classification of the best male swimmers in the world from 1 to 25
Looking ahead to another Olympic year and putting 2020 in the rearview mirror, the swimming world decided to compile a list of the world’s top 25 swimmers ahead of 2021. There was a lot of fast swimming in the first three months of 2020 (before of the pandemic), and even with extended time out of the water during the summer, many of the world’s elite returned to the island or to various regional meets to post faster-than-expected times.
When compiling this list, we took into account what happened in 2019, as well as what each athlete showed in 2020. There was no perfect way to rank all swimmers in the world, but we tried to be as objective as possible when weighing each swimmer’s achievements in the pandemic year of 2020. isl swims were taken into account, as well as what happened in January and February before the pandemic shut everything down and delayed the olympics a full year.
Looking ahead to 2021, here are the top 25 male swimmers in the world ranked as objectively as possible.
- list of women
- zach apple, united states
- alexander graham, australia
- townley haas, united states
- mack horton, australia
- ryosuke irie, japan
- chase kalisz, united states
- marco koch, germany
- will licon, united states
- katsuhiro matsumoto, japan
- maxime rooney, united states
- emre sakci, turkey
- shoma sato, japan
- andrew seliskar, united states
- tom shields, united states
other considerate swimmers:
25. Elijah Winton, Australia
it should be noted that winton had a time of 3:43 in the 400 free in december and 1:45 in the 200 free. People may not know his name yet, and not being allowed to swim on the island this year has certainly hurt the population of him, but Winton is part of a very competitive freestyle field in Australia. green and gold haven’t seen this much depth since ian thorpe and grant hackett won the 2001 world final in the 4×200 free relay by six seconds. the australians are the reigning world champions in the 4×200 free, and winton wasn’t even in gwangju. If he can get out of the Australian Olympic Trials with a place in Tokyo, he could be dangerous for medals.
24. wang shun, china
wang has flown a bit under the radar in recent years since winning Olympic bronze in the 200m in 2016. He followed that up with a bronze at the 2017 worlds in the 200m but missed out on the podium in 2019 Wang was a 1:56.2 in October to be second in the world this year. the 200m field feels wide open heading into tokyo with no one really standing out as the heavy favourite. So if he plays his cards right and has been a consistent performer for the last five years, Wang could see himself on top of the podium.
23. ilya shymanovich, belarus
Many forget that Shymanovich is second all-time in the 100m breaststroke sprint with his 58.2 in March 2019. He couldn’t follow that at the 2019 Worlds, not making it past the semi-finals. But on this year’s isl, he gave murky adam all he could handle every time they squared off on the water in budapest, and a few weeks into the league, shymanovich broke the peat world record Although it was short course, it is still a world record, and Shymanovich established himself as a player for Tokyo.
22. mykhailo romanchuk, ukraine
romanchuk is still searching for that elusive long course gold medal, taking silver in the 1500m at the last two world championships and also finishing on the podium in the 800 free both times. romanchuk has one of the smoothest freestyle strokes he has ever seen, and it is that precision that has propelled him to be one of the best distance freestylers in the world. he had a time of 14:41 in the 1500 before the pandemic and a time of 7:43 in the 800; both swims placed him second in the world rankings in 2020.
21. florian wellbrock, germany
wellbrock showed a tremendous amount of stamina at the 2019 worlds, winning the 10k open water title and then, more than a week later, winning gold in the 1500 freestyle. He’s now a long-distance swimmer, so the grind is no stranger to him, but it’s a tough feat no matter who you are. No man has ever won the 10k and 1500 at the same Olympics, and Wellbrock is certainly in a position to become the first to do so. In February before the pandemic, Wellbrock went 14:46 to consolidate his place in the German Olympic team.
20. mitch larkin, australia
larkin was the gold medal favorite before coming to rio in both the 100 and 200, ultimately taking just one silver in the 200. since then, he has changed coaches and changed focus of his event, becoming more of a threat in the 200 im than he was 200 back. He returned to the podium in the 100m at the 2019 worlds with a bronze, and also led the Australian mixed medley relay to gold. Larkin will play a big role in those events again and could surprise in the 200m: he was the only swimmer to break 1:56 in all of 2019.
19. kliment kolesnikov, russia
kolesnikov had a promising youth career for russia but had a poor 2019 due to illness. he had gotten off to another slow start on the island this season, but he got better every time he swam and broke the world record in the 100 meter distance short course. The backfield internationally is stacked and if any of the favorites fail, Kolesnikov could sneak in, either 100th or 200th behind. Kolesnikov also has a strong 100 free, which could take him to the podium in the 4×100 free relay at the games.
18. gabriele detti, italy
It should be noted that Detti had the fastest time in the world this year in the 400 freestyle with a time of 3:43 in August. Detti has often been overshadowed by fellow Italian Gregorio Paltrinieri, but Detti has two Olympic medals to his name, with two bronzes in the 400m and 1500m in Rio. detti is in a good position to win gold in the 400 free in an event that is wide open pending what happens with sun yang, and will also play a big factor in the inaugural final of the 800 free.
17. Florent Manaudou, France
manaudou came back in a big way at the end of 2019, with a strong first season on the island where he seemingly picked up right where he left off after rio in 2016. manaudou looked like the safe bet to win the one lap gold medal in rio . before being outscored by anthony ervin by 0.01. With a little soul-searching, Manaudou is back with the full force of him and is once again one of the favorites to make his third straight podium finish in the 50 Free at Games. Manaudou ranked second in the world this year in the 50m freestyle sprint and fourth in the 100m.
16. kyle chalmers, australia
It’s hard to believe that kyle chalmerswas just 18 years old when he won the 100m freestyle in Rio, shocking the group that included world #1 cameron mcevoyand champion Olympic defender nathan adrian. Chalmers has been overshadowed by American Caeleb Dressel in recent years, but his silver medal of 47.0 at the 2019 Worlds proved he is not to be taken lightly in that race in Tokyo. . in january last year, he did a blazing 47.9 and chalmers is known to be a great rest swimmer, so he hopes he shows up ready to break in tokyo. and who knows… it may be necessary to break a world record to win the 100m freestyle.
15. chad le clos, south africa
le clos remains one of the best butterflies in the world as he is now 28-years-old seeking a medal at this third consecutive Olympics in the 100 butterfly and looking to regain his gold medal in the 200 butterfly after winning in 2012. le clos posted the world’s best time this year in the 200 fly short course and was also second in the 100. le clos won bronze in the 100 and 200 fly at the 2019 worlds while struggling with a hernia, so should not be ruled out before 2021.
14. danas rapsys, lithuania
Although he doesn’t have any tangible hardware, rapsys was the fastest man in the 200m freestyle final at the 2019 worlds, but he flinched at the start and couldn’t celebrate. But since then, he has had the world’s fastest time in the 200 free at 1:44.3 in the World Cup, followed by 1:45 in the Champions Series final in January. rapsys posted the world’s best time this year in the 400m freestyle short course, and will be a heavy favorite for the gold medal in both the 200m and 400m free after failing to make it past heats in the 100m and 200m in river. It’s worth noting that Lithuania has never had a men’s Olympic gold medalist in swimming.
13. Andrei Minakov, Russia
It’s hard to believe Minakov is still 18 years old, as this year he set junior world records in the 100 free and 50 butterfly. now that his junior career is coming to an end, he will try to make his mark in senior waters. But with a silver medal under his name in the 2019 worlds 100 butterfly, the ceiling seems pretty high for Minakov. Russia won’t be able to fly their flag in Tokyo, but if Minakov is going to make it to the Games, he could be in line for some medals in the 100 fly and 100 free, as well as the medley and freestyle relays.
12. kosuke hagino, japan
hagino was one of the best swimmers in the world in 2016, winning Olympic gold in the 400m along with a silver in the 200m, as well as an appearance in the 200m free final. Hagino had some trouble replicating those performances in the years since and took an extended break from the sport in 2019. But fans were sure he was back in top form after the isl season, where he had the second fastest time in 2019. the season in the 400 IM and ranked fifth overall in the 200. With a hometown crowd rooting for him in Tokyo this summer, he is expected to be a factor in medals from both IMs as well as the Japan 4×200 Free Relay. .
11. kristof milak, hungary
milak made a name for himself at the 2019 worlds when he surpassed michael phelps‘s legendary 200 butterfly world record, vaulting himself to legend status at just 19 years old. he finished on the podium in the 100 butterfly a few days later, but will remain a gold medal favorite in both butterfly distances in tokyo. he was second in the world this year in the 100 butterfly and fourth in the 200 long course, showing that he is in good shape to follow his world record in 2019 with Olympic glory in 2021.
10. arno kamminga, netherlands
kamminga has seen age group declines throughout the year, improving from 59.1/2:08.7 breaststroke in 2018 to 58.4/2:06.8 in 2020, and is ranked third in all-time in the 100 breaststroke and fourth all-time in the 200. kamminga has found himself a medal favorite in tokyo despite never having swum in a world championship final. but with his rapid improvements in the last 12 months, he is among the best breaststrokers in the world, and could be the first dutch breaststroker since wieger mensonides in 1960 to win a medal at the olympics .
9. anton chupkov, russia
chupkov has been the man in the 200m breaststroke since winning bronze in the river. he won the last two world titles and also had the fastest time in 2018. chupkov set the world record in 2019 with a 2:06.1 as he has rewritten the record books in that event, with five of the top ten fastest times in the story, including four under 2:07. chupkov also brought with him speed 100 from him, as he too could compete for a medal in that event. Seven of the eight fastest athletes in history are still active, and a world record may be needed to win the 200 breaststroke in Tokyo.
8. xu jiayu, china
xu is the reigning two-time world champion in the 100 backstroke and the reigning Olympic silver medalist in the event. he has been able to rise to the occasion even if he has swum slower in the finals than in the semis. xu swam in the china mixed medley relay which broke the only long course world record of 2020 and will definitely have the target on his back heading into tokyo in the 100m back and mixed medley relay. The back fields are wide open at the moment, but Xu has shown that she can put her hand on the wall first in a tight race.
7. ryan murphy, united states
murphy is the current Olympic champion in both the 100 and 200 meters back, and holds the world record in the shortest distance. after a disappointing world in 2019, he has shown that he is still one of the best backstroke swimmers in the world. on the isl this season, he ranked second overall in both the 100 and 200 backstroke, and was an incredible runner every time he dove into the pool. Murphy has a lot of pressure on his shoulders: The United States hasn’t lost the Olympic crown in either the 100 or 200 since 1992, even before Murphy was born.
6. evgeny rylov, russia
rylov is the two-time reigning world champion in the 200 backstroke and had the world’s fastest time in the 100 backstroke in 2019. rylov had the world’s fastest time this year in the short course 200 meter backstroke with his efforts on the island, proving that he is still the one to beat Tokyo. And for relay purposes, Rylov anchored Russia’s 4×100 free relay at the 2019 Worlds with a silver medal, and the Russians look like the only team that can push the heavy favorites the United States. Rylov seems to have the perfect mix of speed and stamina that will make him dangerous in both the 100m and 200m back.
5. duncan scott, great britain
scott made a name for themselves at the end of the 2019 worlds with a 46.1 relay split at the end of the britain medley relay, which gave them the gold medal. Scott also led the GB 4×200 free relay at those championships in a faster time than the gold medal-winning swim. we know what he’s capable of, it’s just a matter of putting him together when it matters most to scott. he is very versatile and has legitimate chances to win a medal in tokyo in the 100 and 200 free as well as the 200 im. He will also play a key role in the Great Britain relays which have a golden opportunity in the medley and the 4×200 free.
4. gregorio paltrinieri, italy
paltrinieri made headlines this summer when he clocked 14:33 in the 1500 in their first meeting after the pandemic. he was under sun yang‘s world record pace through 1450 meters but didn’t have the speed to break the record on the final lap. With that impressive swim under his belt, many have pointed to Paltrinieri as potentially the first man to break 14:30. If he can successfully defend his Olympic title in the 1500, Paltrinieri could contend for the title of best long-distance swimmer in history: he already has an Olympic gold and two world titles. the only thing missing is the world record, and a second Olympic gold can cement his legacy. And it’s not just the 1500, Paltrinieri is a favorite to win gold in the 800 and 10k.
3. daiya seto, japan
seto was on fire to start 2020, with times ranking number one in the 200 & 400m and the 200m fly, including an impressive 1:52 in the latter, and a 4:06 in the 400m. Seto will have a lot of attention on him ahead of home Olympics as the 400 im of the night may be the most popular ticket event of the games. but seto’s suspension until the end of 2020 for an extramarital affair may damage his actions ahead of the olympic games this summer.
2. adam peaty, great britain
Is this a controversial place for the British? well, when you’re almost a second and a half faster than the second fastest man in history at 100, then no. Peaty has transcended the 100 meter long course breaststroke, swimming faster than many people thought humanly possible when he swam 56.88 at the 2019 Worlds. Peaty is the heavy favorite to win back-to-back in Tokyo at the 100m breaststroke, and could be the x-factor in Britain’s first relay Olympic gold medal since 1912.
1. caeleb dressel, united states
The sky seems to be the limit for dressel, who in 2020 set the short course world record books on fire with all-time marks in the 50 free, 50 and 100 fly and the 100 im. The men’s 100 free field in the US is particularly deep, but many are already targeting Dressel as the No. 1 to lead the Americans to back-to-back gold in the 4×100 free relay. It seems like every time she takes a dip in the water, a record is in jeopardy, and even with much anticipation surrounding her ahead of 2021, Dressel could be the face of the Games in Tokyo. He is the gold medal favorite in the 50, 100 free, and 100 fly, and will play a role in three of the United States sprint relays with gold medal potential.