5 Storylines to Follow at the 2019 U.S. Nationals


Worlds is over. Take a breath. Did you take a breath? OK, good. Now it’s time for the 2019 U.S. Nationals.

We’ve picked out some of the top storylines for you to follow for another week of pool action. This isn’t an exhaustive list of swimmers, clubs, or teams to watch for. Feel free to let us know in the comments what you’re most excited for at this meet.


Technically, Ryan Lochte‘s road to what would be his fifth-straight Olympics could’ve already started awhile ago. Instead, he will start racing this week at Nationals. In May of 2018, Lochte posted a curious photo on social media that led to an investigation and subsequent 14-month ban for performing an intravenous infusion without a Therapy-Use Exemption (TUE). His ban lifted last week, and after USA Swimming offered Lochte an exemption to include some of his spring 2018 times to qualify for Nationals, he will race in Palo Alto.

Lochte will compete in the 100 back, 100 fly, 200 free, 200 IM, and 400 IM.


  • 100 back – 56.59
  • 100 fly – 54.19
  • 200 free – 1:50.79
  • 200 IM – 2:04.09
  • 400 IM – 4:25.99

The times above are what Lochte will need to go (at some point before qualifying ends in 2020) to punch his ticket to Omaha. They’re pedestrian for someone like Lochte, who has the second-most Olympic medals of any swimmer, ever, behind Michael Phelps, and is also the 200 IM World Record-holder. Then again, it’s unclear what kind of shape he’s in, and we haven’t seen him swim official times in over a year. What do you predict Lochte will go this week in his five events?


American Regan Smith was incredible at Worlds, becoming the fastest backstroker in history in the 100 and 200 back and helping Team USA to another WR in the 4×100 medley relay. Meanwhile, Hungarian Kristof Milak set fire to Michael Phelps’s legendary 200 fly WR.

Before Worlds, though, Luca Urlando made headlines with his 1:53.84 200 fly at the Clovis PSS meet, breaking Phelps’s 17-18 NAG record. Many of us might still be in WR fever after Worlds, but Urlando’s performance earlier in the summer was astounding. It’s more compelling when you realize Urlando wasn’t peaking for a PSS stop, and that he likely has more to go at Nationals and/or World Juniors. Speaking of World Juniors, here’s a reminder on how Team USA will pick their roster for that meet from Nationals results.

Smith, meanwhile, is entered in the backstrokes as well as the 100/200 fly and the 200 free. For more of a dive into Smith’s other events (and her 2020 potential), click here.


Many swimmers rely on professional sponsorships and/or funding from being on the U.S. National team for a given season. With selection for the 2019-20 team happening in early September, there will be a mad dash for making it into the top 6 rankings to secure funding for the next season, as this is one of the last big meets with good competition for those to make their mark.

Even those who made an international roster this summer are not safe; this is an opportunity for those who stayed home this summer to peak here and steal away a spot (though some may already have spots in the top six that they are trying to hold onto). Meanwhile, plenty of Worlds roster members are on this roster, and they may be looking to fight through another jet lag transition and improve upon their rankings.

Full top six rankings for every event, as well as full details on National Team benefits, are available here.


With Caeleb Dressel notching new American records at Worlds, and with there being splits in the 47-low/46-high range from several men this summer (Hi, Zach Apple), it’s clear that the American men will bring a lethal group of sprinters for the 4×100 free relay in the next couple of years at least.

Dressel is on the psych sheets here, as well as WUGs roster members Dean Farris (one of the 47.0 splits), Tate Jackson, Robert Howard, and Justin Ress. Jackson raced the 100 free at WUGs, and Ress the 50 and 100 back, but Ress didn’t do any individual freestyle racing and neither did Farris and Howard.

Meanwhile, 2016 Olympic gold medalist Ryan Held is entered to swim in the 100 free, along with Jack Conger and Daniel Krueger who are also entered with 48’s.


Not every swimmer at this meet will be American, and there are a few contingents of foreign-born swimmers (mostly from Australia, Great Britain, and France) on these psych sheets.

For Australia, there’s young freestylers Elijah Winnington and Louis Townsend, along with butterfliers Matthew Temple and Bowen Gough and breaststroker Daniel Cave. Rising Northwestern University junior Calypso Sheridan will also represent the Aussies in the 100 back, 100 breast, and 200 IM, and Jenna Strauch is the top seed in the 200 breast.

GBR will have Anna Hopkin, who raced at Worlds and registered big time PRs in the 50 (24.34) and 100 free (53.21), along with 400 IMer Hannah Miley, who’s coming back after ankle surgery this past winter, and breaststroker Chloe Tutton. On the men’s side, there’s IM’er Mark Szaranek, Worlds roster member Scott McLay, and freestyler Stephen Milne, among others.

Finally, France will have Worlds member Jordan Pothain along with sprinter Anna Santamans in addition to several others.

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1 year ago

Lochte drip drops a 1:56XX 200 IM and a 1:46.5 200 free this weeks. Farris runs a 47.7 100 free and a 1:45.9 200 Free

Reply to  Ragnar
1 year ago

1:56, bold

Awsi Dooger
Reply to  DEAN IS GOD
1 year ago

1:56 for Lochte sounds like the 1:53 predictions here for Ledecky in the 200 freestyle

He’s going to look older, fatter and less explosive

Reply to  Karl Ortegon
1 year ago

1:49 would definitely be a good indicator

Ol' Longhorn
Reply to  Ragnar
1 year ago

I’m hoping Lochte breaks 2:00 and 1:50. Dean didn’t look like he had a 1:45.9 in him coming off WUGs. It would be nice if you were right, though.

Reply to  Ol' Longhorn
1 year ago

I’m banking on him not having tapered for that. All I really want is our relays to go back to being automatic gold, and having the depth to cover the extra credit relays as well. If we’re gonna have five relays, we better have the depth for five Golds too

phelps swims 200 breast rio
1 year ago

The five I’ll be following are Lochte, Lochte, Lochte, Lochte, and Lochte.

Lane 8
1 year ago

1. Lochte makes multiple A-finals, but doesn’t notch great finishes
2. Urlando wins 2Fly with a 1:53 mid/low
3. Dressel solid 47.1 in 100 Free, Farris 47-mid/high.
4. Dressel finishes in top 5 in the 200 Free with another PB or at least close to PB, hits PBs in 100 Br, 200 IM
5. Regan Smith 2:04 200 Bk, 58.0/57 high 100 Bk, 2:07 low 200 Fl
I’m interested in what The Dean can go in the 100 Bk.

Reply to  Lane 8
1 year ago

I doubt Dressel will swim at this meet.

Reply to  Lane 8
1 year ago

good time projections but Regan Smith will be at least 2:05 mid in 200 fly and will be ranked #1 in the world after this week.

Reply to  Socaladvracer
1 year ago

Better warn the SwimSwam database….

Reply to  Lane 8
1 year ago

Doubt Reagan will do backstroke

Reply to  Lane 8
1 year ago

I’d think if Dressel swims it would be more likely off events – 1BR, 2FR, 2Fly, 2IM. I don’t know if tying Phelps’ medal record at an Olympics is important to him, but he’d likely need to pick up at least one more event if it is. 2FR and 2IM make the most sense. I can’t see him beating Peaty or Milak. 2FR would be a heavy lift too. Maybe he just shows enough for the relay.

Reply to  96Swim
1 year ago

He actually doesn’t need pick up other events to get 7 golds. 50 and 100 free, 100 fly, 4×100 free, 4×100 medley, 4×100 mixed medley and 4×200 (this could be just to qualifying the relay for the final or even to swim the final)

Reply to  Padredenadador
1 year ago

Phelps had 8 golds.

Ol’ Longhorn
Reply to  96Swim
1 year ago

I like my heroes with h 8 golds.

Idiot corrector
Reply to  Padredenadador
1 year ago

Theres no mixed medleys in the olypics

Reply to  Idiot corrector
1 year ago

There actually is – the mixed medley was added for the 2020 Games.

Reply to  Jared Anderson
1 year ago

There is no mixed free relay, so from his WC program, Dressel won’t have the 50 fly and the 4×100 mixed free relay at the olympics. If 8 medals is important to him, he’d need to likely pick up the 4×200 relay and one more individual event.

Reply to  96Swim
1 year ago

No one is going to beat Peaty. 2Fly still possible

Reply to  AFlyer
1 year ago

Not gold. We have never seen a fully tapered Dressel swim a 2free, not even in yards. It’s extremely unlikely but I’d say it’s his best outside shot at gold

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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