World Championships: Maxime Grousset Tops Bruno Fratus in Swim-Off for 50 Freestyle Final; 100th 21-Second 50 Free for Fratus

Maxime Grousset France
Maxime Grousset -- Photo Courtesy: KMSP / Stéphane Kempinaire

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World Championships: Maxime Grousset Tops Bruno Fratus in Swim-Off for 50 Freestyle Final; 100th 21-Second 50 Free for Fratus

In the men’s 50 freestyle semifinals at the World Championships, two high-profile performers ended up on the verge of qualifying for the final when Maxime Grousset of France and Bruno Fratus of Brazil each swam times of 21.83 to tie for eighth place overall. That set up a swim-off at the end of the session to determine which swimmer would advance to the final. Both entered as candidates to win a medal: Grousset made the podium one day earlier when he took silver in the 100 free behind Romania’s David Popovici, while Fratus was the bronze medalist in the 50 free at last year’s Olympics.

In an extremely competitive head-to-head matchup, Grousset got the job done by three hundredths of a second. The 23-year-old Frenchman swam a mark of 21.59, compared to a 21.62 for the 32-year-old Brazilian. The times would have beaten everyone in the semifinal round aside from Ben Proud, who came in at 21.42 for the top time, but only Grousset will advance to swim for the medals Friday evening.

Notably, the swim-off was the 100th occasion in Fratus’ career when he has gone under 22 seconds for the 50 freestyle, by far the most of anyone in history.

Olympic silver medalist Florent Manaudou was eliminated during the semifinals while gold medalist Caeleb Dressel scratched the last three days of the World Championships, so the highest-placing finisher from the Olympic 50 free final that will contend for Worlds medals is American Michael Andrew, who was fourth last year in Tokyo.

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