2018 Pan Pacs Previews: Dressel-Chalmers Showdown In Men’s Sprints

2018 Pan Pacific Championships

Young sprint stars Caeleb Dressel and Kyle Chalmers should meet for the first time since the 2016 Olympics in what could be a clash of sprint free titans.

The two raced head to head at the Rio Olympics, but haven’t faced off directly since. In 2016, Chalmers – then 18 – roared home with an absurd back half to stun the Olympic field and win gold for the swimming-crazed nation of Australia. Dressel, competing in his first-ever senior international meet, was just 6th, though he did swim a best time of 47.91 in prelims. Point: Chalmers.

Then in 2017, Dressel blasted onto the national scene, winning 7 golds at the World Championships, including a 47.17 in the 100 that ranked him 3rd all-time among textile swims. Chalmers missed the meet after having heart surgery. Point: Dressel.

The rubber match is 2018, where Dressel and Chalmers are both slated to swim, though without much in-season dazzle from either. A likely-unrested Dressel averted a near-disaster at U.S. Nationals, missing the Pan Pacs team for two days (including taking 6th in this event in 48.50) before sneaking on late. Chalmers tied for silver at Commonwealth Games in April – that’s typically a pretty important meet for Australia, but there’s really no telling if Chalmers will be more primed for Pan Pacs than he was in going 48.15 there.

Neither will be the top seed in the 100 free, but the duo should draw the most eyes in Tokyo after their stellar 2017 and 2016 seasons, respectively.

Katsumi Nakamura of Japan is the season-leader among Pan Pacs nations at 47.87, a Japanese record. Brazil should field a bunch of competitive threats. Pedro Spajari is 4th in the world (47.95) this year and Gabriel Santos 5th (47.98) after both broke 48 at Brazil’s Maria Lenk Trophy in April. Marcelo Chierighini was fifth at Worlds last summer in 48.11, though he’s been about three tenths slower so far this year.

2015 World Champ Ning Zetao looks to be back for China, but he’s been a bit of a mystery over the past few years, missing finals in Rio before being booted off the national team last year. He’s the only other sub-48 contender in the world so far this year, though, and should be a real factor if he’s competing. (China tends to place a bigger focus on Asian Games, and it’s not clear if they’ll send most of their top swimmers to Pan Pacs or not).

There should be several other Americans and at least one more Australian fighting for the A final, though each nation can only qualify 2 A finalists and 1 B finalist after entering as many as they want for prelims. Jack Cartwright actually beat Chalmers at Australian Trials, though Chalmers returned the favor at Commonwealths. Cameron McEvoy, Australia’s other top threat, is not competing.

For the Americans, Nathan Adrian is a perennial international force who very rarely seems to have an off meet. Behind him is a surge of youth coming out of the NCAA: Blake Pieroni beat Adrian and Dressel for the U.S. National title in 48.08, and Zach Apple was actually faster than that (48.06) in prelims. Townley Haas has typically been more of a 200/400 type, but seems to be coming down in distance and went 48.30 at U.S. Nationals.

Moving down to the 50 yields many of the same suspects. Dressel is probably still the odds-on favorite after going 21.15 last year, and with Worlds silver medalist Bruno Fratus out for Brazil, Dressel should be the only 2017 Worlds A finalist in this event competing in the Pan Pacs field. But he’ll have to contend with youngster Michael Andrewthe 19-year-old who won four events at U.S. Nationals and has come of age as a four-stroke speedster. Andrew’s 21.49 beat Dressel’s 21.67 at U.S. Nationals.

Brazil’s Spajari (21.82) should also be in the mix, along with Adrian (21.85) of the United States and Nakamura (21.87) of Japan. Defending champ Fratus is out of Pan Pacs as is 2014 silver medalist Anthony Ervin. In fact, Adrian, Nakamura and Chierighini are the only returning A finalists in the mix this time around.

Medalist Picks

50 Free

Medal Name Nation Season-best Lifetime-best
Gold Caeleb Dressel USA 21.67 21.15
Silver Michael Andrew USA 21.49 21.49
Bronze Pedro Spajari Brazil 21.82 21.82

100 Free

Medal Name Nation Season-best Lifetime-best
Gold Caeleb Dressel USA 48.50 47.17
Silver Kyle Chalmers Australia 48.15 47.58
Bronze Nathan Adrian USA 48.25 47.52

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Why don’t you put time predictions anymore? 😭


“Showdown”. Dressel by a bodylength.

25 free champ

You ought to show more respect to Chalmers. Dude won Olympic Gold at 18 in the 100 free. Never been done before by a guy that young. If he’s back to Rio shape then it will definitely NOT be a body length.


I think Kyle’s best event in 2020 will be the 200.


Dressel was tapered for Nationals. As per his interview posted on youtube, he says he had a bad swim in the 100 free. He talked about butting heads with Troy, the pressure of the meet, the time consumption, time management problems, and time consuming commitments of turning pro. After seeing that full interview, I doubt Dressel will improve much on the 100 fly, 50 free. He will be 47+ in 100 free as he did have a bad swim and missed his turn. So he is human after all.


If you think Dressel was fully prepared physically for nationals I don’t really think I can help you.


i would agree too that Dressel will reveal his true cards at Pan pacs

Caeleb Dressel Will Win 9 Gold Medals in Tokyo

I just don’t understand how you think he’s tapered. 100 free: he was fighting the water. His starts were average and his turns were slow. He couldn’t finish like he usually does.
50 fly: He had a better start and better finish into the wall.
100 fly: His start was way better than it was before, and he closed like MP.

For me, this shows that he was in heavy training very recently.

I don’t think Chalmers will be close to Dressel at all. He’ll be about a second off.

Swimming Fan

Can’t that also be indicative of a missed taper?

joe bagodonuts

So, NOT tapered for the 100 Free, but tapered for the 100 Fly?

Jim C

If you are not tapered for a meet, won’t you be more tapered for events later in the meet?


So he lied in the interview?


Definitely not tapered at Nationals. He didn’t taper for Nationals last year and was almost certainly, in both his and Troy’s minds, a shoo-in to make the team.

E Gamble

Dressel does say he had a bad swim. But he does not say anything about a taper. That’s just not true.


He gave a half dozen reasons as to why he didn’t swim his best and none of them were I did not taper. I know he will go a 47+ in the 100 free at Pan Pacs and I hope he makes the Worlds in 100 free. He is a champion. He will bounce back.


Dressel isn’t the type of guy to say he simply didn’t rest. Let’s see how your prediction plays out in at Pan Pacs… Don’t sleep on the guy


What makes you think that? He’s the kind of guy that tweets out that he’s going to swim the 800 free relay when he’s not going to. Seems like the same kind of guy.

Science Geek

I agree. If Dressel were to say I didn’t taper it would be like making a petty excuse. He doesn’t seem like a petty excuse type of guy to me.


No way he was tapered. Probably backed off the yardage a bit for a few days before the meet


How many swimmers out there will say that they missed taper or not tapered? As usually the timing of the taper is up to the coach, if am not wrong. Am sure he does not want to put Troy under the bus.


Yawn.. everyone finding excuses for Dressel..


At least he’s still relevant compared to your boy.


Chalmers is back to Rio shape and hungary Dressel aint going to win by a body length


Considering their characteristics, I would reverse the third finishers, because Spajari is more a 100 freer than a 50. So, unlikely that he’ll overcome Adrian in the 50.
In the 100 fr, if Cartwright is fit, very likely he’ll swim under 48″. So, he’ll be in the mix for a medal.

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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