Going into the Tokyo Olympics, who are the fastest swimmers in the world? Which Americans have the best chance of winning gold. Michael Phelps is out of the sport, so who is going to take the spot as best swimmer in the world?
Here we break down the best male and female sprinters. Included are best times posted in the 2020-2021 season as well as the best time since the last Olympics. Sprinters of course will make up the relays as well.
Best Male Sprinters
Caeleb Dressel is the fastest swimmer in the world. He has been the top sprinter in the world over the last few years. He posted a 21.04 in the 50 m at the 2019 World Championships, the fastest time since the last Olympics. He hasn’t hit these times this season, but he doesn’t have to until Olympic trials. He has also been the fastest in the 100m for the past 4 years. He won the 2019 and 2017 World Championships in the 100m with the fastest time being a 46.96. The World Record in the 50 freestyle has stood for 20 years, Dressel is the best opportunity to see it fall.
Bruno Fratus of Brazil has finished behind Dressel multiple times in the 50. He’s been as fast as 21.27 when he earned the silver in the 2017 World Championships. He again finished in silver behind Dressel in 2019 with a time of 21.45. Fratus only swims the 50 and has struggled with some injuries over the last few years. However, he is one to keep an eye out for a medal in Tokyo.
Vladimir Morozov of Russian has been behind Dressel multiple times in the past quad. Russian is unable to sponsor a team again this Olympics, but Russia has some top sprinters. Morozov has been in the top 4 in the last 2 World Championships in the 50.
Florent Manaudou has been the best in the 50 free for two Olympic cycles (or quads). He has won gold in 2012 and silver in 2016. After Rio he retired, but has returned swimming with the new professional swim league, the ISL, for Energy Standard. He has posted the top time in the 2020-2021 season in the French Championships in December of 2020. He swam the 50 in 21.34 in London when he won his gold.
The American Nathan Adrian is the most decorated sprinter outside of Manaudou. He earned a bronze in the 50 freestyle in Rio. He is stronger at the 100 m where he won gold in London and bronze in Rio. In 2019, Adrian was diagnosed with Testicular Cancer. Fortunately, they caught it early and after surgery, he was back in the pool training.
Fastest 50 Freestyle since Rio [World Record 20.91]
- Caeleb Dressel USA 21.04 [2019 FINA World Championships]
- Bruno Fratus BRA and Kr 21.27 [2017 FINA World Championships]
- Benjamin Proud GBR 21.43[2017 FINA World Championships]
- Kristian Gkolomeev GRE 21.45 [2019 FINA World Championships]
- Michael Andrew USA 21.46 [2018 Pan Pacific Championships]
Fastest 100m since 2016 Olympics [World Record: 46.91]
- Caeleb Dressel USA 46.96 [2019 FINA World Championships]
- Kyle Chalmers AUS 47.08 [2019 FINA World Championships]
- Vladislav Grinev RUS 47.81 [2019 FINA World Championships]
- Nathan Adrian USA 47.87 [2017 FINA World Championships]
- Blake Pieroni USA 47.88 [2019 FINA World Championships]
Best Female Sprinters
There are three women that are dominating the sprinting of swimming. Which of these three women will earn golds will be one of the top story lines of the 2021 Tokyo Games. Will it be a Swede, an Aussie or an American that makes their mark as the best female sprinter? Or are they so tight they 1-2-3 all the the events?
Sarah Sjostrom of Sweden is the top female sprinter in the World if you base it off who has the world record in the 50m. She has been as fast as 23.67, the World Record that she set in 2017 at the World Championships. She posted a 51.71 in the 100m at the same games in Budapest which is also a World Record. Sjostrom won gold in the 100m butterfly at Rio, but it’s in that sprints that she is the top of the game.
At Sjostrom’s heels, is the Aussie, Cate Campbell. Campbell was the favorite in Rio and fell flat. If there is anyone with a chip on their shoulder its Cate Campbell. She held the world record in the 100m freestyle at the last Olympiad but only finished 6th in the Finals in Rio. She sat out the 2017 World Championships where Sjostrom set the records in the sprints. She decided to focus on the Common Wealth Games in 2018 and swam a 23.78 in the 50m. She posted her fastest 100m later that year at 52.03. In the 2019 World Championships, Campbell bested Sjostrom in the 100m , earning silver but earned a bronze in the 50m behind Sjostrom and our third contender for best female sprinter.
In 2019, it was all Simone Manuel. The American bested Sjostrom in both the 100m and 50m to earn double golds at the World Championships in 2019. She won gold in the 100m at the Rio games and a silver in the 50m. She may not have the top times of Sjostrom and Campbell, but she has been able to perform when it matters. Manuel’s fastest 50m time is 23.97, which got her a bronze in the 2017 Budapest World Championships, at the same time Sjostrom was setting a world record. 52.04 is her top 100m time she set in 2019.
The women’s sprints should be a fascinating storyline to follow into Tokyo 2021. Who will win of these three women? Or is someone else going to play spoiler?
Fastest 50 Freestyles since Rio (World Record 23.67)
- Sarah Sjostrom SWE 23.67 [2017 FINA World Championships]
- Pernille Blume DEN 23.75 [2018 European Games]
- Cate Campbell AUS 23.78 [2018 Commonwealth Games]
- Ranomi Kromowidjojo NED 23.85 [2017 FINA World Championships]
- Simone Manuel USA 23.97 [2017 FINA World Championships]
Fastest 100 Freestyle since RIO [World Record 51.71]