World Championships Preview — Men’s IM: Leon Marchand Gunning for Final Michael Phelps World Record (Predictions)

Leon Marchand -- Photo Courtesy: Peter H. Bick

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World Championships Preview — Men’s IM: Leon Marchand Gunning for Final Phelps World Record

Trailing American Carson Foster heading into the breaststroke leg, Leon Marchand produced the quickest 100-meter split ever in that stroke to put himself within striking distance of a world record. And not just any world record: the 4:03.84 set by the legendary Michael Phelps, the last individual standard surviving seven years after Phelps concluded his career for good. Marchand went on to secure both IM titles last year in Budapest, and he began 2023 as the consensus top medley swimmer in the world.

And that was before Marchand went ballistic at the NCAA Championships, annihilating the previous fastest times ever in short course yards. His 400-yard IM, in fact, was more than four seconds faster than any other man in history. So Marchand has improved from last year, making him the undisputed favorite for a title sweep, with at least one world record very much within striking distance.

Previous Events:

Men’s 400 Individual Medley
WR 4:03.84 Michael Phelps USA Beijing (CHN) Aug. 10, 2008
CR 4:04.28 Leon Marchand FRA Budapest (HUN) June 18, 2022
WJR 4:10.02 Ilya Borodin RUS Budapest (HUN) May 23, 2021
Men’s 200 Individual Medley
WR 1:54.00 Ryan Lochte USA Shanghai (CHN) July 18, 2011
CR 1:54.00 Ryan Lochte USA Shanghai (CHN) July 18, 2011
WJR 1:56.99 Hubert Kos HUN Budapest (HUN) May 19, 2021


Shaine Casas (USA): A disappointing meet at U.S. Nationals left Casas without a spot on the World Championships team until the final day, when he fought down the stretch to claim second in the 200 IM. He ranks seventh all-time in the race (1:55.24) with the third-quickest best time in the field, but he will need to be much faster than his Nationals time (1:57.47) for a shot at medals. Contending in: 200 IM

Lewis Clareburt (NZL): Fourth in the 400 IM at last year’s World Championships and seventh in the 200 IM, Clareburt exploded at the Commonwealth Games with a winning time of 4:08.70, moving him to 11th all-time. But he will still need a quicker time to medal in a deep field. Contending in: 200 IM & 400 IM

Tom Dean (GBR): He’s better known for his abilities in the 200 free, where he is the Olympic gold medalist, but Dean was fifth in the 200 IM at Worlds last year and ranks sixth globally for 2022 at 1:56.65. Contending in: 200 IM

Carson Foster (USA): The silver medalist behind Marchand in both medley races at last year’s Worlds, Foster was unable to stay close to Marchand at the NCAA Championships but is much more capable long course. Ranked eighth all-time in the 400 IM (4:06.56) and 14th in the 200 IM (1:55.71), he will be favored to reach the podium in both races again. Contending in: 200 IM & 400 IM

Tomoru Honda (JPN): Honda is better known for his butterfly abilities, winning bronze in the 200 fly at last year’s Worlds, but he has a chance at contending in the 400 IM after clocking 4:10.37 at Japanese Nationals this year. Contending in: 400 IM

Chase Kalisz (USA): Kalisz, 29, is the reigning Olympic champion in the 400 IM and took bronze at last year’s World Championships, swimming his fastest time in four years at 4:07.47. Kalisz was also fourth in the 200 IM at Worlds last year but did not compete in the event at U.S. Nationals after developing food poisoning. Contending in: 400 IM

Finlay Knox (CAN): Knox won bronze medals in the 100 and 200 IM at the Short Course World Championships in December, and he swam a 200 IM best time of 1:57.26 at Canadian Trials in April. Contending in: 200 IM

Hubert Kos (HUN): After making the 200 IM final at last year’s World Championships and capturing the European title in the event, Kos moved to the United States and began competing for Arizona State University. A strong college season has helped Kos catch his 400 IM up to his 200-meter success. Contending in: 200 IM & 400 IM

Leon Marchand (FRA): The big favorite in both races, it will be really difficult for anyone in the field to track down the 21-year-old Frenchman. Phelps’ world record in the 400 IM is in real danger, and he could join Phelps and Ryan Lochte as the only men ever under 1:55 in the shorter race. Contending in: 200 IM & 400 IM

Alberto Razzetti (ITA): Razzetti was the European champion in the 400 IM last year and silver medalist in the 200 IM after he narrowly missed making finals in both events at Worlds. Razzetti has also won medals at the Short Course World Championships, but he is still seeking his first medal at a major long course meet. Contending in: 200 IM & 400 IM

Duncan Scott (GBR): Scott is the Olympic silver medalist in the 200 IM and ninth-fastest swimmer ever in the event. He missed last year’s Worlds following a bout of COVID-19, and the 200 IM is his only race this time. A return to his best effort (1:55.28) would put him instantly into medal contention. Contending in: 200 IM

Daiya Seto (JPN): After a disappointing Olympics, Seto returned to the global level last year with a bronze in the 200 IM. He has won four long course world titles in his career (400 IM in 2013, 2015 and 2019, 200 IM in 2019) along with nine individual short course world titles, including six consecutive in the 400 IM. Contending in: 200 IM & 400 IM

Brendon Smith (AUS): Smith showed off incredible closing speed in the 400 IM Olympic final as he surged to bronze on the freestyle leg. Smith then finished fifth in the event at last year’s Worlds before claiming silver behind Clareburt at the Commonwealth Games. Contending in: 400 IM

Wang Shun (CHN): He ended up 15th in the 200 IM at last year’s World Championships, but Wang was the Olympic champion one year earlier, moving to third all-time in the event behind only Phelps and Lochte. Wang has also surged this year, with a time of 1:55.55 at Chinese Nationals which ranks first globally. Contending in: 200 IM


Men’s 400 IM

Gold: Leon Marchand, France
Silver: Carson Foster, USA
Bronze: Chase Kalisz, USA

Just like last year’s final, expect Foster to lead early on, and he could break into 4:05 territory in this race, but Marchand will surge ahead on breaststroke and finally take down Phelps’ world record.

Men’s 200 IM

Gold: Leon Marchand, France
Silver: Carson Foster, USA
Bronze: Wang Shun, China

Marchand breaks into 1:54-territory for the first time with Foster claiming his fourth World Championships silver in four individual medley finals. Wang overtakes Seto and edges out a hard-charging Scott for bronze.

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1 year ago

Good article but Duncan Scott will certainly medal in the 200IM.

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