2018 PAN PACIFIC CHAMPIONSHIPS
- Thursday, August 9 – Tuesday, August 14, 2018
- Tokyo Tatsumi International Swimming Center, Tokyo, Japan
- Event schedule
- Meet site
- Meet records
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.
|Blake Pieroni||48.08||47.95||Pedro Spajari|
|Nathan Adrian||48.25||47.98||Gabriel Santos|
Marco Antonio Junior
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.
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 Conger, who 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 Hagino, who 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 Melo, then drop off in depth, especially without Joao de Lucca on the roster.
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 Larkin, 53.14 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 Zibei, the 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.
4×100 Free Relay
|Medal||Nation||2017 Worlds Time||Aggregate Season-Bests|
4×200 Free Relay
|Medal||Nation||2017 Worlds Time||Aggregate Season-Bests|
4×100 Medley Relay
|Medal||Nation||2017 Worlds Time||Agreggate Season-Bests|