8 Things We Noticed on Day 1 at 2014 Pan Pacs: Irie Wins First Gold

  22 Braden Keith | August 21st, 2014 | Asia, Australia, International, National, News

Day 1 of the 2014 Pan Pac Championships are in the books, and the first thing that jumped out: nobody seems to want to swim the 200 fly. (1) Except the Japanese, that is.

See the full day 1 finals recap here.
See the American qualification status for Worlds here.

The Japanese men had four of the top 6 finishers in prelims of the 200 fly. They’ve always been good in that event with the legendary Takeshi Matsuda, but as of late, they’ve become arguably one of the strongest 200 butterfly programs in the world. In finals, Daiya Seto got the win in 1:54.92, beating out just one American.

That’s because the United States’ second-fastest prelims swimmer Tom Shields was DQ’ed in the heats, and then Chase Kalisz who got bumped up into the A-Final scratched as well.

There are perils of these Pan Pacs with their two-per-country rules, and while in general we like the format (it forces interest in prelims), in some cases, it seems a bit of a travesty. Here, for example, Kenta Hirai with a 1:56.4 in prelims was left in the B Final, whereas China’s Haobo Wei with a 2:05.10 prelims swim made the A-final. That’s almost a 9-second gap over 200 meters. That’s a tough pill to swallow.

Meanwhile, in the women’s 200 fly, (2) everyone got a second swim. Pan Pacs rules only allow three per country to final, with the exception that if there’s fewer than 16 entries, everyone else can go into the B-final. Maya DiRado very nearly capitalized on that, winning the B-Final in 2:07.42 – just four-tenths behind Katie McLaughlin, who ultimately got the second spot.

In winning gold in that women’s 200 fly, Cammile Adams swam a 2:06.61. (3) That’s basically within a tenth or two, one way or the other, of the time she swam at the Olympic Trials in 2012, at Worlds last year, and at several other meets, where she’s hit a bit of a ceiling.

However, given the overall tone of the first day (not a lot of great swims in finals), that’s actually a more exciting result than the number looks like. If she now settles into a full year of post-grad training (she’s currently at SwimMAC Carolina), maybe she can put the Americans back on the podium in Kazan. The U.S. hasn’t won a 200 fly medal at Worlds since 2007, and hasn’t won a 200 fly medal at the Olympics since Misty Hyman in 2000.

(4) We’re getting our first taste of whether the Australians were fully tapered for the Commonwealth Games and trying to carry it forward, or whether they’d held back for Pan Pacs. Thus far, it seems a bit of a mixed bag, leaning toward being fully tapered for the Commonwealth Games. Emily Seebohm swam well in the 100 back, but others did not fair as well: Madeline Groves was a 2:06 at Australian Nationals, a 2:08 at the Commonwealth Games, but just a 2:10 here. Mack Horton was a 14:48 at the Commonwealth Games in the men’s 1500, but just a 14:52 on Thursday. The Australian men didn’t even have an entry for the 200 fly.

While there’s a number of other factors contributing to the results, anybody looking for breakout swims from Australia at this meet probably isn’t going to find them. That will make the men’s sprints really, really interesting, because it’s not as though the Americans are swimming all that well either.

(5) Japan’s Ryosuke Irie picked up the first Pan Pacs gold medal of his storied career in the men’s 100 back in 53.02. This is the kind of meet that was made for him. He’s a smaller swimmer, so will perform better in the cold by traditional logic, and he’s super-consistent. Even at 24, he’s done so much in his career, but until this point that hasn’t included a Pan Pacs gold. After this win, he might be tiptoeing his way into favorite status in the 200 back later in the meet, although Americans Ryan Lochte and Tyler Clary are both swimming very well too.

(6) The first “B-Final” upset for a spot on the U.S. Worlds team came in the women’s 100 back, where Kathleen Baker swam a 1:00.35 to knock off Liz Pelton, who was a 1:01.37 in the A-Final; and Rachel Bootsma, who was a 1:00.71 at Nationals. Baker is one of three 18 & unders to book their tickets to Worlds out of 8 total so far for the Americans. Not that we didn’t already know how young the American women’s national team is.

(7) Brooklynn Snodgrass was also faster than her A-final compatriots in the women’s 100 back. She swam a 1:00.57 in the B-Final, which would have been 4th-best in the A-Final with a better prelims swim.

(8) And finally, Australian Melanie Schlanger made her point with a 4th-place finish in the women’s 200 free, going 1:57.16 in prelims and 1:57.39 in finals. She was left off of the Australian 800 free relay at the Commonwealth Games, even though she was absolutely on-fire at that meet. While Australia would go on to win gold, Schlanger didn’t get to partake in either prelims or finals. She’s now put the Aussie coaches in a spot – there’s no prelims at Pan Pacs, and so their choice looks like it’s going to come down to whether they should bump star swimmer Alicia Coutts from the finals 800 free relay in favor of Schlanger.

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22 Comments on "8 Things We Noticed on Day 1 at 2014 Pan Pacs: Irie Wins First Gold"

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They are slow. It doesn’t have to be “slow” – they in fact are slow. No parentheses needed. By their own standards. They would say so too. Maybe people should get along better (that is debatable) but we don’t need to mix words about performances. NBAC and CAL college aged swimmers are not going as fast as they have in the past – by a considerable margin. It may be (it is) 100% by design for 2016 prep….but let’s not lie – it is way of their best.

They are swimming outdoors in the winter, after training for the meet in the summer north of the equator. They are not going to complain about it, but it must be a factor. I did notice a big improvement from one swimmer, Becca Mann, who swims open water. She must be used to such conditions.

It’s still a downer. So much of this sport is mental. Maybe that’s the reason why people making negatively-skewed comments here are doing just that — rather than swimming or coaching at the international level.

You’ve hit on something there! Missy Franklin is positive thinking personified, Katie Ledecky has proven to herself that she can swim those times every day in practice so she has no doubt, and Michael Phelps is able to eliminate thoughts about factors that might slow him down and focus on the only thing that matters to him when he’s racing – somehow he has to make his body do what is necessary to get his hand on the wall first!

But really on Tv it looks great .i usually like comments but these are depressing .

Ps the cure guys is to go out & swim 5000 yourselves ..My pool is on repair now so I’m livin thru them & they are all doing fine . I am on the couch & they are cold & wet . This is the life!

What I have noticed after the first day of Pan Pacs? I noticed how bummed out I get reading all the comments about how “slow” the swims are, how disappointed people are in lackluster performances, and griping about website performance.

Can’t we all just get along?

“He’s a smaller swimmer, so will perform better in the cold by traditional logic”

Thinking like an engineer here…if he’s smaller his surface area:volume ratio would be higher and so he’d get colder faster. I suppose the traditional logic states that bigger people need their muscles to be more thoroughly warmed up?

it is human physiology. assuming their hearts are operating at the same rate, grevers has more overall surface area in his muscles to warm up than irie does.


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The most common question asked about Braden Keith is "when does he sleep?" That's because Braden has, in two years in the game, become one of the most prolific writers in swimming at a level that has earned him the nickname "the machine" in some circles. He first got his feet …

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