2017 U.S. World Champs Trials: SwimSwam Awards

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.

Honorable Mentions:
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.

Honorable Mentions:
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.

Honorable Mentions:
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.

Honorable Mentions:
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.

Honorable Mention:
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.

Honorable Mentions:
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.

Honorable Mention:
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.

Honorable Mentions:
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.

Honorable Mentions:
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.

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Swimbro
4 years ago

Consistent excellence from UGA. Jack and Harv have this thing figured out

HulkSwimHulkSmash
Reply to  Swimbro
4 years ago

Glad to see someone else recognizing Harvey’s work with the distance group

weirdo
Reply to  HulkSwimHulkSmash
4 years ago

weird that none of these 7 are distance swimmers or swim with harvey?

Hater of swimvortex
4 years ago

When is swimswam’s predictions for Worlds coming?

SamH
4 years ago

At 2008 trials, multiple men were under 48 in the 100 free.

Also, please just read aloud this whole article and please correct the plethora of grammatical errors. It’s rather distracting.

Jack
Reply to  SamH
4 years ago

Yes, but I think it was the first time it happened in one heat/round. In 2008, Phelps broke 48 in prelims only, Lezak did it in semis, and Weber-Gale was the only one to do it in the finals. So it depends on whether you define “fastest race” as “fastest event” or as “fastest heat.”

SamH
Reply to  Jack
4 years ago

As far as fastest entire final/heat ever I would totally agree. I didn’t realize those 2008 47s were all in separate heats before posting that lol.

Ervin
Reply to  SamH
4 years ago

But the suits!!!

Steve Nolan
4 years ago

Hell ya, Michael Andrew.

If some random 18 yo just had the nationals meet he did people would be losing their minds.

Porkchop2244
Reply to  Steve Nolan
4 years ago

They’re not trying to be a professional at 18 without winning a major LCM medal

Kathy
Reply to  Steve Nolan
4 years ago

Robt Finke made the team. MA did not. Isn’t making the team the point of the meet (at that level).

Swimmer1
Reply to  Kathy
4 years ago

100% agree. It’s called getting the job done. finke killed it. Deserves the recognition.

Steve Nolan
Reply to  Kathy
4 years ago

The Finke comparison isn’t fantastic – it’s not like the 1500 was the men’s toughest event or anything, ya know? (But not to take anything away from Finke, he’s lovely.) But, to me, I don’t think the be-all end-all is making the team when you’re 18. The goal for Michael Andrew should be to set himself up well enough to make the 2020 team and do well there.

I’m not saying making the team isn’t preferable to not making the team. But given that Andrew finaled in all 4 strokes as a baby, it’s probably not the worst thing that he swam so much instead of focusing on just his best one or two shots for this year.

I’m mean,… Read more »

Speed Racer
Reply to  Steve Nolan
4 years ago

MA didn’t even swim 1500M total!! I would love to see MA duplicate Finke’s event lineup.

Benedict Arnold Schwarzenegger
Reply to  Speed Racer
4 years ago

If it were all about how many meters someone swam, these awards would look a lot different. But let’s be honest: that would be a really stupid way to evalaute the sport

mcgillrocks
Reply to  Benedict Arnold Schwarzenegger
4 years ago

Leah Smith GOAT.

Catch22
Reply to  Steve Nolan
4 years ago

I’d have to disagree. Perhaps for most junior swimmers, making the team isn’t the be all end all, but when you have the hype and the seeds of Andrew, making the team IS the be all end all. Did he get the job done should be a factor. As for setting himself up for making the 2020 team, I fail to see how his performance helped. You don’t think those other juniors aren’t pointing to 2020? Of course they are! I don’t know anyone who would say that going to world championships doesn’t help.

Dcrabbe6
Reply to  Catch22
4 years ago

EXACTLY. All ma did was show us what we already know,he has speed. I don’t see how anything he accomplished at this meet shows us he has the ability to make an Olympic event in 2020,in fact all it did was give me doubt about usrpt.

a_trojan
Reply to  Steve Nolan
4 years ago

come on, Andrew is not a baby. He is 18 and has been a pro for 4 years. And swimming in all the stroke 50s is not exactly a path to Olympic success.

Uberfan
Reply to  Kathy
4 years ago

Tbf everyone ahead of him dropped except True

Catch22
Reply to  Uberfan
4 years ago

To be totally fair, only Wilimovski and True had faster seed times than Finke. Smith nope, Grothe nope… so your ‘everyone’ is one guy.

Swimmer1
Reply to  Steve Nolan
4 years ago

I couldn’t disagree more. He barely made the B final getting 17th in Prelims with his best shot at world championship team which was the 200 IM. Given his high seeds in 100 breast and 2 IM I don’t see how you can look at his performance as successful.

Tom from Chicago
Reply to  Swimmer1
4 years ago

Have YOU ever made a B-final at Nationals? You are rather cavalier about how you define other people’s successes.

Speed Racer
Reply to  Tom from Chicago
4 years ago

I haven’t made B Finals at Nationals as an 18 or younger but Carr, Mefford, Freeman, Abruzzo, Finke, Foster, LaVant, Bybee, Willenbring, Brinegar, Whitley, Albiero, Grieshop, Yeager, Kieran Smith, Roy, Pomajevich, Krueger, Knowles, and Katz all made A or B finals as 18 & youngers. I guess MA is in great company with 20 other guys. I think the point is the love affair of MA does grow tiresome especially given all the hype he is constantly given.

Uberfan
Reply to  Speed Racer
4 years ago

Which of them made 3 Olympic trials finals? Which of them made 5 A finals? Which of them scored 72 points? Michael did have a fantastic world trials, and since he’s already a world champion I don’t think not making the team was the end of the world for him

a_trojan
Reply to  Uberfan
4 years ago

a question – what do you mean 3 Olympic trials finals – I think he made the 50 free and 100 breast, which is 2?

Speed Racer
Reply to  a_trojan
4 years ago

I think Uberfan is taking us on a trip down memory lane when MA made 3 Olympic Trial finals LAST year. It was a performance on par with Michael Taylor’s and Austin Katz’s Olympic Trials results landing them in the semi’s and finals as 18&unders. As far as the 5 A Finals and 72 points Michael Andrew did best everyone in the 50events and in points. Reminds me of my swimming rockstar days in summer league when I was the king of the 50s. Sadly those summer league days left with me melanoma and a few trophies.

Uberfan
Reply to  Speed Racer
4 years ago

Is 2 greater than 3?

Speed Racer
Reply to  Uberfan
4 years ago

You got me there! 3 is most certainly better than 2. I must also admit my mistake in forgetting the other 18&unders at Olympic Trials that did so well. That Finke kid again working the 1500 in the finals and True in the 400. I am looking forward to watching Michael Andrew dominate at Jr Worlds and wish him the best.

a_trojan
Reply to  Uberfan
4 years ago

what?

Swimmer1
Reply to  Tom from Chicago
4 years ago

Tom you are one funny guy! No I haven’t made The B final at nationals but I am not trying to defend myself as being the Best junior performance at world trials! Now am I!? It’s very simple. We are not arguing about whether or not making A finals at nationals is a good thing. Of course it is! What we are arguing is who is deserving of the recognition of best male Junior performance. It should not go to a swimmer who Performed very poorly at his two best events. Contrast that with another swimmer who not only knocked it out of the park in his best event but who qualified for the world championship team in that event.… Read more »

a_trojan
Reply to  Tom from Chicago
4 years ago

totally irrelevant if he has been to a B-final

Jason
Reply to  Tom from Chicago
4 years ago

Very weird something as logical as that statement actually received any down votes let alone more down votes then up votes. Too many people bash athletes on this site yet those athletes have accomplished far more in the pool then most of those badgers.

Tom from Chicago
Reply to  Steve Nolan
4 years ago

The stars MA is beating is impressive, but he is now fighting to climb to the top of the A-finals. If he continues to climb and set PR, this could get interesting. I think he is learning he can’t swim too many events. His USRPT works for him with sprints, but he is definitely a sprinter and gasses.

He seemed to imply in some interviews a while back that he was getting burned out. I can’t imagine it being that fun to train in his home 2 lane pool all alone. If he finds renewed motivation and puts on a little muscle, it could get interesting.

Dcrabbe6
Reply to  Steve Nolan
4 years ago

Michael Andrew has amazing potential,and to me is wasting it away. His race pace training works to a certain extent,but he could be one of the best 2 im swimmers in the world due to his versatility and he did absolutely nothing with it. I hate to say it,but if he ever wants to have a relevant back half In the 100 breast/2 im. He needs to do real training

Brownie
4 years ago

Very good performance by Grothe he really did have his break out meet here after coming so close at trials last year, very happy for him!

Swimmer1
4 years ago

Although Michael Andrew did have an impressive 50 freestyle his other races were very disappointing given his seed times. In my opinion it’s hardly impressive making B final and getting 10th and not even making A final when you’re seated third? I think Trey Freeman who had huge time drops in all four of his events and made a final in the 400 free deserves Junior of the meet.or how about Robert Finke who made the world championship team at age 17?

Uberfan
Reply to  Swimmer1
4 years ago

5 A finals is pretty good though.

swimswamswum
4 years ago

For those who are mad that Andrew got this award, you can take solace that this is the last summer he can get this award. He’ll be 19 soon enough and all of the junior team opportunities will no longer be available to him. It will be make the major summer team or go on no international team trip at all.

Speed Racer
Reply to  swimswamswum
4 years ago

Thank goodness. What is the over/under that he changes country affiliation as soon as he is no longer eligible for junior teams for the USA. He is a long way off from hanging with the big guys in OLYMPIC events. I will agree he is the 50anything champ and I am sure we will get to hear all about that come Jr Worlds. Insert eye roll.

Uberfan
Reply to  Speed Racer
4 years ago

Long way off? With his constant time drops and the people ahead of him in some events retiring before Tokyo?

a_trojan
Reply to  Uberfan
4 years ago

50 free – Dressel and Adrian certainly aren’t retiring. I’d also guess Jones and Ervin will be there.

100 breast – Cordes, Miller certainly not going anywhere. And Fink, Wilson, Licon will probably be there.

200 IM – Kalisz, Devine, Prenot, Litherland not going anywhere.

Uberfan
Reply to  a_trojan
4 years ago

Oh my you think Jones or Ervin will make the team after this year, boy are you foolish. And Adrian will be 31 by the time it rolls around and people generally slow down as they age

a_trojan
Reply to  Uberfan
4 years ago

Ervin went a best time last year, at age 35 (clearly had not trained full time this year). Jones just went 21.7 and I have every reason to believe he can be that fast or faster in 2020. I fully expect Adrian to be near his best times in 2020, around 21 mid. Please don’t call me boy or foolish, it’s disrespectful.

Uberfan
Reply to  a_trojan
4 years ago

Jones was a 21.89 not 7 🙁 and lets be real Ervin is past his peak

AvidSwimFan
Reply to  Uberfan
4 years ago

This recent national team shows that there are constantly young blood willing to step into spots on the Team. Those spots are not there for the picking for MA. He will need to step it up majorly to make the team come 2020 if things continue to progress.

Swimmer1
Reply to  Uberfan
4 years ago

Constant time drops??? Ummmmm.( scratches head)

Benedict Arnold Schwarzenegger
Reply to  Speed Racer
4 years ago

Dang. What’d he ever do to you? Seems like the kid gets a lot of hate for no reason other than getting a lot of attention for fast age group swims

Uberfan
Reply to  Benedict Arnold Schwarzenegger
4 years ago

Now that Dressel made 4 individual events people are hopping off the Andrew bandwagon and jumping on the Dressel one

swimfan
4 years ago

I disagree on the female breakout swimmer

Marley09
Reply to  swimfan
4 years ago

You’re likely the only one. Who would you choose over Comerford?

Captain Awesome
Reply to  swimfan
4 years ago

… So who would you choose?

Eagleswim
Reply to  swimfan
4 years ago

I guess the only argument you could make is that a NCAA champion can’t count as a “breakout performer,” but I don’t really buy that argument. She won one of the marquee events after being basically an unknown for the casual fan before this year

I’m curious to hear your rationale and who you think should have won

swamfan
Reply to  Eagleswim
4 years ago

Comerford has been progressing at an impressive rate for several years, but this was the first time Comerford has proven herself at a LCM national championship meet. (she didn’t start training in long course until the summer of 2015.) Even after a very good NCAAs, I don’t think many people expected her to defeat the 100 free American record holder and reigning olympic gold-medalist to win the national title in a new U.S. Open/meet record that ranks her #3 in the world this year. She also put up an impressive performance in the 200 to touch 4th in a stacked field and qualify for the 800 free relay, and only missed making the individual 100 fly by .01 (who knew… Read more »