Pancake Hot Take: Top 5 Swim(mer)s & Surprises from Des Moines/Pac-12s

This is Pancake Hot Take, where we rate racing on a scale of 1-5 pancakes, and give you our highlights. This weekend we saw the top Pros in the country gather in Des Moines as well as the Pac-12 Championships. Since this is a weekend recap, however many pancakes we give, there will be that many Top Swims and Surprises.

Holy wow. This weekend really blew my socks off for a beginning of March, in-season weekend. We saw so many top times in the world, so many historic, top-10 all-time swims. I’ve got to give it to this weekend.


Let’s get into it.

Top 5 Swimmers:

  1. Regan Smith, takes the 100 back (58.18, would’ve won World Champs by .42) and 200 back (2:06.19, would have gotten silver at worlds… behind herself) PLUS 17-18 NAGs in both the 100 fly and 200 fly
  2. Katie Ledecky, goes off on Wednesday with 15:29 mile, #5 all-time (for herself and for anyone ever), follows it up with 3:59 400 free, 1:54 200 free
  3. Reece Whitley, drops 50.8/1:49 100/200 breast (yards) to win double Pac-12 title and crack the top-10 performers list in both events
  4. Michael Andrew, had a trio of lifetime bests including 59.1 100 Breast, 51.3 100 fly, and a stunning 1:56.8 200 IM to become #6 American all-time
  5. Kathleen Baker, who got 2nd behind Regan in both backstrokes, but still went insanely fast, dropping 58.5/2:06.3 in the 100/200, which again would have been good for gold/silver this summer at world champs. Plus that nutso 100 breast… but we’ll get to that

Top 5 Surprises:

  1. Melanie Margalis, shocks with a 4:32 400 IM, becomes #4 American all-time, Good. Gracious.
  2. Kathleen Baker, 1:07.9 100 breast to win the B-heat, making her a “real” breaststroker
  3. Allison Schmitt drops a lifetime best in the 100 free, 53.80, which was overshadowed buy the fact that only netted her a 3rd place finish
  4. Cal men 400 IM, in prelims freshman Jason Louser goes a massive personal best 3:40.4 to make NCAA’s, then in finals we see the reemergence Hugo Gonzalez in this event as he goes on to win the Pac-12 title in 3:36.6
  5. Zach Poti breaks Ryan Murphy’s meet record in the 100 back, dropping a 44.1

Syrup on Top:

Men’s 100 free is looking DEEP for team USA. I’ve never been to a meet where the B heat is more anticipated (and gets more cheers) than the A final, but when Caeleb Dressel AND Nathan Adrian are in heat 1… that’s just how it goes. Between the 2 heats, there were 6 men under 49 seconds, with a 7th at 49.00 on the dot. Speculations are already being made o f not just Olympic gold in Tokyo, but a new world record, breaking the American standard highlighted by Jason Lezak‘s legendary anchor leg.


Stay tuned for Pancake Hot Takes every day after finals. And until then… stay hungry.

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Wanna Sprite?
3 years ago

I feel like Ryan Murphy deserves some credit for his swims

3 years ago

Fuego LOVES Coleman…explore your Coleman range!

Thanks, Coleman…great synopsis! NCAA season is definitely upon us….best time of the year…Olympic year notwithstanding….though close.

Be well…
Your Fuego family

3 years ago

I would like to see some of these guys, who aren’t necessarily gunning for a top 2 spot, focus on their more important races and possibly try to sneak their way on the relay at the actual games. I know it is tough to compare anyone to the GOAT, but he didn’t earn his 4×100 or 4×200 at trials, and instead impressed the coaching staff leading into the games. Conger (1fly/2fly/2free), Seliskar (2free/2IM/1fly?2fly?4IM?), and Kieran Smith (2free/4free/2IM/4IM) could greatly benefit from skipping prelims/semis/finals of the 100 free and still prove themselves worthy at the games.

Reply to  Thomas
3 years ago

Nah, not this time around. A guy like Ryan Murphy can focus on his main events and go 51.3 and 1:52.0 and it wouldn’t necessarily mean he could throw a 47 low or 46 high down on the relay. With the free depth we have now, I think we should honestly stick to the 6 we pick at Trials. The specialists will do their thing in their events, freestyle sprinters included.

Konner Scott
3 years ago

Potential male 400 free relay swimmers at the Olympics:

1. Caeleb Dressel
2. Nathan Adrian
3. Zach Apple
4. Ryan Held
5. Maxime Rooney
6. Dean Farris
7. Michael Chadwick
8. Blake Pieroni
9. Tate Jackson
10. Robert Howard
11. Jack Conger
12. Daniel Krueger
13. Townley Haas
14. Andrew Seliskar
15. Drew Kibler
16. Brooks Curry
17. Coleman Stewart
18. Kieran Smith
19. Bowe Becker
20. Shaine Casas
21. Adam Chaney

I’m almost certainly missing people.

Reply to  Konner Scott
3 years ago

Trials 100m semi-finals are going to be insane. Even Caeleb Dressel won’t be able to cruise to the final…

It could conceivably take a sub 48 to even final.

Reply to  SVIRD
3 years ago

Held , Farris & Apple , Pieroni Or Adrian will give him some challenges , thats certain . Top final of the OT

Konner Scott
Reply to  SVIRD
3 years ago

Dressel, Adrian, Apple, Held, Rooney, Pieroni, and Jackson all have best times under 48. That’s 7 already right there.

Reply to  Konner Scott
3 years ago

I’d take Dressel and Held individually, Adrian and Apply for the relay. And then 5-6 a total toss up but fingers crossed that our savior dean gets in there

Reply to  Nswim
3 years ago

Dean must get a relay spot ( he went 47.00 on a rolling leg last summer )

Reply to  Konner Scott
3 years ago

Nicholas Sherman

Konner Scott
Reply to  GOAT
3 years ago

From Purdue? I checked the database and he’s listed with a 51.0 best time.. am I missing something?

About Coleman Hodges

Coleman Hodges

Coleman started his journey in the water at age 1, and although he actually has no memory of that, something must have stuck. A Missouri native, he joined the Columbia Swim Club at age 9, where he is still remembered for his stylish dragon swim trunks. After giving up on …

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