Now down to go single digits until the big show gets underway at the Duna Arena, FINA correspondent Andy Ross picks the swimmers that he sees will most prominently figure into who is wearing gold, silver and bronze around their necks from the women's medal events taking place in the Duna Arena pool, starting on 18 June and running through to 25 June. After putting on his prognosticator's hat for the men's swimming events, Andy now gives up his picks for the women's world championship races. 

Women’s 50 Free - Is this Sarah Sjostrom’s return to the gold medal dais?

            Sarah Sjostrom hasn’t won gold at the Olympics or World Champs since 2017, but that streak ends in 2022. Even without Emma McKeon and Ranomi Kromowidjojo, no one in the world has the speed that Sjostrom has, and she takes the gold medal here.

Women’s 100 Free - No Cate, no Emma, is this Mollie’s time?

Image Source: Tom Pennington - Getty Images AsiaPac

            Both Emma McKeon and Cate Campbell are sitting out Worlds, paving the way for 18-year-old Mollie O’Callaghan to make her international individual debut. However, world short course champ Siobhan Haughey and world record holder Sarah Sjostrom remain, with Haughey winning her first long course world title over Sjostrom as they just miss breaking 52 seconds.

Women’s 200 Free - Who is the new champion?

            Ariarne Titmus and Katie Ledecky, two of the three fastest in the world, are both absent from this event, leaving short course world record holder Siobhan Haughey as the one to beat. Haughey wins, but has to run down 15-year-old Summer McIntosh and gets serious pressure from 18-year-old Mollie O’Callaghan. 

Women’s 400 Free - Katie vs. Summer

            Summer McIntosh, just 15, isn’t quite ready to take down the almighty Ledecky, but the race between the two is still noteworthy, as the present and the future of the 400 freestyle. Ledecky races to a 3:57 with McIntosh within a second and a half at the 200, before touching right at 4:00 at the finish.

Women’s 800 Free - How fast can Katie Ledecky go?

            Katie Ledecky has seemingly not missed a beat since changing coaches after Tokyo, and will push her own world record, but will just miss the mark after a long week of racing to finish with an 8:07.

 Women’s 1500 Free - How fast can Katie Ledecky go? Part II

            The same question persists in the 1500 and with seemingly no challengers, can she break 15:30? The answer is yes, and she will win by over 10 seconds over the silver medalist.

Women’s 50 Back - Is this Katharine Berkoff’s moment?

            The backwards splash and dash culminates with American Katharine Berkoff winning the gold medal. The Berkoff Blastoff returns, but with David’s daughter Katharine winning the gold medal.

Women’s 100 Back - Does a world record take the gold medal?

            Kylie Masse, Regan Smith and Kaylee McKeown have bounced the world record around like a hot potato the last five years, and it will take one to win gold in Budapest with McKeown winning, with all three medalists under 58.

Women’s 200 Back - Can Kaylee McKeown follow up Olympic gold?

            McKeown follows up her backstroke sweep in Tokyo with gold in the 200 once again over Canada’s Masse with the USA’s Bacon and White in tow. McKeown misses the world record but swims to an impressive 2:04.

Women’s 50 Breast - Is a breaststroke sweep possible?

Image Source: Maddie Meyer - Getty Images AsiaPac

            Lilly King has long been one of the best breaststrokers in history, and does she do what no man or woman has ever done at Worlds by winning the 50, 100, and 200 of the same stroke? The answer is no, as she gets out-touched by Benedetta Pilato of Italy.

Women’s 100 Breast - Is it a three-peat for Lilly King?

            Neither Lydia Jacoby nor Tatjana Schoenmaker will be in attendance in Budapest, so this leaves the door open for Lilly King to win a third straight World title as she wins ahead of Germany’s Anna Elendt. A 1:04 is in the cards, but the world record from 2017 remains. 

Women’s 200 Breast - Redemption for Lilly King?

            With no Schoenmaker in the field, the target is on King’s back, which is where she performs best. She wins and goes 1-2 with fellow American Kate Douglass as both swim at 2:20.

Women’s 50 Fly - Can anyone catch Sarah Sjostrom?

Image Source: Maddie Meyer - Getty Images AsiaPac

            No one has been able to catch Sjostrom over one lap of butterfly for the better part of eight years, and that streak continues in 2022 with the Swede winning in 24 seconds.

Women’s 100 Fly - Who is the new champion?

            None of the medalists from Gwangju return, and with only silver medalist Zhang Yufei returning from the Tokyo podium, there isn’t exactly a clear favorite for the 100 fly, with Zhang having not raced as much in 2022. But that won’t matter as Zhang nears the world record and takes her first World title in a nail-biting race with Torri Huske.

Women’s 200 Fly - Can anyone beat Zhang Yufei?

Image Source: Tom Pennington - Getty Images AsiaPac

            No one in the world could match Zhang’s mix of speed and endurance last year, and that continues in 2022 with Zhang winning over USA’s Hali Flickinger. 

Women’s 200 IM - One last ride for Katinka Hosszu?

            It is unclear whether this is Katinka Hosszu’s last Worlds, but at age 33, this could be one of her last major meets in Hungary, a nation that loves its swimmers, so will the crowd hold enough to will her to a fifth straight gold in this event? Unfortunately, it won’t be, as USA’s Alex Walsh takes gold with Hosszu on the podium.

Women’s 400 IM - Is this Summer McIntosh’s breakout moment?

            McIntosh is entered in a number of events, so will that amount of racing deter her on the final day in the final of the 400 IM? Hungary’s Katinka Hosszu is going for an unprecedented sixth World title in this event, but will need the swim of her life to out-race McIntosh, who seemingly has a hard time of swimming anything but fast. With this being her best shot, this is McIntosh’s gold medal moment. 

Women’s 4x100 Free - Can Australia Keep Its Title?

            Even without Emma McKeon, and the Campbell sisters, Australia still has the top two swimmers in the world in the 100 free, including the only two to break 53 seconds. The U.S. won the title last time in Budapest when Cate Campbell sat out, but that won’t happen in 2022 as the Australians are too deep in the women’s 100 free.

Women’s 4x200 Free - Does China take it again?

            China hasn’t competed much in 2022, but come in as the world record holders. Canada returns everybody from 2021 and looks even stronger than last year’s team that just missed the podium. Australia is without McKeon and Titmus, while the United States only returns Ledecky. Canada takes this one in a nailbiter with Australia in second and China in third.

Women’s 4x100 medley - Is Anyone beating the United States?

            Again, Australia will have a difficult time repeating gold from the Olympics without McKeon and Campbell on the back end, while the US’ only losses from last year’s silver winning team are Lydia Jacoby (in comes Lilly King) and Abbey Weitzeil (in comes Claire Curzan or Torri Huske). The US wins this but it is still close with the likes of Australia, Canada, and China.

Mixed 4x100 Free

  • Do the Americans remain undefeated?
    • Each of the three times this event has been contested at the World Championships, the US has won each time in a world record. But the US is missing key pieces from its 2019 team in Zach Apple and Simone Manuel. The team does have the depth to overcome this, with the likes of Caeleb Dressel and Torri Huske leading the charge. The Australians are without Kyle Chalmers, and even with the only two women to have broken 53 seconds in 2022 on its team, the gap doesn’t seem slim enough for them to catch. That leaves Canada, who won the shorter version at the World Short Course Champs a possible spoiler. The USA wins, with Australia in second and Canada in third.

Mixed 4x100 medley

  • Can Great Britain back up its gold medal from Tokyo or is it a new champion?
    • Including the Olympics and the World Championships, the mixed medley relay has changed hands every year since 2017, with the US and Australia winning the two world titles, while Great Britain won the inaugural Olympic title ahead of China and Australia. Heading into 2022, GB is without Peaty, while Australia is without McKeon. China hasn’t raced much this year, but looks to be the co-favorites with the Australians and the Americans. China wins the gold medal on the strength of its two women, with the Americans getting second and the Brits finishing third.