2018 Pan Pacs Previews: Australia Primed To Rule Men’s Middle Distance


Australia swept 200 and 400 free titles at Commonwealth Games this spring over tough British opponents, and they look like the early favorites to do the same at Pan Pacs – provided we don’t see an unexpected appearance by China’s Sun Yang.

We can only hope Sun shows, if only to write the next chapter in his ongoing rivalry with Australia’s Mack HortonThe two sparred at the 2016 Olympics, with Sun splashing Horton to say hello in the warmup pool only for Horton to not only ignore his Chinese rival but call him a “drug cheat” in the press. Horton won Olympic gold in the 400, 3:41.55 to 3:41.68  A year later, Sun beat Horton (3:41.38 to 3:43.85) for the World title, and while the two said their personal rivalry had cooled, they most certainly remain professional rivals seeking wins in the same events.

Horton went 3:43.76 to win Commonwealths earlier this season, second in the world only to Sun’s 3:41.94 from the Chinese National Games. Sun would probably be the favorite if he swims it – but that’s unlikely, as China is typically more focused on Asian Games and doesn’t send its top lineup to Pan Pacs. Sun didn’t compete at Pan Pacs in 2014.

Jack McLoughlin was the Commonwealths silver medalist in 3:45.21, and currently sits a solid margin ahead of the American duo of Zane Grothe (3:46.53) and Grant Shoults (3:46.90). Grothe was 3:44.43 last year, though, and should have more in the tank based on his big short course yards drops.

Japan’s Naito Ehara has been 3:46 this year and should be in the mix for the final. Australia is only allowed two A finalists, but keep an eye on 17-year-old Elijah Winningtonwho is 6th in the world this season (3:45.98) and has eyes on unseating McLoughlin for the second Australian spot. Same goes for the Americans: Townley Haas had a bad swim in this event at Nationals, but was 3:45.0 in 2016 and may have saved most of his rest for Pan Pacs.

Down to the 200, the clientele changes drastically. Olympic 100 free champ Kyle Chalmers (1:45.56) is coming off of a Commonwealths title in this event, but only by three tenths over more distance-oriented teammate Horton (1:45.89). Again, China’s Sun would probably be the favorite if he swims it – but that’s unlikely.

The American roster is all over the place. Andrew Seliskar was a 200 flyer, then he was an IMer, then he became a breaststroker for this past college season. Now he made his first senior international meet in the 200 free, where he sits 4th in the world ranks, right between Horton and Chalmers. Haas won Worlds silver last year, but clearly wasn’t himself and went about a second slower than that at Nationals. If he was saving a full taper, look for him to surge into medal contention after an excellent short course season. Speaking of short course standouts, Blake Pieroni should also be in the mix, and there are those who think 50/100 free world champ Caeleb Dressel could be a top-tier 200 freestyler if he swims it. The Pan Pacs schedule certainly allows for it.

Japan is led in the world ranks by Katsuhiro Matsumoto (1:45.93). Though Kosuke Hagino is actually the national record-holder, the event is back-to-back with his 400 IM and probably isn’t a good fit for him this time around.

Medalist Picks

200 free

Medal Name Nation Season-best Lifetime-best
Gold Kyle Chalmers Australia 1:45.56 1:45.56
Silver Townley Haas USA 1:46.15 1:45.03
Bronze Mack Horton Australia 1:45.89 1:45.89

400 free

Medal Name Nation Season-best Lifetime-best
Gold Mack Horton Australia 3:43.76 3:41.55
Silver Zane Grothe USA 3:46.53 3:44.43
Bronze Elijah Winnington Australia 3:45.98 3:45.98

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200 is Chalmers unless Haas was saving a full taper or Pieroni has another drop from Nationals in his locker. I see Chalmers as a potential 1:44 swimmer this summer with a 1:43 in the cards for 2020, guy knows how to pace races.


If the Us guys have more in the tank , than watch out Chalmers !!! specially Haas


If only the US guys knew how to pace themselves. Big difference between SCY and LCM. Very possible to be good at both, just have to learn to race them differently.


I would not sleep on Scheffer.. his 1:46 flat does not mean much but he was 1:47 mid last year and split 1:44:8 on the relay at Trials


thats why Haas ended up just behind Yang last year in the 200- its because he can’t pace his races LOL


You don’t see Eddie’s kids back halfing much. They like to set the pace and avoid the turbulence. Although Indont think that is always the best, I won’t argue with Eddie….his track record is pretty good.


I’m a big Chalmers fan but we’ve yet to see if can get back to Rio form. Haas haas to to be the favorite.


Australia could have a great 4×200 by 2020. Chalmers has so much potential in the 200!

tea rex

Sun Yang is not on the entry list. https://panpacs2018.com/common/pdf/panpacs2018_entry_list_swimming.pdf

USA has a ton of depth in 200 – not so much 400. Conor Dwyer is seeded at 99:99.99 in the 400, so he should be able to improve that time ;-D


11 entries for Us swimmers in the 200 free !!!!

tea rex

Everyone wants those sweet sweet relay spots.
And if you want a day one swim, your choices are the 200, 1500, 4 IM or 1 br. Pretty easy choice for most people.

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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