Men’s 1500 Meter Freestyle – US Nationals Preview

  • Day 1 – Wednesday, August 6th
  • Defending National Champion: Connor Jaeger (14:53.34)
  • Defending US Open Champion: Zane Grothe (15:13.39)
  • Time to make the 2013 US National Team (#6 Nationally): 15:13.41 – Arthur Frayler

In the past year, only three distance swimmers have broken 15 minutes in the 1500 meter freestyle: Connor Jaeger, Michael McBroom, and Sean Ryan. This trio had good performances last summer, earning the opportunity to represent our country internationally. At the US National Championships / FINA World Championship Trials meet, Connor Jaeger and Michael McBroom finished first and second, booking their tickets to Barcelona. Sean Ryan finished third at the meet, but he already on the roster for the 2013 World University Games in Kazaan, Russia.

We know these three can handle the pressure of an international qualifying meet, but the question is still, who will be the top two? Although Jaeger and McBroom have been on top, Ryan has not backed off and is still trying to earn his spot. At the 2014 Santa Clara Grand Prix, all three of these guys raced this event. Jaeger won with a time of 15:00.97, and he posted that time from the morning session. During the timed final that evening, McBroom and Ryan finished first and second at 15:04.41 and 15:07.82, respectively. It is interesting to look at where these swimmers were a year ago in comparison to where they are now. None of these swimmers competed in the 2013 Santa Clara Grand Prix, but they are all very close to their times from the World Championships Trials in Indianapolis last June.

Connor Jaeger was the furthest away from his World Championship Trials time of 14:53.34; 7.63 seconds to be exact. McBroom had the second fastest time last year at trials with a 14:59.12, he was 5.29 seconds off. Sean Ryan is the closest to his time from last June at this year’s Santa Clara Grand Prix. He is only 3.22 seconds off of last summers time from trials.

My gut is telling me that this race is McBroom’s to win the year and that Jaeger should be right with him. Jaeger has been consistent, but McBroom is still proving his talent. McBroom surprised everyone last summer at the World Championships with an American Record breaking performance in the men’s 800 freestyle and I believe he is going to do the same thing again in Irvine.

Sean Ryan, however, has had a great year, is just off his time from a year ago, and now has the most to gain this summer (of this trio) after missing the World Championship roster a year ago. This meet may very well provide the motivation he needs to sneak into the top two in Irvine. He also has the advantage of training with Connor Jaeger everyday, so we know he knows what it takes to get to the top.

Further down the rankings, some names to watch include Arthur Frayler from the University of Florida. He was a bit stagnant in his first season in the Swamp, but as a sophomore in 2014 had a big breakthrough, going 14:38 in yards – a 9 second improvement on his lifetime best. Florida swimmers usually do very well in long course, so it wouldn’t be a huge surprise if he lept up and took a spot on the Pan Pacs team from Ryan.

We also really like the way that Jordan Wilimovsky is swimming in open water, and think he’ll be good enough to get into the top 8. A higher finish is certainly plausible, but he’s already on the Pan Pacs team in open water. His placing will rely heavily on whether or not he decides to taper for pool nationals or focus on open water. We think he’ll maybe fall somewhere in between a full taper and a full training meet, so that’s why we’ve left him out of the final. Andrew Gemmell, the other open water rep, has shown the ability to do well in both races in the same season, and is a better pool swimmer to begin with, so he got into our top 8.

Kevin Litherland is the sleeper here. He was a 15:37 at Junior Nationals last year, and has already been 15:33 this year. Yes, it’s going to take a substantial drop for him to get into the top 8 (at least 15 seconds), but he seems ready for a big ‘pop’ in the distance freestyle events.

My Picks:

  1. Michael McBroom (Longhorn Aquatics)
  2. Connor Jaeger (Club Wolverine/Michigan)
  3. Sean Ryan (Club Wolverine/Michigan)
  4. Arthur Frayler (Florida)
  5. Michael Klueh (Club Wolverine)
  6. David Heron (Tennessee)
  7. Andrew Gemmell
  8. Kevin Litherland (Dynamo Swim Club)

Note: Athletes are listed under the college/club that, to the best of our knowledge, they’re currently training with.

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