 100 Butterfly (Commonwealth Games) — 56.36

Because of physical and mental health concerns, Mac Neil chose to swim only relays at the World Championships, but she was back in the game in the 100 fly at the Commonwealth Games, where she won a tight showdown with McKeon by just two hundredths, 56.36 to 56.38. The time was not quite at the level at which Mac Neil swam while winning Olympic gold last year, but she showed grit to get her hands on the wall first after a less-than-perfect year.

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Angello J Malefakis
Angello J Malefakis
1 year ago

Ridiculous ranking. Where is David Popovic world record in the 100 meter freestyle? That is head and shoulders above the rest period.

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