2018 Pan Pacs: Biggest ‘Bump’ Opportunities for U.S. 2019 Worlds Team


  • Thursday, August 9th – Sunday, August 12th
  • Tatsumi International Swim Center, Tokyo, Japan
  • LCM
  • Meet Central
  • Psych Sheets

With USA Swimming selecting its 2019 World Championships roster based on combined results of 2018 Nationals and 2018 Pan Pacs, this week’s Pan Pacific Championships’ meet-within-a-meet will be the competition between U.S. swimmers for top-2 billing in each event.

We’ve broken down the very likely changes to the current projected Worlds roster, along with some potential and longshot changes below:

Very Likely

Katie Ledecky/Leah Smith, 1500 free

Current top 2:

  1. Ashley Twichell – 15:55.68
  2. Ally McHugh – 16:02.56

Ledecky is all but a lock to earn one of the two spots – she did break the world record in this event three months ago. Smith was 16:01.02 last year, so that time would get her by McHugh but not by Twichell: if Ledecky swims it (very likely), Smith will need a drop to earn a Worlds bid.

Caeleb Dressel, 100 free

Current top 6:

  1. Blake Pieroni, 48.08
  2. Nathan Adrian, 48.25
  3. Townley Haas, 48.30
  4. Zach Apple, 48.34
  5. Michael Chadwick, 48.44
  6. Caeleb Dressel, 48.50

The reigning world champ was just 6th in a lackluster Nationals, but the good news is that he only needs to cut about a half-second (still well off his 2017 best) to pass the entire field. A swim closer to his 47.1 from last summer would easily put him back on top. The top 2 will swim individually at Worlds, the top 4 likely on the finals relay and the top 6 will probably get at least a prelims relay swim.


Jack Conger, 200 fly

Current top 2:

  1. Justin Wright, 1:54.63
  2. Zach Harting, 1:55.11

Conger struggled in most of his best events at Nationals, but if he can return to his 1:54.4 form from last summer, he should pass Wright and Harting, who had huge breakout swims in Irvine.

Townley Haas, 200 free

Current top 6:

  1. Andrew Seliskar, 1:45.70
  2. Blake Pieroni, 1:45.93
  3. Conor Dwyer, 1:46.08
  4. Townley Haas, 1:46.15

Haas won silver at Worlds last summer but couldn’t crack the top 3 at Nationals. If he gets back to 1:45.03 range, which he did twice last summer, he’ll shuffle up the individual and relay entries for 2019 Worlds.

Leah Smith/Mallory Comerford, 200 free

Current top 6:

  1. Katie Ledecky, 1:54.60
  2. Allison Schmitt, 1:55.82
  3. Gabby Deloof, 1:56.55
  4. Leah Smith, 1:56.93
  5. Simone Manuel, 1:57.01
  6. Melanie Margalis, 1:57.32

Smith was the second-fastest American at 1:55.97 last summer and will now have to challenge a resurgent Schmitt for the last individual spot behind Ledecky. Comerford is currently outside even a relay spot in this event (though she’s into Worlds in the 100) and needs to better her 1:56.95 from last year to get into that mix.

Justin Ress, 100 back

Current top 2:

  1. Ryan Murphy, 52.51
  2. Matt Grevers, 52.55

The men’s backstrokes are never settled until they’re settled. In 2015, Grevers and Murphy held the top two spots until David Plummer passed Murphy for the Worlds spot in the Pan Pacs final. Now it’s Ress trying to do the same, though he’ll have to significantly better his lifetime-best 53.26.

Regan Smith, 100 back

Current top 2:

  1. Kathleen Baker, 58.00
  2. Olivia Smoliga, 58.75

The 16-year-old Smith tied for the 200 back title and broke a world junior record in this race, but still found herself on the outside for Worlds. Smith (58.83) is right on the heels of Smoliga, though, and could easily snag the second spot in Tokyo, though she’s entered in a pretty brutal event lineup (100/200 back, 100/200 fly, 200 free) compared to Smoliga (100/200 back, 50 free).

Margo Geer 50 free

Current top 2:

  1. Simone Manuel, 24.10
  2. Abbey Weitzeil, 24.63

Geer (24.79) was a tenth away from unseating Weitzeil for second at Nationals, and Geer didn’t even swim a best time. She was 24.72 in May, and only needs a little more speed to fight for the second Worlds spot in Tokyo.

Leah Smith/Melanie Margalis, 400 IM

Current top 2:

  1. Ally McHugh, 4:34.80
  2. Brooke Forde, 4:35.09

Smith was the national champ last summer in a time (4:33.86) that would have won this year’s title by about a second. She’s got a great shot to make the top two, though she’s got a punishing slate of events (200/400/800/1500 free, 400 IM). Margalis is a longer shot – the vet was a lifetime-best 4:35.50 at Nationals and needs to drop even more (not to mention beat Forde and potentially McHugh if Smith does indeed move to #1) to be in the mix, and some of her interviews earlier this year suggested she’s not all-in on this event.

Micah Sumrall, 100 breast

Current top 2:

  1. Lilly King, 1:05.36
  2. Katie Meili, 1:06.19

Sumrall, the blowout 200 champ, was just two tenths behind Meili at Nationals in the 100 and should put up a good fight for the second Worlds spot, though she’s already fairly locked in in the 200.

Lilly King, 200 breast

Current top 2:

  1. Micah Sumrall, 2:22.06
  2. Bethany Galat, 2:23.32

King was only 2:25 at Nationals, but didn’t appear fully rested. She was 2:21.83 this summer and has spoken openly about her 2018 focus on bringing her 200 to the world-beating levels of her 100 and 50.

Outside Chances

There are a whole bunch more who could unseat a top 2, top 4 or top 6 spot, but will need very good swims. We’ve put together a non-exhaustive list of some of those swims below:

Men’s 50 free

  • Nathan Adrian

Men’s 200 free

Men’s 400 free

Men’s 800 free

  • Robert Finke

Men’s 1500 free

  • Zane Grothe

Men’s 200 back

  • Austin Katz

Men’s 100 fly

  • Michael Andrew

Men’s 200 fly

  • Chase Kalisz

Men’s 200 IM

  • Andrew Seliskar

Men’s 400 IM

  • Sean Grieshop

Women’s 100 free

Women’s 200 free

  • Gabby Deloof (for individual spot)

Women’s 100 fly

Women’s 200 fly

Women’s 200 IM

  • Ella Eastin

Women’s 400 IM

  • Ella Eastin

In This Story

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How about Chase in 2fly. He was much faster in most GP meets all year.

PK Doesn't Like His Long Name

The two I would add are Zach Apple and Jack Conger in the 200 free.

bobo gigi

No way Regan Smith swims the 200 fly. It’s just before her 100 back on day 2.
Big pressure on Dressel in the 100 free and Haas in the 200 free. But the times required are not very hard to reach for them. Even if his fly looks better right now I don’t see Dressel above 48. And USA needs Haas next year in the 200 free. He’s the only American able to win a medal in that event.
And I really hope that Ella Eastin will make the team in either the 200 IM or the 400 IM. Or both. 🙂

About Jared Anderson

Jared Anderson

Jared Anderson swam for nearly twenty years. Then, Jared Anderson stopped swimming and started writing about swimming. He's not sick of swimming yet. Swimming might be sick of him, though. Jared was a YMCA and high school swimmer in northern Minnesota, and spent his college years swimming breaststroke and occasionally pretending …

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