2018 U.S. NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIPS
We’ve got 3 events lined up for this tonight at the 2018 U.S. National Championships in Irvine, California. Day 4 finals includes the 400 free, 100 breast, and 100 back. World Record holder Katie Ledecky set the U.S. Open Record earlier this year in the 400 free. She’ll be chasing that record as the top seed tonight. After breaking the short course American Record in the 500 free, Indiana’s Zane Grothe is the favorite in the men’s 400 free.
The men’s 100s are stacked tonight. The 100 back includes World Record holder and Olympic champion Ryan Murphy, 100 back Olympic champ Matt Grevers, Worlds 50 backstroker Justin Ress, Olympic backstroker Jacob Pebley, and Harvard standout Dean Farris in his first ever long course nationals final. The 100 breast has Olympic medalists Kevin Cordes, Cody Miller, and Josh Prenot in the mix, but Andrew Wilson and Michael Andrew lead the way. Andrew broke the U.S. Open Record in the 50 breast last night and is looking to secure a Pan Pacs spot. He’s still on the bubble after taking 3rd in the 100 fly.
After their 200 back tie, Regan Smith and Kathleen Baker will go head-to-head in the women’s 100 back along with Olympic backstroker Olivia Smoliga and another age group standout, 15-year-old Phoebe Bacon. World Record holder Lilly King will go for a Pan Pacs spot in the 100 breast. She’s the favorite ahead of Olympians Molly Hannis, who swam a best time for top seed, and Micah Sumrall, who won the 200 breast. Olympic silver medalist Katie Meili will also challenge.
WOMEN’S 400 FREE:
- GOLD: Katie Ledecky– 3:59.09
- SILVER: Leah Smith– 4:02.21
- BRONZE: Haley Anderson– 4:07.21
- FOURTH: Kaersten Meitz– 4:07.60
Katie Ledecky was under her own World Record pace until the final 50 meters, but fell off, still dominating in the 10th fastest performance ever in 3:59.09. With some more rest, her records look like they may be in trouble. Ledecky did set the U.S. Open Record earlier this year in 3:57.94.
As expected, fellow Olympic medalist Leah Smith was far ahead of the rest of the field in a 4:02.21 for 2nd. That’s her fastest time of the season by 2 seconds. Teammate Kirsten Jacobsen, who made a massive drop to qualify for this final, was a couple of seconds shy of her prelims time for 8th in 4:11.14.
Open water world champ Haley Anderson (4:07.21) and All-American Kaersten Meitz (4:07.60) battled closely for 3rd, with Anderson pulling ahead on the back half. Both broke 4:08 for the first time. Hali Flickinger, the 200 fly champ, was a couple of seconds off her best from a few weeks ago, when she swam a 4:06.72, taking 7th in 4:10.42. She can still swim the 400 free at Pan Pacs if she chooses, since she’s safely on the team. Flickinger is less than a second off the all-time American top 10 list with her best.
14-year-old phenom Claire Tuggle was out with the slight lead in the B final, but Olympic medalist Allison Schmitt popped off the 3rd wall to pull ahead. Schmitt held on for the win in 4:08.46, touching just ahead of a hard-charging Katie Drabot (4:08.96). Tuggle was just off her prelims time for 3rd in that heat with a 4:10.62.
MEN’S 400 FREE:
- World Record: Paul Biedermann, 3:40.07, 2009
- American Record: Larsen Jensen, 3:42.78, 2008
- Championship Record: 3:43.53, Larsen Jensen, 2008
- U.S. Open Record: 3:43.53, Larsen Jensen, 2008
- GOLD: Zane Grothe– 3:46.53
- SILVER: Grant Shoults– 3:46.90
- BRONZE: Chris Wieser– 3:48.92
- FOURTH: Zach Yeadon– 3:49.09
It was an extremely close race down the stretch between Zane Grothe and Grant Shoults. Grothe, who set the American Record in the 500 free this season, has secured his spot on Pan Pacs, taking off in the final 100 to distance himself from Shoults. That was a nearly 2 second drop for Pac-12 champion Shoults, and he’s a strong contender to make Worlds in this race now. Grothe is still the favorite for that Worlds squad. His best is a 3:44.43 from last summer’s nationals, and he’s the 7th fastest American ever.
After his breakthrough prelims swim, Arizona’s Chris Wieser (3:48.92) was just a few tenths shy of his morning time to take 3rd, running down Zach Yeadon. Wieser is in a position to possibly make Pan Pacs in this. Yeadon had a strong swim from lane 8. He was leading halfway, but fell off the pace, finishing 4th in 3:49.09. That was over a 2 second drop and he’s now dropped 4 seconds today.
World Junior champion Andrew Abruzzo and World Juniors medalist Trey Freeman battled for 5th. Both were a bit off their prelims times, but Freeman (3:49.90) held off Abruzzo (3:50.04) on the final 100. Abruzzo became the 5th fastest American 17-18 year old ever in the event this morning, while Freeman moved to #8 on that list.
Mitch D’Arrigo, who officially switched his sporting citizenship from Italy to the U.S. as he represented the USA at 2017 WUGs, won the B final in 3:49.88, just holding off junior star Patrick Callan (3:50.26). Callan is now the 10th fastest 17-18 American ever.
WOMEN’S 100 BREAST:
- World Record: Lilly King, 1:04.13, 2017
- American Record: Lilly King, 1:04.13, 2017
- Championship Record: Lilly King, 1:04.95, 2017
- U.S. Open Record: Jessica Hardy, 1:04.45, 2009
- GOLD: Lilly King– 1:05.36
- SILVER: Katie Meili– 1:06.19
- BRONZE: Micah Sumrall– 1:06.34
- FOURTH: Molly Hannis– 1:06.36
Olympic champion and World Record holder Lilly King‘s win was never in question throughout this race. King topped the field by almost a second, touching in 1:05.36 to win it and secure a spot on Pan Pacs. She had earned a Worlds spot with her 50 breast win last night, but this was her final shot at making Pan Pacs. Olympic silver medalist and fellow Worlds team member Katie Meili held off 200 breast champ Micah Sumrall for 2nd, making it likely she’ll head to Pan Pacs as well.
Olympian Sumrall swam her fastest 100 breast ever, touching in 1:06.34 for 3rd as she ran down Molly Hannis. Her 34.91 split was the fastest back half of the field. Fellow Olympian Hannis was 4th by just 2 hundredths in 1:06.36. there’s an outside shot she makes Pan Pacs with that, but it’s far from a sure thing at this point. Hannis swam her lifetime best 1:05.78 this morning, which would’ve been 2nd tonight. That time made her the 7th fastest American ever in the event.
Another breaststroke Olympian, Breeja Larson, was just out of the top 4 in 1:07.80, holding off fellow Aggie Jorie Caneta (1:07.82). That was Caneta’s first swim sub-1:08. World Junior 50 breast champ Emily Weiss, who was initially DQed this morning but had it overturned, placed 7th in 1:07.99, tying her best time from last summer’s nationals and securing her spot for Junior Pan Pacs.
MEN’S 100 BREAST:
- World Record: Adam Peaty, 57.13, 2016
- American Record: Kevin Cordes, 58.64, 2017
- Championship Record: Kevin Cordes, 58.74, 2017
- U.S. Open Record: Kevin Cordes, 58.74, 2017
- GOLD: Michael Andrew– 59.38
- SILVER: Andrew Wilson– 59.43
- BRONZE: Devin Nowicki- 59.48
- FOURTH: Kevin Cordes– 59.72
He got it done again. Michael Andrew made headlines for his stroke 50 speed last summer, but now he’s officially qualified for the Pan Pacs squad with his win in the 100 breast. Andrew, whose usual M.O. is his front-end speed, came from behind to clip Andrew Wilson (59.43) and Devon Nowicki (59.48) at the finish in 59.38. That was a best by about half a second for Andrew, who was a little bit on the fence for Pan Pacs prior to tonight after taking 3rd in the 100 fly. Last night, he broke the 50 breast U.S. Open Record, which formerly belonged to Olympic champion Adam Peaty. He’s now safely qualified for both Worlds (50 fly, 50 breast) and Pan Pacs. Andrew has had quite a meet, swimming best times in every event thus far.
Wilson should be safe for Pan Pacs, taking 2nd in both the 100 and 200 breast. Devon Nowicki, who made a big breakthrough at this meet, broke 1:00 for the first time after coming close twice this summer. He’s now on the bubble for Pan Pacs.
American Record holder Kevin Cordes was 4th in 59.72, and doesn’t look like he’ll be making the trip to Pan Pacs and in turn, won’t go to 2019 Worlds. Cordes was the 2017 national champion and silver medalist at 2017 Worlds. Likewise, fellow 2016 Olympic 100 breaststroker Cody Miller, who took bronze in Rio, won’t be making Pan Pacs or Worlds as he placed 5th in 59.77. 2o17 Worlds team member Nic Fink is also likely out after taking 4th in the 200 breast and placing 6th here in 1:00.12.
WOMEN’S 100 BACK:
- World Record:
Kylie Masse, 58.10, 2017
- American Record:
Missy Franklin, 58.33, 2012
- Championship Record:
Kathleen Baker, 58.57, 2017
- U.S. Open Record:
Kathleen Baker, 58.57, 2017
- GOLD: Kathleen Baker– 58.00
- SILVER: Olivia Smoliga– 58.75
- BRONZE: Regan Smith– 58.83
- FOURTH: Phoebe Bacon– 59.30
Coming into this meet, the women’s 100 back looked like it would be one of the closest races of the meet, but it wasn’t. Kathleen Baker absolutely blew it out of the water, exceeding expectations with a World Record. She flipped in 27.90, closing for a 58.00. That clipped the former mark set by Canada’s Kylie Masse at last summer’s Worlds, and sets up an excellent race between Baker and Masse at Pan Pacs. The Americans now own all backstroke World Records in long course between Baker (100 back), Murphy (100 back), Peirsol (200 back), and Franklin (200 back).
Behind her, fellow Olympian Olivia Smoliga slightly outdid Regan Smith on the back half, 58.75 to 58.83. That clipped both of their bests and was a new World Junior Record for Smith. Both should now be on the Pan Pacs squad, since Smith already tied Baker in the 200 back to qualify. Smoliga remains the 3rd fastest American ever, while Smith moves up to #4, bumping Natalie Coughlin down a spot.
MEN’S 100 BACK:
- World Record: Ryan Murphy, 51.85, 2016
- American Record: Ryan Murphy, 51.85, 2016
- Championship Record: Aaron Peirsol, 51.94, 2009
- U.S. Open Record: Aaron Peirsol, 51.94, 2009
- GOLD: Ryan Murphy– 52.51
- SILVER: Matt Grevers– 52.55
- BRONZE: Justin Ress– 53.26
- FOURTH: Bryce Mefford– 53.84
The Americans are now 1-2 in the world after a close race between Olympic 100 backstroke champions Ryan Murphy (2016) and Matt Grevers (2012). Murphy was just 2 hundredths shy of his World Record pace at the 50, with Grevers in hot pursuit. It looked like Grevers might get the win with his long reach into the wall, but Murphy hit his finish to win by 4 hundredths, 52.51 to 52.55.
Justin Ress is now in contention for a Pan Pacs spot, taking 3rd in 53.26. That clips his best by a hundredth and he remains the 10th fastest American ever. Cal’s Bryce Mefford dipped under 54 for the first time in 53.84. He’s now dropped a second and a half through prelims and finals. Teammate Jacob Pebley, the 8th fastest American ever, was just behind in 5th at 54.05, clipping NCAA 200 back champ Austin Katz, who went a lifetime best 54.06.
Another Cal man, Daniel Carr, was a couple tenths shy of his best from prelims to take 7th in 54.27. In his first long course nationals final ever, Harvard standout Dean Farris, who spent some time training under Eddie Reese at Texas this summer, was just a tenth off his best from this morning for 8th in 54.55.
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