2018 PAN PACIFIC CHAMPIONSHIPS
- Thursday, August 9 – Tuesday, August 14, 2018
- Tokyo Tatsumi International Swimming Center, Tokyo, Japan
- Event schedule
- Meet site
- Meet records
- Psych Sheet
When speaking of historically-great breaststrokers, the Japanese men are at the forefront of the conversation. Since 2002 – Kosuke Kitajima, Akihiro Yamaguchi, and Ippei Watanabe (the current record holder) have all held, for various durations, the World Record in the 200 breast.
With Kitajima retired and Yamaguchi out of the competitive picture, a crew of Japanese breaststrokers led by Watanabe and 2017 World Championship silver medalist Yasuhiro Koseki will lead the charge in a home-country championships. However, it isn’t guaranteed gold for the Japanese with American swimmers Josh Prenot, Andrew Wilson, Michael Andrew, and …Caeleb Dressel?… competing. Australian duo Jake Packard and Matthew Wilson along with Brazilian Joao Gomes Jr. (in the 100) will be challengers as well.
For all intents and purposes, though – look for this to be a two-way battle between the Japanese and Americans. In the 100, Koseki – 4th place finisher at last summer’s World Championships (59.10) – is the prohibitive favorite being the only swimmer in the field to break the 59-second barrier (58.78), which he set in-season this year at the Mare Nostrum in Monaco. The 26 year-old will have a fend off a pair of relative newcomers on the international stage in Wilson and Andrew. While the former DIII Emory University swimmer Wilson has yet to make an Olympic or World Championship team, he has been lurking over the last 4 years – swimming 59 on 14 different occasions since 2015. If there is anything valued on par with experience, it’s consistency.
On the other hand, Andrew is riding high coming off of 4 National titles (50 free, 50 fly, 50 breast, & 100 breast) at last week’s U.S. Nationals in Irvine, CA. While the 19 year-old’s lifetime best of 59.38 set last week is slower than Wilson, it’s hard to bet against the hot hand – and Andrew is exactly that. We could easily see a 58+ from him in Tokyo.
In the 200, again expect Koseki to fight for a title. After all, he is the silver medalist from last summer’s World Championships in Budapest (2:07.29). In that final, he clipped Japanese teammate Watanabe (3rd – 2:07.47), who is the current World Record holder (2:06.67 – January 2017) and first man to ever break the 2:07 barrier. These two aren’t one-hit-wonders, either. They both placed top 8 at the 2016 Olympics in Rio with Koseki in 5th (2:07.80) and Watanabe in 6th (2:07.87). The biggest question coming into the meet is whether or not Watanabe can get back down to his WR – because if he doesn’t, someone else (*cough* Koseki, *cough* Prenot) likely will.
Do not expect this to be a 1-2 finish for the duo, though. American Prenot – the 2016 Olympic silver medalist (2:07.53) – is back on top after failing to qualify for last summer’s World Championships. The 2:07.28 he notched last week for the win at U.S. Nationals scared his own American Record (2:07.17, 2016 Olympic Trials) and marked the 9th fastest performance of all-time. With a lifetime best of 2:08.37, Wilson will be a factor for a podium finish here as well.
The ultimate wildcard will be the 3rd American Chase Kalisz should he choose to swim it. The 24 year-old set his lifetime best of 2:09.90 back in May of this year at the in-season Pro Swim Series in Indianapolis. After splitting a 1:07.6 last summer en route to World Championship gold in the 400 IM, there is no reason to believe he couldn’t dip into the 2:08 low range. However, with only two athletes per nation allowed to swim in the championship final, Kalisz would have to knock off Prenot or Wilson – which would not be a simple task.