Five Storylines, All The Links You Need For 2017 U.S. Nationals

2017 U.S. NATIONALS/WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS TRIALS

The 2017 U.S. Nationals & World Championship Trials have arrived, with action beginning Tuesday and running through Saturday. You can find all of the links you need pre-meet here, including the updated psych sheets, general meet info, and the full schedule for the meet. Once the meet is underway, results can be found here. Prelims will begin every morning at 9 AM EST, and finals will be at 6 PM.

You can also check out the SwimSwam Pick’em contest to submit your picks for a chance to win prizes, and if you need some advice on picks you can check out our event-by-event previews with full breakdowns and top-8 predictions.

As we gear up for the meet, here’s a look at five key storylines to keep an eye on this week in Indianapolis.

1. The First U.S. Selection Meet Without Phelps or Lochte This Century

For the first time since the turn of the century, a U.S. international selection meet will be without both Michael Phelps and Ryan Lochte, who have a combined 40 Olympic medals over the last four Games. Phelps made the Olympic team in 2000 at the tender age of 15, and Lochte joined him on the big stage in 2004. Since then, they’ve dominated both in the U.S. and worldwide, and have been present at every major international competition since, except for Phelps’ absence at the 2013 and 2015 World Championships.

With Phelps retired and Lochte serving the end of his suspension, it’s time for the next generation to (continue to) take over. It was evident at last year’s Olympic Trials that the next wave had arrived when Lochte, the defending champion in the 400 IM, missed the team. He then sat out of the 200 back, the event in which he won his first individual Olympic gold medal, while watching 2012 champ Tyler Clary miss the team in that race as well. Phelps won both of his signature butterfly events in Omaha, but there’s no question there is more than enough young talent to take over the mantle there.

The one event they’ve had the reigns on since 2004 is the 200 IM, when they went 1-2 in Athens. Since then, Phelps has won three Olympic titles and two World titles, while Lochte took four World titles of his own, leaving them undefeated on the sport’s biggest stage (Kosuke Hagino won the 2014 Pan Pacs, but that’s it). With some tough competition worldwide, whoever earns the right to represent the U.S. in the 200 IM will have a tall task of keeping the streak of 7 straight World titles, all Phelps and Lochte, alive. And there’s no question things at Trials will feel a little bit different without either of them there.

2. Katie Ledecky

Arguably the greatest freestyler of all-time, Katie Ledecky is a storyline all on her own. Ledecky’s dominance since winning Olympic gold in London has been nothing short of amazing, and fans will be very interested to see how she fares in Indy.

Ledecky likely won’t fully taper for the meet like the rest of her competitors, with a spot on the team all but assured in the 200/400/800/1500 free, given how far ahead she is of the competition. Due to this it’s a little unrealistic to expect a world record, but we’ll be in for some incredible swims either way. And after her surprising in-season world record last January, she proved she doesn’t need rest to stun the crowd with an amazing performance.

3. How Will The Women Respond to European Challenge?

Over the last few months we’ve seen some scintillating swims around the world, mostly by women, and mostly in the sprints. Out of the five individual ‘sprint’ events on the Olympic schedule, the 50 free and the four 100s, we’ve seen times posted this season faster than what won gold in Rio in all but the 100 fly, where Sarah Sjostrom isn’t far off her own mark.

Sjostrom has also blazed to times in the 50 (23.83) and 100 free (52.08), much faster than what won Olympic gold (24.07, 52.70). Canadian Kylie Masse scorched her way to a 58.21 in the 100 back in April, tossing aside Katinka Hosszu‘s gold medal mark of 58.45. And then there’s the 100 breast, where controversial Russian Yuliya Efimova went faster recently (1:04.82) than Lilly King went for gold in Rio (1:04.93).

The question becomes, how will the women respond? The first one to look at is King, given her heated rivalry with Efimova. Will she throw down another sub-1:05 in response, or will she wait until the head-to-head showdown in Budapest? And in the other events, we’ll have to see if the top seeds Simone ManuelKathleen Baker, and Kelsi Worrell, or someone else, will throw down times competitive with the world’s best or opt to focus on qualifying and wait for their biggest swims later in July.

4. The Road Back – Grevers & Jones Return

After narrowly missing the Olympic team last summer, many of the American veterans called it a career, such as Tyler ClaryNatalie Coughlin and Caitlin Leverenz. However, a few have stuck around, including gold medalists Matt Grevers and Cullen Jones.

Both came close in Omaha, with Grevers placing 3rd in the men’s 100 back and Jones in the 50 free, just four years after they won gold and silver respectively in those events at the Olympics. Grevers has had a great season so far, sitting as the fastest American this year and 4th in the world in the 100 back. He looks to be in line to make the team, with the addition of the 50 back giving him another great opportunity along with the 100.

Jones is a bit more of a question mark, with less impressive in-season times under his belt, though he’s never been known to be particularly fast before taper. He faces a stacked field in the men’s free sprints, and will be in tough to improve upon his Olympic Trials finish. It will be interesting to see how these two fare as the week goes on.

5. The Teenagers

After a few teenagers broke through last summer, such as Lilly King and Simone Manuel, there are plenty more this year who could bust out and make the team, or at least be a major factor in the A-finals.

There are some of the more well known names, such as NCAA champ Mallory Comerford, National champ Maxime Rooney, and age group sensation Michael Andrew who are still in their teens and have a shot at the team, but there are several others who may remain unknown to the casual fan but could change that this week.

The men’s distance freestyle races are full of them, including Robert FinkeTrue Sweetser and Andrew Abruzzo who all have great shots at the team in the 1500. The women’s 200 back is loaded to the brim with teens, including six of the top eight seeds. Among those in contention are Amy BilquistEva Merrell and Regan Smith. Others include 400 IMers Sean GrieshopAllie Szekely and Brooke Forde, sprinters Justin Ress and Anya Goeders and mid-distance Stanford Cardinal Katie Drabot. Though she seems to have been around for a while, Cal’s Katie McLaughlin, who won a pair of relay medals at the 2015 World Championships, is also in her teens and will be looking for a spot after missing the Olympic squad.

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8 Comments on "Five Storylines, All The Links You Need For 2017 U.S. Nationals"

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Cayley Guimarães

I don’t think Coughlin oficially retired… did she?

Cayley – she never said “I’m retired from competitive swimming,” but she’s said just about everything except that – including that she’s not going to be training full time. While we can’t see officially who’s in the drug testing pool and who isn’t, which is the only way for a swimmer to officially retire, she didn’t undergo a USADA doping control test in the 4th quarter of 2016 or the 1st quarter of 2017. That’s a fairly strong indicator that she’s retired in the sense of the word that she’s not gunning for World Championship or Olympic teams, which is the definition of retired that I think most of us use.

Please stop spreading bad words about Ryan, you try swimming 4:12.02 in the 400 Im with a groin injury! He was still the 2nd fastest American in the 200 IM last year with 2 1:56.2s with a groin injury. Please don’t act like he is retired or dead. He has needed a break for years and now he is back. Unless Kalisz pops a 1:55 low, Lochte will be the favorite for next year’s Nationals.

Katie Ledecky:

100 53.70
800 8:10.5
200 1:54:4
400 3:59.2
1500 15:36.8

Honestly 53 high/1.55 high/4.03/8.20/16.04 would be well enough for her to make the team.
But she doesn’t know how to not swim fast. 🙂

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About James Sutherland

James Sutherland

James is currently a university swimmer for the Laurentian Voyageurs, where he is studying economics. Along with swimming, he also loves hockey. He's in his 11th season as a competitive swimmer.

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