2019 Pro Series Swim – Knoxville: Lazor Keeps Getting Better

by Robert Gibbs 1

January 10th, 2019 News, Pro Swim Series

2019 PRO SWIM SERIES – KNOXVILLE

It may not be the most well-attended PSS stop ever, but there was still plenty of fast swimming on the 2nd night of the Knoxville leg of the 2019 Pro Series Swim. Here’s just a few of the things we noticed:

Annie Lazor Keeps Getting Better

After thinking she was done with swimming following the 2016 Olympic Trials, Annie Lazor realized she had more left in the tank and had a break out summer in 2018, culminating in a gold medal in the 200 breast at the 2018 Short Course World Championships in December.

Today, Lazor showed that she’s not yet done improving, dipping under 1:07 in the 100 breast for the first time. Coming into today, her best time stood at 1:07.89, from the 2016 Trials. A year and a half out from Olympic Trials, Lazor looks to be part of a small group of women vying for Tokyo spots in both breaststroke events.

Lazor is training at Indiana, the same location as Lilly King, Cody Miller, and Ian Finnerty, among others, making it almost certainly the best breaststroke training group in the nation.

Burgeoning Texas Breaststroke Group

It’s been a long time since the Texas Longhorn men had much depth at breaststroke, even when Will Licon was tearing things up. Last year, breaststroke was a downright liability for the Longhorns as they scrapped toward their 4th-straight NCAA championship. Texas breaststrokers scored 0 individual points at NCAAs, and their lack of a breast specialist was a big part of the reason the Longhorns missed the A final in the 400 medley relay.

Things could be changing very quickly, though. Things were already looking up after freshman Charlie Scheinfeld busted out some big swims at the Texas Invite. Even better, Eddie Reese has recruited a talented breaststroke group in the high school class of 2019, including Jake Foster, Caspar Corbeau, and Paul DeGrado. Tonight, Corbeau and Foster finished 5th and 7th in the A-final here, both within a half second or so of their lifetime bests. All three of those men will be coming in with strong times in yards, as well, and as soon as next year, the Longhorns could have multiple men scoring in the breaststroke events for the first time since 2014.

Solo Swims

With the shift from traditional Pro Series Swim (and previously, Grand Prix) spots like Austin to lesser-known venues like Knoxville, it wasn’t surprisingly to see the first PSS meet of 2019 to have less participants.

It was a bit jarring to see how just how sparsely contested some of the events were. Only four of tonight’s 10 events managed to completely fill out a D final. Of the remainder, the women’s 100 breast only had four competitors in the D final, the women’s 50 back had three in the D final, the men’s 400 IM or men’s 50 back didn’t even have a C or a D final, and the women’s 400 IM didn’t have a D final.

Still, the most awkward sights of the night may have been the D final of the men’s 200 free. There, Ryley McRae of Thompson Rivers had plenty of clear water, as he was the only man in the pool. McRae made the most of the opportunity, dropping over two seconds from his prelims time.

It’s only the first stop, and there’s plenty of time for participation to increase over the next few months, but still it’s striking to see so many empty lanes in the finals of the USA’s biggest swim series.

Ledecky Keeps Doing Her Thing

We’ve gotten a bit spoiled by Katie Ledecky‘s penchant for setting world records seemingly at will, and she’s been known to throw down some very fast times in January. So, one on her hand her times tonight (1:55.78 in the 200 free and 4:39.39  in the 400 IM) aren’t particularly special. On the other hand, no else in the world has been faster than her since last summer in the 200 free, and only Yui Ohashi and Madisyn Cox have been faster in the 400 IM. We’re probably not going to see Ledecky seriously contest the 400 IM at the international level anytime soon, but it’s fun to watch.

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dmswim

The meet is poorly attended because the cuts are too fast, especially for this point in the season. College teams aren’t participating because they are either on training trips or in heavy training for conferences and NCAAs. Many also start classes on Monday so travelling this weekend isn’t ideal. I don’t understand the point of making cuts as fast as they are. I know you don’t want to have 10 heats of the women’s 400 IM, but we are far from that at this point. Make the cuts a little easier so teams within driving distance can bring bigger squads. Alternatively, if entries are below a certain threshold by a preliminary entry deadline, USA swimming could raise the qualifying times… Read more »

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