2019 PRO SWIM SERIES – BLOOMINGTON
One of two high-profile meets going on this weekend in the United States, here are five things to watch for at the Bloomington stop of the 2019 Pro Swim Series.
#1 NATHAN ADRIAN BACK TO RACING
We talked about this last week when psych sheets came out, but it’s a big deal (and a sigh of relief) to see Nathan Adrian back to racing. It’s awful for anyone to face cancer, but Adrian has committed to being public about his situation to draw attention to men’s health issues. After his January surgery, he went back to light working out a week later, and then eventually back to practicing. With his PET scans coming back clean in April, he’s back to his normal routine.
It’s unclear if Adrian will race this summer, as he’s slated to race at Pan Ams as well as at Worlds, the latter as a relay-only swimmer. That isn’t the priority right now, though. It feels very good to see him back on psych sheets, and his health scare puts into perspective 1) how important it is to check for testicular cancer (more info here) and 2) how much of an icon and role model he has been in the sport.
Adrian is entered in the 50 and 100 free, where he’s seeded second and first, respectively. The most recent racing for Adrian was at the 2018 U.S. Winter Nationals, where he was 21.94 in the 50 and 48.59 in the 100.
#2 WOMEN’S BACKSTROKES OVERFLOWING WITH TALENT
Olivia Smoliga has been on fire in the sprint backstroke this season, and while she will be racing at the Atlanta Classic this weekend instead, the backstroke talent here in Bloomington is quite astounding nonetheless.
The big names in long course are Taylor Ruck and Regan Smith. Ruck is coming off of a successful debut NCAA season, and she finished a close second to defending 100 back Pan Pac champion Kylie Masse in both backstrokes at the 2019 Canadian Trials. Smith held both the 100 and 200 backstroke American records in yards this spring, and while her 100 record was broken by Beata Nelson at 2019 NCAAs, she still owns the mark in the 200. Following a long line of outrageously fast teenage American backstrokers on the women’s side is Smith, and her battles against Ruck here should be very fun to watch.
Nelson, meanwhile, had the meet of her life at NCAAs. She almost went 48 seconds in the 100 back, a race that, until 2017, nobody had broken 50 seconds in since Natalie Coughlin did so in 2002. She won the 200 back, too, and defeated Ella Eastin in the 200 IM. The rising Wisconsin senior has continued to build her speed over the last two years, but she’s really still yet to figure out meters. She’s seeded at 1:00.92 in the 100 and 2:09.92 in the 200, but big drops may be just on the horizon.
2018 SC Worlds Champion Lisa Bratton, Kentucky stars Bridgette Alexander and Asia Seidt, NC State All-American Elise Haan, young talents Isabelle Stadden, Annabel Crush, and Abby Kappeller, and rising Stanford sophomore Lucie Nordmann add their names into the hat. This is quite the field.
#3 LILLY KING‘S PRO DEBUT
Lilly King hasn’t raced since NCAAs, where she unleashed an AR 55.73 in the 100 breast, won the 200 breast, and became the first woman and second swimmer to four-peat in both breaststroke races at NCAAs.
She has yet to announce a suit deal, but with Tokyo a year and change away, she can fully focus on her training and racing. King’s favorite Russian pen pal, Yulia Efimova, leads the world rankings in all three breaststroke events this season: she’s been 30.26 in the 50, 1:05.99 in the 100, and 2:22.52 in the 200, all from the Budapest stop of the inaugural FINA Champions Series.
King and Efimova had some virtual sparring going on last season, chasing each other’s season bests, albeit at different meets. Knowing King, she probably has those benchmarks in the back of her mind going into this weekend.
#4 LEDECKY V. RUCK BATTLE IN 200 FREE
Katie Ledecky doesn’t have a ton of close competition in the distance races without Leah Smith, a PSS regular, at this meet, but she’ll have a great race with Taylor Ruck, among others, in the 200 free.
Ruck dethroned Ledecky last summer at Pan Pacs, and we don’t get many chances to see the two go head-to-head in the regular season, which should make for some fun racing.
Throw in Siobhan Haughey, Mallory Comerford, and Simone Manuel, and all five of these women have raced at least one of the other four at NCAAs, with Comerford, Ruck, and Haughey being the most recent to tangle. Olympic record-holder Allison Schmitt and Gabby Deloof make for an even tougher field.
#5 MICHAEL ANDREW KEEPING IT SPRINT-Y
Although Michael Andrew has proven that he can, in fact, hold it together for a 200 IM, he won’t be racing anything over 100 meters this weekend in Bloomington. Andrew swam at the first two stops of the FINA Champions Series abroad, and now $60,000 richer, he’ll compete here in Bloomington in all four 50s as well as the 100 back, 100 breast, and 100 fly.
It’s quite feasible that Andrew could win all of the 50’s, and it’s not unreasonable that he could win in the 100’s, too. Despite his newfound triumphs in the 200 IM, he confirmed with SwimSwam that he’s sticking with the 50’s and the 100 breast at Worlds this summer, so it makes sense that the 200 IM will be tucked away for now.