2018 Pan Pacific Championships
- Thursday, August 9 – Tuesday, August 14, 2018
- Tokyo Tatsumi International Swimming Center, Tokyo, Japan
- Event schedule
- Meet site
- Meet records
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 Andrew, the 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.