5 Storylines To Watch At The 2022 Westmont Pro Swim Series


March 2, 2022, will mark the beginning of the first Pro Swim Series meet of the year, which will take place in Westmont, Illinois. The 4-day meet will play host to a star-studded line-up, including more than half of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic team.

While entries are relatively low in numbers for a Pro Swim, the elite field of entrants will undoubtedly provide 4 nights of exciting matchups and down-to-the-wire races. Here are 5 storylines to look out for as swimmers get ready to race in Westmont:

#1 – Lydia and Lilly Meet Again

The Pro Swim Series will be the first time we see 2016 100 breaststroke Olympic champion Lilly King and 2020 100 breaststroke Olympic champion Lydia Jacoby in a heat together since the Tokyo Games. Jacoby was one of the USA’s standouts this past summer, delivering a gold medal-winning performance in the event, denying King a repeat win.

Jacoby posted a lifetime best of 1:04.95 to take gold, while King settled for third place in a 1:05.54 behind Jacoby and South Africa’s Tatjana Schoenmaker (1:05.22). King was the heavy favorite in the lead-up to the Games as reigning champ and world record holder (1:04.13).

Jacoby and King have each raced a couple of times since Tokyo. Jacoby swam at a few World Cup stops in the fall and at the 2021 World Short Course Swimming Championships (although she had to withdraw from the 100 breast due to a COVID exposure). King on the other hand had another dominant season in the ISL, but this will be the duo’s big return to the long course pool.

#2 – Kelsi Dahlia Follows Up On World Record Momentum

Among the many upsets at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Trials was when Kelsi Dahlia missed out on the team in the women’s 100 butterfly; an event for which she was considered the favorite for several years. Two beneficiaries of the year-long Olympic delay were high school stars Torri Huske and Claire Curzan who surpassed Dahlia in the final and nabbed a spot on the team.

Dahlia didn’t qualify for the team this summer, but continued training into the fall and wound up walking away as a world record holder in 2021. Swimming for the Cali Condors, Dahlia capped off her International Swimming Season with a 54.59 short course 100 butterfly to take out Sarah Sjostrom‘s 54.61 from back in 2014.

That world record-breaking swim made her one of two American world record-holders, along with Coleman Stewart, to not get a spot on the 2021 World Short Course Swimming Championships as invites went out first to Tokyo Olympians. In the wake of a successful fall, Dahlia will return to the long course scene in Westmont with a few months to go until World Championships Trials.

Among her competitors will be Olympian Claire Curzan who holds the top seed of 56.20 to Dahlia’s 56.56, Katie McLaughlin (57.39), Beata Nelson (58.02), and Natalie Hinds (58.40).

#3 – Texas-Trained Casas Takes On Murphy

Like Dahlia, Shaine Casas fell short of qualifying for the US Olympic squad last summer and finished 3rd overall in the men’s 100 backstroke. Casas posted a 52.76 in the event at Trials, touching just after Hunter Armstrong‘s 52.48 and Ryan Murphy‘s 52.33.

Unlike Dahlia, however, Shaine Casas got an opportunity to race at the Short Course World Championships in 2021 when Ryan Murphy declined his spot on the team. Casas pulled through in a big way for the USA at Short Course World, raking in a total of 6 medals at the meet. Casas won gold in the 100 back, silver in the 200 back, along with 4 relay medals.

In the wake of his short course success, Casas made the move from his collegiate training base at Texas A&M to the pro group at the University of Texas. This meet will be Casas’ first meet since he made that move and will give an early indication of how his training is going thus far.

Casas will have a good competitor at this meet in multi-Olympic medalist and world record holder Ryan Murphy who hasn’t raced a lot since he won bronze in the 100 backstroke in Tokyo. Murphy and Casas are entered with a 52.19 and 52.76, respectively, and will offer a slight preview of what we can expect to see later this year at Trials.

#4 Can Ledecky Keep Getting Faster?

Apart from NCAA athletes, Katie Ledecky is one of the Olympians who has raced the most this year, having recently swum at the 2022 Southern Zone South Sectional Championships. Ledecky won 400 freestyle silver and 800/1500 freestyle gold at the Tokyo Games and placed 5th in the 200 freestyle.

At Sectionals in January, Ledecky swam all 4 of those events and managed to get under her times from Tokyo in both the 200 and 800 freestyles, while swimming just over her Olympic times in the 400 and 1500. As a reminder, here are Ledecky’s PB, Tokyo 2020 time, and what she swam at Sectionals this year:

PB Tokyo 2020 2022 Sectionals
200 freestyle 1:53.73 (2016) 1:55.21 1:54.66
400 freestyle 3:56.46 (2016) 3:57.36 4:00.95
800 freestyle 8:04.79 (2016) 8:12.57 8:11.83
1500 freestyle 15:20.40 (2018) 15:37.34 15:40.63

Ledecky hasn’t hit a new PB in her 4 main long course events since setting the 1500 freestyle world record back in 2018 at the Indianapolis Pro Swim. Following her third Olympic appearance in Tokyo, Ledecky left her long-time training base at Stanford to join the Florida pro group, which includes Olympic medalist Bobby Finke, Kieran Smith, Caeleb Dressel, and Natalie Hinds.

Her performance last month at Sectionals showed that her work with coach Anthony Nesty is paying off in the short term, having already surpassed two of her times from the Olympics. Even if she doesn’t get near a PB or world record at this meet, continued improvements in-season from Ledecky could bode well for a big summer for the seasoned vet.

#5 – 2016 Olympians Remain In The Conversation

We mentioned that 2016 Olympian Kelsi Dahlia is going to be racing this week, but she’s not the only one who raced for the USA in Rio, didn’t qualify for Tokyo, but is gunning for a comeback this year. There are also a number of swimmers entered who have stayed relatively low-key since missing out on a trip to Tokyo.

2016 bronze medalist in the 400 free Leah Smith will be present in Westmont, set to race the 200 free, 400 free, 800 free, 200 IM, and 400 IM. As will former 100 backstroke world record holder Kathleen Baker who indicated a potential shift in focus to IM in recent years, but has opted to only race the 100 back at this meet.

Melanie Margalis won Olympic gold in the 4×200 freestyle relay and collected another World Championships gold in the event in 2017 and silver in 2019. She neared qualification in the IMs at Tokyo Trials but was left off the team. Margalis is the top seed in the women’s 200 IM this meet with a 2:09.02 and will also swim the 200 free (seeded 7th with a 1:58.75).

Lastly, 100 breaststroke bronze medalist in Rio Cody Miller is going to be contesting the event alongside 2020 Olympians Michael Andrew and Nic Fink. Miller is entered with a time of 59.65, while Andrew and Fink hold times of 58.14 and 58.50, respectively.

In addition to those 5 storylines, there will be lots of action to take in at the meet as some of the USA’s top talent takes to the pool. Among those competing will be Caeleb Dressel, Zach Apple, Ryan Held, Zane Grothe, Abbey Weitzeil, Erika Brown, Olivia Smoliga, Annie Lazor, Jake Mitchell, Hali Flickinger, Paige Madden, Zach Harting, Gabby DeLoof, Bowe Becker, Will Licon, and many more.

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1 year ago

doesn’t jake mitchell have NCAAs in a few weeks?

1 year ago

Also interesting to see there are more entries (men or women) in 200m breaststroke than in 200m butterfly and in 200m backstroke.

1 year ago

I know it won’t happen… but still fantasizing all 9 1500m swimmers in the same heat… There are only 2 entries for the women’s and Ledecky seeds in 5th in this combined event. LOL

1 year ago

How come so few swimmers are entered? It truly is a “Pro Series’ stop!

Reply to  Ghost
1 year ago

Because the NCAA championship meets are coming up in a couple meets, so no college swimmers who qualified for those would be able to attend.

Reply to  Swammer11
1 year ago

No kidding but the World trials are in April so……..

1650 Onetrick
Reply to  Swammer11
1 year ago

You’re right. But for some reason Jake Mitchell and Emma Wyant are entered anyway, so at least we get to see a couple of college faces (though what’s gonna happen to their NCAA tapers I don’t know).