2019 PRO SWIM SERIES – KNOXVILLE
It’s the first Pro Swim Series since last year! Haha. This is the first time Knoxville will play host to a PSS, with a ton of talent expected to compete this week and plenty of great races awaiting. Below, we’ve gone through the psych sheets and picked out five key storylines to pay attention to.
This is not an exhaustive list of storylines/points of intrigue, but five big things to focus on before the meet starts on Wednesday. Feel free to leave any additional things to watch for in the comments!
– Chase Kalisz Returns
The best male American IM’er since the Phelps/Lochte era, Chase Kalisz has been dominating every international major meet in recent memory. But, we haven’t seen Kalisz in awhile. He has no registered swims on the USA Swimming database for the 2018-19 season, and hasn’t had any significant racing since the 2018 Pan Pac Champs, where he won gold in the 200 and 400 IM.
No 400 IM this week for Kalisz, but he’s still entered in plenty: the 100 breast, 200 breast, 200 free, 100 fly, and the 200 IM.
– The Canadians Are Coming
No, not University of Tennessee junior Tess Cieplucha, a Toronto native. But, there will be a strong contingent from up north competing in Knoxville this week.
Among the headliners are HPC-Ontario stars Penny Oleksiak and Kayla Sanchez. Part of the Canadian youth wave, Oleksiak is seeded 2nd in the 50 fly, 100 fly, and 100 free, and she’s also entered in the 200 fly. She’ll tangle with Americans Simone Manuel and Kelsi Dahlia; Manuel and Dahlia in the 100 free, and Dahlia in the butterfly races. Sanchez, meanwhile, took down several WJRs and Canadian records in SCM at the end of 2018, and she’s looking stronger and stronger.
Breaststroker Kierra Smith is another high profile Canadian expected to race, along with freestyler/backstroker Kennedy Goss, butterflier Mack Darragh, and rising teenage breaststroker Gabe Mastromatteo.
– Fall Yards Stars Suit Up For LCM
We’ve heard a lot lately about Luca Urlando of DART and Erica Sullivan of Sandpipers of Nevada. Urlando seriously upped his game in 2018, winding up with three new NAG records in the 15-16 category, one of which was previously held by Michael Phelps. Sullivan, for her part, announced she’d be holding off on going to USC until after 2020. In the meantime, she threw down some seriously impressive times in distance free at the KMSC Pro-Am Elite Meet last month.
Now, we’ll get to see them both show what they’re made of with some long course racing.
– What’ll We See from Ledecky?
You never really know when Katie Ledecky is going to pop off. Maybe we’ll get a few decent swims from her (decent for Ledecky is actually world-class for pretty much any other swimmer, ever), or maybe we’ll get something phenomenal. Remember, Ledecky did drop an 8:06.68 at the 2016 Austin Pro Swim Series to break her own World Record — in January. That meet is where her 53.75 PR in the 100 free is from, too.
– Look at All Those Backstrokers
Most all of the contenders for the 2020 Tokyo roster for Team USA in the backstroke events, both men and women, are going to be racing.
For the women, WR holder Kathleen Baker, along with front-runners Olivia Smoliga and Regan Smith, will be racing. Fast-rising teenagers Isabelle Stadden and Phoebe Bacon will be in attendance, along with Canadian teens Madison Broad and Jade Hannah. If that isn’t enough, you’ve also got Ali Deloof, SC World Champ Lisa Bratton, Kentucky’s Bridgitte Alexander, and another teenager, Alex Walsh.
WR holder Ryan Murphy will be there on the men’s side, along with American great Matt Grevers, and a slew of Cal men. Besides Jacob Pebley will be Bryce Mefford, Daniel Carr, and Zheng Quah, all of whom (besides Pebley) are currently at Cal. Additionally, Michael Andrew and Russian Grigory Tarasevich should be in the mix in some of the back races.