American swimmer Michael Andrew says 100m fly is anyone's game
American swimmer Andrew says there could be surprises at Tokyo 2020 Games
While all the talk about next year's Olympic 100m butterfly event has been on defending champion Joseph Schooling and seven-gold world champion Caeleb Dressel, American swimmer Michael Andrew believes the fight may not come down to just the favourite duo.
On the sidelines of his training session at the Chinese Swimming Club last week, where the United States swim team were preparing for next week's events at the Fina World Championships in Gwangju, South Korea, Andrew told The New Paper that there could be a surprise name in the pack.
The 20-year-old, who won the 100m individual medley title at the 2016 World Short Course Championships, told The New Paper: "I mean, it is not my place to say but, for sure, it will be a good fight.
"I believe the top eight are all capable of going fast. It's just about who is going to step up on that day.
"There are a lot of swimmers that people don't know yet who are going to come through the ranks come Tokyo and do crazy things.
"The media likes to focus on one or two characters and that's fine, but there are really strong competitors in the pack.
"There are always going to be competitors, so it is all about the athlete who turns up on the day."
This season, Dressel, 22, has already posted a world-leading time of 50.36 seconds at the Mission Viejo Swim Meet of Champions in California last month.
France's Mehdy Metella, 26, has been the only other swimmer who has gone under 51sec with a 50.85 effort at the French Championships in April.
Schooling, 24, won the Japan Open in 52sec in May, but clocked 54.63 during the heats at last month's Singapore National Swimming Championships, before pulling out.
Andrew believes the pressure will be on the Singaporean, who won his Olympic gold in 50.39.
He said: "I love Joseph (Schooling) as a person and his family. I had the pleasure of hanging out with them a year back.
"It was awesome to see how determined his parents were to work towards his goal and it is great to see that it has worked out well for them. I wish him all the best.
"But yeah, coming off of a gold-medal win, Joseph would not want to lose and so there is a lot of pressure going into it for him. It is up to him to learn how to deal with that."
While Andrew was candid in his assessment of the 100m butterfly, he was also focused on his own events.
Andrew, the youngest American swimmer to turn professional at age 14, will be taking part in the 100m and 50m back, 50m butterfly, 50m breast and 50m free in Gwangju, where he will be making his world championships debut.
He said: "My confidence level is high. I am at a point where I am really confident in where I am at physically.
" I am not afraid of anything. I am just excited to race. Bad idea to put pressure on myself results-wise. I just want to do well and win as many medals as I can. It would be nice to get a world record under my belt."
The Minnesota native, who will be back in Singapore next month for the Fina World Cup from Aug 15-17, also revealed that he surfs between two and four hours as part of his training regimen.
He said: "It just brings fun back into training. Physically, the endurance aspect has been massive for me and really allowed me to improve my timings. I have got much strong because of surfing."