2014 Pan Pacific Championships Preview – Women’s sprints – Can anyone topple the Campbell sisters?

Note: Pan Pacs rules allow each country to enter as many swimmers as they want in prelims, but only two can swim in the A-final and a third in the B final. Keep that in mind as we will not pick more than two swimmers for a country in our top 6 picks.

50 Freestyle

Any discussion about the sprint freestyle events at Pan Pacs will center on Australia’s Campbell sisters, and for good reason. Cate Campbell has risen to become one of the world’s most prolific sprinters, and has been red-hot from Australian Nationals all the way through to the Commonwealth Games. Her younger sister Bronte makes this a dynamic duo – Bronte comes in with the 4th-fastest 50 free time in the world for 2014, Cate sits third.

Getting by these two will be a tall order for anyone in the world, but right now the closest contender is one of their teammates. Australian Melanie Schlanger is the third seed into Pan Pacs and currently ranks 7th in the world. Per Pan Pacs rules, she’ll have to get by one of the sisters to take an A final spot, but her 24.39 from Commonwealths was just about two tenths behind bronze medalist Bronte.

Schlanger is far from the only one trying to outdo the Campbells. The United States squad enters a host of fresh faces looking for big breakouts on the international stage. The most experienced among them is also one of the youngest: incoming college freshman Simone Manuel. Manuel is no stranger to international meets, having swum at the 2013 World Championships and earning gold for a prelims relay leg. She’s one of the most talented and exciting sprinters in America right now, but it’s hard to tell if she’s ready at this point to overcome Cate Campbell and the rest of the world’s elite.

Ivy Martin was one of the pleasant surprises of U.S. Nationals, transferring an outstanding short course college career into a big nationals where she took the top seed out of prelims in the 50 and held on for second place at night. Martin’s been 24.62 and would appear to have some tremendous upside as she continues to gain steam in long course.

Abbey Weitzeil, meanwhile, has been tearing up high school swimming in the states, knocking off both sprint freestyle national records. She finished 5th in the 50 at nationals, but qualified for the team in the 100, so she’ll compete here alongside Maddie Locus, a collegiate Georgia star who nabbed the last 50 free qualifying spot ahead of Weitzeil.

Locus’s college teammate Chantal Van Landeghem is another high seed, swimming for her home country of Canada. She holds the fastest time in the nation, though teammate Victoria Poon was its highest finisher at Commonwealths.

Never to be counted out in sprint races, Brazil enters South American record-holder Graciele Hermann, who’s had over four months to retrain and re-taper since tying that record at the Maria Lenk Trophy in April.

Pick-6: My top six predictions (with season-bests)

  1. Cate Campbell (AUS) – 24.00
  2. Bronte Campbell (AUS) – 24.20
  3. Simone Manuel (USA) – 24.56
  4. Graciele Hermann (BRA) – 24.76
  5. Ivy Martin (USA) – 24.62
  6. Chantal Van Landeghem (CAN) – 25.00

100 Freestyle

As dangerous as they are in the 50, Cate and Bronte Campbell are even more deadly over 100 meters. The two rank #1 and #3 in the world this year and are two of just three women to crack 53 on the year from a flat start. They were the force behind Australia’s 1-2-3 finish at Commonwealths, plus the backbone of their world record-shattering 4×100 free relay.

(The other two on that relay were Emma McKeon, third in the individual 100 free, and Melanie Schlanger. Look for either or both women to contend in the 100 here, though they’d have to beat one of the Campbell’s for an A final spot).

The Americans probably have a little more firepower to answer with here than in the 50, though, as youthful stars Missy Franklin and Simone Manuel are the top two contenders. The two are 5th and 7th in the world this year, respectively, and if anyone can track down the sisters, its this duo. Franklin spent the year focusing on freestyle with the Cal Bears, while Manuel is still clearly on the rise at just 17 years old.

Based on seeds, at least, this one will be very dominated by the Australians and Americans. The top 8 seeds are from those two nations, though only 6 of them can swim finals, 2 each in the A and 1 in the B. Other Americans to watch are Shannon Vreeland and Abbey Weitzeil, while Australia also enters Brittany Elmslie.

Japan has two top-10 seeds in Miki Uchida and Yayori Matsumot. Uchida’s probably the biggest threat, holding a top-25 time in the world this year.

Canada once again enters Victoria Poon, and Sandrine Mainville.

The unique race-within-the-race to watch will be swimmers fighting for entries on their country’s 400 free relay, both in Australia and at next summer’s World Championships in the case of Americans. There are all sorts of names entered into this race, likely trying only to put up a time to put themselves in the conversation for relay spots down the road. For the Americans, watch Katie Ledecky, Elizabeth Pelton, Ivy Martin and Felicia Lee for those type of breakout swims.

China had two women go 54.1 at their nationals this spring, but neither are entered here. With no Yi Tang or Duo Shen, the top Chinese entrant is Jiaqi Zhang, back at 26th.

Pick-6: My top six predictions (with season-bests)

  1. Cate Campbell (AUS) – 52.68
  2. Missy Franklin (USA) – 53.43
  3. Bronte Campbell (AUS) – 52.73
  4. Simone Manuel (USA) – 53.66
  5. Miki Uchida (JPN) – 54.28
  6. Victoria Poon (CAN) – 54.67

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calswimfan

holy cow the campbells are fast

Pvdh

At this point, the Campbell sisters are probably trying to hold a taper so they might be vulnerable.

John26

Missy over Bronte Campbell is a big call… That’s a half second gap and Missy hasn’t dropped much time in the 100 free since 2011. That said her 200 was nearly 2s off her best, so perhaps there’s more to give in that 100. This comment really should be in the Euro preview, but food for thought: Sjostrom is now faster in the 50 than Cate, and most likely has a tremendous edge in the 200. A case could be made that Cate is losing a tenth, if not more on her starts, but even still, it would appear that Sjostrom has been underswimming her 100s, and we’re probably in store for at least a 52.3 when she puts a… Read more »

Philip Johnson

Sjostrom’s 50 fly was amazing don’t get me wrong, but I think you’re putting too much weight on it. “The most talented young swimmer on the planet right now.” We have become accustomed to Ledecky breaking records and we now have come to expect that from her, but she has broken THREE world records this year in DISTANCE events (and not even in high level meets). In this post-tech suit era, that’s unheard of and unprecedented. They were also in events that have a long lineage of great swimmers. Can the same be said about the 50 fly? Again, I think Sjostrom’s swim was amazing but for her to be compared to Ledecky she would have to translate her success… Read more »

john26

Don’t get me wrong. I think in terms of achievements, Ledecky wins hands down. Her talent has been very obvious since winning the 800free in London. Her split at the 400 (4:04) suggested that she would have at least medaled in that event (probably won), which indicated that she would be able to swim under 4 minutes at the 400 in the next few years. There’s no obvious ceiling for what this girl seems to be able to accomplish, That said, I realize that the 50fly is not an “important” event, but her performance from last month was an indicator of her athletic ability. Sure, she has yet to put together any other swims of this quality, but that 50fly… Read more »

Lane Four

Sarah’s talent is (in many ways) equal to Katie for one obvious reason. Her 50 fly was faster than most of the women’s 50 free – and this is at the elite world level. This is absolutely unheard of and incredibly exciting for the swim fans. Both Katie and Sarah rule their own universe (distance and sprint). The only way they will clash is in the 200 and both have an unheard of amount of improvement which will make that race very very interesting.

Jim C

Replying to John26, as I did before, I now fail to see how the quality of the 100free record has any relevance to the part of your claim that Sarah would be without a doubt in your mind the swimmer of the year if she did not break the 100 free record–but instead broke the 100 butterfly record, a WR set in textile in London 2012.

Jim C

I don’t consider Sjostrom to be a young swimmer. She turns 21 on August 17.

Even if Sjostrom sets two WR, I would not say her year I better than Ledecky;s without even bothering to look at what Ledecky does at Pan Pacs.

Lane Four

Sarah is older than Katie but young enough to see time drops (Remember Phelps at 21 in 2006) to put her ahead of her younger rivals. In these old blue eyes, 21 is young. I never said Sarah would outshine or surpass Ledecky. I merely pointed out that they compete in two different worlds – sprint and distance. It is better to appreciate each for their individual talents and not to compare apples to oranges. If you want to base this solely on world records then Katie wins without a doubt. I was also trying to point out how incredible it is to swim a 50 meter butterfly faster than almost all the women on the planet swim freestyle. Without… Read more »

aswimfan

Right now, Ledecky is the world’s swimmer of the year, male or female, no question.

BUT, If Sjoestrom breaks 100 free WR, I will definitely choose her as the World’s Swimmer of the Year.

If the 100 free WR is broken this year, the rate of improvement (percentage wise, consider only textile marks) will be far greater than in 400/800/1500 WRs that Ledecky broke this year. Nowhere near as great as 50 fly WR though, but 50 fly is a much more recent event, compared to the oldest, most competitive event, 100 free.

aswimfan

Oh, by the way, I am pessimistic (but extremely hopeful) that the 100 free WR will be broken by either Sjoestrom or Campbell.

The gravity of a new w100 free WR will be equal if someone breaks Usain Bolt’s 9.58. That would be completely insane.

aswimfan

If Sarah breaks 100 free WR, I consider her year to be better than Ledecky.

john26

I would venture to say that Steffen’s 100free WR is more impressive than Pellegrini’s 400. Lets put aside the well establish thought that sprint WR’s are stronger than distances. Steffen lowered the 100free record over a second from the Textile Record. What was the textile record before 2008? Like 53.3? We’ve lost sight of the significance of 52.07, but before Campbell (even after Krowo blasted a 52.7), I still thought that record was completely out of reach for over a decade. I remember after seeing the time in Rome, I felt it was stronger than Cielo’s 46.9. The next fastest swims in history at the time were 52.8s. If Sjostrom breaks both Vollmer and Steffen’s records (or even one), there… Read more »

aswimfan

Missy to win silver in 100 is not as big a call as we thought.
Campbell’s sisters were obviously fully tapered in Glasgow three weeks ago. Hard to maintain for a month.
Meanwhile, I am 100% sure Franklin was not fully tapered in Irvine. Why would she?
She’s far and away the best 100/200 back in the USA and only needed a top four place in 100/200 which should have been a breeze. We will definitely see a faster Missy in Gold Coast in a few days.

About Jared Anderson

Jared Anderson

Jared Anderson swam for nearly twenty years. Then, Jared Anderson stopped swimming and started writing about swimming. He's not sick of swimming yet. Swimming might be sick of him, though. Jared was a YMCA and high school swimmer in northern Minnesota, and spent his college years swimming breaststroke and occasionally pretending …

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