Krzysztof Chmielewski Brings Talent and World Medals to USC; Brother Michal Also Making Impact For Trojans

Krzysztof Chmielewski -- Photo Courtesy: USC Athletics

Krzysztof Chmielewski Brings Talent and World Medals to USC; Brother Michal Also Making Impact For Trojans

The best swimmer in the world could be days away from a rematch with the man who came closest to him in the 200 butterfly final at the World Championships. As Leon Marchand pulled away from the field to secure his second of three individual titles in Fukuoka, Poland’s Krzysztof Chmielewski was racing through the field, his 29.84 split moving him from fourth at the final turn into second place at the finish, securing his first senior-level international medal at the age of 19 with a time of 1:53.62.

Now, Chmielewski has made the jump to college swimming, and his impact upon arrival to the University of Southern California has been instant. Having never raced in short course yards before, Chmielewski already ranks among the top-three swimmers in the country in his main events. He sits first in the 1650 freestyle (14:41.62), second in the 500 free (4:15.18) and third in the 200 fly (1:41.60). That mile time would have placed eighth at last year’s NCAA Championships while his 200 fly would have been B-final worthy at the national level.

Joining Chmielewski as a first-year Trojan for the 2023-23 season? His twin brother Michal, and don’t be surprised if he, too, contributes significantly right away. During their junior-level international careers, the brothers thrice finished 1-2 in the 200 fly at major meets, at the European Junior Championships in 2021 and 2022 as well as the World Junior Championships in 2022. The two also shared gold medals for Poland’s medley relays at the World Juniors meet, splitting butterfly duties between prelims and finals (with Krzysztof swimming in finals on the men’s relay and prelims on the mixed while Michal handled the mixed final and men’s prelim). This year, the brothers went 1-3 in the 200 fly at the European U23 Championships.

So far this college season, Michal owns a 200-yard fly best time of 1:43.43, sitting one spot behind his brother in the national rankings in fourth. Michal is also capable of impacting USC’s lineup in the freestyle events and possibly backstroke.

Krzysztof Chmielewski — Photo Courtesy: USC Athletics

Expect these brothers to provide an instant boost for a Southern California team that has struggled recently on the national level. Last season, only two USC swimmers qualified for the NCAA Championships, and the Trojans ended up with only 31 points, all of which came courtesy of Shangfei Wang in diving. But this year, expect Krzysztof to be a three-event individual scorer capable of surpassing that point total on his own, and Michal should get into the mix as well.

If a swimmer is capable of winning a World Championships silver medal, the prospect of a collegiate national title is very real, but Krzysztof will have to tangle with defending national champion Aiden Hayes of NC State and three others who swam sub-1:40 last year, Indiana’s Brendan Burns and the Cal duo of Gabriel Jett and Dare Rose. But there are also a pair of potential challengers from Arizona State that Chmielewski is surely already familiar with.

One is Marchand, although he will likely swim the 200 breaststroke instead of the 200 fly at the national meet. The other is Ilya Kharun, a freshman who has already clocked 1:40.68 in the event this season, placing him one spot ahead of the Chmielewski brothers in the national standings. In the aforementioned World Champs final of the 200-meter fly, Kharun tied for fourth while representing Canada, his time of 1:53.82 only two tenths behind Krzysztof, and his final-length split of 29.15 was by far quickest in the field.

Need a preview of how a 200 fly showdown between the Chmielewski brothers and the Sun Devil stars might shape up? One is hopefully coming at Saturday’s dual meet between Arizona State and USC, the last matchup between the two schools as Pac-12 rivals (with USC heading to the Big Ten next year and ASU to the Big 12). At least one 200 fly stud per school is likely to race the event in the dual meet.

Making the move across the world from Poland to Los Angeles can be daunting, but these brothers have not let the myriad of changes, including the introduction of short course yards, affect their swimming. These two swimmers, both internationally decorated on the junior level and one with a senior-level World Championships medal already won as a 19-year-old, are sure to shake up the national scene come March.

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1 month ago

Puzzled as to why in an article addressing 200 flyers, specifically including Sun Devils Marchand and Kharun, as well as setting apart returners who were sub-1:40 last year (Hayes, Burns, Jett and Rose) you would fail to mention the Sun Devil school-record holder, ahead of both Marchand and Kharun, with a sub-1:40 swim for Silver at Pac-12s last year behind Jett. Alex Colson set the ASU school mark at 1:39.55. Colson was an NCAA A-finalist in the race in both 2022 and 2023. Everyone listed in the article is worthy of inclusion. So is Colson.

1 month ago

I must not have hit enter to send my prior comment on the subject. You mention two ASU swimmers (Marchand and Kharun) but not the school record holder with a PB over a second faster than Kharun. Alex Colson, an NCAA A-finalist in 2022 and 2023, is the ASU school record holder at 1:39.55 (2nd to Jett at 2023 Pac-12s), ahead of Marchand (PB 1:39.57) and Kharun (PB 1:40.68). Please either edit your piece or post one of my comments covering the subject. Alex deserves the props. Thanks, David.

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