2019 Knoxville Pro Swim Series: SwimSquad Projections

2019 PRO SWIM SERIES – KNOXVILLE

FULL ROSTERS

SCORING FORMAT

  • Prior to each meet, the captain will select 6 swimmers from their overall roster to score.
  • Each of the six athletes is designated for one specific category, and can score in up to two events from that category. The categories are:
    • Free (50 through 1500)
    • Back (50 through 200)
    • Breast (50 through 200)
    • Fly (50 through 200)
    • IM (200 and 400, not the mystery order 200 IM)
    • Flex (any two races)
  • An athlete must make the top 8 to score points:
    • 1st: 10
    • 2nd: 8
    • 3rd: 7
    • 4th: 5
    • 5th: 4
    • 6th: 3
    • 7th: 2
    • 8th: 1

Knoxville Outlook

The first stop of the 2019 Pro Swim Series is showing an unforeseen – but perhaps massively important – impact of the new series scoring rules on the SwimSquad Battles.

In the past, individual series champs have been determined by overall scores throughout the series, incentivizing athletes to swim and win lots of events to keep pace for the championship. But the new scoring system scraps the usual $10,000 prize for the points winner instead awards the 1-year BMW lease to the swimmer with the top single swim in FINA points throughout the series. That makes it less vital to swim all of your best events at each stop, and perhaps even entices athletes to swim lighter meet schedules to gear up for one big FINA points swim.

The impact of that on the SwimSquad Battles? Chase Kaliszwho went undefeated in the 200 and 400 IMs on last year’s tour en route to the series title, is not entering the 400 IM this week in Knoxville – something he’d likely do if the near-guaranteed series points would put him in line for a $10,000 payday. That means Kalisz – widely projected as the clear-cut #1 pick in the SwimSquads draft – can’t lock down the IM role for his squad the way he did at every meet last season.

DiRadSquad

Swimming for: USO

DiRado had the #1 pick and got consensus top prospect Kalisz. But Kalisz’s skipping of the 400 IM this week puts things much more into flux. Kalisz should be a guaranteed 20-point start, and still could be, if you start him in your flex role with the 200 IM and 200 fly. But that leaves DiRado without a solid IM starter. Gianluca Urlando is entered in both and could score, but is far-and-away the best fly starter on the roster.

We’ll resolve that conundrum this way: starting Kalisz in the flex role is a potential 20 points, but leaves a likely zero in the IMs. Starting Kalisz in the IM spot caps him at only 10 points max, but the flex role could be filled by Ashley Twichellwho has two seeds in the top 4 and should score at least 10 points.

The other roles are obvious. Ryan Murphy is the best backstroker in the entire field. Simone Manuel is the best of several good freestylers on this roster. Nic Fink (who won two of the three 50 breaststroke events on the PSS last year and finished second in the other) is the only real breaststroke option active, and Urlando has to start at fly or DiRado will be forced to use Manuel or Lia Neal swimming off-events with the potential to scratch the fly.

DiRadSquad
Free
Simone Manuel
50/100 FR
Back
Ryan Murphy
100/200 BK
Breast
Nic Fink
50/100 BR
Fly
100/200 FL
IM
Chase Kalisz
200 IM
Flex
Ashley Twichell
800/1500 FR

Jaeg-Train

Swimming for: Covenant House

Jaeger has a strong roster at this meet, despite two of his top five picks not swimming in Knoxville. Katie Ledecky is obviously the kingpin in freestyle, and Melanie Margalis continues to be the best non-Kalisz IMer in the field.

Jaeger has interesting choices at back and breast. We’ll take Bryce Mefford over Lisa Bratton, if only because the women’s backstroke field is so loaded in Knoxville, between Baker, Smith, Stadden, Smoliga and Deloof. Hard to say where Mefford will be, though, in the thick of NCAA season. On the breaststroke side, we’ll go with Molly Hanniswho gets a huge value boost in the sprint breaststrokes with the absence of Lilly King and Katie Meili, plus will be swimming in her home pool.

Tom Shields is really the only fly option. Jaeger has a wealth of flex options, including Bratton and IM/back youngster Alex Walsh. But we’ll take Andrew Wilsonwho would be an above-average breaststroke starter if Hannis weren’t such a slam-dunk start this month.

Jaeg-Train
Free
Katie Ledecky
400/1500 FR
Back
Bryce Mefford
100/200 BK
Breast
Molly Hannis
50/100 BR
Fly
Tom Shields
50/100 FL
IM
Melanie Margalis
200/400 IM
Flex
Andrew Wilson
50/100 BR

Beisel Bunch

Swimming for: USA Swimming Foundation

Beisel’s bunch fit into their starting roles pretty smoothly. Coming off a world record season, it’d be hard not to start Kathleen Baker in backstroke. Jay Litherland is the only two-event IMer of the starting bunch, and Kevin Cordes the only breaststroker. (Cordes didn’t have a great PSS showing last year, but maybe the move to Virginia Tech will pay dividends this year).

Hali Flickingertoo, had a great summer and is the top contender in the 200 fly, even if she’s unlikely to win the 100.

Leah Smith is a must-start somewhere – the 400 and 800 are probably her best bets, with the clear #2 spot behind Ledecky sewn up in the 400 and Ledecky not swimming the 800. We’ll throw in Michael Chadwick as our flex – he’s benefitting from a men’s sprint free field that doesn’t include Caeleb Dressel, Nathan Adrian or Blake Pieroni.

Beisel Bunch
Free
Leah Smith
400/800 FR
Back
Kathleen Baker
100/200 BK
Breast
Kevin Cordes
50/100 BR
Fly
Hali Flickinger
100/200 FL
IM
Jay Litherland
200/400 IM
Flex
Michael Chadwick
50/100 FR

Adams Family

Swimming for: NEGU Jessie Rees Foundation

Other than top breaststroker Lilly King, most of Cammile Adams‘ top athletes are competing in Knoxville, including all five of her top picks. She also has a meet-high 14 athletes available to start, compared to 9 for both Dirado and Beisel and 11 for Jaeger. All that to say that Adams has far more options and one of the stronger lineups in Knoxville.

Michael Andrew provides most of the options. He could be a top-shelf starter in breaststroke, but is probably best suited to the flex spot with his 50 free/100 breast combo. On the other hand, with Dressel absent, Andrew might be the best male fly option in the field, too.

Looking elsewhere, Adams really only has one option at IM – Josh PrenotNo one else on her roster is entered in both IM events or expected to fight for a win in either event. Andrew would be a nice luxury in butterfly, but when you’ve got Kelsi Dahlia – likely the top option in the entire field for the fly role – you start her. Andrew is probably a better fit at breaststroke, then, with only intriguing-but-questionable depth (Micah Sumrall and Emily Escobedo) behind him.

The backstroke is a tough choice between Olivia Smoliga, Regan Smith and Jacob PebleyYou can’t really go wrong with any of the three. Pebley is pretty consistently a top-3 finisher in the men’s backstrokes (and looks even more likely to do so with Matt Grevers not competing), but would be a shocker to win either of them. Smoliga had an outstanding PSS tour last year, including an American record 50 back in Mesa. Smith is the high-ceiling youngster, but is also taking on a brutal event load of 6 entries in Knoxville, including the 200 fly and 200/400 frees. She could scratch some, but will she?

We’ll go with Smoliga in the backstroke role, but keep Pebley on as the flex play. The two could also switch if Adams is feeling particularly bullish about either of Smoliga’s freestyles as a flex option instead of one of the backstrokes.

Adams has a whole crowd of freestyle options. Margo Geer has the high seeds, though, and had a nice PSS tour last year. With only two events to worry about in Knoxville, she should be more primed for high finishes than some of the distance types, who are swimming everything from the 100 to the 1500. (Both Erica Sullivan and Chris Wieser are entered in that five-event freestyle range). Sullivan would be a good flex option, too, though she’s unlikely to get any wins with Ledecky roaming Knoxville this week.

Adams Family
Free
Margo Geer
50/100 FR
Back
Olivia Smoliga
50/100 BK
Breast
Michael Andrew
50/100 BR
Fly
Kelsi Dahlia
50/100 FL
IM
Josh Prenot
200/400 IM
Flex
Jacob Pebley
100/200 BK

Full Projected Rosters

In our post-draft wrap-up, we ranked DiRado’s Squad-O as the best of the bunch. But with Kalisz capped at 10 points in the IM spot this month, things should be a lot closer. In fact, it might be the Adams family, ranked 4th in our original wrap-up, that looks best in Knoxville. Jaeger and Beisel should be in a dead-heat, with DiRado probably in the weakest position. That said, projecting times at this point of the season is extremely difficult, so nothing is certain until the action starts tomorrow night.

DiRadSquad Jaeg-Train Beisel Bunch Adams Family
Free
Simone Manuel Katie Ledecky Leah Smith Margo Geer
50/100 FR 400/1500 FR 400/800 FR 50/100 FR
Back
Ryan Murphy Bryce Mefford Kathleen Baker Olivia Smoliga
100/200 BK 100/200 BK 100/200 BK 50/100 BK
Breast
Nic Fink Molly Hannis Kevin Cordes Michael Andrew
50/100 BR 50/100 BR 50/100 BR 50/100 BR
Fly
Gianluca Urlando Tom Shields Hali Flickinger Kelsi Dahlia
100/200 FL 50/100 FL 100/200 FL 50/100 FL
IM
Chase Kalisz Melanie Margalis Jay Litherland Josh Prenot
200 IM 200/400 IM 200/400 IM 200/400 IM
Flex
Ashley Twichell Andrew Wilson Michael Chadwick Jacob Pebley
800/1500 FR 50/100 BR 50/100 FR 100/200 BK

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Hank

Does anyone know of any Sports Book or gaming entities giving odds on The PSS? Either on individual events or Swim squads?

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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