2018 U.S. Nationals: Day 4 Prelims Live Recap


We’ve got 3 events lined up for this morning’s prelims on day 4 of the 2018 U.S. Nationals: the 400 free, 100 back, and 100 breast. Olympians Katie Ledecky and Leah Smith headline the women’s 400 free. On the men’s side of that race, short course American Record holder Zane Grothe and Olympian Clark Smith are looking for their spot at Pan Pacs, though Grothe may be safe with his 3rd place in the mile from day 1.

Olympic champ Ryan Murphy scorched an American Record in the 50 back last night and will take on the 100 back this morning, an event in which he’s the World Record holder. Regan Smith and Olympic medalist Kathleen Baker will go up against a stacked 100 back field after tying for the 200 back win. World Record holder Lilly King should be able to secure her Pan Pacs spot in the 100 breast today after winning the 50 breast last night and earning a place at Worlds. Teammate Cody Miller, the Olympic bronze medalist in the 100 breast, is also chasing a Pan Pacs spot as he goes up against the likes of Worlds silver medalist and reigning champ Kevin Cordes, 50 breast champ Michael Andrew, and 200 breast champ Josh Prenot.


Top 8 Qualifiers:

  1. Katie Ledecky (Stanford)- 4:02.69
  2. Leah Smith (Arizona)- 4:05.14
  3. Sierra Schmidt (Michigan)- 4:08.12
  4. Hali Flickinger (Georgia)- 4:08.40
  5. Haley Anderson (Trojan)- 4:08.46
  6. Kaersten Meitz (Purdue)- 4:08.55
  7. Geena Freriks (Kentucky)- 4:08.91
  8. Kirsten Jacobsen (Arizona)- 4:09.36

Olympic distance stars Katie Ledecky and Leah Smith cruised to the top 2 this morning, with Smith coming within a second of her season best. Ledecky has already set the U.S. Open Record this year when she swam a 3:57.94 earlier in the season, so expect her to be much faster tonight. Ledecky owns all 10 of the 10 fastest American performances ever and the 10 fastest performances ever worldwide. Smith is the 2nd fastest American in history and the 4th fastest ever among all swimmers.

Michigan’s Sierra Schmidt (4:08.12), a 2017-18 U.S. National Teamer in this race, was the fastest of 5 women bunched into the 4:08s. Hali Flickinger, who broke the 200 fly U.S. Open Record on day 1 to qualify for Pan Pacs, put up a 4:08.40 for 5th just ahead of Purdue’s Kaersten Meitz (4:08.55). Flickinger swam her lifetime best 4:06.72 just a few weeks ago. Meitz was just over a tenth short of her best.

Arizona’s Kirsten Jacobsen had a big swim out of heat 4. Jacobsen, who had a break out NCAA year as she dropped 7 seconds in the 500 free to become an All-American, dominated the field in 4:09.36. She had never broken 4:15 prior to this year, when she swam a 4:13.48 last month. She’s now dropped 6 seconds throughout the season, including 4 seconds in prelims. Another swimmer to make a big drop to qualify for the final was Kentucky’s Geena Freriks. At 2018 SECs, Freriks broke the Kentucky school record as she won the 500 free. Today, she dropped over 4 seconds off her long course best in 4:08.91.

Just out of the top 8 was 14-year-old Claire Tuggle, who dropped a second to become the 4th fastest American ever in the 13-14 age group in 4:10.17. Tuggle has now dropped 5 seconds throughout the season. Her seed time for nationals came from her performance at the 2018 Irish Open. 2012 Olympic medalist Allison Schmitt, who took 2nd in the 200 free to Ledecky earlier on to cement her comeback, qualified 11th in 4:10.80. 400 IM champion Ally McHugh of Penn State clipped her best by about a tenth to take 14th in 4:11.32.


  • World Record: Paul Biedermann, 3:40.07, 2009
  • American Record: Larsen Jensen, 3:42.78, 2008
  • Championship Record: 3:43.53, Larsen Jensen, 2008
  • U.S. Open Record: 3:43.53, Larsen Jensen, 2008

Top 8 Qualifiers:

  1. Zane Grothe (Indiana)- 3:48.30
  2. Grant Shoults (Stanford)- 3:48.51
  3. Andrew Abruzzo (Plymouth Whitemarsh)- 3:48.58
  4. Chris Wieser (Arizona)- 3:48.69
  5. Trey Freeman (Baylor)- 3:49.02
  6. True Sweetser (Stanford)- 3:50.08
  7. Ben Lawless (Florida)- 3:50.13
  8. Zach Yeadon (Notre Dame)- 3:51.01

Indiana’s Zane Grothe took it out with the lead and held on for the final heat win in 3:48.30, leading prelims as he held off World Junior champion Andrew Abruzzo (3:48.58). Grothe is the favorite here, having won 2017 nationals. He also broke the short course American Record this season in the 500 free to win Winter Nationals in December.

That was Abruzzo’s best by over half a second, which bodes well for his Pan Pacs chances. Trey Freeman, who medaled in this event with Abruzzo at 2017 World Juniors, is also in the final with a 3:49.02 for 5th. That was his best by a second and his first time under 3:50.

Stanford’s Grant Shoults was slightly faster than Abruzzo to win heat 9, touching in 3:48.51 for a 1-2 finish with teammate True Sweetser (3:50.08). That was a drop of a couple of tenths for Shoults off his time from last summer’s nationals. Sweetser has been as fast as a 3:47.94 from 2016, but this was his fastest time since that summer. Sweetser swam the mile at 2017 Worlds, but hasn’t yet qualified for the Pan Pacs team as he finished 5th in that race here.

Arizona’s Chris Wieser hadn’t gone a best time since 2016 Trials in his main events, but he certainly had a breakthrough this morning to win heat 10 in 3:48.69. His best coming into the meet was his 3:51.83 from 2016, so this marks his first sub-3:50. Cal’s Sean Grieshop has also been having a breakthrough in Irvine. His 3:51.92 in prelims was his first best time in the event since 2015, knocking over half a second off his time.

2017 Worlds team member and Olympian Clark Smith was far behind in his heat. Smith, who underwent a heart ablation in March, was 44th in prelims with a 3:56.20. His season best is a 3:52.56 from January, with his fastest since the ablation being a 3:53.67 from a month ago. Teammate Townley Haas, who was a big threat to place in the top 2 coming into this meet and the 500 free NCAA champion, was also off this morning, touching in 3:53.58 for 24th. Both Haas and Smith have bests in the 3:45-range. Another 2017-18 National Teamer, Mitch D’Arrigo, touched in 3:51.64, missing the final at 11th.


  • World Record: Lilly King, 1:04.13, 2017
  • American Record: Lilly King, 1:04.13, 2017
  • Championship Record: Lilly King, 1:04.95, 2017
  • U.S. Open Record: Jessica Hardy, 1:04.45, 2009

Top 8 Qualifiers:

  1. Molly Hannis (Tennessee)- 1:05.78
  2. Micah Sumrall (GOLD)- 1:06.92
  3. Lilly King (Indiana)- 1:06.98
  4. Katie Meili (NYAC)- 1:07.71
  5. Breeja Larson (NYAC)- 1:08.01
  6. Emily Weiss (Cardinal Community)- 1:08.02
  7. Bethany Galat (Texas A&M)- 1:08.13
  8. Riley Scott (USC)- 1:08.15

Molly Hannis leads through prelims as she looks to earn her Pan Pacs spot. Hannis put up a lifetime best this morning, breaking 1:06 for the first time in 1:05.78. That beat the 1:06.09 she swam at the Atlanta Pro Swim earlier this year. She’s now the 7th fastest American of all time in this event.

200 breast champion Micah Sumrall was the 2nd qualifier in 1:06.92, just ahead of World Record holder Lilly King (1:06.98). Sumrall’s time was her 2nd fastest ever and the best she’s done since 2014, when she went her lifetime best 1:06.51. King has already qualified for Worlds with her 50 breast win, but isn’t yet on the Pan Pacs squad since she finished 5th in the 200 breast.

Olympians Katie Meili (1:07.71) and Breeja Larson (1:08.01) are in the mix. Meili, the Olympic silver medalist, swam her lifetime best 1:05.03 last summer at Worlds and is the 4th fastest American ever. Larson occupies the #8 spot on that list with her 1:05.92 from back in 2012. Like King, Meili is still looking for her Pan Pacs spot.

50 breast finalist Emily Weiss was initially disqualified for multiple dolphin kicks. The DQ would’ve kept her from making the Junior Pan Pacs team, which she was practically a shoo-in for. However, it was overturned, making her the 6th qualifier in 1:08.02. Weiss represented the U.S. last summer at the World Junior Championships and was the 50 breast champion. She also broke the National High School Record in the 100 breast this year. While her DQ was overturned, the multiple dolphin kick DQ for 200 breast finalist Emily Escobedo stands.


Top 8 Qualifiers:

  1. Andrew Wilson (Texas)- 59.48
  2. Michael Andrew (RPC)- 59.81
  3. Nic Fink (Georgia)- 59.86
  4. Cody Miller (Indiana)- 1:00.00
  5. Devon Nowicki (MLA)- 1:00.02
  6. Josh Prenot (Cal)- 1:00.07
  7. Kevin Cordes (Unattached)- 1:00.14
  8. Will Licon (Texas)- 1:00.43

Andrew Wilson was within a few tenths of his best this morning, topping prelims in 59.48 ahead of 50 breast champ Michael Andrew. After breaking Adam Peaty’s U.S. Open Record in the 50 yesterday, Andrew put up a 59.81 in prelims. That was just hundredths short of his lifetime best 59.79 from a few weeks ago at the Columbus Pro Swim. Wilson is the 6th fastest American 100 breaststroker ever, while Andrew is #10. The 9th man on that list, Josh Prenot, has already qualified for Pan Pacs since he swam the 2nd fastest American 200 breast ever to win the event. He was 6th here in 1:00.07.

The man to break 1:00 besides Wilson and Andrew was 2017 Worlds breaststroker Nic Fink, who hasn’t secured a Pan Pacs spot yet after taking 4th in the 200 breast. He was 3rd in 59.86, about half a second shy of his best. Will Licon, the 3rd place man in the 200 breast, isn’t a lock for Pan Pacs yet, but he has another shot to make the top 4 here as he snuck into the final at 8th in 1:00.43. He was about a tenth from his lifetime best 1:00.30 from 2016 Trials.

Olympic bronze medalist Cody Miller is putting all of his eggs in this basket to qualify for Pan Pacs. He qualified for the 200 breast final, but scratched out, and later opted out of the 50 breast. He’s the 2nd fastest American ever, having set the American Record in Rio, but Olympic teammate Kevin Cordes broke that record last summer. Cordes, who hasn’t yet qualified for Pan Pacs or Worlds, was 7th this morning in 1:00.14. Last summer, he broke the American Record at nationals before going on the medal at Worlds in a record-setting 58.64.

Miller’s teammate, Ian Finnerty, was just over a half second shy of his best in 1:00.64. He qualified 10th for the B final, a hundredth behind World Juniors medalist Reece Whitley (1:00.63). Finnerty made headlines this year at the 2018 NCAA Championships, where he became the first man ever to break 50 seconds in the 100 yard breast. Finnerty showed some good speed yesterday, breaking 27 in the 50 breast in prelims to become the 4th fastest American ever in the event.


  • World Record: Kylie Masse, 58.10, 2017
  • American Record: Missy Franklin, 58.33, 2012
  • Championship Record: Kathleen Baker, 58.57, 2017
  • U.S. Open Record: Kathleen Baker, 58.57, 2017

Top 8 Qualifiers:

  1. Regan Smith (Riptide)- 59.09
  2. Phoebe Bacon (NCAP)- 59.12
  3. Kathleen Baker (Cal)- 59.27
  4. Olivia Smoliga (Georgia)- 59.36
  5. Elise Haan (NC State)- 59.73
  6. Lisa Bratton (Texas A&M)- 59.76
  7. Ali Deloof (Michigan)- 1:00.05
  8. Katharine Berkoff (MAC)- 1:00.10

Regan Smith didn’t swim a best time, but she did get the World Junior Record in 59.09. Smith’s best time is a 58.95 from last summer’s World Juniors meet, but it didn’t count as the record because she swam it on the leadoff of the mixed medley relay. She has some competition in her age group, as 15-year-old Phoebe Bacon had a huge swim. Bacon dropped a second from her best for a 59.12, making her the 2nd fastest swimmer ever in the 15-16 age group behind Smith and ahead of American Record holder Missy Franklin. Fellow junior standout Katharine Berkoff, 17, landed a finals spot in 1:00.10 for 8th. That makes her the 7th fastest ever in the 17-18 age group.

Olympic silver medalist Kathleen Baker, the defending champion, was 3rd in 59.27. Baker and Smith will go head-to-head again after tying for the 200 back win earlier in the meet. Baker is 2nd on the all-time American performers list only to Franklin, while Smith is ranked #5.

Another Olympic backstroker, Olivia Smoliga, qualified 4th this morning in 59.36. Smoliga is the 50 back American Record holder and earned a spot at Worlds as she won that race last night. She’s been under 59 before, as she’s ranked as the #4 American ever with a 58.77 from 2017 Worlds. Ali Deloof, who took 2nd in the 50 back last night, was 7th this morning in 1:00.05.

Cal’s Amy Bilquist, who took a narrow 3rd at 2016 Trials, is just out of the final at 9th with her 1:00.26. Bilquist is the #10 American all time with her 59.37 from Trials. Former World Junior Record holder Claire Adams also qualified for that heat in 1:00.43, as did Beata Nelson (1:00.92). Nelson has had a breakout year, closing in on the 100 back American Record in yards. Her time this morning was a best by over half a second.


  • World Record: Ryan Murphy, 51.85, 2016
  • American Record: Ryan Murphy, 51.85, 2016
  • Championship Record: Aaron Peirsol, 51.94, 2009
  • U.S. Open Record: Aaron Peirsol, 51.94, 2009

Top 8 Qualifiers:

  1. Matt Grevers (Arizona)- 53.30
  2. Ryan Murphy (Cal)- 53.63
  3. Justin Ress (NC State)- 53.82
  4. Daniel Carr (Cal)- 54.01
  5. Jacob Pebley (Cal)- 54.03
  6. (T-6) Dean Farris (Harvard)- 54.21
  7. (T-6) Bryce Mefford (Cal)- 54.21
  8. Austin Katz (Texas)- 54.41

After breaking the 50 back American Record last night, Ryan Murphy cruised to a 53.63 this morning. He’s looking dangerous here, as he’s clearly got the speed factor here, and could close in on his World Record. Fellow Olympic gold medalist in the 100 back, Matt Grevers, had the fastest time this morning though in 53.30. Grevers is the defending champion after topping Murphy at nationals last year and beating him out for silver at 2017 Worlds.

Justin Ress, who had a breakout summer last year to qualify for Worlds in 2017, was the only other man sub-54 this morning. Ress was about half a second off his best in 53.82. The 10th fastest American ever in this race, Ress is a strong contender for Pan Pacs. Even if he can’t get past Grevers or Murphy (which he very well may do given he was also under the 50 back American Record last night and has shown great speed), a 3rd place finish might get him on the team.

Cal once again makes up half of the backstroke final between Murphy, Daniel Carr (54.01), Jacob Pebley (54.03), and Bryce Mefford (54.21). Carr and Mefford once again made big drops from their bests, continuing their success from their first NCAA season. Pebley, a 200 back Olympian, should already be safe for Pan Pacs after taking 2nd in the 200 back. He’s typically better at the 200, but he has some good 100 speed with a lifetime best 52.95 which could land him in the top 3.

Harvard’s Dean Farris, who has spent some time training with Texas this summer, made a massive drop of almost 2 seconds to make the final in 54.21. Farris is making great progress as he finally seems to be hitting his stride in long course. He’s done a best time in every event he entered at the meet, but this is his first A final. Summer training partner Austin Katz, who placed 3rd in the 200 back, joins him in the final with a 54.41. That was a full second drop for Katz.

The B final will feature Louisville’s Nicolas Albiero, who took 9th in 54.43. That was his first time under 55 and missed the top 8 by just 2 hundredths. NCAA 100 back champion Coleman Stewart of NC State also qualified for the B heat in 54.69, dropping over half a second from his best.

16-year-old Carson Foster, an A finalist in the 200 back, swam his lifetime best 55.37 to become the 7th fastest American ever in the 15-16 age group. Another 16-year-old standout, Destin Lasco, will swim in the D final barring any scratches. He was 25th this morning in a lifetime best 55.52, making him the 9th fastest ever American 15-16 swimmer.

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2 years ago

Swimswam… why would you do this to poor Regan? I thought it was decided on a pic of the pools for prelims…

Reply to  swimcoach
2 years ago

Dang this is her tough day they really trying to @ her 😭😭😭

Reply to  Lauren Neidigh
2 years ago

Okay Lauren better keep it that way 😉

Reply to  Lauren Neidigh
2 years ago

Too easy with Kelsy Dahlia in the 100 fly: she was a “low hands” winner..

Reply to  swimcoach
2 years ago

Tomorrow’s’ pic: blue sky…

A$AP Pocky
Reply to  rsgnsf
2 years ago

it’ll start storming

Lauren Neidigh
Reply to  A$AP Pocky
2 years ago


2 years ago

Any word on why Kathleen Baker scratched the 50 Back yesterday and if she’ll be competing today?

Reply to  Wow
2 years ago

Probably same reason Andrew Wilson scratched 50 breast. Already on team and resting up for bigger events….

Reply to  Andy
2 years ago

Once athletes are on the team, the 50 strokes become more significant than other events, except in cases where athletes expect to swim more slowly at Pan Pacs than Nationals. He gets to swim the 100 breast at Pan Pacs regardless; if he doesn’t win the 50, or have the best time from the two meets in the 100 combined, he won’t get to swim it at Worlds.

But – I have a hunch that Eddie sits on the “50 strokes aren’t real events” side of the table.

2 years ago

This 100 breast is going to be insane…
Cordes dosen’t seems to be in his best shape, Andrew is on fire, Dressel shouldn’t be completley counted out, though we have yet to truly see his long course breast. Wilson has had a greay meet so far, making the team in the 200 breast.

I’m liking Finnerty though. He broke 27 in the 50 breast prelims and had a 10 second PR in the 200 breast (yes, 2:16 may seem slow for an NCAA record holder, but it was indeed a big PR).

Also we have Cody “Dolphin Kick” who hasn’t truly swum at this meet yet.

I’m ready for another unpredictable night.

Reply to  IM FAN
2 years ago

Men’s 100 breast and back is going to be lit.

Reply to  IM FAN
2 years ago

Idk how Cody isn’t being DQd it’s really obvious

Reply to  Hswimmer
2 years ago

A bit new to this, but where does Cody do this?

Reply to  IM FAN
2 years ago

Dressel said in the interview that he’s taking tomorrow off. I hope he was wrong though but I’m pretty sure he’s not doing the 100 breast.


Tammy Touchpad Error
Reply to  IM FAN
2 years ago

Cody dropped 2.5 seconds in prelims of 200 Breast… I think he has a big swim in him. He knows what’s on the line and he probably has more pressure now that he’s a vlogger which might actually help. He knows he has kids that wanna see him up there. Gonna be so fast and gnarly. Even Prenot could be dangerous. Cordes being a little off makes it even more entertaining.

Reply to  Tammy Touchpad Error
2 years ago

His best time is 2:09.08. He went 2:10.59. He simply does not have a chance. Andrew, Cordes, Wilson, Licon, and Dressel if he swims it would beat him easily.

Tammy Touchpad Error
Reply to  DresselApologist
2 years ago

Ohh dang I thought the 2:13 he entered with was a PB…. Yeah he’s prolly outie on this one then.

Reply to  IM FAN
2 years ago

Don’t count out Devon Nowicki. Dude can fly

Reply to  IM FAN
2 years ago

Pulling for Will Licon harder than any other swimmer this meet. I just want him to make a major international team and not barely miss it for once. I think he’s a long shot in the 100, but fingers crossed!

Reply to  sven
2 years ago


Reply to  sven
2 years ago

As unlikely as it is, I’d love to see Prenot and Licon go 1-2

Reply to  Bub
2 years ago

Or it can be Licon then Prenot (sorry I’m a Texas fan😂)

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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