5 Storylines to Follow at the 2019 Atlanta Classic

2019 ATLANTA CLASSIC

In the midst of FINA Champions stops, Pro Swim Series stops, and more, there is still plenty to be excited about at the upcoming Atlanta Classic. Below, we’ve identified five storylines to follow in Atlanta. This isn’t by any means an exhaustive list, but a select few key races and swimmers to watch for.

#1 CAELEB IS SWIMMING WHAT!?

Caeleb Dressel kept things fun in college — when he raced a non-primary-event 200 IM at the 2018 SEC Championships, for example, he blew out the NCAA and American records. Truly a legendary American sprinter, Dressel has one event scheduled this weekend that is a bit different from his usual slate: the 200 fly.

Dressel’s butterfly has become right on par with his freestyle, cemented by his sub-50 long course showing in 2017 and then his inconceivable 42.8 in yards in 2018 at NCAAs. The only 200 that Dressel has shown much interest in in long course has been the freestyle, and any swimmer knows that a long course 200 (of any stroke) is more like a marathon than a sprint. Dressel has found a way to save a strong final 50 in his 200 free in the big pool, so perhaps his pacing might work out in a 200 fly.

Who knows if he’ll actually end up swimming the 200 fly in Atlanta. USA Swimming’s database has his best at 2:18.33 from a Bolles-hosted time trial meet in July of 2012, when he was 15 years old. In yards, he has been 1:47.63 from a January 2018 dual meet while at UF. He has swum it in yards five times, ever, and in long course meters, three times, ever. Something in the 1:59-2:02 range seems doable in-season for him.

#2 A SUMMER OF DEAN COMMENCES

Memes and comment section stans aside, Dean Farris really does carry a lot of intrigue. He’s slated to race this summer at the 2019 World University Games, but looking ahead and speculating about Tokyo, Farris seems to have the chops to be, at the least, on both TEAM USA free relays. At most? Individual entries in the 100 and 200 free, and dare we say the 100 back?

Right now, though, there is no Tokyo selection to worry about. As swim fans, it’s our God-given job to make predictions and have set expectations for every swimmer. Everyone must progress every season! But, for real, Farris has continued to progress and probably will see some drops in long course this summer. He was fantastic at NCAAs this past season, building off his Ivy Leagues performance that left people thinking he didn’t have much more taper left in him for NCAAs. But, he did. And, having yet to have a huge break-through in meters, the signs are pointing to something big this summer, which would set him up very well going into the Olympic year. It would also set the comment section ablaze.

Farris is entered in the 50/100/200 free, 100/200 back, and 100 fly. His backstroke saw a huge leap this past NCAA season, and he has a very exciting foe in Caeleb Dressel waiting in the 100 free this weekend.

#3 OLIVIA SMOLIGA IN HER RICHMOND FOLLOW-UP

Olivia Smoliga is hitting her stride in her pro career. That much was apparent at the last Pro Swim Series stop in Richmond, where she dropped season bests as well as, oh wow, a lifetime best? Absolutely. And in her best event, no less. Smoliga was 58.73 in the 100 back, which currently holds at #3 in the world, largely against the world’s top backstrokers from their respective national trial meets.

Smoliga was also sub-25 and sub-55 in the sprint free races. She’s seeded first in the 50/100 free and 100/200 back this weekend, and based on the form she’s shown this season, we could be treated to more bests. Smoliga has had international success, but hasn’t really claimed the spot as the United States’ *top* backstroker — maybe this summer will belong to her.

#4 ALWAYS SOMEONE ON THE COME-UP

The American swimming pipeline is never dry. Always a new swimmer rising in the ranks, there are, naturally, a few young swimmers at this meet who are a time drop or two away from making an international team of some sort.

Two 14-year-olds are poised for at least one A final appearance on the women’s side. NCAP’s Erin Gemmell, a freestyler, is one of them. The younger sister of 2012 Olympian Andrew Gemmell and daughter of renowned coach Bruce Gemmell, she is entered in seven events. Right now, she looks to have the most potential in sprint/mid-distance freestyle. She’s seeded seventh in the 200 free, her best event, 11th in the 100 free, and 15th in the 50 free.

The other 14-year-old seeded highly is Rye Ulett of Dynamo. Ulett, whose older sister Tristen is a former NAG-record holder, is emerging as a backstroker. She is seeded 10th in the 100 back and an astounding fifth in the 200 back. Right behind Ulett in the 200 back is Natalie Mannion, a 15-year-old from Commonwealth Current.

#5 FLORIDA’S FRESHMEN

The University of Florida had a seriously explosive freshman class on the men’s side last season. With NCAA experience under their belt, and now rising sophomores, they will descend upon Atlanta.

Kieran Smith is entered in the 100/200/400 free, 100 back, and 200/400 IM. He’s the fourth seed in the 400 IM, and he comes into long course season after scoring in NCAA A-finals in both IM races. Smith also dropped a 1:31.64 split on Florida’s 800 free relay at NCAAs and swam fly on their 200 medley relay. He’s incredibly versatile with a smooth, powerful presence in the pool that makes him perfect for long course.

2019 SEC mile champion Robert Finke had a huge swim in that race, where he went the 5th-best time in history (14:23.01) and erased more than 14 seconds from his old best. He’s seeded first in the mile this weekend, and is also the #2 seed in the 400 IM, where he has been 4:15 in long course.

Trey Freeman is seeded top 8 in the 100 free, 200 free, 400 free, and mile this weekend, while Will Davis is seeded 5th in the 100 fly and 9th in the 50 free.

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Samuel Huntington
2 years ago

1. Dean’s 50 free
2. Dean’s 100 free
3. Dean’s 200 free
4. Dean’s 100 back
5. Dean’s 200 back
Bonus. Dean’s 100 fly

Taa
Reply to  Samuel Huntington
2 years ago

Im most interested in his 100 Back figuring he can go about a second faster later in the season when rested. So lets see a 53 high this weekend?

Samuel Huntington
Reply to  Taa
2 years ago

For me it’s the 100 free – he has a great mix of speed and endurance perfect for that race. The USA needs another person who can go 47

sscommenter
Reply to  Samuel Huntington
2 years ago

heading into the future (next 6 years) -we need the potential for someone to (relay start) a 46 too. Dressel’s workload will be heavy and USA will need depth to ensure fresh legs in final swims

Yabo
Reply to  sscommenter
2 years ago

i feel like we’d see dressel do a flat start 46 then an anchor

ERVINFORTHEWIN
Reply to  Samuel Huntington
2 years ago

agreed !! He is also very tall , has huge Power ( a La Chalmers ) + very powerful turns & Underwaters .

Swammer
Reply to  Samuel Huntington
2 years ago

I can’t choose one I just want to see Dean swim.

Tm71
Reply to  Samuel Huntington
2 years ago

I guess the record book will get some new entries lol

spectatorn
2 years ago

LOL – Erin, Gemmell is “The younger brother of 2012 Olympian Andrew Gemmell and daughter of renowned coach Bruce Gemmell”!!!???

Tupperware
Reply to  spectatorn
2 years ago

It is 2019 after all

Yozhik
2 years ago

I’m very interested to check the state of progress of Erin Gemmell. She goes step to step with NAG achievements behind Claire Tuggle but in contrast to her leaning more to shorter distances. She is about a half of a year younger than Tuggle that makes her progress even more impressive. The only problem I have that when i look at her I don’t get impression of somebody tall, strong and powerful ready to smash records. She is definitely going to change physically. How it will affect her swimming performance, let’s see.

Troy
Reply to  Yozhik
2 years ago

I dont know if you ever saw Andrew Gemmell, but he was always a real small guy. max like 5 9-10 and real skinny, he made it work, they got good genes and a good coach/dad. Technique and knowing how to swim race can overcome alot. Amanda Beard was 5’0 at 14 and went 2:25 in 200 breast, not all about how you look

Yozhik
Reply to  Troy
2 years ago

I know that to be 6′ at 15 like Franklin or Ledecky isn’t a prerequisite for successful swimming career. But still… That’s why I’m so interested in her 200 if she gonna make it under 2min this season or even join Taggle at 1:58

Superfan
Reply to  Troy
2 years ago

Both parents were D1 good swimmers so some is good genes

OldSwimmer
Reply to  Yozhik
2 years ago

And just how tall and how muscular was Janet Evans? How about Mary T when she was at her best? For that matter, even Natalie Coughlin or Maya DiRado? This idea that you have to be some kind of giant is not just bs, it’s damaging to swimming.

Yozhik
Reply to  OldSwimmer
2 years ago

Please, don’t be so dramatic. Sport of swimming will be ok in spite of yours or mine bs 😀

Yozhik
Reply to  Yozhik
2 years ago

Look at the basketball for instance. How many kids are playing with the ball in parks and health clubs despite they know that will never make professional or even college team because of their physical parameters.

Ol' Longhorn
Reply to  Yozhik
2 years ago

Muggsy Bogues.

(G)olden Bear
Reply to  Ol' Longhorn
2 years ago

Spud Webb

Yozhik
Reply to  OldSwimmer
2 years ago

I think that Janet Evans will draw no more attention nowadays than let say Li Bingjie. And it is way away from being challenger to Ledecky. Six feet tall Wang Jianjiahe – maybe.
The times of Dawn Fraser with the competition being in embryo state long gone.

Ol' Longhorn
Reply to  Yozhik
2 years ago

Wut.

Yozhik
Reply to  Ol' Longhorn
2 years ago

That is very informative 😀

anonymoose
Reply to  Yozhik
2 years ago

well, exactly as informative as your comment he replied to lol

MIke
Reply to  OldSwimmer
2 years ago

Its not damaging to swimming. Swimming is a great sport and if you enjoy it you should pursue it. It’s about being as good as you can be. And yes smaller athletes can do very well but everyone has to agree that good genetics (size and strength) have a very big impact. Everything else being equal the big athlete beats the small athlete.

Yozhik
Reply to  MIke
2 years ago

Finally the opinion of the person who is sharing knowledge and experience but not trying to enter the discussion with one goal only – to insult the opponent.
I would add to your comment that sport is mostly about ones ability to utilized as much as possible naturally given potentials. One athlete can be super gifted but is able to do only half of what she potentially can. And she can be beaten by someone who isn’t that biologically gifted but has better technique and demonstrates the training attitude that allows her to perform close to her limits.

Yozhik
Reply to  MIke
2 years ago

Swimming is an exercise that is affected by multiple factors. A swimmer can have smaller muscles but they can be better performing.
There can be same muscle type but not equally controlled. Check the difference of what you can do with your left and right arms. I can easily throw the tennis ball over 50m pool with my right hand and I will be lucky to make 10 yards with the left one. Same body, same muscles – different results.
The body of different swimmers can have different ability to support energy need and the size of the body may have nothing to do with that.
And as we know whenever there are rules then there will… Read more »

swimb23
Reply to  OldSwimmer
2 years ago

dirado and coughlin were more muscular but gotta give it to you on Evans. especially with the new wave/movement of athleticism-rules-all in swimming (with which i’m on board) it would still be mind-bending in 2019 to see someone like Janet go 4:03. that performance was just timeless

VA Steve
Reply to  Yozhik
2 years ago

She is not short by any means–just not Franklin or Ledecky in height. Very versatile up into the mids with a beautiful free.

Jimbo
Reply to  Yozhik
2 years ago

Cough Cseh cough

Coach Ryan
2 years ago

No up and coming young guys in the meet?

Ol' Longhorn
2 years ago

Dressel will have a lot of trouble in a 200 fly. No one breathes every other stroke any more in that event, and that’s his best rhythm. His back and breast were exposed in LCM on his recent 200 IM, and I suspect his 200 fly LCM will show the same. For the life of me, I don’t understand how swimming 400 IMs and 200 flys are going to get him to beat Proud/Fratus/Manaudou/MA etc. in a 50 free or Chalmers in a 100 free. I get that he likes a challenge and that Troy’s gonna be Troy, but he’s only a hands-down favorite in the 100 fly.

Taa
Reply to  Ol' Longhorn
2 years ago

I don’t know I think he will go a 1:59fly. He doesn’t need to go into sprint mode until after trials he can use those few weeks to clean everything up and dial it in. My guess is the 2free doesn’t work out for him even on the relay. We have enough 1:46 or better guys

Ol' Longhorn
Reply to  Taa
2 years ago

I don’t think he’ll break 2:00. 1:38 scy to 2:01 LCM 200 IM (albeit unrested) shows that more swimming is not in his favor. And a 200 fly is 14 seconds longer than a 200 free. Ben Proud, Fratus, MA and others are dialing in sprint mode all year. It’s like saying Peaty should train 200 breasts, 400 IMs and then suddenly produce eye-popping sprint times by dialing in sprint mode and resting for a few weeks. I’m sure Dressel will be competitive in the sprints, it’s just that he seemed in 2017-18 like a generational talent in the sprint frees and 100 fly, which are undoubtedly his best events, and it is disappointing that he’s not going all in… Read more »

Eagleswim
Reply to  Ol' Longhorn
2 years ago

You think his back and breast will get exposed in the 2 fly? How interesting… and you don’t have to understand how it helps, he seems to be doing just fine without your input

anonymoose
Reply to  Eagleswim
2 years ago

read again

Caleb
Reply to  Ol' Longhorn
2 years ago

I have no idea what he’ll do in a 200 fly – 1:57 wouldn’t surprise me and neither would 2:05. My best guess is he doesn’t swim it. Some of these other comments are goofy. He had a bad 200 IM and now his back and breast are “exposed?” He’s been midseason/heavy training 55 in backstroke and 1:01 (?) in breast. And don’t get me started on the 200 free… 1:43 is more likely than 1:46 if he swims it at a serious meet.

Ol' Longhorn
Reply to  Caleb
2 years ago

He just did a 27.99 in the 50 breast. That’s 2 SECONDS slower than Peaty. Same meet, Dressel went 21.6 in the 50 free and 23.2 in the 50 fly. That’s “exposed” with his start and pullout. Sure he drops a half second with rest, but that’s still a slow time relative to what one would think based on his SCY breast. Don’t even get me started on his back leg of the IM. His fastest 100 back I can find is 58.71 a year ago, and his fastest 100 breast is 1:02.26. His back is terrible without underwaters.

Aquajosh
Reply to  Ol' Longhorn
2 years ago

He went an unrested 55.8 at the 2017 Atlanta Classic.

Togger
Reply to  Ol' Longhorn
2 years ago

I reckon it’s the ultimate Troy test set. Caeleb’s got to go out in 50 point, then just the embrace the hurt. As he puts together a 36 last 50, Troy just nods slowly and says “He is ready”.

ERVINFORTHEWIN
Reply to  Togger
2 years ago

Troy is putting him in the 200 fly to bring more endurance for his 200 free ……thats it .

Ol' Longhorn
Reply to  ERVINFORTHEWIN
2 years ago

One 200 fly at a meet isn’t going to do anything for his 200 free.

ERVINFORTHEWIN
Reply to  Ol' Longhorn
2 years ago

u may not know what they do behind the scenes (” do test yourself now with a 200 fly “) to get him in the 1.45 range ….

Ol' Longhorn
Reply to  Togger
2 years ago

Unfortunately, Troy thought he was ready last summer.

ERVINFORTHEWIN
Reply to  Ol' Longhorn
2 years ago

No , He never thought he was ready – since he got the motorbike accident to spoil his Peak shape .

Ol' Longhorn
Reply to  Togger
2 years ago

It just reminds me of the lame-brained idea of having a 400 IMer/200 IM-stroke guy (Lochte) doing strong man workouts before London. Lochte was overtrained and had nothing after his 400 IM, and died like a mutha on the free leg of that event (the woman beat his split). It’s the opposite now — you have a natural born sprinter, Dressel, who should be doing strength and power, playing around with 200 flys and 400 IMs.

ERVINFORTHEWIN
Reply to  Ol' Longhorn
2 years ago

Remember , he does what he wants …and if he fails at training himself that way , than , lets just Accept it .

Ol' Longhorn
Reply to  ERVINFORTHEWIN
2 years ago

I’m all for that. But let’s also apply that principle to MA and quit (not you) complaining about him wanting to swim 50’s.

Honest Observer
Reply to  Ol' Longhorn
2 years ago

Lochte’s 4:05.3 in the 400 IM at that meet — his lifetime best, even with a couple easy strokes at the end — actually shows that he WAS in shape at that meet. From what I understand, the problem was that he stayed up until something like 2:30AM that night celebrating with his family, an extremely unwise move. Also, his 200 IM-200 back double on the same day did him no favors. The problem wasn’t his training, it was his scheduling (including scheduling that party in).

Ol' Longhorn
Reply to  Honest Observer
2 years ago

He was dying. You don’t pass on a shot at Phelps’ record when you’re that close. So you think Ledecky should start flipping tractor tires?

Thomas
Reply to  Ol' Longhorn
2 years ago

I find he’s changing it up for a meet that isn’t as important to him but is still a good competition meet for that event. If you continuously swim the same few events your not going to be looked up to as much as if you can do it all and I know Dressel can do it all because he has done the work, been through the thick of it all and shown us he is more than capable of showing up and throwing down. He’s going to do great at his sprint events when it’s time but now is to show he isn’t just a one trick pony and can do it all.

daddy
2 years ago

I thought Dean was representing Ireland???

X Glide
2 years ago

Fun fact: when Caeleb went the 1:47.63 at a dual meet (in a brief) he split it 53, 54

(almost) National teamer
2 years ago

Can Dean swim the backstroke and freestyle leg for the US in Tokyo? Might be our only shot at the WR

About Karl Ortegon

Karl Ortegon

Karl Ortegon studied sociology at Wesleyan University in Middletown, CT, graduating in May of 2018. He began swimming on a club team in first grade and swam four years for Wesleyan.

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