2019 FINA World Championships Predictions: United States Aims to Win Women’s 4×100 Medley Relay Back From Australia

The United States will be looking to win back the women's 4x100 medley relay from Australia after last year's Pan Pacs defeat. Photo Courtesy: Peter H. Bick

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Australia notably won all three women’s relays last year at the Pan Pacific Championships in Tokyo over the United States. Will they be able to repeat that in 2019? The Aussies are favorites to win the 4×100 free relay, but the other two relays are up for grabs. The medley relay really feels like it is the United States’ to lose. But like a lot of events on day eight of the meet, the medley relays are unpredictable.

The Americans broke the world record in 2017 in Budapest with Kathleen BakerLilly KingKelsi Dahlia and Simone Manuel with a 3:51.55. They swam those same four swimmers in Tokyo last summer and got beat. The Aussies were a 3:52.74 in Tokyo while the Americans were nearly two seconds slower. The Aussies had Emily SeebohmJessica HansenEmma McKeon and Cate Campbell victoriously swim.

The best way to determine who will win between the United States and Australia is to look at them side by side. The Americans have the advantage on the front half. Australia will not have Seebohm, who did not make the Worlds team for the first time in 14 years. Instead, their relay will be led off by either Minna Atherton or Kaylee McKeown. The Americans have the option of Baker, Olivia Smoliga or even Regan Smith. The United States has been known to put the hot hand on relays and Smith has been looking strong all year, posting a 58.45 in June. McKeown and Atherton were 59.2 at Australia’s June Trials. Advantage: USA.

The breaststroke leg is the key leg for both countries for different reasons. Lilly King is almost two full seconds faster than Jessica Hansen this year in the 100 breast. King is capable of a 1:04 on a relay and she is the key leg to try and distance herself from Hansen as much as she can. Hansen is key for the Aussies to try and stay close to give McKeon and Campbell room to catch up on the back half. Advantage: USA.

On the butterfly leg, McKeon and Kelsi Dahlia are fairly even. McKeon has been faster this year but has also had the advantage of a rest meet. Dahlia actually outsplit McKeon at the Budapest World Championships in 2017 but McKeon had the upper hand at Pan Pacs. McKeon is entered in a lot of events this week and said she is aiming to win eight gold medals at the meet, which would be a record haul for a woman. If she is that confident in herself, then who knows what she can drop on the fly leg here. She has scored best times in the 100 and 200 free this year so she should be strong in this relay. For now, we will give the butterfly advantage to Australia.

The anchor leg was where the Aussies seized the lead last summer. Cate Campbell split a 51.19 to blow by Simone Manuel, who swam a 52.22. Don’t expect that to happen again in 2019 as the Americans will be much more prepared than they were last summer to the time difference. That wasn’t necessarily to blame but it was definitely a factor for a lot of the athletes. But the fact is, Manuel has never been a 51.1 on a relay, so the freestyle advantage will go to Australia.

The Russians had the third-fastest time in 2018 and won the silver in 2017. Their biggest strength comes from Yulia Efimova on the breaststroke leg. No woman has ever gone a 1:03 on a relay except for Efimova, so if she can swim anything close to that then it will be hard for anyone else to compete with that. The Russians also have three solid competitors alongside Efimova, which gives them a chance at a medal.

Japan was fourth in the world last year, but will be without Rikako Ikee on butterfly. It will be difficult for Japan to be competitive without Ikee, but they should still be able to make the final.

Canada will field a competitive team with the likes of Kylie Masse (backstroke), Maggie MacNeil (butterfly) and Taylor Ruck (freestyle). Masse is one of the top backstrokers in the world and MacNeil and Ruck are ranked in the top eight globally in their strokes. The only question mark is the breaststroke leg. Kierra Smith was a 1:06.54 in April which should keep them competitive with the rest of the countries. Canada was fourth in Budapest just outside of a medal.

Current Records:

World Record: 3:51.55, United States, 2017 – Kathleen Baker, Lilly King, Kelsi Dahlia, Simone Manuel
Championships Record: 3:51.55, United States, 2017 – Kathleen Baker, Lilly King, Kelsi Dahlia, Simone Manuel
American Record: 3:51.55, 2017 – Kathleen Baker, Lilly King, Kelsi Dahlia, Simone Manuel

2017 World Champion: United States, 3:51.55 – Kathleen Baker, Lilly King, Kelsi Dahlia, Simone Manuel
2018 Fastest Times:

  1. 3:52.74, Australia (Pan Pacs)
  2. 3:53.21, United States (Pan Pacs)
  3. 3:54.22, Russia (Europeans)
  4. 3:54.73, Japan (Asian Games)
  5. 3:55.10, Canada (Commonwealth Games)
  6. 3:56.69, Denmark (Europeans)
  7. 3:56.91, Great Britain (Europeans)
  8. 3:57.00, Italy (Europeans)

Swimming World’s team of Andy RossDan D’AddonaDavid RiederDiana Pimer and Taylor Covington will be selecting their choices for the medals at World Championships in each event. Read below who everybody picked.

Andy’s Picks:

  1. United States
  2. Australia
  3. Canada

Dan’s Picks:

  1. United States
  2. Australia
  3. Russia

David’s Picks:

  1. United States
  2. Australia
  3. Russia

Diana’s Picks:

  1. United States
  2. Australia
  3. Russia

Taylor’s Picks:

  1. United States
  2. Australia
  3. Russia

2019 FINA World Championships Predictions:

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  1. avatar
    Kate Hauck

    No one predicts Australia to win ? Really?

    • avatar

      Cause it’s all Americans predicting they want their country to win