2018 U.S. Pan Pacs Qualifying: How Many Doubles Needed?


This week’s U.S. National Championships serve as the selection meet for five major international meets, and though the selection procedures can be complex, we like to simplify them as best we can. The top two-to-four swimmers in each event should make the Pan Pacs team (and the top top two-to-six juniors should make the Junior Pan Pacs team) – but what exactly determines whether an event selects two, three or four swimmers?

First of all, if you’re a procedural nerd (like we are) or if you are a masochist (which we might be), you can read through the full selection procedure documents here. But be warned that between the five meets, the full selection procedure documents number 88 pages of somewhat-complicated language. We broke things down in the body of that post as best we could, and now we’ll try to simplify even further based on the idea of doubles.

Defining Doubles

Each meet caps its roster at a specific limit: 2018 Pan Pacs will only take 26 men and 26 women. Junior Pan Pacs will only take 20 in each gender. Both meets select from the 14 Olympic events. If every event were won by a different swimmer, event winners would take up 14 of the 26 spots on the Pan Pacs team, and only 12 of the second-place swimmers would also make the team.

Of course, that’s highly unlikely to happen in the real world, where stars like Katie Ledecky and Caeleb Dressel should win multiple events and perhaps qualify in even more than that. As swimmers double up in qualifying events, the roster is able to select more of the second-place finishers, and eventually the third- and fourth-placers.

So we’ll define a ‘double’ as a swimmer already qualified for the relevant international meet who puts up another qualifying swim in a different event.

How many doubles do we need?

Each meet selects swimmers on slightly different criteria, so we’ll go meet-by-meet.

2018 Pan Pacs

  • Automatically in: Top 4 in 100/200 frees, Winners of Olympic events (max: 20 athletes)
  • Next wave in: Second-placers in Olympic events (max: 12 athletes)
  • Next wave in: Third-placers in Olympic events (max: 12 athletes)
  • Next wave in: Fourth-placers in Olympic events (max: 12 athletes)
Meet Roster size Doubles needed for second-placers Doubles needed for third-placers Doubles needed for fourth-placers
2018 Pan Pacs 26 6 18 30

2018 Junior Pan Pacs

  • Automatically in: Top 2 in 100/200 frees, Top 1 in Olympic events (max: 16 athletes)
  • Next wave in: Second eligible in Olympic events (max: 12 athletes)
  • Next wave in: Third eligible in Olympic events (max: 14 athletes)
  • Next wave in: Fourth eligible in Olympic events (max: 14 athletes)
  • Next wave in: Fifth eligible in Olympic events (max: 14 athletes)
  • Next wave in: Sixth eligible in Olympic events (max: 14 athletes)
Meet Roster size Doubles needed for second eligible Doubles needed for third eligible Doubles needed for fourth eligible Doubles needed for fifth eligible Doubles needed for sixth eligible
2018 Junior Pan Pacs 20 8 22 36 50 64

Conclusion: How Many Doubles Should We Expect?

It seems very likely that the second-placers should get in for both meets, with only 6 and 8 doubles needed. Ledecky should account for at least three herself, assuming she wins the 200, 400, 800 and 1500 frees. Dressel should provide at least two, assuming he wins the 50 free, 100 free and 100 fly. (Dressel is likely to win the 50 fly, too, but that’s not an Olympic event and doesn’t create a double for Pan Pacs qualifying). Bear in mind that the rosters select by gender, so a second-place woman needs 6 women to double to make the team; Dressel’s doubles wouldn’t affect her selection at all.

Also remember that as more priorities get invited, the doubles will start to increase. Say Dressel wins the sprint frees and 100 fly but also takes third in the 200 free. When the third row of swimmers gets selected, his 200 becomes another double for roster space purposes.

With a handful of previews still in the pipeline, our running roster projections based on our event previews shows the fourth-placers well outside of qualifying for men and women at both Pan Pacific meets. Third-placers are also on the outside for girls Junior Pan Pacs, and might be iffy for boys Junior and men’s and women’s senior Pan Pacs as we add the last three events.

The upshot is that you can expect the top 2 eligible swimmers to make Pan Pacs and Junior Pan Pacs, and perhaps the majority of the third-placers. Fourth-placers are unlikely unless we get a lot of doubles.

(At the risk of making this wordy, complex story a little longer, two swimmers who take third in different events will go to a tie-breaker to decide selection. The tie-breaker is a modified version of the FINA World Rankings, with the highest-ranked swimmer making the team over the lower-ranked ones).

Confused? You’re not alone. If you’d rather not wrack your brain trying to understand the ins and outs of this selection process, fear not: we’ll be tallying up Pan Pacs and Junior Pan Pacs qualifiers (and potential qualifiers) as the meet goes along. Stay tuned to SwimSwam.com, where we hurt our brains, so you don’t have to hurt yours!

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So if non olympic events such as 50 fly, back and breast do not count – Dressels 50 fly would not create a double


What will happen if it is not enough doubles, to get all second places to be selected. Who makes a decision who of second places will go. For example, Ledecky swims just few events and Leah Smith has 4 second places in 400-800-1500 & 400IM but only gets fifth in 200.
Is it a scenario when she won’t be selected.


World rankings I think just like picking between 100 back 3rd place and 200 breast 3rd place. If tie then they go to your second best event. I “think”


Great explanation and analysis.

About Jared Anderson

Jared Anderson

Jared Anderson swam for nearly twenty years. Then, Jared Anderson stopped swimming and started writing about swimming. He's not sick of swimming yet. Swimming might be sick of him, though. Jared was a YMCA and high school swimmer in northern Minnesota, and spent his college years swimming breaststroke and occasionally pretending …

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