2018 Pan Pacs Previews: US/Brazil Battle Highlights Men’s Relays

2018 PAN PACIFIC CHAMPIONSHIPS

4×100 free

The 4×100 free relay looks like a potential showdown between the United States and Brazil, the two teams that finished first and second at last summer’s World Championships.

The American lineup shouldn’t change much outside of potentially one major adjustment. Superstar Caeleb Dressel (who led off this relay in 47.26 and won Worlds gold in the 100 individually) was just 6th at U.S. Nationals and wouldn’t technically make the relay. But it’s widely expected that Dressel will be far faster at Pan Pacs with a full rest, and if he even gets close to his time from last summer, he’s a major upgrade from the fourth American.

Beyond Dressel, Nathan Adrian is pretty much a lock; he’s hyper-consistent, with splits of 47.0 and 47.2 last summer, 46.9 and 46.7 the year before that in Rio and 47.4 the year before that in Kazan. Blake Pieroni was technically the national champion, but Zach Apple is the fastest American this year with his prelims time of 48.06 (Pieroni was 48.08). Townley Haas (47.4 split last summer, 48.3 at Nationals) should also be in the mix, but with this relay coming after the individual 100 free, it feels like Dressel and Adrian should bookend the relay, with the fastest of the remaining three (barring a big swim from Jack Conger or someone else) filling the middle two legs.

Brazil’s lineup, though, changes dramatically. Cesar Cielo and Bruno Fratus are both out, chopping out the back half of last summer’s silver medal team. Marcelo Chierighini split 46.8 last summer and returns, though he’s only been 48.4 this year. Pedro Spajari and Gabriel Santos have both been 47.9 individually this year, so if Chierighini can be similar to last season’s split, Brazil could have three stellar legs with 48.4 individual Marco Antonio Junior rounding things out.

Interestingly enough, adding up the individual times for both the U.S. and Brazil yields identical times of 3:12.97 – though that’s of course without factoring in relay starts and doesn’t account for Dressel or Chierighini swimming closer to their 2017 levels. It also uses the finals time from Apple, with his prelims time being three tenths faster.

Swimmer Time Time Swimmer
Blake Pieroni 48.08 47.95 Pedro Spajari
Nathan Adrian 48.25 47.98 Gabriel Santos
Townley Haas 48.30 48.46
Marco Antonio Junior
Zach Apple 48.34 48.58
3:12.97 3:12.97

Australia does have Olympic champ Kyle Chalmers who is arguably the best in the field, and Jack Cartwright is a capable 47-high split. But with Cameron McEvoy and James Magnussen out, Australia loses half of its Commonwealths relay. Even with James Roberts and Clyde Lewis (48.8 flat starts this year) in the mix, Australia probably doesn’t have the depth to keep up with the top two.

Japan has Katsumi Nakamura (#2 in the world ranks), but not much depth behind him. Shinri Shioura is in as a relay-only swimmer, so he should be fresh, and Katsuhiro Matsumoto is a solid 48.8 this season.

4×200 free

In the longer free relay, Australia gets much more into the mix. Chalmers (1:45.56) and Mack Horton (1:45.89) are both ranked within the top 5 in the world this year, and at Commonwealths, Alexander Graham led off in 1:46.60 and Elijah Winnington was 1:45.97 for a runaway gold, even with Chalmers and Horton about a second off their best individual times.

Australia has a chance to go 7:03 on a good day, but so do the Americans, who will try to win this relay on depth, with their current top 200 freestyler better known as an IMer. (What is it with Americans using IMers on freestyle relays?) Andrew Seliskar won U.S. Nationals in 1:45.70 and ranks just between Chalmers and Horton internationally. Blake Pieroni has been 1:45.9 and Townley Haas (1:46.1 at Nationals) split 1:44 last year and won individual Worlds silver. If he saved his rest through Nationals, Haas could be in line for a huge swim; his short course yards 200 certainly improved over the past year.

Veteran Conor Dwyer is also likely on this relay, though he and the other three could see an assault by Jack Congerwho was 1:46.9 mid-season but struggled at Nationals.

Japan has a pair of swimmers in the top 15 worldwide: Matsumoto (1:45.93) and Naito Ehara (1:46.35), plus national record-holder Kosuke Haginowho probably won’t swim this individually, but could certainly add 1:46/1:47 speed or better.

Brazil is led by 1:46s (this season) Fernando Scheffer and Luiz Melothen drop off in depth, especially without Joao de Lucca on the roster.

4×100 medley

The medley has been an American stronghold for some time now, and that doesn’t appear to be changing. Historically-strong backstrokers have always staked the U.S. relay to a big lead, and whether it’s Ryan Murphy (52.51) or Matt Grevers (52.55), that should be the case in 2018. National champ Michael Andrew (59.38) and nation-leader Andrew Wilson (59.19) should swim-off for the breaststroke spot in the individual 100, and should hold their own. Dressel was 50.50 at Nationals without even looking like himself, proving that there’s not likely another butterfly at Pan Pacs who can beat him, even on an off day. One of the crowd of freestylers should be able to go 47-mid or better, with a secondary option to use Conger on fly and Dressel on free.

Japan, 4th at Worlds last summer, is probably the most well-rounded roster besides the U.S. Ryosuke Irie can contend on backstroke, and Yasuhiro Kosecki is probably the best breaststroker in the field. He split 58.5 last summer, better than anyone but the incredible Adam Peaty. But they’ll lose ground to the American relay on fly, where Yuki Kobori is only 51, though the freestyle leg should be solid with Nakamura.

Australia and Brazil both have peaks and valleys in their lineups. Australia is great on back (Mitch Larkin53.14 this year) and free (Chalmers or Cartwright), but struggle a lot on breaststroke (Jake Packard has been 59.5, which isn’t far off the Americans but potentially a ways back from Japan) and a little on fly (Grant Irvine has been 51-mid). Brazil should have a wealth of 47-or-better options on free plus expect a big drop on their breaststroke leg from aggregate times: their national leader this year is Pedro Cardona at 59.7, but Joao Gomes Junior is on the roster and split 58.8 last summer. Vini Lanza subs in for Henrique Martins on the fly leg, and should be comparable. But Guilherme Guido (53.9 this year) is pretty far behind the top backstrokers, and falling that far behind that early puts Brazil in a tough battle to catch up through some serious chop.

The only team that could have made things interesting with the U.S. was China, if they had brought their best lineup and entered a relay – typically not their Pan Pacs strategy. Xu Jiayu is the only Pan Pacs backstroker who could race Murphy, and with Yan Zibeithe Chinese could actually build a front-half lead, though a full-strength Dressel would still probably erase it all on butterfly. As it is, China didn’t enter a relay in this event and only entered a handful of swimmers.

MEDALIST PICKS

4×100 Free Relay

Medal Nation 2017 Worlds Time Aggregate Season-Bests
Gold USA 3:10.06 3:12.69
Silver Brazil 3:10.34 3:12.97
Bronze Australia DQ 3:13.86

4×200 Free Relay

Medal Nation 2017 Worlds Time Aggregate Season-Bests
Gold USA 7:03.18 7:03.86
Silver Australia 7:05.98 7:04.06
Bronze Japan 7:07.68 7:07.13

4×100 Medley Relay

Medal Nation 2017 Worlds Time Agreggate Season-Bests
Gold USA 3:27.91 3:30.26
Silver Japan 3:30.19 3:31.42
Bronze Australia 3:33.91 3:32.26

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Rafael

Some small corrections and extra info:
Chiereghini time was 48,48, it was used 48,58 on the calculation

On fly Lanza actually has a faster Flat Start than Martins, so I would not be surprised if he goes faster than Martins was last year
Fantorni is 54 flat, but I hope he breaks into 53 here..

For the 4×200 Brazil will probably go with Altamir opening, then Scheffer (He split 1:44:8 with Relay Start this year), and then Leo de Deus (went 1:48 last year, no time this year) and Guilherme Costa (did not swim this year and I Can´t find 2017 data of him on the 200)

Rafael

Also, Brazil aggregate season best would be 3:12:87 (chiereghinni 48,48 instead of 48,58)

Jim C

And I was thinking what a coincidence it was that the US was 0.28s ahead of Brazil both in the 2017 WC and this year’s in season bests.

Ole 99

I know they performed well last year, but am I the only one who thought that it helps Brazil tremendously that Pan PACs doesn’t swim prelims for relays seeing how much their best swimmers never seem to swim prelims.

Rafael

On Budapeste Brazil swam the same team on Prelims and Finals, but this year prelims would actually be helpful as Fratus could swim only finals, or they could rest Spajari on prelims and qualify.

Observer

No because 1, Fratus is rehabbing his shoulder and won’t go to Panpacs and 2, Spajari and Gabriel (but specially Spajari) are the two with more endurance in the whole group.

About Jared Anderson

Jared Anderson

Jared Anderson just can’t stay away from the pool. A competitive career of almost two decades wasn’t enough for this Minnesotan, who continues to get his daily chlorine fix. A lifelong lover of writing, Jared now combines the two passions as Senior Reporter for SwimSwam.com, covering swimming at every level. He’s an …

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