South Africa, Sport

Rio 2016: World leading times vs world records in the Olympic swimming season

By Antoinette Muller 25 July 2016

If the 2016 season’s best times are anything to go by, we could very well be in for a treat when the swimming events begin at the Rio Olympics. By ANTOINETTE MULLER.

The London 2012 Olympics were a golden time for Olympic records. Six Olympic men’s records were set and in the women’s event, almost every single pool record was broken with 14 records falling (including the relay swims). Since then, a further eight world records have been set in the pool and looking at the times for 2016, we could very well be in for some of the best ever times in pool events.

Mike Unger, USA Swimming’s assistant executive director, said earlier this year that he believes we have entered a “golden age of US swimming” – but just two men’s swimmers from the States have managed world best times this season.

South Africa’s medal hopes depend largely on Chad le Clos and Cameron van der Burgh. Sadly, women’s swimming in the country is nowhere near the world standard and there is just one female swimmer competing – and that’s in the open water event, not even in the actual pool. Looking at the female swimmers’ best times, it’s quite apparent that female swimmers from other countries are miles ahead of South Africa. Still, at least there should be some tight contests from everyone else.

Men’s swimming

50m Freestyle

Olympic record: 21.30 (2008)
World record: 20.91 (2009)
Best time in 2016: 21.42

South Africans Bradley Tandy swam a 21.87 time last year while Douglas Eramus managed a time of 22.26. These times are both quite a bit slower than Florent Manaudou’s time of 21.42, which is the best for 2016.

100m Freestyle

Olympic record: 47.05 (2008)
World record: 46.91 (2009)
Best time in 2016: 47:04

Australia’s Cameron McEvoy leads the pack in the 2016 season followed with no one in the top three swimming below 48:00. Chad le Clos’ time of 48:16 was the fastest for a South African, but he will not be taking part in the event at Rio.

200m Freestyle

Olympic record: 1:42.96 (2008)
World record: 1:42.00 (2009)
Best time in 2016: 1:44.82

Sun Yang from China leads the pack, quite a bit faster than Britain’s James Guy, placed second with 01:45.19. Chad le Clos was the fastest South African again with a time of 1:46.10 and he has quite a bit of work to do in the event if the hopes to make an impact at the Olympics.

400m Freestyle

Olympic record: 3:40.14 (2012)
World record: 3:40.07 (2009)
Best time in 2016: 03:41:65

Australia’s Mack Horton tops the list of best times in 2016, with 03:41.65. South Africa’s fastest time in the last season is a long way off with Myles Brown clocking in at 3:47.96.

1500m Freestyle

Olympic record: 14:31.02 (2012)
World record: Same as Olympic record
Best time in 2016: 14:34:04

Italy’s Gregorio Paltrinieri recorded a time of 14:34.04 at the European Championships and no one in the top three swam over 15 minutes. South Africa’s Matthew Meyer recorded a fastest time of 15:09.58. Meyer, however, is still a pup. He’s putting matric aside to go to the Olympics.

100m Backstroke

Olympic record: 52.16 (2012)
World record: 51.94 (2009)
Best time in 2016: 52.12

David Plummer from the States has the best time for the year with South Africa’s Christopher Reid’s best time in 2016 a whole second slower at 53.12.

200m Backstroke

Olympic record: 1:53.41 (2012)
World record: 1:51.92 (2009)
Best time in 2016: 1:53.90

The top two simmers for the 2016 season are neck-and-neck in this event with Australia’s Mitchell Larkin recording a time of 01:53.90, followed closely by the USA’s Ryan Murphy at 01:53.95. Chad le Clos was South Africa’s best competitor over the season, but will not be competing in the event. His season best time was 1:57.81.

100m Breaststroke

Olympic record: 58.46 (2012)
World record: 57.92 (2015)
Best time in 2016: 58.36

England’s Adam Peaty leads the way with the best time for 2016 and holds the world record in the same event. While South Africa’s Cameron van der Burgh has a time of 58.49, it could be a tight tussle.

200m Breaststroke

Olympic record: 2:07.28 (2012)
World record: 2:07.01 (2012)
Best time in 2016: 02.07.17

South Africa’s competitors in this event – Cameron van der Burgh and Jarred Crous – are some way off the pace with best times of 2:10.13 and 2:11.65. It’s Joshua Prenot from the USA who has set the pace at almost three seconds faster this year. All of the top three times are below 02:08, so both Van der Burgh and Crous have a lot of catching up to do.

100m Butterfly

Olympic record: 50.58 (2008)
World record: 49.82 (2009)
Best time in 2016: 50.86

Hungary’s Laszlo Cesh leads the way for the year with a time of 50.86 while Chad Le Clos managed to clock 50.56 last year, faster than rival Michael Phelps’ best time for 2016 which was 51.00.

200m Butterfly

Olympic record: 1:52.03 (2008)
World record: 1:51.51 (2009)
Best time in 2016: 01:52.91

Hungary’s Laszlo Cesh is in the lead for 2016 and if South Africa’s golden boy from the 2012 Olympic Games hopes to impress, he has some way to go to improve on his best time of from the past season which is currently 1:53.68.

200m Individual medley

Olympic record: 1:54.23 (2008)
World record: 1:54.00 (2011)
Best time in 2016: 01:55.07

Kosuke Hagino from Japan managed a best time of 01:55.07 followed closely by Michael Phelps (USA) at 01:55.91 and Ryan Lochte (01:56.22). Chad le Clos was once again South Africa’s best, swimming 2:00.59, but it wasn’t good enough for the Olympics and he will not compete in this event.

400m Individual medley

Olympic record: 4:03.84
World record: Same as Olympic record
Best time in 2016: 04:08.85

Japan’s Kosuke Hagino has the best time for 2016 while South Africa’s two competitors in this event – Sebastien Rousseau and Michael Meyer – are just a touch off the pace with times of 4:14.75 and 4:15.71 respectively.

Women’s swimming:

50m Freestyle

Olympic record: 24.05 (2012)
World record: 23.73 (2009)
Best time in 2016: 23.84

Australia’s Cate Campbell is the only woman to break the 24-second mark this season with the other two swimmers in the top three all below 24.20. And, for context, South Africa’s fastest swimmer in the event was Karin Prinsloo, who managed a time of 25.79.

100m Freestyle

Olympic record: 53.00 (2012)
World record: 52.06 (2016)
Best time in 2016: World record

Aussie Cate Campbell tops this list too and all other top three swimmers were below 52.80. South Africa’s top female swimmer in the 100m free for the 2016 season was Karin Prinsloo, but she was way off the pace with a time of 55.69.

200m Freestyle

Olympic record: 1:53.61 (2012)
World record: 1:52.98 (2009)
Best time in 2016: 1:54.34

Sweden’s Sarah Sjostrom tops this list, followed by USA’s Katie Ledecky and Italy’s Federica Pellegrini. No one swam a time below 01:55 while South Africa’s fastest time – again from Prinsloo – was 1:59.86.

400m Freestyle

Olympic record: 4:01.45 (2012)
World record: 3:58.37 (2014)
Best time in 2016: 03:58.98

USA’s Katie Ledecky leads this list, the only female swimmer to make it below the 4-minute mark this season. South Africa, meanwhile, was way off the pace again with Prinsloo’s time of 4:17.27.

800m Freestyle

Olympic record: 8:14.10 (2008)
World record: 8:06.68
Best time in 2016: Same as world record

Ledecky could be a serious contender for the States – she is almost six seconds ahead of second-best of the season, Australia’s Jessica Ashwood, who clocked a time of 08:18.14. South Africa’s Michelle Weber, who will be swimming in the marathon, recorded the fastest time for a South African at 8:57.50.

100m Backstroke

Olympic record: 58.23 (2012)
World record: 58.12 (2009)
Best time in 2016: 58.73

Mie Nielsen of Denmark and Emily Seebohm of Australia share the season best time, followed closely by Katinka Hosszu from Hungary at 58.94. South Africa’s best female swimmer in this event, Jessica Ashley-Cooper, could not dip below the 1-minute mark, recording a season best time of 1:02.21.

200m Backstroke

Olympic record: 2:04.06 (2012)
World record: Same as Olympic record (2012)
Best time in 2016: 2:06:49

Aussie Belinda Hocking leads the way, followed by Seebohm and Hosszu, all below the 02:06.89 mark. Everyone leaves South Africa in the dust once again with Karin Prinsloo’s season best being 2:14.31.

100m Breaststroke

Olympic record: 1:05.17 (2008)
World record: 1:04.35 (2013)
Best time in 2016: 1:05:20

USA’s Lilly King leads the pack in the 100m women’s breaststroke this season. No top three athlete swam more than 01:05:83 while South Africa’s best time was over three seconds faster at 1:08.30.

200m Breaststroke

Olympic record: 2:19.59 (2012)
World record: 2:19.11 (2013)
Best time in 2016: 02.19.65

Japan’s Rie Kaneto swam almost two seconds faster than second best Yulia Efimova at 02:21.41 and Taylor KcKeown at 02:21.45 while the best South Africa’s Franko Jonker could manage was 2:28.70.

100m Butterfly

Olympic record: 55.98 (2012)
World record: 55.64 (2015)
Best time in 2016: 55.68

Sweden’s Sarah Sjostrom was nearly a second faster than second best Kelsi Worrell (USA) with a time of 56.48 this season. South Africa’s Marne Erasmus, meanwhile, was the only SA women’s swimmer with a time below one-minute and at 59.92, it was only just.

200m Butterfly

Olympic record: 2:04.06 (2012)
World record: 2:01.81 (2009)
Best time in 2016: 2:05.47

Madeline Groves from Australia has the best time in the 2016 season with a solid challenge from Germany’s Franziska Hentke at 02:05.77. South Africa’s best was way below par with Rene Warnes clocking 2:12.96.

200m Individual medley

Olympic record: 2:07.57 (2012)
World record: 2:06.12 (2015)
Best time in 2016: 2:07.30

Hungary’s Hosszu was a second-and-a-half faster than second-placed season best, Siobhan-Marie O’Connor from Great Britain, who recorded a time of 02:09.03. All of the top swimmers were nearly 10 seconds faster than South Africa’s best, Hannah Kastigar, who managed 02:18.49.

400m Individual medley

Olympic record: 4:28.43 (2012)
World record: Same as Olympic record
Best time in 2016: 4:29.89

Last, but not least, in the 400m women’s individual medley, Hosszu leads the back followed by Great Britain’s Hannah Miley with a time of 04:33.40 with close competition from Spain’s Mireia Belmonte at 04:33.42. All of whom swam almost 20 seconds faster than South Africa’s Kastigar with a time of 04:49.38. DM

Photo: Chad Le Clos of South Africa on his way winning the men’s 100m Butterfly Final during the FINA Swimming World Championships at Kazan arena in Kazan, Russia, 08 August 2015. EPA/PATRICK B. KRAEMER

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