2018 U.S. Nationals Day 4 Finals Preview: It’s Anyone’s Game in the Men’s 400 Free

2018 U.S. National Championships

The penultimate day is upon us at 2018 Phillips 66 National Championships. Saturday night’s finals session will consist of the women’s 400 free, followed by men’s 400 free, women’s 100 breast, men’s 100 breast, women’s 100 back, and men’s 100 back.

Women’s 400 Free

World Record-holder Katie Ledecky of Stanford Swimming will occupy lane 4 in tonight’s final, with Tucson Ford’s Leah Smith in the familiar spot just to her right. The pair are two of the four fastest swimmers in history in this event; Ledecky owns the top 10 performances ever while Smith ranks #2 among American women and #4 worldwide. They went 4:02.69 and 4:05.14, respectively, in heats but have been as fast as 3:57.94 and 4:04.23 this season. The next wave of qualifiers put up 4:08s in heats: Sierra Schmidt of Michigan, Georgia’s Hali Flickinger, Trojan Swim Club’s Haley Anderson, and Purdue’s Kaersten Meitz could make the battle for third place exciting. Claire Tuggle, 14, from Clovis Swim Club, was the top qualifier for the B final with 4:10.17, the 4th-fastest time in U.S. history for 13-14 girls. Tuggle, who has already dropped 5 seconds this season, is only 3 seconds off the National Age Group Record in this event.

Men’s 400 Free

Defending national champion Zane Grothe from Mission Viejo/Indiana notched the morning’s fastest time, going 3:48.30 in a wire-to-wire win of the final heat. Grothe, who swam the 400 at 2017 World Championships, finished 3rd in the 1500 free on Wednesday night and is looking at this event to ensure his qualification for Pan Pacs. Stanford’s Grant Shoults clocked a personal-best 3:48. 51 in prelims to qualify 2nd for finals; he will put up a fight for the Pan Pacs slot from lane 5. On Grothe’s other side will be Andrew Abruzzo from Plymouth Whitemarsh. He took 6/10 off the 3:49.19 he swam to win gold at 2017 Junior Worlds, qualifying 3rd in 3:48.58. Abruzzo is now the 5th-fastest American 400 freestyler in history in the 17-18 age group. DART’s Chris Wieser also qualified with 3:48, while Baylor Swim Club’s Trey Freeman went 3:49.0 this morning.

Women’s 100 Breast

World Record holder Lilly King is looking to secure her spot on the Pan Pacs team; while she qualified third with 1:06.98, she went 1:04.13 at World Championships last summer and has been as fast as 1:05.61 this season. Tennessee’s Molly Hannis sat atop the leaderboard after morning prelims; she broke the 1:06 barrier for the first time going 1:05.78 and is now the 7th-fastest American ever in this event. 200 breast champion Micah Sumrall of Chattahoochee Gold put up the #2 time of the morning with 1:06.92. Katie Meili, the Olympic bronze medalist, was the only other sub-1:08 in the field. She qualified 4th with 1:07.17 and, along with fellow Olympian Breeja Larson (1:08.01), is after a spot on the Pan Pacs roster. Emily Weiss is back in the A final after her DQ was overturned.

Men’s 100 Breast

Andrew Wilson of Texas led the morning qualifiers by over 3/10 with 59.48. He is the 6th-fastest American ever in this event, having gone 59.19 at PSS Atlanta in February. Wilson placed 2nd in the 200 breast (2:08.71) by 1/100 over teammate Will Licon on Thursday. This is a high-stakes race for a handful of Pan Pacs hopefuls who have yet to secure a spot on the roster: Michael Andrew (59.81 in prelims), Georgia’s Nic Fink (59.86), who swam this event at 2017 World Championships, Olympic bronze medalist Cody Miller of Indiana (1:00.00), MLA’s Devon Nowicki (1:00.02), Cal’s Josh Prenot (1:00.07), American Record-holder Kevin Cordes (1:00.14), and Licon (1:00.43).

Women’s 100 Back

16-year-old Regan Smith of Riptide, who tied with Kathleen Baker of Cal to win gold in the 200 back on Thursday, topped the field in heats of the 100 back with a World Junior Record of 59.09. 15-year-old Phoebe Bacon of Nation’s Capital slashed 9/10 off a 3-month-old PB to post the 2nd-fastest time of the morning with 59.12, coming in just ahead of Baker (59.27) and 50 back national champion Olivia Smoliga of Georgia (59.36). Also coming in under 1:00 in prelims were NC State’s Elisa Haan (59.73) and Texas A&M’s Lisa Bratton (59.76), both of whom broke the minute barrier for the first time.

Men’s 100 Back

Olympic gold medalist and defending champion Matt Grevers of Tucson Ford was the fastest 100 backstroker in heats with 53.30. Grevers won silver in this event at 2017 World Championships and is trying to secure his place on the 2018 Pan Pacs roster. Cal’s Ryan Murphy, who has already won the 50 back (with an American Record) and the 200 back at this meet, comes into tonight’s final with the 2nd time of the morning, 53.63. NC State’s Justin Ress, who was runner-up to Murphy in the 50 back on Friday night and also came to the wall under the American Record, qualified 3rd with 53.82. Cal teammates Daniel Carr (54.01) and Jacob Pebley (54.03) are also title contenders.


In This Story

Leave a Reply

Notify of
newest most voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
2 years ago

The 100 Breast is positively stacked. Literally the 8 best breaststrokers in the country, in one heat.

Reply to  DMacNCheez
2 years ago

Except Finnerty

2 years ago

Kinda interesting how Smoliga locked a spot at Worlds but may not make Pan Pacs

Reply to  Swimmerj
2 years ago

Same thing with Lily King

Reply to  anon
2 years ago

Imagine thinking this.

2 years ago

I thought Meili was the Worlds silver medallist and Olympic bronze. Article says Olympic silver medallist.

Reply to  Roch
2 years ago

She is. They probably just got them mixed up.

About Anne Lepesant

Anne Lepesant

Anne Lepesant is the mother of four daughters, all of whom swim/swam in college. With an undergraduate degree from Princeton (where she was an all-Ivy tennis player) and an MBA from INSEAD, she worked for many years in the financial industry, both in France and the U.S. Anne is currently …

Read More »