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
Even with Aussie World Champion Bronte Campbell opting not to compete, the women’s sprint freestyle events at Pan Pacs are primed to be historic with a pair of swimmers in Cate Campbell (older sister to Bronte) and Simone Manuel capable of pushing one another close to World Record times in both the 50 and the 100.
If Campbell, who has struggled in the past with expectations in major international competition, is on form then we can expect to see her challenge Sarah Sjostrom‘s 2017 World Record in the 50 free of 23.67. The 26 year-old fired off a 23.78 in April en route to a Commonwealth Games title – a personal best and now the 6th fastest performance of all time. She also holds the Pan Pac meet record with a 23.96 set back in 2014.
This won’t be a stroll in the park for her, though. Manuel, the 2016 Olympic silver medalist and 2017 World Championship bronze medalist in the 50, became just the 10th woman in history to crack the 24 second barrier. More recently, the 22 year-old looked strong at the U.S. Nationals – posting a 24.10 for the 5th fastest time in the world this year. In 2017, Manuel went from a 24.27 to a 23.97 from Nationals to Worlds, so if she has a comparable time drop this year then we could see her overtake Campbell for the top spot on the podium.
After Campbell and Manuel, there are a pair of 18 year-olds in Rikako Ikee (Japan) and Taylor Ruck (Canada) lurking in the 24 low range. Ikee has been 24.21 this year and Ruck has been 24.26 – good for the 6th and 9th fastest times in the world, respectively. While a few tenths in a 50 is fairly substantial, it’s not out of the question for either of these two teenagers to run down the two favorites at the top.
In the 100, expect more of the same. Manuel and Campbell (former World Record holder – 52.06, 2016) are the favorites on paper, but will have Ikee and Ruck hot on their heels. While Manuel (52.54), Campbell (52.37), and Ruck (52.96) have all put up sub-53 performances this year (Ruck’s came in December, but we’ll count it), Manuel has been the one who has showed up when it mattered most the last two years. As the 2016 Olympic Champion and 2017 World Champion, it is difficult not to bet on her to win coming into the meet. Also, if Manuel’s time drop from 2017 U.S. Nationals (53.05) to Worlds (52.27) is any indication, then we could truly see something special coming after the 52.54 she put up recently at this year’s U.S. Nationals. It’s a stretch to say she will get down to Sjöström’s WR of 51.71, but it’s not entirely out of the question.
Mallory Comerford will be a major factor in this race as well. The 20 year-old exploded onto the scene in 2017, beating Manuel head-to-head at U.S. Nationals (52.81 to 53.05) and later clipping (for a brief time) Manuel’s 52.70 American Record with a 52.59 leading off the United States’ gold medal 4×100 freestyle relay at Worlds in Budapest. Although Manuel would go on to reclaim the record in the individual (52.27), it solidified Comerford as a major contender on the international stage. She finished runner-up at U.S. Nationals with a 53.09 – the 9th fastest time in the world this year. Campbell’s Aussie teammates Emma McKeon (53.25) and Shayna Jack (53.40) will be contenders as well. McKeon is currently sitting with the 10th fastest time in the world this year and has a lifetime best of 52.80 from 2016, making her the 13th fastest performer of all time.