2022 U.S. National Championships: Day 1 Finals Live Recap



The first finals session of the 2022 US National Championships kick off this evening in Irvine, California. The session gets under way with the 200 fly finals, where 2017 World Champs Team member, and new Texas Longhorn, Dakota Luther comes in as the top seed on the women’s side, while Cal undergrad Gabriel Jett sits as the top qualifier on the men’s side.

The 200 fly will be followed by the 100 free, where Florida pro and 2020 Olympian Natalie Hinds holds the top seed, just ahead of Mallory Comerford. A pair of high schoolers will also compete in the women’s A final, with Eagle Aquatics’ Erika Palaez and NCAP’s Erin Gemmell qualifying fourth and sixth, respectively, out of the heats. The men’s final will feature Texas pro Shaine Casas as the top seed after posting a 48.28 this morning, just ahead of Virginia undergrad Matt King.

The session will wrap up with the top seeded heat of the women’s 800 free and men’s 1500 free. World Record holder Katie Ledecky will take to the pool for the first time as the top seed in the 800, while Texas undergrad David Johnston, representing The Swim Team, is the top seed in the 1500.

Finals get underway at 5 PM local time, 8 PM EST.


  • World Record – 2:01.81, Zige Liu (2009)
  • American Record – 2:04.14, Mary Descenza (2009)
  • U.S. Open Record – 2:05.85, Hali Flickinger (2021)
  • LC Nationals Record – 2:05.85, Hali Flickinger (2021)
  • World Junior Record – 2:05.20, Summer McIntosh (2022)

Top 8 finishers:

  1. Dakota Luther (Texas Longhorn): 2:07.02
  2. Lindsay Looney (Sun Devil): 2:07.25
  3. Tess Howley (Long Island): 2:08.07
  4. Kelly Pash (Unattached): 2:08.39
  5. Brittany Castelluzzo (Australia): 2:09.81
  6. Callie Dickinson (Athens Bulldog): 2:10.35
  7. Rachel Klinker (CAL): 2:10.94
  8. Emma Sticklen (Unattached): 2:11.00

Austin native and new Texas Longhorn Dakota Luther took home the title in the women’s 200 fly, finishing in 2:07.02, a new lifetime best. Her previous lifetime best of 2:07.76  came at the 2019 Nationals at Stanford, so the swim marks somewhat of a breakthrough with her new training group. With the swim, Luther becomes the 13th fastest American 200 flyer of all time.

She held off a late charge from Arizona State undergrad Lindsay Looney, who finished second in 2:07.25. The swim is a huge lifetime best for Looney, who came into the meet with a 2:08.40.

High schooler Tess Howley from Long Island Aquatic Club rounded out the podium with the bronze in 2:08.07. That swim is a new lifetime best for Howley and moves her into 6th all-time in the 17-18 age group.


  • World Record – 1:50.34, Kristof Milak (2022)
  • American Record – 1:51.51, Michael Phelps (2009)
  • U.S. Open Record – 1:52.20, Michael Phelps (2008)
  • LC Nationals Record – 1:52.20, Michael Phelps (2008)
  • World Junior Record – 1:53.79, Kristof Milak (2017)

Top 8 finishers:

  1. Gabriel Jett (Cal): 1:54.37
  2. Ilya Kharun (Sandpipers of Nevada): 1:56.66
  3. Sterling Crane (Unattached): 1:56.75
  4. Max Litchfield (Great Britain): 1:56.89
  5. Brooks Fail (Tucson Ford): 1:57.08
  6. Mason Laur (Gator Swim Club): 1:57.62
  7. Jack Dahlgren (Mizzou): 1:58.04
  8. Kevin Vargas (La Mirada): 1:58.38

Cal undergrad Gabriel Jett dominated the A final, turning well ahead at the halfway point and extending his lead through the third 50. The time makes Jett the 7th fastest American ever in the event and is now 8th in the world this year.

Finishing second was Sandpipers’ rising senior Ilya Kharun, who blasted a new lifetime best of 1:56.66. The Arizona State commit has been a fast-rising swimmer for the famed Sandpipers over the last 18 months, making waves in both fly and distance free. Coming into the meet, Kharun’s lifetime best stood at 1:58.70. He dropped over a full second in the prelims, and dropped another 8 tenths in tonight’s final to drop more than two seconds on the day.

Rounding out the podium was Sterling Crane with a 1:56.75.

Mission Viejo’s Trenton Julian had a disappointing prelim swim and missed the A final, but made the best of his B final swim to post a 1:56.73, which would have been good for the bronze in the A final. Defending NCAA champion Brendan Burns of Indiana also competed in the B final, finishing 1:58.98. That swim was just off his prelim time, but Burns had a massive drop on the day, coming into the day with a lifetime best of 2:01.07.


  • World Record – 51.71, Sarah Sjostrom (2017)
  • American Record – 52.04, Simone Manuel (2019)
  • U.S. Open Record – 52.54, Simone Manuel (2018)
  • LC Nationals Record – 52.54, Simone Manuel (2018)
  • World Junior Record – 52.70, Penny Oleksiak (2016)

Top 8 finishers:

  1. Natalie Hinds (Gator Swim Club): 53.53
  2. Gretchen Walsh (Nashville Aquatic Club): 53.86
  3. Gabi Albiero (Louisville): 54.39
  4. Mallory Comerford (Triton): 54.51
  5. Lillie Nordmann (Alto Swim Club): 54.57
  6. Erin Gemmell (Nation’s Capital): 54.62
  7. Erika Palaez (Eagle Aquatics): 54.69
  8. Chloe Stepanek (Long Island): 54.71

Natalie Hinds defender her top qualifying spot from the morning, winning the national title with a 53.53. She was challenged by Gretchen Walsh, who was out extremely fast in lane 1. Walsh faded down the final 15 meters, but still finished in a 53.86 for the silver.

The swim for Walsh is a sort of re-arrival on the national scene in the event and is her fastest 100 free in nearly 3 years. Gretchen was often dubbed the future of American women’s sprinting while in high school, winning the World Junior title in both the 50 and 100 free in 2019. Since that time, she has struggled to regain that form, until tonight’s final.

Rounding out the podium was Louisville undergrad Gabi Albiero, who posted a 54.39. Albiero dropped almost a full second on the day, coming in with a lifetime best of 55.29 before today.

Another NCAA swimmer who posted an impressive drop on the day was Stanford swimmer Lillie Nordmann. Opting to swim the 100 free over her signature 200 fly, Nordmann came into the day with a lifetime best of 55.41 and dropped nearly nine-tenths to finish in 54.57.


  • World Record – 46.91, Cesar Cielo (2009)
  • American Record – 46.96, Caeleb Dressel (2019)
  • U.S. Open Record – 47.39, Ryan Held/Caeleb Dressel (2019)
  • LC Nationals Record – 47.39, Ryan Held/Caeleb Dressel (2019)
  • World Junior Record – 47.13, David Popovici (2022)

Top 8 finishers:

  1. Zach Apple (Indiana)/Matt King (Cavalier Aquatics): 48.44
  2. —–
  3. Shaine Casas (Texas Longhorn): 48.46
  4. Destin Lasco (Unattached): 48.75
  5. Danny Krueger (Unattached): 48.89
  6. Kieran Smith (Ridgefield Aquatic Club): 48.91
  7. Luke Maurer (Alto Swim Club): 48.94
  8. Justin Ress (Mission Viejo): 49.00

In a thrilling final where the top three swimmers were separated by just .02, Virginia undergrad Matt King and Indiana pro Zach Apple tied for the national title with a 48.44. King was out first at the 50, but Apple closed hard on the final 50 to get his hand on the wall even with King.

Touching just .02 behind the pair was Texas pro Shaine Casas, who finished third in 48.44. Casas qualified first out of the prelims, but was unable to hold his spot in the final as he slipped to 3rd.

Cal undergrad Destin Lasco finished 4th in 48.75, three tenths faster than his prelim swim and a new lifetime best. Stanford undergrad Luke Maurer posted a lifetime best to finish 7th in 48.94, his first-ever time under the 49-second barrier as well.


Top 8 finishers:

  1. Katie Ledecky (Gator): 8:12.03
  2. Mariah Denigan (Indiana): 8:31.12
  3. Kensey McMahon (Alabama): 8:31.92
  4. Erica Sullivan (Unattached): 8:34.37
  5. Cavan Gormsen (Long Island): 8:35.48
  6. Elise Bauer (Gator): 8:37.11
  7. Sierra Schmidt (Scottsdale): 8:41.06
  8. Tylor Mathieu (Gator): 8:41.68

In traditional Katie Ledecky fashion, the greatest of all time dominated the final heat, winning by nearly 20 seconds in 8:12.03. Ledecky was out fast, flipping in 4:02.71 at the halfway point, less than a second faster off of her World Record pace. While she faded over the second half of the race, she still put together a dominant performance.

Finishing second overall was Indiana undergrad Mariah Denigan, who dropped over 11 seconds from her seed to finish in 8:31.12. Notably, Denigan did not compete in the final heat but instead posted the top time out of the early heats, which held for the second fastest in the event.

Rounding out the podium was Alabama national team member Kensey McMahon, who finished 3rd in 8:31.92.

Finishing fourth overall was Texas undergrad Erica Sullivan, who finished in 8:34.37. Sullivan qualified for last summer’s Olympic team while training with her home club, the Sandpipers of Nevada, but struggled with a shoulder injury this spring causing her to miss the US Trials in April.


  • World Record – 14:31.02, Sun Yang (2012)
  • American Record – 14:36.70, Bobby Finke (2022)
  • U.S. Open Record – 14:45.54, Peter Vanderkaay (2008)
  • LC Nationals Record – 14:45.54, Peter Vanderkaay (2008)
  • World Junior Record – 14:46.09, Franko Grgic (2019)

Top 8 finishers:

  1. Will Gallant (Wolfpack): 14:57.08
  2. David Johnston (The Swim Team): 15:02.37
  3. Alec Mander (Australia): 15:19.35
  4. Daniel Matheson (Scottsdale): 15:19.99
  5. Matthew Galea (Australia): 15:20.58
  6. Mikey Calvillo (Indiana Swim Club): 15:22.38
  7. Chris Nagy (Minnesota): 15:22.49
  8. Elliot Rogerson (Australia):15:26.68

NC State undergrad Will Gallant posted a massive swim in tonight’s final heat, dropping over 14 seconds from his lifetime best to win in 14:57.08. Gallant swam a masterfully paced race, with his final 5 100 splits all coming under 1:00, closing in a 58.8 to secure his first time under 15:00. He also becomes the 13th fastest American of all time.

Also going a new lifetime best was David Johnston, who dropped over 6 seconds to take the silver in 15:02.37. Johnston held the lead for much of the first half of the race, but Gallant pulled ahead over the final 500 meters. For his efforts, Johnston sneaks into the top 20 in the all-time US rankings, coming in at 19th. Alec Mander of Australia rounded out the podium with a 15:19.35.

Daniel Matheson, who competed at USC for his freshman year but announced that he will be transferring to Arizona State, had the best swim out of the early heats, dropping 10 seconds to finish fourth in 15:19.99.


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Joe Black
4 months ago

Why are Australians competing in US Nationals?

Reply to  Joe Black
4 months ago

Because US Nationals are open to other countries (Australia also allows other countries to compete at nationals).

Last edited 4 months ago by Troyy
4 months ago

Dakota Luther still seems to be chipping away at best times. Her 2:07.02 would have qualified for a World’s spot.

4 months ago

There are barely any name tags in this article, I like those to see more about the person.

4 months ago

I wonder how fast Ledecky would go if she raced with the guys

4 months ago

Does anyone know why FINA has not ratified Katie Ledecky’s performance (8:11.83) in the women’s 800 meter freestyle at the 2022 Southern Zone South Sectional Championships dated 10 Feb 2022 in Orlando, FL?


Reply to  Weinstein-Smith-Ledecky-Sims
4 months ago

Good Question and even without that time (and maybe other missing times) the FINA ranking shows that Katie’s winning time is another All-Time Top 20 / 25 time. This gives her 29 out of the 30 fastest times ever and 41 out of the 50 fastest times ever (not sure if any 800 splits from Katies fastest 1500 races are included or not).
So I guess if FINA does accept the time above and the results from Nationals, Katie has ALL of the 30 fastest times done.

Miss M
4 months ago

Who was it who asked whether any woman would swim a time that would have qualified for individual worlds swim this week?

Just realised that Hinds has done it on night one: 53:53 would have moved her from 4th to finish second at Trials. G Walsh would have been 5th and made a relay spot.

Reply to  Miss M
4 months ago

Does that mean they didn’t handle the pressure?

Reply to  Ghost
4 months ago

So many possibilities to explain a less than stellar swim at any meet. Everything from lingering effects from Covid or another illness, to noisy neighbors at the hotel preventing sleep. Saying they couldn’t handle the pressure is not fair to the athletes unless you have all the information.

The Original Tim
Reply to  Ghost
4 months ago

Could’ve been just a sub-optimal swim, could’ve missed their taper, could’ve been under the weather that day, could’ve been head games, could’ve been poor sleep, could’ve been poorly fueled prior to the swim, and so on.

Tons of varying reasons for why any given race might not have been optimal at any given meet.

A few years ago I did my full shave and taper for USMS Nationals and nailed 4 of my 5 events, but inexplicably flopped pretty badly in the 5th event. We had a random local meet two weeks later and I swam that event there and swam significantly faster than I did at USMS Nats. No idea why the discrepancy between the two races, and it… Read more »

Reply to  Miss M
4 months ago

Dakota Luther.

Awsi Dooger
4 months ago

I can’t believe how hilariously pathetic women’s distance swimming continues to be. It was more than appropriate that second place came from the parking lot heat. That’s where you find somebody who might bother to try a little bit. What the heck happened to these events? A few years ago worlds had 5 at 8:17.1 or lower and 6 below 8:19. It was much worse than that at Tokyo and again in Budapest this year. It shouldn’t be too much to ask for some newcomer or veteran to show up at an event like this with 8:26 or nearby.

Regarding Ledecky I appreciate that she continues to take it out faster, even if her stroke shortened up noticeably today.… Read more »

Reply to  Awsi Dooger
4 months ago

Katie Ledecky swam 0.54 seconds faster than in the final of the women’s 800 meter freestyle at the Tokyo 2021 Olympics.

Leah Smith, Bella Sims, Katie Grimes, Claire Weinstein did not participate in the women’s 800 meter freestyle at the 2022 U.S. National Championships.

The bottom line is quit your bitchin’.

Mr Piano
Reply to  Awsi Dooger
4 months ago

I can’t believe how seriously pathetic keyboard warriors continue to be

Reply to  Mr Piano
4 months ago
little miss negative split
4 months ago

glad to see claire tuggle going best times again