2018 U.S. Nationals: Day 1 Distance Heats Live Recap


We’re getting the ball rolling on the first distance free races at the 2018 U.S. Nationals in Irvine, California. This afternoon will bring 6 heats each of the women’s 800 free and men’s 1500 free, while the 7th and fastest heat will swim with finals. A few of the swimmers to watch in the afternoon heats are Purdue All-American Kaersten Meitz, Stanford All-American Megan Byrnes, Winter Nationals distance champion Ashley Neidigh, Olympic trials finalist Chris Wieser, Stanford’s Matthew Hirschberger, and Cal’s Nick Norman.


  • World Record: 8:04.79- Katie Ledecky, 2016
  • American Record: 8:04.79- Katie Ledecky, 2016
  • Championship Record: 8:10.32- Katie Ledecky, 2016
  • U.S. Open Record: 8:06.68- Katie Ledecky, 2016

Top 8 Through Afternoon Heats:

  1. Mariah Denigan– 8:28.15
  2. Megan Byrnes– 8:31.07
  3. Taylor Ault– 8:34.25
  4. Cassy Jernberg– 8:35.48
  5. Kaersten Meitz– 8:35.73
  6. Katy Campbell– 8:35.74
  7. Molly Kowal– 8:35.94
  8. Ashley Neidigh– 8:36.57

Team Santa Monica’s Katy Campbell won heat 2 in 8:35.74, marking her fastest swim since she set her lifetime best 8:30.46 in 2014. At that 2014 Nationals, also in Irvine, Campbell won the 1500 free, qualifying to represent the U.S. at 2015 Worlds. Molly Kowal finished just behind Campbell’s time to win heat 3, touching in 8:35.94.

In heat 5, 15-year-old Mariah Denigan took over the leaderboard as she finished 7 second ahead of the field in a lifetime best 8:28.15. That time would have had her seeded 5th heading into this meet, so she’s got a shot at a top 8 finish. Since the start of the 2018 season, she’s now dropped 11 seconds. Behind her, Indiana’s Cassy Jernberg dropped 4 seconds to take 2nd in the heat at 8:35.48.

In the final afternoon heat, Megan Byrnes came from behind and built a 3-second lead to win the heat in 8:31.07, a best time by half a second. Florida’s Taylor Ault broke 8:35 for the first time, touching behind Byrnes in 8:34.25.

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

Top 8 Through Afternoon Heats:

  1. Nick Norman– 15:08.81
  2. Chris Wieser– 15:12.01
  3. Zach Yeadon- 15:21.21
  4. Ben Lawless- 15:21.48
  5. Chris Yeager- 15:22.76
  6. Mikey Calvillo– 15:23.03
  7. Arik Katz– 15:23.13
  8. Greg Reed– 15:24.19

Will Roberts of Michigan set the pace out of heat 2 in 15:29.75. That was a best by nearly 20 seconds. He was entered with a yards time, but had a meters best of 15:48.59 from 2017 nationals.

Greg Reed dominated heat 3, finishing body lengths ahead of the field to overtake the lead in 15:24.19 shredding his former best 15:42.70 by nearly 20 seconds as well. Mikey Calvillo and Arik Katz pushed each other to the 2 fastest times through heat 5, touching in 15:23.03 and 15:23.13 respectively. That was a 5 second drop for Calvillo and a big, nearly 20-second drop from 16-year-old Katz.

In the final afternoon heat, Cal’s Nick Norman dropped 8 seconds off his time to lead the way headed into the circle seeded heats in 15:08.81. Throughout this season, he’s taken 20 seconds off his best time. Olympic Trials finalist Chris Wieser had his best swim by far since 2016. His best is a 15:09.70 from Trials, but the fastest he had been since then was a 15:23.97 last summer. Today, he took 2nd in the heat behind Norman in 15:12.01.

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Becky D
3 years ago

My livestream just keeps freezing up. #pout

Reply to  Becky D
3 years ago

Mine is fine try restarting your computer

Becky D
Reply to  Hswimmer
3 years ago

I had primarily stuck video and sporadic audio. I reset my tablet, and got a black screen (and no audio) for a couple minutes. Now I’m back to stuck video and choppy audio again, but appreciative. So I guess that’s a win?

3 years ago

This is such a random comment and doesn’t apply to this article at all whatsoever but I feel like Kathleen Baker is going to put on a show

3 years ago

I am very surprised that this is available in my country (Germany), thanks to US swimming (in case you read this). At the moment i only see a slower 1500 free heat, could someone maybe tell me when the finals will start (in how many minutes/hours from now)? Thanks!

Reply to  ThomasLurzFan
3 years ago

2 hours, 28 minutes from now

Reply to  PNW
3 years ago

Oh … i dont think that i will still be awake then, but thanks! I am sure that i will wake up to some fast times. Men’s 200 fly at least two 1:54 low, women’s 200 fly sub 2:05, men’s 100 free at least 3 sub 48, women’s 100 free 2 sub 53.

3 years ago

Another NAG record: 8:28

Reply to  Yozhik
3 years ago

I don’t think that’s a NAG record…

Reply to  Yozhik
3 years ago

Only 15 seconds off

Reply to  Pvdh
3 years ago

Time flies. I forgot that Katie was THAT young when she set the textile world record.

Reply to  Yozhik
3 years ago

15 year old, huh?


18:07 youtube time

3 years ago

Women’s 800 m freestyle
Heat 5
Mariah Denigan – 8:28.15
15 year old

To add some perspective:


3 years ago

Where can I get olympic channel ? My cable provider doesn’t carry it. Thanks

Reply to  Superfan
3 years ago

FuboTV has a 1 week free trial and they have the olympic channel on it.

Reply to  MrBreastroke
3 years ago


Reply to  Superfan
3 years ago

Sling TV? or maybe Fubo.tv they have free trials…

Reply to  Swimming4silver
3 years ago

I downloaded fubo but can’t find olympic channel. Any help?

3 years ago

Huge drop for Will Roberts, big things coming from him this meet and this year. Kid is a beast

Hint of Lime
3 years ago

Nick Norman having a great year, first with that Pac-12 title in the mile and then with all of these time drops. Good for him!

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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