World Championships Day Two Preview and Predictions: Olympic Silver Medalists Arno Kamminga, Alex Walsh Aiming for Gold

short course world championships KAMMINGA Arno NED 100m Breaststroke Men Heats Abu Dhabi - United Arab Emirates 16/12/2021 Etihad Arena FINA World Swimming Championships (25m) Photo Andrea Staccioli / Deepbluemedia / Insidefoto
Arno Kamminga -- Photo Courtesy: Andrea Staccioli / Deepbluemedia / Insidefoto

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World Championships Day Two Preview and Predictions: Olympic Silver Medalists Kamminga, Walsh Aiming for Gold

The defending world champion will be absent in two of the four races on day two of the FINA World Championships in Budapest (June 19). Great Britain’s Adam Peaty would have been heavily favored to win his fourth consecutive title in the men’s 100 breaststroke, but he is missing this meet with a foot injury. Canada’s Maggie Mac Neil will only swim in relays at this meet after she upset Sarah Sjostrom’s pursuit of four-in-a-row in 2019.

Later on in the session, Caeleb Dressel is seeking to defend his title in the 50 butterfly, and Katinka Hosszu will participate in the 200 IM, where has her sights set on becoming the first individual, female or male, to win five consecutive world titles in one event. Here’s a rundown of what to expect on day two.

Men’s 100 Breaststroke

Adam Peaty first competed on the international stage in 2014, and since then, he is undefeated in the 100 breaststroke. His best time is almost a second faster than any other man, and he owns the 17 fastest performances in history. That’s why it will be so weird for a major final of the event to go off without him, and in his absence, the clear No. 2 performer over the past year becomes the gold-medal favorite. That is Arno Kamminga, a 26-year-old who won Olympic silver in both breaststroke events last year after becoming just the second man (following Peaty) to go under 58.

Five men so far this year have recorded times between 58.3 and 58.5, a list that includes Americans Nic Fink and Michael Andrew, Kamminga, Italian Olympic bronze medalist Nicolo Martinenghi and Peaty. Others who could be in the mix here are the men who joined Peaty on the medal podium at the last World Championships, Great Britain’s James Wilby and China’s Yan Zibei. Australia’s Zac Stubblety-Cook, the Olympic gold medalist in the 200 breast and new world-record holder in that event, is a long shot to even make the final in the 100-meter race.

Predictions
Gold: Arno Kamminga, Netherlands
Silver: Nicolo Martinenghi, Italy
Bronze: Nic Fink, USA


Women’s 100 Butterfly

The top four swimmers last year’s Olympic 100 fly final finished within 0.14 of each other, but only two of those swimmers will race the event in Budapest, with gold medalist Maggie Mac Neil swimming relays only and bronze medalist Emma McKeon skipping Worlds altogether. Returning will be silver medalist (and 200 fly Olympic champion) Zhang Yufei along with fourth-place finisher Torri Huske. Huske and fellow American Claire Curzan hold the top two times in the world this year (56.28 for Huske and 56.35 for Curzan), while Zhang is a bit of a mystery with no recorded times in the world rankings. We’ll see what sort of form she brings to Budapest, but we can expect results close to her Olympic performances.

Sarah Sjostrom, who remains the world-record holder in this race, will likely be in the mix unless she decides to focus on freestyle and 50-meter races, and so will Swedish teammate Louise Hansson, who was fifth at the Olympics before taking silver (just six hundredths behind Mac Neil) at the Short Course World Championships in December.

Predictions
Gold: Zhang Yufei, China
Silver: Torri Huske, USA
Bronze: Claire Curzan, USA


Men’s 50 Butterfly

The 50 fly is the first individual event on Caeleb Dressel’s program, and after he ended up fourth in the race in his World Championships debut in 2017, he stormed to gold and the second-fastest time in history (22.35) in winning a world title in 2019. Dressel will be the favorite here, and he enters with the second-fastest time in the world at 22.84 after he touched out Michael Andrew by three hundredths to win the event at the U.S. International Team Trials.

Dressel is 25 years old and now a veteran on the U.S. squad, but he is more than 17 years younger than his toughest competition, 42-year-old Brazilian Nicholas Santos, who swam in his first World Championships in 2001, held shortly before Dressel’s fifth birthday. Santos is the top-ranked swimmer in the world in 2022 (22.73), and he shares the short course world record with Hungary’s Szebasztian Szabo. He has won three short course world titles in the 50 fly, including this past December, and he has won medals in the event at the past three World Championships. Meanwhile, Great Britain’s Ben Proud was the world champion in 2017, while Australia’s Kyle Chalmers has thrown his name into the butterfly mix as well.

Predictions
Gold: Caeleb Dressel, USA
Silver: Nicholas Santos, Brazil
Bronze: Michael Andrew, USA


Women’s 200 IM

Home-crowd favorite Katinka Hosszu will be aiming for a fifth consecutive world title in this event, and Japan’s Yui Ohashi captured Olympic gold in both medley races, but the favorite here is 20-year-old American Alex Walsh, the Olympic silver medalist and the fastest swimmer in the world this year by 1.3 seconds at 2:07.84. Walsh has strong balance among all four strokes and likely the best breaststroke leg of all the major contenders. After winning Olympic silver behind Ohashi last year, Walsh returned to post a brilliant sophomore season at the University of Virginia, and at the NCAA Championships in March, she crushed the fastest time in history in the 200-yard IM while also winning two new events, the 400 IM and 200 fly.

The Olympic bronze medalist, Kate Douglass, will not be in the field, but double backstroke gold medalist Kaylee McKeown enters the mix after she finished 2021 with the world’s quickest time. McKeown swam a mark of 2:09.15 at the Australian Championships last month. Great Britain’s Abbie Wood finished fourth in Tokyo, while Canada’s Sydney Pickrem was the bronze medalist in the 200 IM at the 2019 World Championships, and also worth watching is 16-year-old American Leah Hayes, one of three swimmers (along with Walsh and McKeown) to break 2:10 this year after she swam a huge personal best to take second behind Walsh at the U.S. International Team Trials.

Predictions
Gold: Alex Walsh, USA
Silver: Kaylee McKeown, Australia
Bronze: Yui Ohashi, Japan

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John
2 months ago

Kamminga the ‘second man to go under 57’????!

Last edited 2 months ago by John
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