Four Storylines (& Some Bonuses) to Follow at the Atlanta Classic

2024 ATLANTA CLASSIC

While much of the swimming world’s attention is focused on Toronto and the Canadian Olympic and Paralympic Trials, Atlanta will play host to several big names, both domestic and international. The American contingent looks to fine-tune itself for the Olympic Trials, and many international swimmers look to get one more race in before Paris. Let’s dive in and break down some of the many compelling storylines.

The name’s Dressel, Caeleb Dressel.

Last year, this meet marked Caeleb Dressel’s big return to swimming after having been out of competition for 11 months. He entered in six events but ultimately only swam in the finals of two: the 100 fly (52.41) and the 50 free (22.57). One year and one child later, Dressel returns, entered in six events; the 50/100/200 free, the 100s of breast and fly, and the 200 IM. Whereas last year, the meet was Dressel dipping a toe back into the water, this year, the meet serves as a big litmus test to see if Dressel can once again be the big name atop the podium, not just in Paris but in Indianapolis.

Dressel tops the field in the 100 fly with an entry time of 50.80, more than a full second clear of Youssef Ramadan’s 52.02. Dressel has been steadily improving in the 100 fly over the past 12 months. Last year, he was 52.41 here in Atlanta and dropped it to 51.66 at US Nationals, finishing 5th. This season, he was 51.31 at the US Open in December and has since swum a 51.27 in Westmont and a 50.84 in San Antonio, a time that ranks him #3 in the world and the only American under 51 this season.

2023-2024 LCM Men 100 Fly

JoshCAN
Liendo
05/19
50.06
2 Noe
PONTI
SUI50.1604/06
3Matthew William
Temple
AUS50.2512/03
4Caeleb
DRESSEL
USA50.8404/12
4Hubert
KOS
HUN50.8404/12
6Andrei
MINAKOV
RUS50.8604/16
7 Katsuhiro
MATSUMOTO
JPN50.9603/24
8Kristof
MILAK
HUN50.9904/12
9Shaine
CASAS
USA51.0312/01
10Jakub
Majerski
POL51.0604/25
View Top 32»

He is also ranked first in 50 free, albeit sharing that spot with Alberto Mestre. The pair, who train together in Gainsville, are tied with a 21.80 seed time. Much like in the 100 fly, Dressel has steadily been improving his sprinting. He placed 3rd last year at this meet with a time of 22.57 but has been consistently under 22 in finals at his last three meets. Whereas in the 100 fly Dressel is amongst the world’s elite, he ranks outside of the top 16 and 3rd amongst Americans behind Ryan Held and Michael Andrew. Mestre, who competes internationally for Venezuela, finished 27th at the 2024 Doha World Championships in a time of 22.26 but posted a personal best of 21.80 at the Dominican Republic International meet in April.

Dressel and Mestre will do battle in the 100 as well, where Dressel is the 3rd seed behind Mestre’s 46.80 and fellow Gator sprinter Macguire McDuff’s 48.08. It is almost certain that Mestre’s time is an error as that time is equal to Pan Zhanle’s World Record. Dressel is also entered in the 100 breast (#11 – 1:02.00), 200 free (#13 – 1:50.00)  and 200 IM (#11 – 2:03.00).

As the times all end in .00, one would assume these are made-up times. Seeing as he only contested the 50/100 free and 100 fly at the US Open and the two PSS meets he attended, it remains to be seen if he will actually swim them.

1500 is the loneliest number

Recent Presidential Medal of Freedom award winner Katie Ledecky is no stranger to breaking boundaries. The first swimmer to win the award, the seven-time Olympic gold medalist has trailblazed women’s distance freestyle—so much so that when captured in the TV camera’s lens, it appears that she is alone.

The reigning Olympic Gold medalist in the 800 and 1500 is entered in four events, the 200/400/1500 free and the 200 IM. At both the Southern Zone Senior Championships and at the San Antonio Pro Swim Series, Ledecky opted to swim the 800 free and not the 1500, scratching out of the 1500 late in San Antonio. It remains to be seen as to whether, Ledecky will swim the 1500 after not having raced it since January (where she swam both the 800 and 1500), but her lack of 800 entry may point towards her swimming it.

If she swims it, Ledecky will likely find herself again alone, as her entry time of 15:26.27 is over 30 seconds clear of the field. Ashley Twitchell is seeded 2nd in a time of 16:01.62, who herself is over 25 seconds clear of the third seed, Caroline Pennington. While the dominant force in the 400, the competition is a little tighter as Bella Sims, a Tokyo Olympian and winner of the 500 at NCAAs, is seeded behind Ledecky. While their entry times are over four seconds apart, this will be the first time Sims competes in the 400 free since moving her training base to Gainsville. The 200 will be an even tight affair as the pair are separated by less than half a second. (On the psych sheet, Ledecky is the 2nd seed, behind Evelyn Entrekin’s 1:49.87, which likely is a yards time that wasn’t designated as being such)

Ledecky’s 200 IM entry may be a little unexpected, but she is one of the fastest SCY 400 IM swimmers in history, so has the ability to swim other strokes. Ledecky enters as the #3 seed with a time of 2:12.74. Less than half a second ahead of her is Wisconsin’s Phoebe Bacon, who is entered in 2:12.27, and Isabel Ivey, who enters with a time of 2:12.59.

Bright Lights, Big Pool

Ledecky’s competition in the 200/400 free and 200 IM all found success in the ‘little pool.’ Sims, who last raced at NCAAs, claimed victory in the 200 and 500 free and placed 3rd in the 200 back. This weekend, Sims is eschewing the backstroke and is entered only in freestyle events, taking on the 50 free (#13 – 25.80), 200 free (#3 – 1:55.45), and 400 free (#2 – 4:03.25). Sims, who made finals in the latter two events at the 2023 Worlds, is preparing to try to make her second Olympic team. In 2021, Sims swam in the prelims of the 4×200 free relay, which earned silver.

Eschewing the backstroke may be the right decision as she would have to tangle with 2021 Olympian and recent NCAA champ Bacon. Bacon, who recently stated her intentions to return to Wisconsin for her 5th year of eligibility, recently raced at the San Antonio Pro Swim Series, where she finished 5th in the 100 back, 2nd in the 200 back, and 4th in the 200 IM, the latter of which was a best time (2:12.18).

Bacon will take on a similar schedule. In addition to being the top seed in the 200 IM, she is atop the field in the 200 back. Her entry time of 2:05.08 is more than four seconds clear of Josephine Fuller’s 2:09.16. In San Antonio, Bacon posted a season-best time of 2:07.24, so if she can near that time, she should be in contention in one of the most contested events in the Women’s program. In the 100 back, she is the second seed, but like with Dressel and Ledecky, the entry ahead of her is likely a yard time that wasn’t marked as such.

Looking to usurp Bacon in the 200 IM is Sims’s (and Ledecky’s) training partner, Isabel Ivey. Ivey, who transferred to Gainsville from Cal, finished her NCAA career with a silver medal in the 200 IM, a bronze in the 100 free, and a 7th-place finish in the 200 free. Like Sims, Ivey is contesting a small schedule of just three events. In addition to the aforementioned 200 IM, Ivey is the 7th seed in the 200 free (1:59.60) and is the 3rd seed in the 100 (54.69).

Sims, Bacon, and Ivey are just a few NCAA swimmers who are looking to make the transition to long course meters. Macguire McDuff, a fellow NCAA champ, is part of a large contingent of Gator swimmers in Atlanta. McDuff is the 7th seed in the 50 and will throw down with the likes of Dressel, Mestre, David Curtiss, and Dillion Downing. In the 100, he is 2nd seed (really 1st) and will look to hold off a tough field, including Dressel.

Another NCAA Gator Champ, Adam Chaney, is looking to turn his yards success into an Olympic berth. Chaney, who is entered in the 50/100/200 free, 100 back, and 100 fly, finished as high as 5th at the 2021 Olympic Trials (50 free – 22.08) is the 3rd seed in the 50 free but will need to surpass his personal best of 22.08 to have a chance of making the team.

Obviously, swimming SCY and LCM are very different, so how these swimmers manage both the physical and mental change will be key for their preparation for trials.

Foreigner – “Head Games”

With Atlanta being well centralized in the SEC and ACC conferences, many of the college teams and associated pro groups will be heading to the meet; as such, a number of international swimmers will be in attendance. With the majority (if not all) of their Olympic trials concluded it will be very interesting to see if these swimmers are back in a tough training block before the Olympics or are still hunting elusive Olympic Qualifying times.

2024 Worlds bronze medalist Austrian Martin Espernberger is the top seed in the 200 fly with an entry time of 1:55.01 but has a personal best of 1:54.69. Facing off with the Tennessee Volunteer will be Gator Mason Laur (1:55.67) and Jack Dahlgren (1:55.67). Espernberger is also entered in the 100 fly but will have stiff competition ahead of in the forms of Dressel and Youssef Ramadan. Ramadan, who swims for Virginia Tech and represents Egpyt on the world stage, won the 100 fly at the 2023 NCAA and finished 4th this past March. The Hokie hasn’t yet been able to turn his success in yards into long course meters recently, as he finished 27th in this event at the 2023 Worlds, hitting the wall in 52.31. Ramadan holds a PB of 51.67, which placed 14th in the prelims of the Tokyo Games, so if he can recapture that magic, he could push Dressel.

Recently named to the British Olympic Team, Jonny Marshall has jumped back over the pond to swim with his Gator teammates. Marshall, who finished runner-up in the 100 back at the Aquatics GB trials, is the top seed in the 100 back, just ahead of his teammate Channey.

Ramadan’s Fellow Egyptian and butterflier, Farida Osman, is also the second seed in the 100 fly. Entered with a time of 59.11, Osman recently finished 15th at the 2024 Worlds. Osman, a three-time Olympian, owns a personal best of 57.66 dating back to the 2022 Worlds. She will also dip her toe into the water in the 50 free, where she is the 3rd seed behind Erika Connolly and Catie DeLoof.

By virtue of her performances at the 2023 Worlds, Irish star Mona McSharry has already been nominated to the 2024 Olympic team. Coming off of a double silver medal-winning performance at NCAAs, McSharry finds herself atop the field in both the 100 and 200 breaststroke. In the shorter of the two, McSharry is well clear of the field; her entry time of 1:06.23 is more than two seconds ahead of Katie Christopherson’s 1:08.39. It’s a similar story in the 200, so McSharry may be focussing on technical aspects and pacing as opposed to going for time.

Bonuses 

  • With the ambiguity that surrounds Ahmed Hafnaoui, more attention will be drawn towards one of his biggest rivals, Bobby Finke. Finke, who dueled with the Tunisian Olympic champion in one of the best races (in my opinion) of the 2023 World Championships is entered in seven events: the 400/800/1500 free, the 100 back, the 200 breast, 200 IM and 400 IM.
  • The Brits threw down in the 200 free at their trials and if the US has a hope of competing with them for the 4×200 free relay title in Paris, someone is going to have to step up. Kieran Smith is the top seed in the 200 free, with an entry time of 1:44.74, but hasn’t been under 1:45.5 since 2022. Charlie Hawke is the 6th seed but recently put in a strong performance in the yards version finishing 4th at the NCAAs. If he can turn that success into meters, he could add his name to the 800 free relay, or even grab an individual slot, at the Australian Olympic Trials in June. He was 7th at last year’s Trials in 1:47.25.
  • Gretchen Walsh, Kate Douglass, and Abbey Weitzeil take up a lot of the air surrounding the conversation of American sprinting. Throw in Torri Huske‘s return to form, and Simone Manuel‘s reemergence, and a top-six berth in the 100 free will be hard to come by. Looking to add their names back into contention are a pair of veterans: Erika Connolly and Catie DeLoof. Both Connolly (nee Brown) and DeLoof were part of the bronze medal-winning 4×100 free relay in Tokyo, but of the two, DeLoof seems to be the better positioned. She won bronze at the Pan-Am Games in 54.50 and in San Antonio, improved upon that by swimming a season-best 53.88

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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RealCrocker5040
12 days ago

Honestly I expect Dressel to be a tiny bit faster than what he was doing at San Antonio but def not a lot faster.

I remember that Dressel was a 50.3 at a local meet about a month before Gwangju 2019, and it’s no surprise that Dressel will need to be at his absolute best if he wants to secure a spot on a team.

However he was also a bit slower at this meet in 2021 when he was a month out from OT’s and we all saw what happened next.

If we see these times in his main three events he will be in a very good spot

50 Free: Under 21.80
100 Free: Under 48.20
… Read more »

Last edited 12 days ago by RealCrocker5040
MarkB
Reply to  RealCrocker5040
12 days ago

Yes, he definitely has a great shot at the 200 Free and 100 Breast predictions. Those are pretty weak times.

CELL
Reply to  RealCrocker5040
12 days ago

Ngl 1:42 is kinda slow I’m be expecting at least 1:40 out of him.

Lisa
Reply to  RealCrocker5040
12 days ago

If he’s improving then he’s probably going sub 51 in the 100 fly and ngl that 100 breast and 200 free just got me.

RealSlimThomas
Reply to  RealCrocker5040
11 days ago

Honestly, 48.20 is reasonable. If he isn’t out sub-20 though, then we might have a problem.

HeGetsItDoneAgain
Reply to  RealCrocker5040
11 days ago

Too slow for 100 breast imo

Weinstein-Smith-Ledecky-Sims
12 days ago

Ashley Wall nee Twichell
2024 TYR Pro Swim Series – Knoxville
Women’s 1500 meter freestyle
16:31.13 dated 10 Jan 2024

The seed time is a little outdated as in nearly three years.

theswimflationguru
12 days ago

one of the most interesting “club” meets in awhile

Doe
12 days ago

According to Swimcloud, Caeleb Dressel’s best times in his off events are
1.01.22 100 breast
1.46.63 200 free
1.59.97 200 IM

Weinstein-Smith-Ledecky-Sims
Reply to  Doe
12 days ago

No offense, please deliver the meat and potatoes.

Doe
Reply to  Weinstein-Smith-Ledecky-Sims
12 days ago

?

What else are you looking for?

Last edited 12 days ago by Doe
Weinstein-Smith-Ledecky-Sims
Reply to  Doe
12 days ago

Caeleb Dressel
100 FL
50 FR
100 FR

That’s it. Nothing more and nothing less.

Doe
Reply to  Weinstein-Smith-Ledecky-Sims
12 days ago

You already know about that. I am just providing a little background. In 2019, Caeleb Dressel swam the 200 fly out of nowhere to get a 1.56.29. I am going to guess that he will swim at least one of his three off events.

CELL
12 days ago

I’m interested in the 100 breast #3 seed is an ex Louisville swimmer named Evgenii Somov.

He threw down a nasty 51.1 100 breast at winter sectionals.

I’m wondering could he use this meet to qualify for the Olympics and how does that work for Russians?

Side note it took ages to post this

Admin
Reply to  CELL
12 days ago

He would need a 59.79.

Atlanta Classic is an Olympic qualifying meet, though so far no Russian swimmers have been approved for Olympic participation yet. A few coaches/trainer types have, but all Russians who first applied have withdrawn their names.

CELL
Reply to  Braden Keith
12 days ago

Only a 59.79? Is that the B cut?

Admin
Reply to  CELL
12 days ago

Yes. So he’d need a 59.79 to be considered, but unlikely to go without a 59.49 “A” cut.

Nothing obvious on his social that would disqualify him from neutral status, but again he’d have to apply. Given that he lives in the US, not sure why he’d still be training/competing at this level if he didn’t plan to apply, but maybe he’s waiting to hit the cut before applying.

Greg P
Reply to  CELL
12 days ago

Russian swimmer can only compete in Paris under IOC flag and must meet certain conditions.

No Russian swimmer has agreed to swim under conditions.

CELL
Reply to  Greg P
12 days ago

Gotcha thanks

doe
Reply to  CELL
10 days ago

Haha! You were right! 58.72 for a new national record!

Mark Pender
12 days ago

What a super great and awesome picture (Caleb). Thank you Swimswam

CELL
12 days ago

I’m interested in the 100 breast #3 seed is an ex Louisville swimmer named Evgenii Somov.

He threw down a nasty 51.1 100 breast at winter sectionals.

I’m wondering could he use this meet to qualify for the Olympics and how does that work for Russians?

CELL
12 days ago

I’m interested in the 100 breast #3 seed is an ex Louisville swimmer named Evgenii Somov.

He threw down a nasty 51.1 100 breast at winter sectionals.

I’m wondering could he use this meet to qualify for the Olympics and how does that work for Russians?