Ranking The Top 10 Swims From The 2024 Knoxville Pro Swim Series

by Sean Griffin 30

January 17th, 2024 National, News, Pro Swim Series

2024 PRO SWIM SERIES – KNOXVILLE

The first stop of the 2024 Pro Swim Series was not lacking in exceptional swims, as we saw performances ranging from the fastest times we’ve ever seen at a Pro Swim Series event to a new American Record falling in the women’s 200 breast.

If you missed any of the action, see the following articles with the corresponding race videos:

Below, find our top 10 swims from Knoxville:

10. Jack Alexy – Men’s 100 Freestyle, 48.24

The breakout star of 2023 for the United States, Jack Alexy, posted a pair of 48.2 100 free swims in Knoxville. He clocked a controlled 48.28 in the prelims, before earning the win in the final (48.24). Both of his swims represent the fastest he has ever swum in-season, and given he is known to be a pretty big taper swimmer, it’s a promising sign for his first long course swims of the year.

Alexy also posted a time of 22.25 in the prelims of the 50 free, but scratched the final. He contested the 200 free in Knoxville as well, but went for a 50 time (22.37). He finished his 200 in a final time of 2:21.02.

9. Claire Curzan – Women’s 200 Backstroke, 2:07.38

After missing the U.S. World Championship team in 2023,  Claire Curzan took a confidence boosting 200 back win in Knoxville. Curzan, who will swim this event at the upcoming Doha World Championships, hit the wall in 2:07.38. While her time is slower than the 2:06.39 she put on the books at the U.S. Open, it is still an internationally relevant time.

While many may look at 2:07 and not really think too much about it, the swim would have been good enough for 5th at the 2022 World Championships and 4th in 2023. Swim fans have been rather spoiled by the 2:03 swims from Kaylee McKeown and Regan Smith, but a 2:06-high usually takes bronze internationally. To be 2:07.38 in January, heading into Worlds next month where McKeown and Smith will not be present, sets Curzan up very well to challenge for gold.

8. Kate Douglass – Women’s 100 Freestyle, 53.12 (Pro Swim Series Record)

While it might be surprising to see a Pro Swim Series Record swim ranked so low, it just goes to show how much the 100 free depth has progressed over the past few years. Kate Douglass won the event in Knoxville with a swift time of 53.12, tying Sarah Sjostrom’s mark from 2016.

While it equals the fastest time we’ve ever seen at a Pro Swim Series meet, the swim is still nearly a full second shy of what is anticipated to be medal-worthy in Paris. Nonetheless, it was a great swim from Douglass and is promising for January.

Douglass contested this event individually at the most recent World Championships, and it was the only event in which she didn’t claim a medal. Douglass was 4th in that final, touching in 52.81.

7. Gretchen Walsh – Women’s 100 Butterfly, 56.78

The women’s 100 butterfly was nothing short of loaded in Knoxville, with Tokyo Olympic champion Maggie MacNeil highlighting the psych sheet. It was Gretchen Walsh who took the win though, stopping the clock in 56.78. Walsh was 8th in the World Championship final in Fukuoka, where she touched in 57.58. Her time in Knoxville is eight-tenths quicker than that mark, and just a few tenths shy of her 56.34 lifetime best.

Walsh had a great meet overall in Knoxville, as she also matched her second-fastest performance ever in the 100 free (53.64) to finish as the runner-up to Douglass. As was the case with the 100 fly, her freestyle time was faster than she was at Worlds, too.

Ranking #7 & 8 on this list (Walsh 100 fly vs. Douglass 100 free) was a bit difficult, but we gave the 100 fly the higher ranking due to the time being *slightly* more internationally relevant.

6. Summer McIntosh – Women’s 200 Butterfly, 2:05.73

Summer McIntosh’s first race of the meet was the 200 fly, where she touched to win in a time of 2:05.73. While her best time rests at the 2:04.06 she posted en route to Fukuoka gold, her time from Knoxville would’ve won bronze at Worlds: Trailing only herself and Australia’s Elizabeth Dekkers. It’s also worth noting that McIntosh has never been sub-2:06 in the 200 fly at this point in previous seasons, so things are looking bright for her heading into Paris.

McIntosh won the world title in this event at the previous two World Championships, and is the second-fastest performer in the event since the Tokyo Olympics. This event, along with the 400 IM, seem to be her best gold chances once Paris rolls around.

5. Lilly King – Women’s 100 Breaststroke, 1:05.67

Lilly King posted a world-leading 100 breaststroke swim on the second night of action, stopping the clock in 1:05.67. Her time in Knoxville would have been fast enough for silver at the 2023 World Championships, where she placed 4th in 1:06.02.

Last season, King did not post a sub-1:06 swim in the event until U.S. Nationals in June. To be as fast as 1:05.67 in the event in January is very promising for King, who in recent years has performed better in the 200 on the international stage.

At the Tokyo Olympics in 2021, she earned silver in the 200 compared to bronze in the 100. At the 2022 World Championships, she claimed gold in the 200 and missed the 100 podium altogether. Last summer, she missed the podium in both, earning a pair of 4th-place finishes.

4. Alex Walsh – Women’s 200 IM, 2:07.63

While she didn’t grab an individual win in Knoxville, Alex Walsh was simply on fire. She opened her meet on the second night with a big best time in the 100 free (54.55) before posting a near best time in the 100 breast (1:07.70) about 10 minutes later. She also added a best time on Night 3 in the 100 butterfly (57.59).

Her ranking on this list is for her 2nd place effort in the 200 IM, where she had a tight battle with Canadian superstar Summer McIntosh. Walsh touched in 2:07.63, a time that was faster than her silver medal performance from the 2023 World Championships. In Fukuoka, she touched in 2:07.96 for silver behind teammate Kate Douglass in the final.

Walsh is known to be more of a taper swimmer compared to many of her UVA teammates, so a 2:07.63 time in January is extremely promising heading into the Olympic Trials. Walsh, who before 2019 was primarily recognized as a backstroke specialist, has improved her other three strokes so much that backstroke is no longer an individual focus anymore (and might be regarded as her weakest stroke individually).

3. Katie Ledecky – Women’s 1500 Freestyle, 15:38.81

While Katie Ledecky was over 18 seconds shy of her best time (and world record), the 15:38.81 she posted in the 1500 free on Day 1 is still faster than anyone (besides herself) has been in history. Her swim from Knoxville is the 17th fastest ever for both herself and in the all-time rankings.

To put some more perspective on the swim, her time at the 800 turn (8:19.91) would have qualified her 2nd for the 800 free final at the Fukuoka World Championships…only behind herself.

Her overall time is also just about a second shy of her winning time from the Tokyo Olympics (15:37.34), though she did post the Olympic Record in the heats (15:35.35). Ledecky was also over seven seconds quicker than the 15:46.38 she posted at the U.S. Open last month.

2. Summer McIntosh – Women’s 200 IM, 2:07.16 (Pro Swim Series Record)

The most anticipated race of the meet by many was the 200 IM battle between Summer McIntosh, Kate Douglass, and Alex Walsh. Although Douglass scratched the event in favor of two other ones (200 breast and 50 free, which clearly paid off for her), a fun battle unfolded between McIntosh and Walsh. Walsh, the 2022 world champion, and McIntosh, the fastest swimmer in the event in 2023, touched less than half a second apart at the finish. McIntosh touched in 2:07.16 to break her own Pro Swim Series record, and the second fastest time she has ever swum in the event.

Below is a splits comparison between McIntosh and Walsh, to provide a better picture on how each approached the race:

Splits Comparison:

McIntosh A. Walsh
Butterfly 27.49 27.83
Backstroke 31.48 (58.97) 32.44 (1:00.27)
Breaststroke 38.18 (1:37.15) 36.80 (1:37.07)
Freestyle 30.01 30.56
Total Time 2:07.16 2:07.63

1. Kate Douglass – Women’s 200 Breaststroke, 2:19.30 (American, U.S. Open, & Pro Swim Series Record)

On the final night in Knoxville, Kate Douglass posted a new American record of 2:19.30 in the 200 breaststroke. Her time makes her the fourth fastest performer of all-time, and her swim checks-in as the fifth fastest ever in the event.

Douglass took a different approach to this 200 breaststroke, taking the race out over a second faster than she ever has through the first 100. She split 32.01/35.04 to turn through the 100 in 1:07.05, nearly a best time in the 100-meter distance. She held through the back half, splitting 35.92/36.33 to hit the wall in the new record time.

Douglass had a great showing overall in Knoxville, collecting the 100 free win on the first night of the competition (53.12, PSS Record). She added a 4th place finish in the 100 breast (1:06.67, best time), 3rd place finish in the 50 free (24.67), and a time trial morning effort of 2:07.89 in the 200 IM.

Top 5 All-Time Performers:

  1. Evgeniia Chikunova (RUS) – 2:17.55 (2023)
  2. Tatjana Schoenmaker (RSA) – 2:18.95 (2021)
  3. Rikke Moller Pedersen (DEN) – 2:19.11 (2013)
  4. Kate Douglass (USA) – 2:19.30 (2024)
  5. Yuliya Efimova (RUS) – 2:19.41 (2013)

Top 5 All-Time Performances:

  1. Evgeniia Chikunova (RUS) – 2:17.55 (2023)
  2. Tatjana Schoenmaker (RSA) – 2:18.95 (2021)
  3. Rikke Moller Pedersen (DEN) – 2:19.11 (2013)
  4. Tatjana Schoenmaker (RSA) – 2:19.16 (2021)
  5. Kate Douglass (USA) – 2:19.30 (2024)

In This Story

30
Leave a Reply

Subscribe
Notify of

30 Comments
newest
oldest most voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Chad
4 months ago

Ledecky’s 1500 swim should have a better ranking. It just doesn’t look as impressive compared to her previous swims. But it’s just as good as any of the 200 IM swims from this meet if you compare it to all 1500 swims by anyone not named Katie Ledecky. Maybe even better.

bob
Reply to  Chad
4 months ago

I disagree.She,s great but her 17th best time?

Chad
Reply to  bob
4 months ago

It may be her 17th fastest performance, but it’s still faster than anyone else in history. If she had chosen to never swim the 1500 until this meet, we’d all be losing our minds over a world record. I don’t think her jaw dropping swims from earlier in her career should diminish how nuts a 15:38 truly is. It’s at least on par with a 2:07 low in the 200 IM in my view. We’ve just been desensitized to how much of an outlier KL is at distance swimming.

Weinstein-Smith-Ledecky-Sims
Reply to  Chad
4 months ago

A third place ranking is fair.

Steve Nolan
4 months ago

idk douglass #1 in something?? afaik she’s a bathtub specialist

snailSpace
Reply to  Steve Nolan
4 months ago

She’s an individual world champion Steve, keep up!

Weinstein-Smith-Ledecky-Sims
Reply to  snailSpace
4 months ago

Obviously mistaken for Gretchen Walsh.

snailSpace
Reply to  Weinstein-Smith-Ledecky-Sims
4 months ago

Ah, I’m just poking fun (at Steve), just as Steve is (at people who were adamant that KD is only a bathtub specialist).

Weinstein-Smith-Ledecky-Sims
Reply to  Steve Nolan
4 months ago

Kate Douglass was a bronze medalist in the women’s 200 meter individual medley at the 2021 Summer Olympics.

Bill Lumberg
4 months ago

very fair list

Queens
Reply to  Bill Lumberg
4 months ago

I agree

Owlmando
Reply to  Queens
4 months ago

Me too

Fartman
4 months ago

No Keaton jones C-final 1:58? This kid is making the team. Cal will be 1,2,3 at trials in the event

DC Swim Fan
Reply to  Fartman
4 months ago

How? Who? How?

ooo
4 months ago

According to the WA points algorithm
2:19.30 -> 963
2:07.16 -> 975
2:07.63 -> 965

Summer in front, tie for second

mds
Reply to  ooo
4 months ago

How long have 965 and 963 been a tie?lol

ooo
Reply to  mds
4 months ago

Kate was alone, Alex had Summer to give her a boost.

Hank
4 months ago

Ledecky’s 15:20 is nuts. I don’t know if she can beat that time, but I think she can get within a few seconds in Paris.

Barry
Reply to  Hank
4 months ago

Ledecky’s mile record is absurd. 15:20.48 is an 8:10.92 pace at 800. Meanwhile, the fastest non-Ledecky 800 is 8:13.31. If Ledecky gave the 800m field a handicap of her swimming 700m at race pace, she’d still have won. By a lot.

For contrast, the men’s record (14:31.02) is a 7:44.54 pace. Which is very fast, obviously, but would be the 29th fastest man (just behind David Davies and ahead of Gergo Kis).

Swimfast315
4 months ago

Douglass, she is an extraordinarily unique swimmer.
I think she will be the best female swimmer in worlds in Doha

Last edited 4 months ago by Swimfast315
Diehard
4 months ago

So Jack Alexy was token male in this list! 😜

Hank
Reply to  Diehard
4 months ago

Dude is throwing down 48 lows in January. That bodes well for the summer.

moonlight
Reply to  Diehard
4 months ago

Hate to beat a dead horse… but WOMEN’S SWIMMING >>> MEN’S SWIMMING

ArtVanDeLegh10
Reply to  moonlight
4 months ago

Women tend to swim faster in season than the men do. Typically the men drop a little more when rested/shaved.

1. They have more muscle to rest
2. They have more hair to shave

Also, Ledecky, McIntosh, Douglass, Walsh, King were all at this meet – all World/Olympic Good swimmers. I don’t think the same amount were at this meet on the men’s side.

Bill Lumberg
Reply to  moonlight
4 months ago

100% agree. More superstars.

snailSpace
Reply to  moonlight
4 months ago

Disagree. I find the relative unpredictability of men’s events to be superior to the dominance of a few swimmers in female events. Times are fast both for men and women overall. In season times are always faster for women.

Weinstein-Smith-Ledecky-Sims
Reply to  moonlight
4 months ago

As for the men ……..

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=mqFLXayD6e8

At least the USA still has basketball.

Weinstein-Smith-Ledecky-Sims
Reply to  Diehard
4 months ago

The downfall of USA Swimming.