Why The Men’s 100 Fly May Be The Event Of This Summer

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By Dylan Evangelista, Swimming World College Intern.

As the 17th FINA World Championships begin to creep up, we enter a long course season without butterfly legend Michael Phelps, leaving the debate wide open as to who to keep an eye on this summer in the butterfly events.

While the 200 fly has some tough competitors, the 100 fly has some underdogs in the mix that just may find themselves moving up in the world rankings come July.

Joseph Schooling, Singapore

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Photo Courtesy: Erich Schlegel-USA TODAY Sports

Coming off of the Rio Olympics, Joseph Schooling has made it known that he is a force to be reckoned with in the pool. While he still needs some improvement at the 200 LCM distance, in the 100 fly Schooling has proved that he can do more than just win NCAA titles. After posting the fastest time in the world last summer, taking down both Phelps and Chad Le Clos, with a 50.39 on his way to Olympic gold, Schooling has heightened his ambitions.

He has made it no secret recently that his goals are oriented towards breaking that 50 second barrier. The current world record stands at a blazing 49.82 set by Michael Phelps at the 2009 World Championships in Rome. The fact that this record was set during the suit era seems to have done nothing to deter Schooling’s determination to break 50 seconds.

“I’m looking forward to that race and deep down I think if I do what I know I can do, if I execute everything well perfectly, I’d have a really good shot,” Schooling told Channel NewsAsia.

The 100 fly always makes for an exciting event, and while Schooling is sure to be in the mix this summer, there are several competitors that may find themselves standing on top of that podium when World Championships roll around.

Chad le Clos, South Africa

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Photo Courtesy: Anesh Debiky

Chad Le Clos is still a very large factor in this event. With a lifetime best of 50.56, and the reigning World Champion in the 100 fly, Le Clos currently holds the fastest time in the world this year with a 51.29.

While these two big names are expected to be major factors in this event, there is a great deal of rising butterfly talent that could make the 100 fly one of the most exhilarating events of these World Championships.

James Guy, Great Britain

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Photo Courtesy: Rob Schumacher-USA TODAY Sports

Great Britain’s James Guy is the reigning World Champion in the 200 free, but he has shown he can compete on the world stage in more than just freestyle. He swam the fly leg on Great Britain’s Olympic silver medal-winning 400 medley relay team in Rio, and he currently ranks third in the world this year with a time of 51.50 that he posted at the Japan Open. With improving speed and a fair amount of international experience now under his belt, Guy could surprise everyone with a spot on the podium this summer.

Li Zhuhao, China

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Photo Courtesy: Rob Schumacher-USA TODAY Sports

Even younger at 18 years old, is China’s national team member Li Zhuhao. In his first Olympic Games in Rio (when he was just 17), Li made the 100 meter butterfly final, finishing fifth in 51.26. He was just 0.12 behind Phelps, Le Clos and Laszlo Cseh, who finished in a three-way tie for second. In March, Zhuhao posted a 51.34 at the Arena Pro Swim Series in Indianapolis bumping him up to second in the world rankings this year.

Tom Shields, USA

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Photo Courtesy: Peter H. Bick

American swimmers mostly missing from the world rankings this year in this event, with Tom Shields the lone swimmer ranking in the top-20. (He is 15th at 52.09.) Keep in mind this time laid down by Shields was done mid-season at the Arena Pro Swim in Atlanta, indicating that he is on track to have a successful taper meet.

“I’ve been out faster with less energy lately, so the more and more I can do that the more and more I’ll get back to hopefully being 26 on the way home, which is the ideal situation,” Shields stated in a post-race interview regarding his 100 fly in Atlanta.

American men have a rich tradition of holding a place on the podium at the World Championships in this event, a tradition that has been stagnant the last two World Championships.

Jack Conger, USA

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Photo Courtesy: Peter H. Bick

Coming off of a successful senior year of collegiate swimming, Jack Conger is sure to be highly competitive in this event. With a lifetime best of 51.26 set in Omaha at last summer’s Olympic Trials, Conger is looking to dip under that 51 second barrier this summer and place himself among the best in the world.

Caeleb Dressel, USA

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Photo Courtesy: Peter H. Bick

Another potential candidate for success in this event is American sprint specialist Caeleb Dressel. While he has experienced tremendous success on the short course side of the sport, Dressel has only recently broken into his international career in long course swimming. Despite that his best 100 fly long course time stands at 52.22, he is the American record holder in the 100 fly short course, and has a lot left in the tank.

Dressel posted a 47.91 in the 100 free this past summer in Rio, revealing an incredible improvement in his long course abilities. With only one year left at the University of Florida, Dressel will turn to long course training more intensively soon enough, making the 100 fly a very possible addition to his long course regime.

With a great mix of talent sure to be in the field, the 100 fly has the potential to be the most anticipated race of this long course season.

All commentaries are the opinion of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Swimming World Magazine nor its staff.

5 Comments
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5 years ago

Youssef Yasser/Shahd Yasser

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5 years ago

THE USA has zero chance of winning this race,,,….just saying

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5 years ago

Tom Lindsay

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5 years ago
Reply to  David Smith

The Chinese guy is going to be amazing, was in the Rio final at 17!

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5 years ago

trè cool