2018 U.S. Nationals: Day 1 Finals Live Recap


Swimmers are gearing up for the first finals session at the 2018 U.S. Nationals in Irvine, California. Tonight, we’ll see them compete for Pan Pacs roster spots in the 200 fly, 100 free, women’s 800 free, and men’s 1500 free.

The women’s 100 free features another Simone Manuel vs. Mallory Comerford matchup. Hali Flickinger is the one to watch in the 200 fly after breaking Mary Meagher’s 37-year-old U.S. Open Record this morning. The men’s 200 fly saw a lot of guys go best times in prelims, with National Teamer Justin Wright leading the way over Worlds finalist Jack Conger and junior star Jack LeVant. In the distance events, we’ll get a chance to see World Record holder Katie Ledecky (800 free) and short course American Record holder Zane Grothe (1500 free) in action.

After narrowly making it into the 100 free final, Caeleb Dressel will look to outside smoke the 100 free field, with Nathan Adrian trying to hold him off to extend his winning streak at U.S. Trials. Adrian hasn’t lost this race at a Trials meet since 2009. Leading the way into this final, however, is Worlds gold medalist Zach Apple, who swam prelims of the 400 free relay in Budapest last summer. Maxime Rooney, who trains with Dressel, is also a title threat after his breakout swim in prelims.

Check out a full preview of tonight’s events here.


  • World Record: 2:01.81- Liu Zige, 2009
  • American Record: 2:04.14- Mary Descenza, 2009
  • Championship Record: 2:05.87- Hali Flickinger, 2018
  • U.S. Open Record: 2:05.87- Hali Flickinger, 2018
  1. GOLD: Hali Flickinger– 2:06.14
  2. SILVER: Katie Drabot– 2:07.18
  3. BRONZE: Regan Smith– 2:07.42
  4. FOURTH: Dakota Luther– 2:08.09

After breaking the 37-year-old U.S. open Record this morning, Georgia’s Hali Flickinger got the job done in finals. Through the 50, Flickinger and Drabot were under American Record pace. Flickinger held the lead with a 1:00.01 halfway and was just a tenth shy of American Record pace at the 150, followed very closely by Drabot. Flickinger pulled further ahead down the final stretch, winning the race in 2:06.14.

It wound up being a close race for 2nd between Drabot (2:07.18) and 16-year-old Regan Smith (2:07.42). Drabot held her off down the final 50 meters as they both went lifetime bests. Dakota Luther, who represented the U.S. at Worlds last summer, also reached in for a top 4 spit in 2:08.09. That was her best time by over half a second, beating the 2:08.71 she swam to qualify for Worlds in 2017.

In the B final, Lillie Nordmann and Allie Piccirillo (2:11.30) were out front through the halfway point, but 16-year-old Lindsay Looney ran them down to win the heat in 2:10.03, followed by Alicia Finnigan (2:10.50). In her 3rd 200 fly of the day, Nordmann clipped her best in 2:10.64.

MEN’S 200 FLY:

  • World Record: 1:51.51- Michael Phelps, 2009
  • American Record: 1:51.51- Michael Phelps, 2009
  • Championship Record: 1:52.20- Michael Phelps, 2008
  • U.S. Open Record: 1:52.20- Michael Phelps, 2008
  1. GOLD: Justin Wright– 1:54.53
  2. SILVER: Zach Harting– 1:55.11
  3. BRONZE: (T-3) Jack Conger– 1:55.21
  4. BRONZE: (T-3) Gianluca Urlando– 1:55.21

Arizona’s Justin Wright, a newly signed pro with A3, brought the thunder tonight. Coming into this meet, he had never been under 1:56. Wright was 7th through the halfway mark and 5th going into the final lap, but he stuck to his race plan and brought it home, dropping another second in 1:54.53. He’s now the 7th fastest American in history, just 6 hundredths behind Jack Conger.

Conger led the way through the 150, but faded on the final 50 as Louisville’s Zach Harting busted out a lifetime best 1:55.11 to take 2nd and 16-year-old phenom Gianluca Urlando ran him down to tie for 3rd in 1:55.21. Urlando is now the 2nd fastest 15-16 year old ever behind only Michael Phelps, who was a 1:54.58 at that age.

Just a hundredth shy of the top 4 was Tom Shields, who put up a 1:55.42. That was his 2nd fastest swim ever. The only time he’s been better was with a 1:55.09 at 2014 nationals. Chase Kalisz touched behind him tonight in 1:55.42.


  1. GOLD: Simone Manuel– 52.54
  2. SILVER: Mallory Comerford– 53.09
  3. BRONZE: Margo Geer– 53.44
  4. FOURTH: Abbey Weitzeil– 53.56

Simone Manuel took over the U.S. Open Record by 3 tenths as she rocked a 52.54, marking the 2nd fastest swim ever done by an American. The record formerly belonged to Mallory Comerford, who touched 2nd in 53.09 tonight.

Indiana’s Margo Geer cracked her best time by 3 tenths, touching 3rd in 53.44 to secure a Pan Pacs spot. Cal’s Abbey Weitzeil continues on her way to a comeback as she hit the wall 4th in 53.56. That’s her fastest time since she set her lifetime best 53.28 at 2016 Trials.

Relay stalwart Lia Neal was 5th in 53.95, a sizable drop of 0.44s from this morning.  Another veteran, Allison Schmitt, picked up the 6th spot with a time of 54.24.  Katie McLauglin, swimming out of the B-final, actually tied Schmitt’s time.


  • World Record: 46.91- Cesar Cielo, 2009
  • American Record: 47.17- Caeleb Dressel, 2017
  • Championship Record: 47.58- Jason Lezak, 2008
  • U.S. Open Record: 47.58- Jason Lezak, 2008
  1. GOLD: Blake Pieroni– 48.08
  2. SILVER: Nathan Adrian– 48.25
  3. BRONZE: Townley Haas– 48.30
  4. FOURTH: Zach Apple– 48.34

Though Indiana’s Zach Apple had the fastest time of the day with his 48.06 from prelims, it was teammate Blake Pieroni who brought home the national title, swimming a lifetime best 48.08 to win the final. That snapped the winning streak of Nathan Adrian, who touched 2nd in 48.25 and lost the race for the first time since 2009. Apple was 4th tonight in 48.34.

Notably, World Champion star sprinter Caeleb Dressel missed the team in this event. He improved on his prelims time by 2 tenths, touching 6th in 48.50. It’s likely Dressel will make the team elsewhere, though, and will be able to swim this race at Pan Pacs.

Texas’ Townley Haas was within a tenth of his best to take 3rd in 48.30. Michael Chadwick, who swam the 400 free relay at 2017 Worlds, clipped his best to place 5th in 48.44, just shy of a potential Pan Pacs qualification. After his 48.27 in prelims, Maxime Rooney was a 48.56 for 7th tonight, leaving him out of Pan Pacs consideration in this race.

Interestingly, Texas’ Tate Jackson had the 2nd fastest swim of finals in 48.20, but won’t qualify for Pan Pacs since he was in the B final. Harvard’s Dean Farris, who has spent some time training with Texas this summer, broke 49 for the first time for 2nd in the B final at 48.52.


  1. GOLD: Katie Ledecky– 8:11.98
  2. SILVER: Leah Smith- 8:22.79
  3. BRONZE: Haley Anderson– 8:24.13
  4. FOURTH: Ally McHugh– 8:24.22

As usual, Katie Ledecky dominated. She was under American record pace for the first part of the race, but faded off the pace to win in 8:11.98. That’s just over half a second outside the fastest 10 performances in history, all of which were done by Ledecky. Fellow Olympic distance medalist Leah Smith came in about 10 seconds back to secure a Pan Pacs spot in 8:22.79.

Trojan’s Haley Anderson set a best time for the first time since 2012. Her former best was an 8:26, but she put together an 8:24.13 tonight for 3rd place. Anderson is now the 9th fastest American performer in history.

All-American Ally Mchugh put herself in the running for Pan Pacs with a big swim. She dropped 6 seconds off her best to take 4th in 8:24.22. Just outside of the top 4, Sandpipers of Nevada’s age group distance star Erica Sullivan was just off her best for 5th in 8:26.98.

15-year-old Mariah Denigan was 6th with her 8:28.15 from the afternoon heats.

MEN’S 1500 FREE:

  • World Record: 14:31.02- Sun Yang, 2012
  • American Record: 14:39.38- Connor Jaeger, 2016
  • Championship Record: 14:45.54- Peter Vanderkaay, 2008
  • U.S. Open Record: 14:45.54- Peter Vanderkaay, 2008
  1. GOLD: Jordan Wilimovsky- 14:48.89
  2. SILVER: Robert Finke- 14:55.34
  3. BRONZE: Zane Grothe– 15:00.85
  4. FOURTH: Nick Norman- 15:08.81

Open water World Champion Jordan Wilimovsky was 3 seconds over his best to win the race in 14:48.89. He was under U.S. open Record pace until the last couple of hundreds, when he fell off, but still won by nearly 7 seconds. Junior distance star Robert Finke swam to #2 all-time among the 17-18 age group, posting a lifetime best 14:55.34 for 2nd.

Indiana’s Zane Grothe, who set the American Record this season in the sort course mile, had the lead through the front end of the race, but faded to 3rd in 15:00.85. That was a best time by 5 seconds, as his previous best was a 15:05.31 from the Indy Pro Swim Series. That bodes well for his races later on, since the 400 and 800 free are probably his best races.

Nick Norman‘s 15:08.81 from the afternoon heats landed him 4th and puts him in Pan Pacs contention. True Sweetser, who swam at 2017 Worlds in this race, wound up 5th in 15:10.65, while World Junior Champion Andrew Abruzzo was 6th in 15:11.97.

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Fantastic first morning. The US swimmers came out and stamped their authority down for the rest of the world to see in impressive fashion. Flickinger my personal highlight – diminutive athletes who make it to the top in any sport have massive respect from me. No doubt about it – “too small” is something all smaller athletes hear, but it must act as such a motivator for many.

Oh, and come on Nathan, one more time tonight #KeepTheStreak


1. Flickinger 2:05.55 US, CR
2. Drabot 2:06.45
3. Smith 2:08.09

1. Conger 1:53.85
2. Kalisz 1:54.40
3. Wright 1:54.90

1. Manuel 52.83
2. Comerford 52.84
3. Geer 53.25
4. Weitzeil 53.76
5. Walsh 53.98
6. Dahlia 54.10

1. Apple 47.79
2. Dressel 47.83
3. Adrian 48.01 (Hoping he pulls through #KeepTheStreak)
4. Pieroni 48.08
5. Rooney 48.22
6. Haas 48.27

1. Ledecky 8:08.97
2. Smith 8:18.90
3. Runge 8:26.50

1. Wilimovsky 14:53.67
2. Sweetser 14:57.04
3. Grothe 15:00.01

Gator chomp

Seems like you want Grothe to suffer, couldn’t give him under 15?


Pan Pacs 😀


And he called that right!


Zane Grothe will win.

Cheatin Vlad

WOW was pretty close on the Grothe time. Props!


Why Apple beat dressel?


I think Dressel isn’t near top form here, but will be at pan pacs. Apple looked great this morning with a huge glide at the end and it looked relatively easy. Just my predictions, probably not what’s going to happen.

Double Arm Freestyle

Finke will be top 3


you’re so wrong lmfaoooooooooooooooooo


I know! But to be fair who would’ve thought all this would happen.

Gen D

You actually predicted Pieroni’s time to the hundredth! props!

Gator chomp

So am I going to be able to watch this finals session on usaswimming.org


Not a-finals but the other finals


Apparently not even those. We get to watch Deck Pass Live. Or rather, we shut down our browsers and come here to complain. Because I am not interested in that. Show me the swimming!!!


You can get all the Afinal races on USA Swimming channel on YouTube. After the fact of course.

About Lauren Neidigh

Lauren Neidigh

Lauren Neidigh is a former NCAA swimmer at the University of Arizona (2013-2015) and the University of Florida (2011-2013). While her college swimming career left a bit to be desired, her Snapchat chin selfies and hot takes on Twitter do not disappoint. She's also a high school graduate of The …

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