2023 U.S. NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIPS
- June 27 – July 1, 2023
- Indianapolis, IN
- Indiana University Natatorium
- LCM (50m)
- Meet Central
- Psych Sheet (pre-scratch)
- SwimSwam Preview Index
MEN’S 100 BACKSTROKE – BY THE NUMBERS:
- World Record: 51.60, Thomas Ceccon (2022)
- American Record: 51.85, Ryan Murphy (2016)
- U.S. Open Record: 51.94, Aaron Peirsol (2009)
- 2022 U.S. International Team Trials Winner: Hunter Armstrong (52.20)
- World Aquatics ‘A’ Cut: 54.03
THE SUB-52 CLUB
Ryan Murphy leads the psych sheet for the men’s 100 back as we head into the meet this week. Murphy and Hunter Armstrong are the only two swimmers in this field who have been under 52 seconds and both men are seed under 52 at this meet. Murphy is the American Record holder in the event, having swum a 51.85 back in 2016, which stood as the World Record as well until last summer when Italy’s Thomas Ceccon cracked that mark.
At last year’s International Team Trials, Murphy came in second behind Armstrong, swimming a 52.46. At the World Championships in Budapest, Murphy got out to a little bit of a shaky start, advancing through prelims fine but then swimming an underwhelming 52.80 in semifinals, which put him sixth overall and towards the outside of the pool for the final. He then found his usual magic in finals the following night, earning a silver medal with a 51.97.
Hunter Armstrong is the reigning champion from last year’s International Team Trials, having won this event last April with a 52.20. He would go on to earn the bronze medal in Budapest, touching in 51.98 in finals, just 0.01 seconds behind Murphy.
The duo heads into these Trials with a lot of momentum, having both medaled in the event at last summer’s World Champs. Training partners at Cal, the duo has put up solid times in the event already this year. Armstrong has the edge there, having already swum 52.59, while Murphy has been as fast as 52.90 this year.
It’s a 100, so we’re working with fairly thin margins, however, Murphy and Armstrong have at least a little bit of a cushion between themselves and the rest of the field as we head into this meet. That puts them in great position to repeat as the American duo in the 100 back at Worlds once again.
RETURNING ‘A’ FINALISTS
Justin Ress came in third in the 100 back last year at the International Team Trials, swimming a 52.73. That same time of 52.73 has Ress seeded fourth in the event this year. The 25-year-old has been 53.63 already this year, which is a very strong in-season time, given that it’s within a second of his lifetime best. He’s also been 24.49 already in the 50 back this year, which comes in just half a second off his PB of 23.92.
Shaine Casas is another returning ‘A’ finalist, having finished fourth in the event with a 53.01 at last year’s Trials. Though he missed out on qualifying for Worlds in the event, Casas would go on to clock his career best of 52.51 later in the summer at a Speedo Sectional meet. Casas has been as fast as 53.65 in the event so far this season, putting him right toward the top of the field in terms of season bests.
Casas and Ress have their work cut out for them in the 100 back, as it will almost certainly require lifetime bests from them in order to finish in the top two at this meet.
This year’s field features two more returning ‘A’ finalists from last year’s International Team Trials. Virginia’s Jack Aikins came in sixth in the event last year, swimming a 53.95 in finals after posting a 53.86 in prelims. Aikins enters the meet this year as the eighth seed with a 53.75. His seed time is also his lifetime best in the event, a performance that Aikins put up at a Sectional last July. So far this year, Aikins has been 54.37 in the event.
Daniel Diehl is the final returning ‘A’ finalist from last year. At just 16 years old, Diehl came in eighth in the event last year at the International Team Trials. Since then, Diehl has improved significantly, clocking his current career best of 53.07 at the US Open this past December. Diehl clocked a 53.70 at a Sectional meet in March of this year, which stands as his top time of this calendar year. Diehl still has his work cut out for him in terms of taking down either Murphy or Armstrong to earn a spot on the Worlds roster, though it feels like he’s primed to dip under 53 seconds this week.
We have many college swimmers who will be looking to earn roster spots in the 100 back this week in Indy. Leading that pack is Florida’s Adam Chaney, who is seeded seventh in the event. Chaney is a great sprinter, boasting a career best of 53.68 in the 100 back, which he swam at last summer’s US Nationals. He’s only been 56.62 in the event so far in 2023, however, Chaney was awesome during this past NCAA season, so I don’t see any reason to be too worried about his prospects heading into this meet.
Jack Dolan coming off a remarkable NCAA season with Arizona State, wherein he clocked lifetime bests in the SCY 50 free, 100 free, 50 back, and 100 back. Dolan improved quite a bit in the yards 100 back this season, then turned around and just threw down a new career best of 54.04 in the LCM 100 back a few weeks ago. Given that, Dolan has a ton of momentum heading into the meet, and after we watched the way ASU kept building momentum through their final duel meets, then the Pac-12 Champs, then NCAAs earlier this year, it feels like Dolan is on track to post another lifetime best in the event this week.
Michigan’s Wyatt Davis is right behind Dolan on the psych sheet, coming in as the tenth seed. Though he didn’t have the greatest NCAA Champs meet this year, Davis did have a very good season with the Wolverines, posting new yards lifetime bests in the 50 back, 100 back, and 200 back. It feels like Davis has always been a touch better of a long course swimmer than short course, and he has a personal best of 54.14 in the 100 back, so he could very easily earn his way into the ‘A’ final here this week.
Destin Lasc0 continues to be one of the hardest swimmers to predict at these Trials. Lasco is a historically great yards swimmer coming off an exceptional NCAA season, though it’s just never seemed to fully click all the way with him in LCM racing. The 100 back could pose one of his best opportunities at earning a roster spot, however. He’s been as fast as 54.08 in his career, which he swam at the Olympic Trials two years ago. Lasco already clocked a 54.77 in the LCM 100 back this year, and he’s typically a very good taper swimmer, so it feels like we could see him finally dip under 54 seconds this week.
There are a handful of young swimmers who are steadily making their way onto the national scene in the 100 back. 18-year-old Will Modglin enters this meet as the 12th seed, coming in with his personal best of 54.41. Modglin clocked that time at Junior Nationals last summer, and he’s already been 54.76 in the event in 2023.
Jack Wilkening recently finished his freshman season at Michigan. Though Wilkening didn’t make Michigan’s scoring roster for the Big Ten Championships earlier this year, he had a huge meet at the Indy Spring Cup last month, throwing down a new career best of 54.86 in the 100 back, which was enough for him to earn the 19th seed at these Trials. The question with Wilkening is whether his Indy Spring Cup performances will end up being the high mark of his LCM season, or if he has more in the tank for these Trials.
Keaton Jones, an 18-year-old out of Swim Neptune, is primarily a 200 backstroker, however, he comes into this meet as the 20th seed in the 100 back. Jones posted his seed time and lifetime best of 54.90 at the Pro Swim Series in Mission Viejo last month. He’s on a similar timetable to Wilkening in that regard, so the question is whether he can ride the momentum of the PB a month ago into this meet.
Another such young swimmer is 18-year-old Rex Maurer, a Rose Bowl Aquatics product who comes into the meet as the 31st seed in the event. Maurer is a very versatile swimmer, who we’ll likely see making waves in a number of events throughout this week. Should Maurer choose to go through with racing the 100 back this week, it could be an interesting race for him. Maurer clocked a new personal best of 46.04 in the yards 100 back this past December, which is a very speedy time for a high schooler. He also put up his lifetime best of 55.49 in the LCM 100 back last month at the CA Speedo Grand Challenge, so he, like a number of the other swimmers in this section, has some momentum in the event heading into this meet.
Scotty Buff, an 18-year-old out of Greater Toledo Aquatic Club, is entered with a yards time, making him the 45th seed. However, Buff is an exceptional yards swimmer, boasting a personal best of 45.72 in the SCY 100 back. He’s historically a better yards swimmer than long course swimmer, however, his LCM personal best is 56.75, and it’s hard to imagine that Buff is really 11 seconds slower in the LCM 100 back than the SCY 100 back.
Maximus Williamson, just 16 years old, is one of the brightest young rising stars in among American junior boys right now. Williamson holds a lifetime best of 55.83 in the LCM 100 back, which he swam at last summer’s Junior Pan Pacs at just 15 years old. He already neared that time in 2023, holding a season-best of 56.32.
|RANK||SWIMMER||SEASON BEST||LIFETIME BEST|
Dark Horse: Owen McDonald (Arizona State) – Would anyone be that surprised if an Arizona State swimmer had a breakout? Owen McDonald had a terrific freshman season with the Sun Devils this year, getting down to 44.85 in the yards 100 back, which was well over two seconds under his PB from when he arrived at ASU. McDonald has a lifetime best of 55.03 in the LCM 100 back. He swam that time at last year’s International Team Trials. McDonald has yet to race the event this year, though given his improvement in the yards event, it seems almost certain McDonald will put up a best time this week.