2023 Pro Championships: Five Storylines to Follow

by Mark Wild 8

July 25th, 2023 News

2023  Pro Championships

The finale of the season-long Pro Swim Series kick off tomorrow in Irvine, California. As the US does not have a senior summer championships meet this summer, this meet will look to serve as a final taper meet for many of the swimmers who did not make the Worlds team or are ineligible for Junior Nationals.

Three things make this meet unusual from the traditional summer nationals meets: in addition to having a large contingent of foreign athletes, the meet also offers prize money.

Prize Money (for each individual event)

  • 1st – $1,500
  • 2nd – $1,000
  • 3rd – $500

The last aspect that makes this meet unusual is that most summer nationals (that aren’t selection meets) occur after Worlds, allowing swimmers to return home and compete if they so desire. With the meets being run concurrently, that won’t happen, but it does allow for a direct comparison between the times put at Worlds with those swum here by swimmers who did not make the team.

Check out five key storylines to follow throughout the competition below.:

The form of women’s sprinting

After a silver at the 2023 Worlds in the 4×100 free, the American women have established themselves as a favorite behind Australia for the silver in Paris. But with China less than half a second behind, who can help the American women try to maintain that position or even try to close the gap between the US and Australia?

The most notable name on the psych sheets and the one with the most potential to do so is two-time Olympic gold medalist and American record holder Simone Manuel. After struggling with overtraining syndrome in the run-up to the Tokyo Olympics, Manuel has not contested a championship meet since. She withdrew from the 2022 Trials and, in an Instagram post released before this year’s Trials, revealed her intentions to not race at the 2023 Summer Nationals, stating, “this sacrifice is an investment for future.”

Manuel is the 2nd seed in the 50 free, an event that includes college stars like Amy Fulmer, KitKat Zenick, and Grace Cooper, as well as fellow professional swimmers Catie Deloof and Erika Connolly (nee Brown). Connolly is the top seed with a time of 24.38 but was well off that at Nationals finishing 8th in a time of 25.02.

This group will all clash again in the 100 free, where Connolly is the top seed with an entry time of 53.51, just ahead of Deloof’s 53.75,  a time which placed her 8th at the 2023 US Trials. Manuel finds herself the 6th seed with a time of 54.50.

Manuel, Connolly, and Deloof were all members of the Tokyo Olympic team that earned bronze in the women’s 4×100. Deloof split 53.42 in the prelims, Connolly led off the finals in 54.02, and Manuel anchored in 52.96.

What can Michael Andrew do with no 50s of stroke?

While the four previous stops of the Pro Swim Series had the 50s of fly, back, and breast as events, this finale does not. Finishing 1st at trials in the 50 fly and 2nd in the 50 breast but unable to make the trip to Fukuoka due to roster constraints, Michael Andrew will contest three events: the 50 free, 100 breast, and the 100 fly.

Andrew finished 3rd at the 2023 US Trials in 21.64, a heartbreaking .01 behind Jack Alexy’s 21.63. Andrew is entered with a time of 21.41, a time that won him silver at the 2022 Worlds in Budapest. Competition in the 50 will most likely come from fellow Trials A finalists David Curtiss and Jonny Kulow, who are the 2nd and 5th seeds. Also lurking in the field is Brooks Curry, whose entry time of 21.84 slots him into the 3rd seed.

Andrew finds himself as the top seed in both the 100 breast and 100 fly, events in which he did not make the A-final in at US Trials. Joining him with a sub-1:00 entry time is Charlie Swanson, who is the 2nd seed with a time of 59.89 from US Trials. Sitting 3rd is Jake Foster, who placed 8th at US Trials, two spots behind Swanson.

In the 100 fly, Andrew’s entry time of 50.88 would have placed 2nd at Trials, but instead, that spot was won by Thomas Heilman. Joining Andrew at the top of the 100 fly is Trenton Julianwho finished 7th at Trials with a time of 51.87.

Show me what you can do: 3rd at trials.

This meet includes several swimmers who finished heartbreaking 3rd at trials. The aforementioned Andrew finished 3rd in the 50 free, as did Julian in the 200 IM.

Joining Andrew and Julian in finishing 3rd at trials were both Kaitlyn Dobler and Dakota Luther. Dobler finished 3rd in both the 50 and 100 breast. Her time at Trials and entry time of 1:05.48 would have won silver at the 2023 Worlds, placing ahead of Tatjana Schoenmaker’s time of 1:05.84 and Lydia Jacoby’s bronze medal time of 1:05.94.

Luther, the 2022 Short Course World Champion in the 200 fly, found herself 3rd at trials in a time of 2:07.86. Luther is the top seed in the event ahead of fellow Texas Longhorns Kelly Pash and Emma Sticklen, both of who were also in the 200 final at Trials: Pash finished 4th in 2:08.13 and Sticklen finished 6th in 2:08.28.

Jack Aikins and Will Gallant are in similar positions to Luther and Dobler. Aikins tied for 3rd with Daniel Diehl in the 200 back at trials in 1:56.04, a time that gives him the top seed in the event. Aikins also holds down the top seed in the 100 back with a time of 53.75.

Gallant finished 3rd in two events at Trials, the 800 and 1500 free, and holds the top seeds in both events over 2020 Olympian Michael Brinegar.

2022 Worlds Medalists: Can they match the swims at the 2023 Worlds?

courtesy of Fabio Cetti

Andrew was one of many American medalists not to make the 2023 Worlds roster. In addition to the aforementioned Julian (gold in 4×200 free relay) and Curry (gold in men’s 4×100 free relay and bronze in mixed 4×100 free relay), both Emma Weyant and Phoebe Bacon won individual medals at the 2022 Worlds and appear in these entry sheets.

Weyant, the reigning Worlds bronze medalist in the 400 IM, was disqualified at the 2023 US Trials for an illegal fly kick during the breaststroke. She finds herself as the top seed in the event in Irvine with a time of 4:32.76, the time she swam at the Tokyo Summer Olympics to win a silver medal.

Weyant’s nearest competitor in the 400 IM is Australia’s Ella Ramsay, who has an entry time of 4:39.96. Weyant is also entered in the 200 breast, where she is seeded 16th with a time of 2:33.52. Her third event is the 200 back, where she is also the 16th seed.

Ahead of her in the 200 back is the top seed, Phoebe Bacon. The Wisconsin Badger product, like Weyant, failed to make the 2023 Worlds roster despite being the reigning silver medalist in the 200 back. Bacon finished a disappointing 5th at Trials in a time of 2:06.59, a time that would have won bronze at the 2022 Worlds. In addition to the 200 back, Bacon is slated to compete in the 100 back (2nd seed), 200 IM (6th seed), and the 100 fly (10th seed).

Form: Return from Injury or resetting for Pan-Ams

One of the most prominent question marks and, therefore, stories entering the meet (and the rest of the season) is just who is using this meet as their taper championships or using it to lead up to Pan-Ams. USA Swimming has not yet released the rosters for the U23 European Championships or the Pan-Ams Games, so it is impossible to know who accepted a spot to go to Lima for Pan-Ams. With the pool swimming portion of the Pan-Ams scheduled to occur in late October, many college swimmers may not go, just as it interferes with the NCAA season. 

Some of those who are attending Pan-Ams may not have wished to extend their taper and may have already re-entered their training program in the lead-up to October, so it will be very interesting to see who shows up to win.

One swimmer we know that is missing from the U23 or Pan-Ams roster is Luca Urlando. Urlando missed the 2023 US Trials due to recovering from shoulder surgery sustained at the FINA World Cup meet in Indianapolis. At the 2022 US Trials, Urlando won the 200 fly in a time of 1:54.10. At Worlds, he finished 5th in the final with a time of 1:54.92. 

He is entered in five events: the 100 free, 200 free, 400 free, 100 fly, and 200 fly. Urlando finds himself as the top seed in the 200 fly, an event he holds the Pro Swim Series record of 1:53.84 from 2019 Clovis meet.

The meet kicks off Wednesday, July 26th, with the women’s and men’s 800 free and the 4×200 free relay.

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4 months ago

Pan Ams are in Santiago, Chile not Lima.

4 months ago

Why hasn’t the U23 team been released? Don’t they race in like 10 days?

4 months ago

Good to see Claire Tuggle back! Will be interesting to see how the USC training is working for her.

4 months ago

Kinda surprised Dressel didn’t do what Manuel did and just go to this meet instead…hes been in the water less than her too

Swim Newb
4 months ago


4 months ago

No mention of Paige Madden.

I miss the ISL
Reply to  Hswimmer
4 months ago

She’s very off right now after coming back from injury and illness. I was upset they didn’t mention her either but it’s somewhat justified.

Reply to  I miss the ISL
4 months ago

Not really, she is still an Olympic silver medalist. Not mentioning that at all is kinda Sus.