World Short Course Championships: 5 Matchups to Watch

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Photo Courtesy: SIPA USA

This week’s FINA World Short Course Championships will feature some of the best swimmers in the world battling in Hangzhou, China in a non-Olympic setting. The psych sheet has plenty of big names in attendance and there are a number of events where world records could fall.

There are also a lot of key matchups that swimming fans will have the pleasure of seeing this week. Short course meters doesn’t get displayed very often on a world stage, and it will be a fun meet to see how different swimmers match up in the 25 meter pool versus a longer one.

It is also unclear which swimmers will fully rest for this meet and which swimmers will view this as a half rest meet. A lot of the professional swimmers will likely put all their cards in this week so it could be a very entertaining meet. In 2014, 21 world records were broken at the World Short Course Championships that year in Doha.

Below are the five matchups that we will be keeping a close eye on this week at the World Short Course Championships.

World Record Holders Collide in Men’s Backstroke

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Photo Courtesy: SIPA USA

World record holders Xu JiayuKliment Kolesnikov and Ryan Murphy are all entered in the three backstroke events this week in China at the Short Course World Championships. Also joining them in the those events will be Australia’s Mitch Larkin, Japan’s Ryosuke Irie and Russia’s Evgeny Rylov.

Xu will have the home crowd on his side as he recently broke the 100 back SCM world record at the World Cup in Tokyo. He broke the world record that was held by Kolesnikov from a year ago and the Russian will not go down without a fight. Kolesnikov broke the 50 back LCM world record this summer and Murphy still holds the 100 record from two summers ago.

Add in 2017 World Champ Rylov, plus 2015 World Champ Larkin, and you have three of the best races on paper heading into the meet this week. Short course backstroke is a completely different animal, but all of the aforementioned swimmers will need to bring their A game if they even want to stand on the podium.

Romanchuk vs. Grothe

ROMANCHUK Mykhaylo UKR Gold Medal 400m Freestyle Men Finals Glasgow 03/08/18 Swimming Tollcross International Swimming Centre LEN European Aquatics Championships 2018 European Championships 2018 Photo Andrea Masini/ Deepbluemedia/Insidefoto

Photo Courtesy: Andrea Masini/ Deepbluemedia /Insidefoto

The men’s distance races will also be worth watching this week in China with the likes of 2018 European Champion Mykhailo Romanchuk and 2018 Pan Pac Champion Zane Grothe on the start list. Romanchuk got the better hand of Olympic Champion Gregorio Paltrinieri this summer at the European Championships in the 1500 and 800, and the two will meet again this week in short course. Although, Paltrinieri is only entered in the 1500.

Grothe could also play spoiler to Romanchuk, who is arguably the best distance swimmer in the world. Grothe, Romanchuk and Australia’s Jack McLoughlin were the only swimmers ranked in the top eight in the world this summer in all three distance events, and McLoughlin won’t be at the meet this weekend. Grothe has been vocal about his big goals for this week’s Worlds. He has not stated what those goals are, but the American Records of 3:34.81 and 14:19.29 will certainly be on his mind.

This meet will also see the return of Italian World Champ Gabriele Detti, who sat out of the European Championships this summer because of an injury. He will be making his return to competition this week, but has limited himself to just the 400 free.

Proud vs. Dressel vs. Morozov vs. Cielo

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Photo Courtesy: SIPA USA

Ben Proud lit up the swimming world this summer with his textile world record in the 50 free at 21.15, 0.02 faster than Caeleb Dressel’s 21.17 last summer. Those two swimmers will meet for the first time since the 2017 World Championships this week, this time in the short course pool. Both guys will have their hands full though with the likes of World Cup champion Vladimir Morozov and long course world record holder Cesar Cielo.

The winner of the 50 free this week at the World Short Course Championships could walk away with a world record. Could someone break 20 seconds? The record is currently a 20.26 by France’s Florent Manaudou from the 2014 World Short Course Championships. Morozov has gotten the closest to Manaudou’s record with his 20.31 at last year’s European Short Course Championships.

Proud and Dressel don’t have an illustrious history in short course meters, so what can we expect from them? Can Dressel’s yards heroics transfer well to meters? Can Proud translate his long course success to short course, too? Will Morozov’s short course meters expertise reign supreme? And one last question…how is Dressel after his injury this summer?

Women’s Distance Even W/O Ledecky

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Photo Courtesy: FINA

China’s number one female swimmer right now is Wang Jianjiahe, the 16-year-old world record holder in the 400 free in short course meters. Wang is entered this week in the 800 and 400 free and will take on the likes of Australia’s Ariarne Titmus and USA’s Leah Smith in her home country.

The women’s distance races could be some of the most exciting races this week at the World Short Course Championships in China even without the presence of superstar Katie Ledecky. The races are up for grabs with China’s Li Bingjie, Hungary’s Boglarka Kapas, Italy’s Simona Quadarella and Germany’s Sarah Kohler added to the mix.

Right now it seems Wang is the early favorite in both the long distance races after coming off a successful World Cup circuit. Titmus had a breakout summer as she put some pressure on Ledecky in the 400 free at Pan Pacs, getting closer to her than any other swimmer has since the 2012 Olympics in a race over 400 meters.

Leah Smith is the defending champion in the 400 and 800 free from the 2016 World Short Course Championships, and has a chance to win those gold medals again. Italy’s Quadarella also presents a big challenge for the field as she had the fastest non-Ledecky time in the world in the 800 free this summer.

Hosszu vs. Seebohm vs. Baker

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Photo Courtesy: SIPA USA

The women’s backstroke events also could trigger a world record out of somebody. American Kathleen Baker broke the 100 back world record this summer in long course, and she already took down the American Record in short course meters at the World Cup circuit.

The backstroke events are stacked this week with Baker, Hungarian Katinka Hosszu and Australian Emily Seebohm all in the mix. Seebohm, Hosszu and Baker finished first, second and third at the 2017 World Championships in the 200 back, and will all meet in the pool this week in that event again.

Hosszu holds the 100 and 200 back world records with a 55.03 and 1:59.23. Baker and Seebohm have shown they are prime to challenge those records and with the added competition, it could push someone to get under.

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