2018 Junior Pan Pacs Day 1 Preview: US Backstrokers, Tuggle & Urlando


The opening day of the 2018 Junior Pan Pacific Championships from Suva, Fiji will feature the men’s and women’s 200 free, 100 back and 200 fly, along with the women’s 800, the men’s 1500, and the mixed 400 medley relay which will only be contested at night.

The three major storylines on day 1 will be the ridiculously stacked field of Americans in the women’s 100 back, Claire Tuggle with a shot at Sippy Woodhead‘s 40-year-old 13-14 NAG in the 200 free, and Gianluca Urlando eyeing an encore performance after his incredible 200 fly at U.S. Nationals.

Female American Backstrokers

The Americans hold five of the top-six seeds in the women’s 100 back, led by Phoebe Bacon who dazzled with a 59.12 prelim swim last month at U.S. Nationals. Katharine Berkoff is the only other swimmer seeded sub-1:00 (59.77) after making that National A-final as well, and then you’ve got Isabelle Stadden (1:00.07), Lucie Nordmann (1:00.62) and Alex Walsh (1:00.83) coming in seeded 3rd, 4th and 6th.

They’re all coming off successful performances in Irvine, and absolutely tower over the field here. With Jade Hannah out with injury, Canadian Madison Broad (1:00.63) is the only non-American seeded under 1:01. Traditional Pan Pac rules apply (maximum two per country to the A-final), so the Americans will have to be on the ball in prelims if they want a shot at advancing to the Championship final. All five have a realistic shot to be under the existing Junior Pan Pac Meet Record of 1:00.45.

This great crop of teen backstrokers will join the fray that already includes Kathleen BakerOlivia SmoligaRegan Smith and Ali Deloof at what will be an absolutely insane 2020 Olympic Trials.

Tuggle Eyes Woodhead’s Record

14-year-old Claire Tuggle dropped over half a second from her best time to clock 1:58.59 in the 200 free at U.S. Nationals, moving her past Missy Franklin for #2 all-time in the 13-14 age group. Sippy Woodhead, the NAG record holder at 1:58.53, set that mark 40 years ago at the 1978 World Championships, and Tuggle will have a great shot at taking it down here. She doesn’t turn 15 until next July, so she’ll have many more opportunities, but it could very well go down on day 1.

Tuggle will have some stiff competition in the event as well, with Australian Michaela Ryan and teammate Isabel Ivey both seeded in 1:58.9.

Urlando Highlights Men’s 200 Fly

16-year-old American Gianluca Urlando swam an incredible 1:55.21 at U.S. Nationals in the men’s 200 fly, tying for 3rd in the final and putting him 2nd all-time in the 15-16 age group behind only Michael Phelps (1:54.58). That currently puts him 12th in the world for the year and had it been done in the final at Pan Pacs, would’ve placed him 4th.

While the Phelps record is certainly within reach, it’s a lot to ask a 16-year-old to take another six-tenths off their best a month knocking off nearly four seconds. Whether or not he gets the record, it will be intriguing to see such a phenomenal talent compete internationally for the first time. He comes in seeded 1st, nearly three seconds clear of Japan’s Tomoru Honda (1:58.09), and has a great shot to take down Andrew Seliskar‘s 2014 meet record of 1:55.92.

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2 years ago

FYI: prelims start at 2 PM PST / 5 PM EST, and finals start at 10 PM PST / 1 AM EST.

Reply to  joe
2 years ago

Thanks! I was just going to ask that!

2 years ago


2 years ago

https://fijione.tv/live-tv Is supposed to have live-streaming. It was showing the opening ceremony last night .

Reply to  Joel
2 years ago

That’s good news. Well spotted.

Reply to  Ger
2 years ago

Good stream. Just watched the Women’s 200 M Free….looks like Tuggle took top spot?

Jim C
Reply to  James
2 years ago

I liked the enthusiasm of the woman who talked about wanting to jump into the pool.

About James Sutherland

James Sutherland

James swam five years at Laurentian University in Sudbury, Ontario, specializing in the 200 free, back and IM. He finished up his collegiate swimming career in 2018, graduating with a bachelor's degree in economics. In 2019 he completed his graduate degree in sports journalism. Prior to going to Laurentian, James swam …

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