2018 U.S. Nationals: Day 3 Prelims Live Recap


Day 3 of the 2018 U.S. Nationals will begin shortly with prelims of the 400 IM, 100 fly, 50 breast, and 50 back. The top 8 in the 400 IM and 100 fly will move on to compete for spots in the top 4, which will put the winner on the team and the 2nd through 4th place swimmers in Pan Pacs consideration. The top 8 in the stroke 50s compete for the win, as 1st place automatically earns a trip to 2019 Worlds.

After tying her 50 fly American Record last night, Kelsi Dahlia will take on her signature 100 fly today. Chase Kalisz and Caeleb Dressel (100 fly) are looking for their first Pan Pacs qualifications as the favorites in their respective events. Kalisz was 6th in the 200 fly earlier in the meet, while Dressel touched 6th in the 100 free.


  • World Record: Katinka Hosszu, 4:26.36, 2016
  • American Record: Katie Hoff, 4:31.12, 2008
  • Championship Record: Katie Hoff, 4:31.12, 2008
  • U.S. Open Record: Katinka Hosszu, 4:31.07, 2015

Top 8 Qualifiers:

  1. Leah Smith (Arizona)- 4:38.11
  2. Melanie Margalis (Georgia)- 4:38.37
  3. Ally McHugh (Penn State)- 4:39.67
  4. Brooke Forde (Stanford)- 4:39.85
  5. Evie Pfeifer (Texas)- 4:40.28
  6. Allie Szekely (Stanford)- 4:41.23
  7. Kay Sargent (Islanders)- 4:41.33
  8. Emma Weyant (Sarasota YMCA)- 4:42.19

Leah Smith, the defending national champion, was way in front of her heat this morning through the front half. Ally McHugh started to close on her in the back half, but Smith still held a comfortable lead at the finish in 4:38.11. That 4:39.67 by McHugh clipped her best by over half a second and marked her first sub-4:40 swim.

Melanie Margalis went her lifetime best 4:36.81 earlier this season and looks like a top-2 threat after cruising through the back half to win her heat in 4:38.37. It could be a good race between her in Smith tonight, as they’re the definite favorites. Brooke Forde and Evie Pfeifer, each coming off a strong freshman NCAA season, battled for 2nd in the heat. Pfeifer had the edge up front, but Forde brought it home after a faster breaststroke leg to clip Pfeifer 4:39.85 to 4:40.28 at the finish. That was a drop of nearly 2 seconds for Pfeifer, and she’s now dropped 7 seconds throughout 2018. Along with Forde, we’ll have another Stanford swimmer in the mix with Allie Szekely (4:41.23) at 6th.

In heat 8, Sarasota’s 16-year-old Emma Weyant made a huge 4-second drop to win the heat. Her 4:42.19 puts her just 8 hundredths shy of the all-time top 10 Americans in her age group, and she’ll have a chance to break into those rankings tonight. Weyant had just swum her lifetime best 4:46.54 a few weeks ago. Ahead of 2018, her best was a 4:53.30. Another one to watch in that age group is 15-year-old Mariah Denigan, who dropped a second and a half in 4:43.38. That qualified her for the B final at 10th.

Islanders’ Kay Sargent, a transfer to NC State, made a big drop, taking her time down from a 4:46.07 to a 4:41.33 to make the final.

Hali Flickinger, who qualified for the Pan Pacs squad on day 1 with her 200 fly victory, was a no show this morning in the final heat. On Wednesday, Flickinger broke legendary Mary Meagher’s 37-year-old U.S. Open Record, so she can enter the 400 IM at Pan Pacs if she chooses to swim it.

MEN’S 400 IM:

  • World Record: Michael Phelps, 4:03.84, 2008
  • American Record: Michael Phelps, 4:03.84, 2008
  • Championship Record: Michael Phelps, 4:05.25, 2008
  • U.S. Open Record: Michael Phelps, 4:05.25, 2008

Top 8 Qualifiers:

  1. Chase Kalisz (Georgia)- 4:11.09
  2. Jay Litherland (Georgia)- 4:13.34
  3. Sam Stewart (Texas)- 4:13.88
  4. Gunnar Bentz (Georgia)- 4:15.33
  5. Sean Grieshop (Cal)- 4:15.53
  6. Abrahm DeVine (Stanford)- 4:15.56
  7. Charlie Swanson (Michigan)- 4:15.89
  8. Kieran Smith (RAC)- 4:17.70

Chase Kalisz did what Chase Kalisz does. He cruised to the top spot this morning in 4:11.09. Kalisz is pretty much a lock for the Pan Pacs team in this race, as no one’s best is anywhere near his. His fastest swim this season has been a 4:08.92 from March, so expect a sub-4:10 tonight. That was his fastest prelims swim by far and still looked very easy. The Georgia contingent got the job done this morning, with teammates Jay Litherland (4:13.34), who swam the 400 IM with Kalisz in Rio and Budapest, and Gunnar Bentz (4:15.33) safely making it into the final.

Sam Stewart had a huge swim this morning, dropping from a 4:19.69 to a 4:13.88 to make the final. He’s been doing well for the Longhorns this year, dropping over a second in his short course 400 IM during the NCAA season, but this is a big step up from that. We had another NCAA standout, Michigan’s Charlie Swanson, qualify 7th in 4:15.89. Swanson broke 3:40 for the first time in his 400 IM in the yards season. This morning’s swim was a best for him by a tenth.

Cal’s Sean Grieshop, who set the World Junior Record in this event in 2016, had his fastest swim since Trials in 4:15.53 to qualify 5th. 18-year-old Kieran Smith, one of the swimmers chasing that World Junior Record, snuck into the final at 8th in 4:17.70. That was just hundredths shy of his lifetime best.

Stanford’s Abrahm DeVine was DQed for the Lochte Rule in this race last season, but went on to swim a monster 200 IM that qualified him for Worlds. DeVine (4:15.56) was just a tenths off his best this morning. With the way he’s been looking lately, though, he could blow that time out of the water tonight. DeVine made big drops this short course season and won the NCAA title in the 400 IM.

18-year-old Robert Finke, who swam the mile at Worlds last summer and will swim it again at Pan Pacs after qualifying 2nd, broke 4:20 for the first time. Finke touched the wall in 4:18.43, well ahead of his heat. His former best was a 4:21.04 from 2016 Junior Pan Pacs, but now he’s moving on to the bigger meet. He’s within a second of the top 10 all-time Americans in the 17-18 age group and could break into those rankings tonight. Finke qualified for the B final at 9th.

Cal’s Josh Prenot, the 200 breast champ, was a no show in heat 8. He’ll likely be focusing on the 100 breast and 200 IM later on. Prenot was an NCAA champion in the 400 IM in 2016, with his long course best being a 4:13.15 from 2015. He had a chance to crack the top 4 here, but can swim it at Pan Pacs anyways if he chooses to. Last night, he swam the 2nd fastest American 200 breast ever and was just a tenth short of his own American Record.


  • World Record: Sarah Sjostrom, 55.48, 2016
  • American Record: Dana Vollmer, 55.98, 2012
  • Championship Record: Dana Vollmer, 56.42, 2012
  • U.S. Open Record: Sarah Sjostrom, 56.38, 2016

Top 8 Qualifiers:

  1. Kelsi Dahlia (Louisville)- 56.86
  2. Kendyl Stewart (Team Elite)- 57.97
  3. Katie McLaughlin (Cal)- 58.04
  4. Sarah Gibson (Texas A&M)- 58.09
  5. Mallory Comerford (Louisville)- 58.32
  6. Hellen Moffitt (Team Elite)- 58.56
  7. Dakota Luther (Unattached)- 58.58
  8. Veronica Burchill (Georgia)- 58.62

After tying her American Record in the 50 fly last night, Kelsi Dahlia dominated prelims in 56.86. That was just a few tenths shy of the all-time top American performances list. She currently owns 3 of those top performances, while American Record holder Dana Vollmer occupies the rest of the list. Louisville teammate Mallory Comerford, who narrowly missed out on swimming this at Worlds last summer, touched in 58.32 to join her in the final.

Last summer, Sarah Gibson narrowly topped Comerford for the 2nd spot at Worlds and went on to swim the 50 fly and 100 fly in Budapest. Gibson was within a tenth of her best this morning in 58.09. Fellow Team Elite swimmer Kendyl Stewart, who represented the U.S. at 2015 Worlds in the sprint fly races, was less than 2 tenths off her best to qualify 2nd in 57.97. 18-year-old Dakota Luther, who swam the 200 fly at Worlds last summer, was 7th in 58.58, clipping a hundredth off her best time. We have another Team Elite swimmer in there as well with Hellen Moffitt (58.32) in 6th. That’s less than a tenth from her best.

Cal’s Katie McLaughlin has a best of 57.87 from 2015, but this morning’s 58.08 was her fastest time in 3 years. If she can dip under 58 again, she has a great shot at a top 3 finish. Georgia’s Veronica Burchill broke 59 for the first time to qualify 8th in 58.62. She’s now made the final in both sprint fly races, having placed 8th in last night’s 50 fly.

Indiana postgrad Amanda Kendall, who was seeded 2nd with her 57.87 from last summer, just missed the final in 58.79 for 9th. Also landing int he B final was 16-year-old phenom Regan Smith, who already earned her spot on the Pan Pacs team with her swim in the 200 back last night as she tied for 1st. Smith was a 58.83 this morning, just over a tenth shy of her best. Another notable swimmer in that age group, 15-year-old Gretchen Walsh, entered the event with a yards time and swam a lifetime best 1:00.80. That was a drop of about a second.

MEN’S 100 FLY:

  • World Record: Michael Phelps, 49.82, 2009
  • American Record: Michael Phelps, 49.82, 2009
  • Championship Record: Michael Phelps, 50.22, 2009
  • U.S. Open Record: Michael Phelps, 50.22, 2009

Top 8 Qualifiers:

  1. Jack Saunderson (Towson)- 51.48
  2. Jack Conger (Texas)- 51.79
  3. Michael Andrew (RPC)- 51.98
  4. Caeleb Dressel (Florida)- 52.00
  5. Matt Josa (Cal)- 52.10
  6. Zach Harting (Louisville)- 52.23
  7. Andrew Seliskar (Cal)- 52.24
  8. Tom Shields (Cal)- 52.26

Towson’s Jack Saunderson made a big drop, taking a second off his lifetime best to qualify 1st in 51.48. Saunderson made headlines with his big improvements this year, dropping from a 47.01 in the 100 fly to a 45.51 and becoming an NCAA scorer in the B final.

World champion Caeleb Dressel was trailing several guys at the halfway mark, but charged to the finish to qualify 4th in 52.00. Dressel is looking for his first Pan Pacs bid after taking 6th in the 100 free on day 1. Also looking to secure a spot for Pan Pacs is Jack Conger, who swam the 200 fly at Worlds last summer. Conger tied for 3rd in the 200 fly, so he isn’t a lock for Pan Pacs yet. His 51.79 landed him 2nd this morning, but he’s already been 51.00 this year at the Atlanta Pro Swim.

Louisville’s Zach Harting will likely make Pan Pacs with his 2nd place finish in the 200 fly, but he made the final here as well in 52.23. That shaved a few tenths off his best. Michael Andrew qualified for Worlds in the 50 fly last night, but this could be his first chance to qualify for Pan Pacs. He’s swimming 3 races this morning between this, the 50 breast, and 50 fly. He was just shy of his best this morning in 51.98.

The Cal men got 3 in the final, with Matt Josa putting up to fastest prelims time in 52.10. 200 free champ Andrew Seliskar was 7th in 52.24. That was a lifetime best by over half a second and the first time he’s broken his best time in the event since 2015, though he did tie his best last month. Tom Shields, who should make the Pan Pacs squad after taking 2nd in the 200 fly on day 1, snuck in at 8th in 52.26. Shields struggled early on in the season, leaving the Austin Pro Swim early after not breaking 1:00 in this race, but he’s back in good form now.  With Shields squeaking in, that left teammate Justin Lynch on the outside looking in with a 52.29 for 9th.


Top 8 Qualifiers:

  1. Lilly King (Indiana)- 30.16
  2. Molly Hannis (TNAQ)- 30.21
  3. Lindsey Kezelsky (Minnesota)- 30.55
  4. Breeja Larson (NYAC)- 30.79
  5. Jorie Caneta (AGS)- 30.81
  6. Emily Weiss (Cardinal Community)- 30.87
  7. Katie Meili (NYAC)- 30.94
  8. Bethany Galat (Texas A&M)- 30.99

No one broke 30 seconds this morning, but World Record holder Lilly King of Indiana led the way in 30.12 over Tennessee’s Molly Hannis (30.21). King and Hannis have both been sub-30 this season, with Hannis swimming her lifetime best 29.71 this season. King has 6 of the 10 fastest American performances ever, while Hannis has 2 of them.

Katie Meili is also a threat here. She’s been 29.99 before with her swim at 2017 Worlds. She’s the 5th fastest American of all time. Fellow Olympian Breeja Larson, the 4th fastest American ever, had been sub-30 as well. She qualified 4th this morning in 30.79.

Cardinal Community’s Emily Weiss, the 10th fastest American ever, qualified 6th in 30.87. Weiss, who represented the U.S. at last summer’s World Juniors, was less than a tenth off her best.


  • World Record: Adam Peaty, 25.95, 2017
  • American Record: Kevin Cordes, 26.76, 2017
  • Championship Record: Kevin Cordes, 26.88, 2017
  • U.S. Open Record: Adam Peaty, 26.86, 2017

Top 8 Qualifiers:

  1. Michael Andrew (RPC)- 26.86
  2. Ian Finnerty (Indiana)- 26.96
  3. Kevin Cordes (Unattached)- 27.06
  4. Devon Nowicki (MLA)- 27.10
  5. Andrew Wilson (Texas)- 27.15
  6. Nic Fink (Georgia)- 27.18
  7. Max McHugh (Unattached)- 27.27
  8. Connor Hoppe (Cal)- 27.30

Shortly after a strong 100 fly, Michael Andrew came back to top the 50 breast field. His 26.86 was a best by almost 3 tenths and broke the Meet Record set by Kevin Cordes last summer. He’s just a tenth shy of Cordes’ American Record. Cordes was 3rd through prelims in 27.06.

Andrew had company under 27 this morning. Indiana’s Ian Finnerty was 2nd in 26.96, smashing his best by over half a second. Finnerty turned heads this season at NCAAs when he became the first man ever to break 50 seconds in the 100 yard breast. Though his 200 breast in long course isn’t quite on par with his sprint races, he did make a massive 10 second drop yesterday. Finnerty is now the 4th fastest American of all time in the 50 breast, while Andrew ties Mark Gangloff for #2.

Oakland star Devon Nowicki is now tied as the 5th fastest American ever in 27.10. Texas’ Andrew Wilson clipped his best by a few hundredths and is the fastest American ever in 27.15. Georgia’s Nic Fink dropped about a tenth to move up to #9 on the top 10 Americans list in 27.18.

The 10th fastest American ever in this race, Cody Miller, was a no show in prelims. Miller, the 100 breast Olympic bronze medalist, will be putting all his eggs in the 100 breast basket to try and qualify for Pan Pacs.


  • World Record: Jing Zhao, 27.06, 2009
  • American Record: Olivia Smoliga, 27.43, 2018
  • Championship Record: Hannah Stevens, 27.63, 2017
  • U.S. Open Record: Olivia Smoliga, 27.43, 2018

Top 8 Qualifiers:

  1. Ali Deloof (Michigan)- 27.79
  2. Olivia Smoliga (Georgia)- 27.96
  3. Elise Haan (NC State)- 28.06
  4. Katharine Berkoff (Missoula Aquatic Club)- 28.27
  5. Keaton Blovad (Cal)- 28.29
  6. (T-6) Isabelle Stadden (Aquajets)- 28.40
  7. (T-6) Alex Walsh (Nashville Aquatic Club)- 28.40
  8. Caroline Baldwin (Team Elite)- 28.43

American Record holder Olivia Smoliga, who set the mark at the Mesa Pro Swim in April, safely qualified 2nd, but it was Michigan’s Ali Deloof on top this morning. Deloof was just hundredths shy of her best and is currently the 8th fastest American ever in this event. NC State’s Elise Haan clipped her best with a 28.06 this morning and is just about a tenth shy of making the all-time American top 10.

We have plenty of junior talent in this final with 200 back finalists Isabelle Stadden and Katharine Berkoff in the mix, as well as Alex Walsh. Walsh knocked 3 tenths off her best in prelims, while Berkoff dropped a tenth.

Olympic backstroke medalist Kathleen Baker was a no show this morning. Baker qualified for Pan Pacs with her 200 back last night, but they won’t have stroke 50s at Pan Pacs. If she wants to swim this race at Worlds next summer, she’ll have to have the fastest 100 back time between nationals and Pan Pacs.


  • World Record: Liam Tancock, 24.04, 2009
  • American Record: Randall Bal, 24.33, 2008
  • Championship Record: Justin Ress, 24.41, 2017
  • U.S. Open Record: Junya Koga, 24.36, 2015

Top 8 Qualifiers:

  1. Justin Ress (NC State)- 24.46
  2. Matt Grevers (Arizona)- 24.53
  3. (T-3) Ryan Held (NC State)- 24.59
  4. (T-3) Michael Andrew (RPC)- 24.59
  5. Ryan Murphy (Cal)- 24.63
  6. Daniel Carr (Cal)- 24.86
  7. Luke Kaliszak (Alabama)- 25.22
  8. Chris Staka (ACSC)- 25.33

Defending champion Justin Ress was just hundredths off his best this morning to lead the heats, with Olympic champion Matt Grevers narrowly behind in 24.59 to miss his best by hundredths. Ress is the 2nd fastest American ever, just a tenth off the American Record, while Grevers is 4th.

Ress’ teammate Ryan Held threw down a 24.59 out of heat 1, marking a best time by half a second. That tied Michael Andrew, who clipped his best time in his 3rd race of the day. They’re now tied as the 5th fastest Americans ever.

Olympic backstroke champ Ryan Murphy was 5th in 24.63, clipping his best by a hundredth. He’s the #7 American of all time. Murphy swam his fastest 200 back ever outside of Worlds or the Olympics in last night’s 200 back final, so he’s a threat for the title here. teammate Daniel Carr swam a lifetime best 24.86 to become the 9th fastest American ever.

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Save Bandit
4 years ago

Don’t sleep on Ally McHugh

Ole 99
Reply to  Save Bandit
4 years ago

Agreed. It would be very uncomfortable to say the least.

4 years ago

Elise Hahn for the win women’s 50 back! You heard it here first.

4 years ago

Andrew confirmed to do all three tonight

25 free champ
Reply to  SwimFan01
4 years ago

What is your source?

Reply to  25 free champ
4 years ago

The start lists.

Ole 99
Reply to  Braden Keith
4 years ago

I guess if you want to believe the failing Omega Watches. #FakeStartLists

25 free champ
Reply to  Braden Keith
4 years ago

Fair enough. 🙂 Sorry I didn’t look into it more before asking. I expected a SS article to be posted if it were true.

Reply to  Braden Keith
4 years ago


Reply to  SwimFan01
4 years ago

Love the “take no prisoners” attitude!

25 free champ
4 years ago

MA needs to swim the 100 fly tonight and I’ll tell you why. It could keep Dressel out of pan pacs. That’s his best shot at Gold in the 50 free at pan pacs. Keeping Dressel out would be huge for MA.

4 years ago

Dressel possible misses out of US team. Today only 4th time in preliminares..

4 years ago

MA is so high at this meet. Keep going boi !!!!!!!!

4 years ago

This meet is definitely Andrews time to shine. He is within striking range of 100 fly 50 breast and 50 back. If he wins all 3 he will undoubtedly be swimmer of meet and prove to everyone usrpt works.

25 free champ
Reply to  Sqimgod
4 years ago

I feel like it’s already been proven to work for him. 100/50 breast, 100/50 fly, 50 back, 50 free, 200 IM. He’s been top 5 in the country in all of them at some point.

4 years ago

Hey what’s up with the Omega results? I can’t find anything.

Reply to  swimmerTX
4 years ago

Appears to just be having a hiccup. They were working earlier.

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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