2018 PRO SWIM SERIES – COLUMBUS
- Thursday, July 5 – Sunday, July 8, 2018
- McCorkle Aquatic Pavilion, Columbus, OH
- Thursday: Timed Finals 5 PM (US Eastern Time)
- Friday-Sunday: Prelims 10 AM / Finals 6:30 PM (US Eastern Time)
- Meet site
- Meet info
- Psych sheet
- Live Results
After the final stop of the 2018 TYR Pro Swim Series, and the second-to-last meet to earn points for the series’ overall prizes, Chase Kalisz and Leah Smith each took leads for their respective genders. Now they’ll have to hold onto those leads at U.S. Nationals, where the points are doubled in the race for the $10,000 cash prize plus a one-year lease on a BMW.
PSS Points (Points for Nationals)
- 1st – 5 points (10 points at Nationals)
- 2nd – 3 points (6 points at Nationals)
- 3rd – 1 point (2 points at Nationals)
While it’s unlikely that the PSS title will take precedent at Nationals for any of these athletes over making the Pan Pac team, the reality is that most of the contenders should be able to qualify for the team early – and because at Pan Pacs, athletes can then add any individual event, the chance to chase the series title opens up.
The exception to that is relays. With no prelims, there’s not as much wiggle room for coaches to massage swimmers onto relays who weren’t in the top 4 (or 1st in the 100 yard races). Most of the contenders, with the exceptions being Kelsi Dahlia and Katie Ledecky, have their best relay shot in the 200 free, which comes in the first finals event on day 2 of the meet, so that pressure is off once that event is completed.
Chase Kalisz held a 2 point lead coming into Columbus, and he picked up 20 more points with a thick event schedule to just 15 points for Grothe. That means Kalisz now has a 7-point lead heading toward Nationals.
Both swimmers have two events in which their favorites at Nationals, though Kalisz can probably make a bigger stake to that word as the defending World Champion in both the 200 IM and 400 IM (which he won by two-and-a-half seconds at last year’s Nationals). For Grothe, he’s become the presumed favorite in both the 800 and 1500 after a monster year of racing since last year’s Nationals, in spite of the fact that he won neither race at last year’s Nationals (he didn’t race the 1500 and was 2nd in the 800, but not by much). He’s also the defending champion in the 400, by a second-and-a-half.
Grothe swam 3 events at Nationals last year, with the 1500 possible as an add-on for him this year (downside being that the men’s 1500 comes on day 1 of the meet, although just as a timed final).
Kalisz also swam just 3 events at Nationals last year: the 200 IM, the 400 IM, and the 200 fly (the latter of which he placed 3rd in). A repeat of his 1st-1st-3rd finish would give him 22 points, meaning that Grothe would need two 1st place finishes and two 2nd place finishes at Nationals to beat Kalisz (or some proximity to that, like three 1st place finishes).
So, while Kalisz does have a lead coming into Nationals, and is capable of a top-3 finish in as many as 4 or 5 events, the double points mean that this race is still very-much in-play for Grothe, if he goes after the 1500.
Current Men’s Top 5
- Chase Kalisz – 100
- Zane Grothe – 93
- (TIE) Nathan Adrian/Ryan Murphy – 38
- Michael Andrew – 37
While the men’s race has two swimmers running away (swimming away?) from the field, the women’s race is wide open, with the specter of Katie Ledecky, who didn’t swim in Columbus, lurking in 5th.
Current Women’s Top 5
- Leah Smith – 47
- Melanie Margalis – 46
- Taylor Ruck (CANADA) – 45
- Kelsi (Worrell) Dahlia – 41
- Katie Ledecky – 36
There are no guarantees in swimming, just as there aren’t in any sport, but at the moment, it appears as though Katie Ledecky can count on wins in whichever among the 200-400-800-1500 she chooses to swim at Nationals. Remember, though, that she didn’t swim the 1500 at Worlds Trials last year, knowing that by the selection standards for that meet, she was already guaranteed a spot in the race at the World Championships.
So, if we operate on Ledecky swimming just 4 races at Nationals, which would be to focus on making top-4 spots and relays in the individual 100 free and individual 200 free (the 100 free final comes on the same day as the women’s 800 free timed final), and that the 200, 400, and (either 800 or 1500 frees) are safe wins for her, that gives her 30 points, plus maybe 2 more if she can scrap-out 3rd in the 100 free.
For Leah Smith and her current 11-point margin over Ledecky, that would mean she’d have to find herself 19 points at Nationals to tie Ledecky, and 20 points to win.
For Smith, based on her Nationals schedule last year, that could look something like:
- 200 free – 2nd place (6 points)
- 400 free – 2nd place (6 points)
- 800/1500 free – 1st and 2nd place, depending on Ledecky (16 points)
- 400 IM – 1st place (10 points)
That comes out to 38 points, which would be enough to fend-off Ledecky and take the title.
The math changes dramatically if Ledecky decides to swim 5 races though (100, 200, 400, 800, 1500). In that case, Smith likely needs to beat Ledecky twice in their four head-to-head events to beat her.
So, event selection, as much as performance, probably determines the women’s winner. The more interesting scenario is if Ledecky doesn’t swim the 800 free, avoiding the day 1 double, but picks up the 400 IM, where earlier this year she set records in yards, and on a day where Ledecky has no other events scheduled. That would make Smith the favorite in the 800 free, and if all of the races went to chalk, then that 400 IM would effectively be the ‘race for the title,’ – a $10,000 skins race.
The swimmer 1 point behind Smith, Melanie Margalis, is versatile and has a chance to play spoiler; but she only swam 3 races at Nationals last year. Those 3 races netted her a win and a 3rd-place finish, which would be good for 12 points if repeated. That doesn’t appear to be enough.
Kelsi Worrell will be the favorite in the 100 fly, and a contender in both the 50 and 100 frees, but that doesn’t provide an obvious path given Smith and Ledecky’s relative and mutual dominance in the distance races.
But of Course…
There can, and will, be surprises. There’s nobody mathematically close enough to interject into the Kalisz/Grothe battle, and Smith and Ledecky seem to have a lock on the top two spots for women. Spoilers, who aren’t contending for the title, could still come into play. A young swimmer like Andrew Abruzzo could pull an upset in the 800 free; Melanie Margalis or a suddenly-quiet Madisyn Cox or NCAA Champion Ella Eastin or the on-fire Hali Flickinger could upset the apple cart in the 400 IM and redo all of the math.
Or, Ledecky could decide to swim 5 races, and just steamroll her way to the title.
That’s the fun of it, though – while many swimming races seem foregone conclusions before they start, there are surprises and breakthroughs at every National meet, and that’s what keeps it fun.