Last week we watched one of the most exciting and fastest U.S. Summer Nationals we’d seen in years. The meet, of course, doubled as the USA’s World Championships Trials for later this month in Budapest, as well as the World University Games and the junior World Championships. With a few days to reflect, here’s our list of the some of the swims and swimmers that stood out to us last week in Indianapolis.
Female Swimmer of the Meet – Katie Ledecky
It’s tempting to go with someone else here, but in the end, we have got to go with Ledecky. She won three races (200/400/800), finished 6th in the 100 free to earn a spot on the 4×100 free relay, and qualified by default for the 1500 free. Now 20 years old, Ledecky shows no signs of slowing down in her 6th summer on the international stage.
Lilly King – You know it’s a deep field when someone who swept the breaststroke events, setting a US Open Record in the process, only gets an honorable mention. King set up a showdown with Yulia Efimova in Budapast, as the two ladies are ranked 1-2 in all three breaststroke races heading into Worlds.
Leah Smith – We seriously considered putting her over Ledecky here. Smith won two events (400 IM and 1500 free) and finished 2nd to Ledecky in the 200, 400, and 800 freestyles. She’s going to have a tough schedule in Budapeast, but can very conceivably medal in four individual events if she can navigate the schedule.
Male Swimmer of the Meet – Caeleb Dressel
People have been comparing Dressel to Matt Biondi for at least the past four years, and this week showed why, as he left the pool rocking time and time again. He won three events (50 fly, 100 fly, 50 free), placed 2nd in the 100 free, and even qualified for the 4×200 free relay. Like Smith, he’s now set up for a busy, yet exciting, schedule at Worlds.
Kevin Cordes – Like King, Cordes swept the breaststroke events and earned an American Record and should be in contention for medals in all three races in Budapest.
Chase Kalisz – Already the Olympic silver medalist in the 400 IM, Kalisz took one of the 200 IM spots vacated by his former training partner, Michael Phelps. Kalisz swept the IM’s, including a world-leading time in the 400IM, and nearly made the team in the 200 fly.
Female Performance of the Meet – Leah Smith, 400 IM
We knew she’s the best distance swimmer not named Katie Ledecky, but we didn’t know she had an elite-level 400 IM as well. Smith was out first, briefly lost the lead during the second 50, but quickly regained it and held on till the end against a very tough field.
Katie Ledecky, 400 free – It seems odd to relegate the 3rd-fastest swim in this event ever to an honorable mention, but we guess this is where Ledecky has been a bit of a victim of her own success.
Lilly King, 50 Breast – King knocked 0.14 off the previous US Open and American Records, part of a dominant breaststroke sweep this week.
Male Performance of the Meet – Kevin Cordes, 100 Breast
Cordes had an impressive week, but this race was the best of three. He kept his long stroke together as he held off a very deep field. That field included Cody Miller, who had taken the American Record from Cordes last year, but Cordes reclaimed the title as fastest American ever in this race, with a 58.74.
Caeleb Dressel, 100 Fly – We already knew that Dressel could do butterfly short course, but by popping the fastest time in the world this year, Dressel proved that he’s a force to be reckoned with in the big pool as well.
Chase Kalisz, 400 IM – Pure domination by Kalisz here as he threw down the fastest time in the world this year, as well as one of the fastest times ever done on American soil.
Women’s Race of the Meet – 400 IM
Yes, we already covered with the previous award, but this was one of the most open races of the week, and it delivered on the drama. Smith was in the lead after the fly leg and continued to hold, then tension built as Eastin and Beisel battled for second, only for a flipflopping of emotions as Eastin drew a DQ and Beisel, the veteran, made yet another World Championships team after an extended break.
100 Freestyle – Mallory Comerford went out fast and came back strong as she held off the reigning Olympic gold medalist in this event, Simone Manuel, to capture her first national title.
Men’s Race of the Meet – 100 Free
Arguably the fastest race ever on US soil. This appears to be the first time two US men both went under 48 in the same heat in domestic competition. Both Adrian and Dressel went under that mark in a race that come down to the hundreths. Townley Haas had his breakout as a sprinter, registering a 48.20, while Zach Apple was just off his 48.14 from prelims.
400 Free – Great three-way battle here in one of many close battles on the men’s side.
1500 Free – Although missing some of the biggest names were missing, True Sweetser, Robert Finke and PJ Ransford went back and forth, with Sweetser hanging on for the win.
Women’s Breakout Performer – Mallory Comerford
You could see this coming after her NCAA performances and a solid long course season, and Comferford confirmed that she’s the real deal last week. She upset Simone Manuel in the 100 free, setting a new US Open record in the process, earned a spot on the 4×200 free relay, and made the A-final in the 50 free, as well.
Dakota Luther – The rising high school senior was #11 on our list of recruits for the class of 2018, and broke onto the national scene in a big way, finishing 2nd to Hali Flickinger in the 200 fly and earning a ticket to Budapest in the process.
Men’s Breakout Performer – Zane Grothe
The former Auburn swimmer, now training at Indiana, has shown steady improvement since his college days. He’s been lurking on the edge of a breakout for a while, and it finally came with a trio of top three finishes. He earned a spot on U.S. 4×200 relay team, and very nearly got an individaul spot, going under 1:47. He followed that up with a win in the 400 free, then a 2nd place finish in the 800.
Abrahm Devine – We probably should’ve been paying more attention to Devine after his performances at Trials and NCAAs. But even if we had, we don’t think we would’ve picked him to become the 5th-fastest American ever in the 200 IM; Devine himself seemed rather surprised.
Zach Apple – Who’s Zach Apple? A common question last week, the answer is now the 8th-fastest U.S. performer ever in the 100 freestyle, and a member of the USA’s 4×100 free squad for Budapest.
Women’s Junior (18&U) of the Meet – Regan Smith
Regan’s been one of the up and comers in the junior ranks for a while, and the 15 year-old made her first World Champs team with a 2nd place finish in the 200 back. She added a 5th place finish the 100 back, 10th in the 100 fly, and C-final appearance in the 200 IM.
Men’s Junior (18&U) of the Meet – Michael Andrew
There have been plenty of suggestions/complaints about what MA should be doing. But putting expectations aside, the results speak for themselves. He made the A-final in five different events. In the last one, the 50 free – roughly thirty minutes after swam the 200 IM – he beat the reigning Olympic champion (Anthony Ervin) and two of the top college sprinters (Michael Chadwick and Ryan Held).
Coach/Team of the Meet – Jack Bauerle/Georgia
Something’s going right in Athens, as everyone from newcomers (Pace Clark) to veterans who’d missed the Olympics (Nic Fink), seven Bulldogs in total, will repping the Red, White, and Blue in Budapest.
Ray Looze/Indiana – Putting two current swimmers plus two postgrads is making Indiana look like one of the top places to be right now.
Albert Albiero/Louisville – Other teams put more swimmers on the World Champs team, but few programs have had progressions like we’ve seen out of Worrell and Comerford in their time at Louisville.