2017 U.S. Trials Previews: Can Shebat Break Up Cal Party in 200 Back?

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2017 U.S. Nationals/World Championships Trials

  • Tuesday, June 27th-Saturday, July 1st
  • 50-Meter Course
  • Indianapolis, Indiana
  • Meet Info

The 200 back will bring both 2016 Olympians back to compete for a spot on the World Championships roster: Cal teammates Ryan Murphy and Jacob Pebley. In Rio, Murphy swam his way to Olympic gold, while Pebley earned a spot alongside him in the Olympic final. This season, Pebley has been battling closely with Murphy, and he owns a slighlty faster season best than the Olympic champ. In Indianapolis, we could see a close race between the two Golden Bears as they’re the frontrunners for the spots in Budapest.

Texas teammates John Shebat and Jonathan Roberts could also give their team 2 swimmers in the top 8. Roberts has been under 1:59 before, boasting a lifetime best 1:58.74 which he swam in 2014 before tying it in 2016. Shebat’s best time is a 2:03.94 from 2015 Nationals, but after an explosive NCAA season where he dropped nearly 3 seconds, he seems due for a big drop. He didn’t swim the event in 2016, so we can be pretty sure he hasn’t shown all of his cards in this race yet. Shebat is also the 3rd fastest performer in history in the yards version of the event.

Another man who could break up the Cal 1-2 is National Teamer Sean Lehane, who is the only other man to enter with a best time under 1:56. Lehane dropped a personal best 1:55.56 at Speedo Sectionals last summer, and went on to place 4th at Olympic Trials. Lehane was the 2015 Pan American Games champion, leading a 1-2 charge with fellow National Teamer Carter Griffin. Though he was slightly off his best last summer, Griffin placed 9th at 2016 Trials and is a strong contender for a finals spot this summer.

Michael Taylor (photo: Tim Binning)

Both Michael Taylor and Robert Owen made big strides last summer to land in the 1:56-range. Taylor, a Florida commit, has this season as his last chance to chase Aaron Piersol’s 17-18 National Age Group Record of 1:55.15. He placed 7th at Olympic trials, just one place behind Owen, who went on to take 2nd at the2016 U.S. Open.

Additional returning Trials finalists include Austin Katz and Hennessey Stuart. Like Taylor, Katz is an age group standout, as he took 5th at Olympic Trials and brought his time down to a 1:57-low. Stuart finished 8th inthe Olympic Trials final, and boasts a personal best 1:58-low.

Stuart’s teammate Justin Ress turned heads with a very fast 100 back at Charlotte UltraSwim. He hasn’t swum the 200 back this season yet, but we could see him make a big drop there as well. His currrent best time is a 1:59.04 from 2016 Trials, where he placed 11th in semis.

Another man to look out for in this event is Patrick Mulcare. The man who owns a best of 1:57.34 from the 2015 Winter Nats unloaded a massive 1:37.80 at NCAAs to take 3rd behind Murphy and Shebat. After such a massive improvement in one year (he was 1:39.6 in 2016), he could easily be a factor in the final.


Place Swimmer Best Time Since 2015 Predicted Time
1 Ryan Murphy 1:53.62 1:54.1
2 Jacob Pebley 1:54.77 1:54.5
3 Sean Lehane 1:55.56 1:55.8
4 John Shebat 2:03.94 1:55.9
5 Michael Taylor 1:56.78 1:56.4
6 Robert Owen 1:56.79 1:56.5
7 Austin Katz 1:57.20 1:57.0
8 Justin Ress 1:59.04 1:57.9

DARKHORSE: Carmel Swim Club’s Drew Kibler has already destroyed his best time this season. He came into 2017 with a best time of 2:10.49, but slashed 10 seconds off of it to lower his best to a 2:00.22 in March. If he hits his taper, we could see him swim under 2:00 and make it into the final.

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Speed Racer

With the 200free/200back on the same day Kibler is not your “dark horse” for the event. Odds are he will not swim the 200back. Mefford, Carr, Beach would have been better picks for the outside shot. Kibler’s time drop is impressive but meet event scheduling will be big determining factor on dark horses for this event.


I sense that Kibler will be in the 200 free …..


No, he won’t.


Since he isn’t even swimming it ….he certainly wont make it.

tea rex

At nationals, the 200 back comes after the 200 free. That may keep Jay Litherland out of the 2bk, and maybe Ress/Kibler as well.


Same with Johnathan Roberts, who made the final at trials in the 200 free, but also has been 1:59 in season in the 200 back and went 1:39.0 at NCAAs. Probably would be higher ranked in the world in the 200 back, but has a much tougher road to the worlds team in that event than a possible 200 free relay berth.

About Lauren Neidigh

Lauren Neidigh

Lauren Neidigh is a former NCAA swimmer at the University of Arizona (2013-2015) and the University of Florida (2011-2013). While her college swimming career left a bit to be desired, her Snapchat chin selfies and hot takes on Twitter do not disappoint. She's also a high school graduate of The …

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