The second-ever USA Swim Squads fantasy draft is happening this afternoon, and we’ll be here to provide you with live coverage and analysis. You can watch the draft happen in realtime at www.usaswimming.org or on the USA Swimming Facebook page. The team captains are Maya DiRado, Elizabeth Beisel, Cammile Adams and Connor Jaeger.
1. Chase Kalisz – Team DiRado
Kalisz was the #1 pick last year, and he won most of the races he entered in the series. He’s a near-lock to sweep the IMs at each stop, but can also fill in for other slots when needed.
2. Katie Ledecky – Team Jaeger
Ledecky is the defending women’s PSS champion, despite only going to 2 meets last year.
3. Zane Grothe – Team Beisel
Grothe was the men’s runner-up last year, and should be even formidable this year now that open water is part of the series.
4. Michael Andrew– Team Adams
He’s been tearing it up on the World Cup circuit, can swim a little bit of everything, and is fast in-season.
5. Kelsi Dahlia – Team Adams
Will score big points in fly and free.
6. Kathleen Baker – Team Beisel
As Beisel mention, she owns the newest world record of any American swimmer.
Editors Note: Aside from the jump of Andrew to #4, the top 6 followed our mock draft exactly.
7. Melanie Margalis – Team Jaeger
The former Bulldog can swim just about anything, and should be a huge asset in either IM or flex.
8. Ryan Murphy – Team DiRado
The top American male backstroker, Ryan Murphy, was 2 seconds ahead of any other American 200 backstroker last year and 6-tenths better than any other 100 backstroker. Last year’s #3 overall pick slid a little because he only swims a few events (100 back/200 back) as compared to some of the other names, but both Rowdy and Maya hinted that he’s really going after the 100 free this season.
9. Jack Conger – Team DiRado
DiRado made a reference to the analytical baseball stat known as WAR (Wins Above Replacement); Conger can pull down big points in fly and free.
10. Caeleb Dressel – Team Jaeger
In one scenario, Dressel is a first rounder, especially now that he’s pro and has the flexibility to swim more Pro Swim Series meets. But Gregg Troy swimmers tend to swim tired in season, don’t always swim a ton of Pro Swim Series meets, and when they do sometimes scratch. That hurts his value in this format a little, but he’s still versatile enough to pop a 6-win meet if he gets in a groove.
11. Leah Smith – Team Beisel
Leah Smith was a first round pick last year, and was in the battle for the title through Nationals where she stumbled a little and Ledecky took the win.
12. Olivia Smoliga – Team Adams
The 3rd Georgia Bulldog off the board, Smoliga pushed up into some 200 yard races last year, but her value is mostly as a sprint freestyler and backstroker. She pretty-consistently shows up for PSS meets, so that’s another point in her column.
13. Josh Prenot – Team Adams
He can be used as either a breaststroker or an IM choice at any given meet. The breaststrokes are tough internationally, but in the US, he’s a full second ahead of any other American in the 200. In the 4th round, getting a guy who will win one event at most meets he enters is big value.
14. Hali Flickinger – Team Beisel
Beisel dropped some intel that Flickinger has been training with the Georgia distance group. After a real breakout season last year, which included breaking a historic US Open Record in the 200 fly to kick off Nationals, it would be easy to forget how versatile she is. But, if what Beisel says is true, and she’s really going to go after the 800 as well, that’s a lot more point scoring opportunities if Beisel needs to insert her into the distance slot at a meet where Leah Smith is missing.
15. Tom Shields – Team Jaeger
Shields missed the Pan Pacs team last year, but he races a lot of Pro Swim Series stops, and is a reliable 50-100-200 entry guy (which, in this format, can be big – finding someone who races all 3 of the distances in their stroke).
16. Nathan Adrian – Team DiRado
Adrian was a 1st-round pick last year. At 29, he did show chips in his reliable record (he lost his first PSS meet in the 100 free in 3 years), but he’s still a consistent performer that will earn big points at the 16 spot. This is also the 2nd Cal Golden Bear chosen by Stanford grad Maya DiRado.
17. Simone Manuel – Team DiRado
Balancing out her Cal picks, DiRado chose her fellow Stanford Cardinal Simone Manuel. Like Ledecky, Baker, and others, the upside is that as a pro, Manuel has more opportunities to swim at PSS meets than she did last year.
18. Matt Grevers – Team Jaeger
This continues a trend of picking pros over college swimmers. Grevers swam at 4 PSS meets last year, but doesn’t race the 200 back, so that limits his value in this format.
19. Haley Anderson – Team Beisel
This could turn out to be a really smart pick based on the new format where open water swimmers can score points as well. Anderson brings both pool value and big open water value – she’s probably the best two-way swimmer on the women’s board.
20. Margo Geer – Team Adams
After the Anderson tip, thought maybe Jordan Wilimovsky – the Americans’ best distance swimmer in pool or open water – would be the choice here, but Adams went with a resurgent sprinter Margo Geer. She was 2nd in the 50 free and 3rd in the 100 free at US Nationals last year, and races a lot.
Remainder of picks not announced live or in order.
Follow along in our google spreadsheet: