World Championships Preview — Men’s Breaststroke: Can Zac Stubblety-Cook Continue Dominating the World? (Predictions)

Zac Stubblety-Cook -- Photo Courtesy: Giorgio Scala / Deepbluemedia / Insidefoto

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World Championships Preview — Men’s Breaststroke: Can Zac Stubblety-Cook Continue Dominating the World?

Australia’s Zac Stubblety-Cook is the only man in swimming to currently hold the trifecta of titles: world champion, Olympic champion and world-record holder. He is only a serious medal contender in one event on the major level, the 200 breaststroke, but he is the only man ever to break 2:06. Even an off swim by his standards, more than one second outside his own top mark, was good enough for gold last summer in Budapest. However, there is one man who could challenge the 24-year-old — if he swims it. As for the sprint breaststroke races, those look far different now in Adam Peaty’s second consecutive absence from Worlds.

Previous Events:

Men’s 50 Breaststroke
WR 25.95 Adam Peaty GBR Budapest (HUN) July 25, 2017
CR 25.95 Adam Peaty GBR Budapest (HUN) July 25, 2017
WJR 26.97 Nicolo Martinenghi ITA Riccione (ITA) Apr. 4, 2017
Men’s 100 Breaststroke
WR 56.88 Adam Peaty GBR Gwangju (KOR) July 21, 2019
CR 56.88 Adam Peaty GBR Gwangju (KOR) July 21, 2019
WJR 59.01 Nicolo Martinenghi ITA Indianapolis (USA) Aug. 23, 2017
Men’s 200 Breaststroke
WR 2:05.95 Zac Stubblety-Cook AUS Adelaide (AUS) May 19, 2022
CR 2:06.12 Anton Chupkov RUS Gwangju (KOR) July 26, 2019
WJR 2:09.39 Qin Haiyang CHN Budapest (HUN) July 27, 2017


Simone Cerasuolo (ITA): Cerasuolo was the bronze medalist in the 50 breast at the Short Course World Championships in December and went 26.92 at the Italian Championships this year. Contending in: 50 breast

Caspar Corbeau (NED): This University of Texas star made his first major final last year with a seventh-place finish in the 200 breast. More recently, Corbeau was second in the 200-yard breast and fourth in the 100-yard breast at the NCAA Championships. Contending in: 100 breast & 200 breast

Matt Fallon (USA): Fallon is the newest American challenger in the 200 breast, bidding to become the country’s first medalist at a major meet since Josh Prenot won silver at the Tokyo Olympics. Fallon went 2:07.71 in the event at U.S. Nationals. Contending in: 200 breast

Nic Fink (USA): Fink has become a sprint breaststroke specialist late in his career. The 30-year-old won gold in the 50 breast and bronze in the 100 breast at last year’s World Championships, and he won short course world titles in both shorter events in December. His 100 breast time from Nationals (58.36) was a career best and good for No. 7 all-time. Contending in: 50 breast & 100 breast

Joao Gomes (BRA): Now 37, Gomes won silver in the 50 breast at the 2017 World Championships and bronze in 2019. With a best time of 26.75 this season, he could be in the hunt again. Contending in: 50 breast

Arno Kamminga (NED): Last year did not go how Kamminga hoped, when Peaty’s absence made him a world-title favorite in the 100 breast, but he won silver in both distances at the Tokyo Olympics. He ranks second all-time in the 100 breast (57.80) and seventh in the 200 breast (2:07.85). Contending in: 100 breast and 200 breast

Leon Marchand (FRA): Here is the one man capable of challenging Stubblety-Cook if he decides to race the 200 breast. Marchand swam the fastest 200-yard breaststroke race ever by a full second this year, and then he went 2:06.59 at the French Championships to move to No. 4 all-time. Marchand is the reigning world champion in both individual medley events, and he won silver in the 200 butterfly last year. Contending in: 200 breast

Nicolo Martinenghi (ITA): Martinenghi is the defending world champion in the 100 breast and fifth-fastest performer ever in the event (58.26). He also took silver behind Fink in a tight 50 breast final. Expect this Italian to be right there when medals are determined. Contending in: 50 breast & 100 breast

Josh Matheny (USA): Matheny is an outside chance at a medal but likely better in the 200 breast than in the 100. He finished second to Fink in the 100 breast at U.S. Nationals (59.20) and second to Fallon in the 200 breast (2:08.32). Contending in: 100 breast & 200 breast

Matti Mattson (FIN): He might not be close to his best times anymore, but don’t forget about this 29-year-old from Finland who won Olympic bronze in 2021. Contending in: 200 breast

Lucas Matzerath (GER): Matzerath won bronze in the 50 breast at last year’s European Championships, and he has been as fast as 59.09 this year. He has an outside medal chance. Contending in: 50 breast & 100 breast

Eric Persson (SWE): Persson, 29, had never reached a podium at a global-level meet until he tied for silver in the 200 breast at worlds last year in 2:08.38. Contending in: 200 breast

Federico Poggio (ITA): Poggio was the 100 breast runnerup behind Martinenghi at last year’s European Championships, and he broke through earlier this year with a 58.73 100 breast performance. Contending in: 100 breast

Qin Haiyang (CHN): The form swimmer of the year thus far, Qin became the third man after Peaty and Kamminga to crack 58 in the 100 breast with his time of 57.93, vaulting him into the gold-medal hunt. Expect Qin to also contend in the 200 breast, where he checked in at 2:07.55. It has been a quick rise for Qin, who did not compete in Budapest last year, and his only world-level medals were in the 200 breast at Short Course Worlds, where he won silver in 2018 and bronze last year. Contending in: 50 breast, 100 breast & 200 breast

Bernhard Reitshammer (AUT): One of the many swimmers in their late 20s in the 50 breast, Reitshammer placed fourth at last year’s Worlds in 26.94, missing bronze by just two tenths. Contending in: 50 breast

Shoma Sato (JPN): Sato is the third-fastest man in history, with a best time of 2:06.40 from early 2021, but he did not compete at Worlds last year as Japan’s Yu Hanaguruma tied for bronze and Ryura Mura took fourth. Now, it will be a completely new contingent for the host country as Sato got back into the mix with a 2:08.21 at Japanese Nationals. Contending in: 200 breast

Zac Stubblety-Cook (AUS): The strong favorite in the 200 breast, with finishing speed superior to anyone else in the field (even fellow back-halfer Fallon). Stubblety-Cook was eighth at the halfway point in last year’s Worlds final before coming over the top of the field late, so don’t panic if he falls behind this year as well. He also qualified for the 100 breast final last year, but a medal in that race unlikely. Contending in: 100 breast & 200 breast

Ippei Watanabe (JPN): The other half of the entirely new Japanese pair this year, Watanabe once held the world record in this event, and he remains tied for fifth all-time (2:06.67). Watanabe was the Worlds bronze medalist in this event in 2017 and 2019, and he hit a time of 2:07.73 at Japanese Nationals. Contending in: 200 breast

James Wilby (GBR): Wilby had been the second British breaststroker behind Peaty, but he claimed his first international gold medals last year, winning the 100 breast at the Commonwealth Games and then the 200 breast at the European Championships. Contending in: 100 breast & 200 breast

Yan Zibei (CHN): He is no longer the top 100 breaststroker in China, not after Qin’s impressive efforts earlier this year, but Yan swam a strong time of 58.79 for second place. He previously won 100 breast bronze at the 2019 World Championships. Contending in: 100 breast

Zhidao Dong (CHN): This teenager is the second 200 breaststroker in China behind Qin, with a time of 2:08.83 earlier this year behind the existing world junior record. Contending in: 200 breast


Men’s 50 Breaststroke

Gold: Nic Fink (USA)
Silver: Nicolo Martinenghi (ITA)
Bronze: Qin Haiyang (CHN)

Anyone’s guess in a tight race over one lap, but Fink has developed a knack for coming out on top in these races.

Men’s 100 Breaststroke

Gold: Qin Haiyang (CHN)
Silver: Nic Fink (USA)
Bronze: Nicolo Martinenghi (ITA)

Tough to leave Kamminga off the podium, but the medals likely come down to this group. Qin will try to show off his form from early this year on the biggest stage.

Men’s 200 Breaststroke

Gold: Leon Marchand (FRA)
Silver: Zac Stubblety-Cook (AUS)
Bronze: Shoma Sato (JPN)

Marchand pulls up the huge upset on Stubblety-Cook as he continues his ascent to the status of world’s top swimmer. Sato, Watanabe, Qin and Fallon are all in the mix behind the top two.

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1 year ago

Marchand would have to drop the 200 IM and 4×200 to do the 200 breast.

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