2017 Arena Pro Swim Series – Mesa
With lots of fast swimming happening all over the world as various nations hold their 2017 Worlds trials, it’s time for some speed on American soil. This week in Mesa, Arizona, the next stop of the Arena Pro Swim Series will draw some of the world’s best for lots of great racing and competition.
PRO SWIM SERIES LEADERBOARD
|Daiya Seto 32||Melanie Margalis 25|
|Josh Prenot 24||Hali Flickinger 19|
|Jacob Pebley 14||Ashley Twichell 16|
|Anton Ipsen 13||Mary-Sophie Harvey 14|
|Shinri Shioura/Xu Jiayu/Nathan Adrian/Li Zhuhao 10||Hilary Caldwell 10|
Japan’s Daiya Seto and USA’s Melanie Margalis are the leaders thus far in the series. While Seto won’t be swimming in Mesa, Margalis is entered in five events, and is the top seed in the 200 IM.
Below, check out five storylines to follow this week in Mesa.
#1: Ledecky and Manuel Back to LCM Focus
After a banner year for the Stanford women, team leaders Katie Ledecky and Simone Manuel set records in short course. But, with the 2017 World Championships fast-approaching, these stalwarts of the American team will turn to the big pool full-time.
Ledecky’s entered in her usual events– 100 through the 800 free, though the 100 free is a more recent addition to her typical lineup. She’s also set to swim the 200 IM and 400 IM, foreshadowing possible, serious ventures into the IMs. In the 200, her 2:14.36 has her seeded 8th, while her 4:37.93 seeds her 3rd in the 400 IM. That 400 IM is looking like more and more of a potential race in which she might challenge for an international podium, especially considering her SCY American record at Pac-12s in that event (which teammate Ella Eastin later broke at NCAAs).
Meanwhile, she’ll go head-to-head with Manuel in the 100 free and 200 free. The 100 is definitely Manuel’s game, as she can’t quite hang on in LCM in the 200 like she can in SCY. Manuel, who is coming off a stellar summer in Rio capped by a tie for gold in the 100, is also entered in the 50 free, 100 fly, 100 back, and 200 IM.
The latter three events for Manuel look to be just for fun, but in the 50 and 100, she will be racing with a fierce sprint group that will attend this meet. Some big names in women’s sprint free set to swim in Mesa include Madison Kennedy, Brazil’s Etiene Medeiros, Mallory Comerford, Amanda Weir, Olivia Smoliga, Katrina Konopka, and Lia Neal.
#2: Age is Just a Number– Veterans Are Aplenty
As American youth has surged, signifying the departure of some of the past Olympic heroes, there are still many names sticking around. Without young sprinters present such as Caeleb Dressel, Ryan Held, or Blake Pieroni, we’ll see some great racing from some of the veterans in contention with only each other.
35-year-old Anthony Ervin and 28-year-old Nathan Adrian, in particular, will be looking for titles in the 50 and 100 free. Adrian is the top seed in both races, with Ervin right in at #2 behind him. Also trying to make it back to a national roster appearance is 33-year-old Cullen Jones, who holds the #3 seed in the 50 free. Add names like 29-year-old Josh Schneider, 28-year-old Conor Dwyer, 27-year-old Brazilian Joao De Lucca, 28-year-old Finnish sprinter Ari-Pekka Liukkonen, and 32-year-old Matt Grevers, and you’ve got a whole lot of #OldManStrength in the sprint free on the men’s side.
For the women, 29-year-old Madison Kennedy and 31-year-old Amanda Weir are two of the American veterans who continue to drop times that keep them relevant on the American sprint scene. Butterflier Claire Donahue, who is 28, and Brazilian sprinter Daynara de Paula (27), are also some older women who are seeded very high on the Mesa psych sheets.
#3: Denmark’s Mie Nielsen to Challenge U.S. Backstroke Contingent
The U.S. women are on the verge of multiple break-outs to follow Kathleen Baker‘s big summer in Rio (and big NCAA season this spring). While neither she nor the group of 16 & unders who are itching for a spot at a senior international competition are going to race in Mesa, Olympian Olivia Smoliga, former world junior record holder Claire Adams, and University of Michigan alum Ali DeLoof are all set to compete in the 100 back. All three of these women have broken a minute in their careers, though Smoliga and DeLoof have looked the strongest of late in long course.
The American contingent will be pitted against Denmark’s Mie Nielsen, who we have rarely (if ever) seen race in the States. She’s one of Europe’s best in sprint backstroke, and finished 5th in the Rio final this past summer. In addition to Nielsen, Brazil’s Medeiros is another strong competitor who will come to American soil to race.
#4: U.S. Butterfly Regrouping After Phelps Departure
Michael Phelps has finally closed the book on his epic career, which leaves room as American men are scrambling to establish their prominence in his primo 100 and 200 fly events. Tom Shields looks to be the key successor in the 100 fly, though he’s not alone in the competitive sub-52 terrain. He’s the top seed in the 100 fly in Mesa (51.03), but he has two American men hot on his heels. Seth Stubblefield, who also swam at Cal like Shields, is the 2nd seed (51.24), followed closely by SwimMAC’s Tim Phillips (51.28).
Shields’ 1:55.75 has him seeded first in the 200 fly as well. Singaporean Zheng Wen Quah is seeded 2nd at 1:56.01. Quah had a huge 1:38.83 in the 200y fly to finish 2nd at NCAAs, and he’ll battle with Shields as this is his bread-and-butter event. Chase Kalisz is also right there at 1:56.48.
#5: Another Go for Grevers
Matt Grevers, who dealt with a tough third place finish in the 100 back at the 2016 Olympic Trials, denying him a spot on the American Olympic team, continues to train and race. He is the top seed in the 100 back (52.54), his marquee event, seeded a few tenths ahead of Jacob Pebley (52.95). Pebley, though more of a 200 backstroker, has shown lots of improvement in the 100 and should prove to be a worthy challenge for Grevers.
With David Plummer retired, though, Grevers certainly has the potential to team up with Ryan Murphy and have another go at an international medal. Grevers won’t be concerned with Budapest qualification quite just yet, though, and other than Pebley, only Arkady Vyatchanin (53.69) is seeded under 54.
#6 (BONUS): Will the Canadian Youngsters Show Up in Mesa?
Two big names in the ever-changing and fast-growing landscape of Canadian women’s swimming are present on the Mesa psych sheets. Mary-Sophie Harvey (17) and Taylor Ruck (16) are both seeded highly in multiple events. Harvey is entered in the 200 free, 200 IM, 200 fly, 400 IM, and 400 free, while Ruck is entered in the 100, 200, and 400 free, 100 back, and 200 IM.
Harvey qualified for the Canadian Worlds team last week at the Canadian Trials, but Ruck had a disappointing week, missing the team altogether. Canada’s young stars reportedly were stricken with an illness midway through the meet that hampered their performances, but Harvey, at least, has confirmed that she’s recovering and en route to Mesa.
Sickness is getting better. Now time to fly to Mesa. Excited to race there this weekend????♀️ https://t.co/MtAqloyiD7
— Mary-Sophie Harvey (@msophieharvey) April 11, 2017