2023 U.S. NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIPS
- June 27 – July 1, 2023
- Indianapolis, IN
- Indiana University Natatorium
- LCM (50m)
- Meet Central
- SwimSwam Preview Index
MEN’S 50 Backstroke — BY THE NUMBERS:
- World Record – Hunter Armstrong (USA), 23.71 (2022)
- American Record – Hunter Armstrong, 23.71 (2022)
- U.S. Open Record — Hunter Armstrong (USA), 23.71 (2022)
- 2022 U.S. International Team Trials Champion – Hunter Armstrong, 23.71
- World Aquatics ‘A’ Cut – 25.16
Note: Selection to Non-Olympic events (50s of stroke) is the fifth and last priority for team selection. Only the top finisher in each of these events will be added to the team (if there is space). The second spot at Worlds will be given to a swimmer already on the team who qualified in the corresponding 100 event, provided they have an A-cut in the 50.
Hunter Armstrong returns to the U.S. National Championships as the world record holder and reigning
gold silver medalist. Justin Ress returns to this meet as the defending world champion. A week before this meet in 2022, we had Ress finishing first and Armstrong squeaking into the final in 8th place.
When the dust settled after the 2022 Trials, both Armstrong and Ress were under the American Record, with the former also breaking Kliment Kolesnikov’s world record. Ress, fortunately, made it onto the team in the 4×100 free relay and was able to swim this event in Budapest. The two flipped spots at Worlds, with Ress winning in a time (24.12) slower than what he swam at trials and in a very controversial finish.
A little less than a year and a new rule later, we find ourselves looking at these two as the clear favorites again. Armstrong enters as the prohibitive favorite. He holds the world record and has the fastest time in the event this season, 24.30 from the Westmont stop of the Pro Swim Series. A time that has him in 3rd at the top of the world rankings, but might as well be 1st as the top two spots (24.12 and 24.28) are held by ineligible Russian swimmers.
The only other American in the top 25 is the aforementioned Ress. His season best is 24.49 from the Knoxville stop which slots him into 7th in the world. Also breaking the 25-second barrier is SwimAtlanta/UVA swimmer Jack Aikins. He put up a 24.97 earlier this month, just off his personal best of 24.81 which he swam at last year’s Trials.
The other ‘A’ finalists from last year include Shaine Casas (3rd, 24.00), Ryan Murphy (4th, 24.57), Adam Chaney (6th, 24.82), Aikins (7th, 25.04), and the now-retired Daniel Carr (8th, 25.10). Also in that final was Michael Andrew, who was at the end of a tough triple. He nabbed 2nd in the 100 fly (50.88), topped the podium in the 50 breast (26.52), then swam to a 5th-place finish in the 50 back (24.80).
Casas’s top time this season is 25.20, which while more than a second slower than his personal best is a good sign; entering last year’s meet his season best was just 25.89. Andrew’s season best is also 25.20 from his swim at the Acropolis Open in May. While he has competed at a lot of meets this season, he only swam the 50 back once. It wouldn’t be a surprise for Casas to opt out of this event given the 100 fly falls on the same day, but his 24.00 swim last year might make him want to take another crack at it given he could realistically win the world title. Chaney has not had a great long course season, swimming the 50 only once (26.48) but he may just be training thru the spring after a SCY season in which he was a part of three NCAA winning relays.
Some teenagers who may break into this top group are Daniel Diehl and Will Modglin. Diehl finished 8th in the 100 last year and his season best in the 50 is 25.28, from the Knoxville Pro Swim Series meet, finishing behind only Ress and Armstrong. A little less than .2 faster than Diehl is Modglin’s 25.11, which is actually from his relay split from the Speedo Sectionals Meet.
College stars Brendan Burns, Destin Lasco, and Jack Dolan could also be in the mix but have limited results this year in the 50. Burns’s only time this season is 26.84 from May and Lascos’ season best (25.83) is from January, which is right in the middle of college training. Of these three, only Dolan entered the event last year ultimately placing 19th (26.28). This year his season best is 25.60 and he currently has the 6th fastest 100 back among Americans.
While he placed 14th in the 100 back at NCAAs, Notre Dame’s Tommy Janton swam 25.25 (listed as exhibition in Meet Mobile) in May. However, Janton has been named to the 2023 World University Games team and it will overlap with the World Championships.
No backstroke preview would be complete without mentioning Ryan Murphy. While he has no official times in the 50 (long course) this season, he did sweep the backstrokes at Short Course Worlds (his 50 SCM time was 22.64). His best 50 lcm to the feet (25.48) is from his runner-up finish to Armstrong in the 100 back at the Westmont Pro Swim Series. These results or lack thereof might lead us to conclude, like Andrew that he might not swim the 50, thereby leaving his best and only chance of swimming this event in Fukuoka in winning the 100.
SwimSwam’s Top 8:
|Rank||Swimmer||Season Best||Lifetime Best|
Dark Horse: Ryan Held – Held has a season and personal best of 25.25 that he swam at the Westmont stop of the Pro Swim Series finishing behind only Armstrong and Ress. His best time in this event is 24.59 from the 2018 Summer National Championships and while his 25.25 puts him in the top 8 of Americans this season, the fact that he did not enter this event at last year’s meet is a little suspicious. In fact, he has only swum it at five meets since 2018 which makes us wonder if he will enter it.