The oft-overlooked first day of the four-day Arena Pro Swim Series – Charlotte format will feature the non-Olympic women’s 1500 and men’s 800 meter freestyles, and the former of those races saw significant changes at the top of the pile with the release of the pre-meet updated psych sheets on Wednesday.
NCAA stars Jessica Thielmann from the University of Florida and Leah Smith from the University of Virginia have both pulled out of the women’s 1500 meter freestyle.
Smith was the NCAA Champion in the closest yards equivalent to this race, the 1650 free, at the 2015 NCAA Championships as a sophomore, while Thilemann took 3rd in the same race as a junior.
Thielmann, who is a British National, has pulled out of the meet altogether, though Smith still has entries in the 100, 200, 400 and 800 meter freestyles left. Cierra Runge, who was the 2nd-place finisher in the 1650 at NCAA’s, is entered in the meet but also has chosen to sit out the 1500. Smith and Runge’s summer event lineups both focus on the middle-distance freestyle races: Smith will swim on the 800 free relay at the World Championships in addition to the 200 and 400 freestyles individually at the World University Games; Runge is also entered in the 800 free relay at the World Championships in addition to an individual swim in the 400 free.
Despite the notable absences, the women’s 1500 still has a loaded field (pending any last-minute scratches). Lotte Friis, who was 2nd to Katie Ledecky in the event at the 2013 World Championships, holds the top seed, but she’s followed by U.S. 10K open water champion Becca Mann, Gillian Ryan, and Venezuelan star Andreina Pinto.
Among the other big names on the psych sheets for the race is Hungarian Katinka Hosszu, who is seeded 9th in the race in 16:31.19. This is not a race that she swims frequently (only three times in the last seven years), though she would appear to have all of the tools necessary to improve upon her best time which was done in February of this year.