The last time the 100m breaststroke title was a ‘free prey’ dates back to 2013, when Adam Peaty stood in front of the door.
In 2014 he entered, rather kicked it in by setting a new WR in the 50m at the Europeans in Berlin and added the 100m too – ever since he usually made the 50-100m double at each World Champs (2015, 2017, 2019), Euros (2014, 2016, 2018, 2021) and earned his first Olympic crown in Rio. He faces a tougher-than-usual challenge from Dutchman Arno Kamminga, the first to break the 58sec barrier after Peaty, however, the Brit’s WR is still a full second better.
The longer event saw a total upset in Rio, when Dmitry Balandin, from lane 8, stunned everyone to claim Kazakhstan’s first-ever Olympic gold. As of today, it seems to be a one-timer from Balandin and now it’s Anton Chupkov (ROC) who plays the ‘man to beat’ role in this event. However, the 2017 and 2019 world champion will have to hit his top gear (around his 2:06.12 WR) to stay in the contest with two fast-emerging rivals, Zac Stubbetly-Cook (AUS) and Shoma Sato (JPN). Both got pretty close to Chupkov’s global mark this spring, the Aussie took down the Oceanian Record (2:06.28) and Sato did the same with the Asian mark (2:06.40), while Chupkov just dipped under 2:07 while retaining his European crown in May (2:06.99). Kamminga also have some plans in this race – but don’t rule out another fairy-tale-like story, created either by Balandin or someone else.
Ryan Murphy (USA) had a blast in Rio and made the 100-200m double but the American could never repeat that feat ever since, indeed did not win any of the world titles on offer in 2017 and 2019. Instead, it was Xu Jiayu (CHN) and Evgeny Rylov (ROC) who clinched back-to-back golds at the Worlds and in the shorter distance Kliment Kolesnikov also made his mark a couple of times. Indeed, it’s Rylov who leads the world ranks in both events, Murhpy shows up in the top 10 while Xu is yet to make a real impact this season.
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