Six Storylines (& Some Bonuses) to Follow at The 2023 U.S. Open

by Sean Griffin 58

November 28th, 2023 National, News, U.S. Open

2023 U.S. Open Swimming Championships

  • November 29-December 2, 2023
  • Greensboro Aquatic Center, Greensboro, North Carolina
  • Long Course Meters (50 meters)
  • 9 AM (ET) Prelims & 6 PM (ET) Finals
  • Psych Sheets
  • Live Results

The 2023 U.S. Open kicks off this Wednesday in Greensboro, and most of the top U.S. swimmers are slated to compete throughout the week. With the full entry lists being out, let’s highlight some of the top storylines to follow as the meet unfolds:

Shaine Casas Needs a Rebound

Shaine Casas will make his season debut in Greensboro this week, and many are wondering what type of swims he will ultimately produce. Casas, who has a wide array of best times that could contend for international podiums, had a rather rough championship season in 2023.

After posting season-best times of 50.80 in the 100 butterfly and 1:56.06 in the 200 IM prior to the World Championship Trials, Casas was on track to make the Worlds team in several individual events. However, come Trials, Casas failed to make the team until the final day of the competition. Swimming out of lane 8 in the 200 IM final, he swam a time of 1:57.47 to earn his Fukuoka berth. Come Fukuoka, he ultimately bounced back to place 4th in the 200 IM final at Worlds (1:56.35) but was still off his personal best and season-best times.

Casas is entered in four events in Greensboro: the 100 fly, 100 back, 100 free, and 200 IM. The 200 IM will occur on the first day of the competition, though he won’t have the highly-anticipated matchup with world champion Leon Marchand that was originally on the docket after Marchand withdrew on Monday. The 100 fly and 100 back will take place on the second day, and he will wrap up his meet with the 100 free on Saturday.

Interestingly, Casas entered both the 100 fly and 200 IM, arguably his two best events. However, come Olympic Trials, he will likely have to choose between the two due to the new Olympic Trials and Olympic event schedule. The 200 IM final is scheduled to take place immediately prior to the 100 fly semi-finals, making it nearly impossible to contest both events.

Shaine Casas Personal Bests:

  • 100 Butterfly – 50.40
  • 50 Backstroke – 24.00
  • 100 Backstroke – 52.51
  • 200 Backstroke – 1:55.35
  • 200 IM – 1:55.24
  • 100 Freestyle – 48.23

Claire Curzan Making Long Course UVA Debut

Olympic silver medalist Claire Curzan will make her debut representing the Cavaliers, as she transferred from Stanford to Virginia this past summer. Curzan has a chance to bounce back after missing this summer’s World Championship team due to being hospitalized days before the U.S. Trials.

Despite missing the World Championship team this past summer, Curzan had an impressive meet in Indianapolis given her circumstances. She placed 3rd in both the 100 (58.59) and 200 backstrokes (2:06.35), clocking a 200 back best time in the process. She was 3rd in the 50 butterfly (25.74) and 4th in the 100 butterfly (56.61) as well.

Curzan is entered in five events in Greensboro: the 50 free, 100 fly, 100 back, 200 back, and 100 free. While Curzan has not swam an official LCM meet since moving to Charlottesville, she did clock an unofficial 2:07 200m back just a month ago.

It will be interesting to see where Curzan stands in each of her events, as she is in contention to make the Olympic team in five events come Trials. As of late, Curzan has seen the most success in the backstroke events, as she won bronze in the 100 back at the 2022 World Championships in Budapest, broke the 50 SCM back American Record last December, and won the NCAA title in the 200 back last March. The 100 fly is perhaps her best event, but she hasn’t lowered her best time in the event since April of 2021 when she ripped a time of 56.20 to shatter the 15-16 NAG record.

Two of Curzan’s best events, the 100 fly and the 100 back, are arguably the two deepest in the United States. In the 100 fly, American Record holder Torri Huske (55.64), Gretchen Walsh (56.34), and Kate Douglass (56.43) will be her primary competitors both in Greensboro and at the Olympic Trials. This is not even including Regan Smith (56.60), who might consider adding the event to her Olympic Trials line-up, as well as rapidly improving 16-year-old Alex Shackell.

The 100 back is just as deep, with American Record holder Smith currently leading the charge (57.57). Katharine Berkoff is on the verge of dipping into the 57-second realm as well, with her personal best of 58.01. Both of these swimmers will also be present in Greensboro.

Showdown Looming in Women’s 400 Free and/or 200 IM

Two potential showdowns look to be shaping up in the women’s 400 freestyle and 200 IM. Ultimately, it will come down to whether Summer McIntosh chooses to do both or only opts for one.

In the 400 freestyle, we could see yet another head-to-head showdown between Katie Ledecky and McIntosh. At this meet last year, just 0.08 separated the two of them at the finish as Ledecky ultimately got to the wall first in a time of 3:59.71 to McIntosh’s 3:59.79.

At the World Championships this past summer, Ledecky grabbed the silver medal (3:58.73) while McIntosh (3:59.94) landed in 4th place. Earlier in the year, McIntosh became the favorite on paper to win the world title when she broke the world record at the Canadian Trials. Ariarne Titmus ultimately won the race at the World Championships, taking back the world record in the process.

In the 200 IM, it could be a showdown of the three fastest 200 IMers since 2019. McIntosh (2:06.89), Douglass (2:07.09), and Alex Walsh (2:07.13) are all entered to compete in the 200 IM on Thursday. Douglass won the world title this past summer, while McIntosh posted the fastest time of 2023 at the Canadian Trials in March.

Luckily, we do have a sense of where each of them is in their preparations at this stage of the year. McIntosh recently posted times of 1:54.43 and 3:57.59 in the 200 and 400 IM (SCY) races at the Sarasota Halloween meet, Walsh recently posted a 2:11.24 200m IM at the Tennessee Invite on November 15th, and Douglass posted an unofficial 2:07 200m IM in practice just a month ago.

While we may or may not see all of them line up for the final at the U.S. Open, here is a split comparison of each of their personal best swims:

Split Comparison

McIntosh Douglass Walsh
26.80 26.96 27.29
58.63 (31.83) 1:00.44 (33.48) 59.35 (32.06)
1:37.26 (38.63) 1:36.69 (36.25) 1:36.19 (36.84)
2:06.89 (29.53) 2:07.07 (30.40) 2:07.13 (30.94)

It’s also entirely possible that McIntosh holds her entries and swims both events. In that case, it seems like this could be early preparation to potentially tackle the 400 IM/200 freestyle double at next summer’s Paris Olympics.

Regan Smith Enters Both IM Events as ASU Targets Long Course Check-In

Several names from the ASU contingent will be present in Greensboro this week, including Regan Smith, Hubert Kos, Ilya Kharun, Simone Manuel, Olivia Smoliga, Ryan Held, Drew Kibler, and Luca Urlando among others.

Smith saw success earlier in the season, shattering the 200-yard butterfly American Record at an ASU Dual meet on October 20th. She is slated to swim the 200 IM on day one, the 400 IM and 100 backstroke on day 2, and the 200 backstroke and 200 butterfly double on the final day of the meet. Last year, Smith had a great performance by posting a time in the 200 backstroke that represented her fastest swim since 2019. The ASU group as a whole seemed to have quite a bit of rest for this meet last year, so this should serve as a good checkpoint heading into the final months of the Olympic cycle.

She has notably entered both IM events here in Greensboro, and her 200 IM has seen significant improvement over the past year since joining Bob Bowman in Tempe. In June, she ripped a 2:08.48 200 IM to become the fourth-fastest American in history. She is also entered in the 400 IM, an event that she hasn’t contested in nearly a decade. The 400 IM is on the same day as the 100 backstroke, so it remains to be seen if she will swim both events. Given she is entered in the 400 IM in lieu of the 100 fly, it seems likely that she will swim it at the meet as she is known to swim doubles.

Kos is entered to compete in the 200 IM, 100 butterfly, 100 backstroke, and 200 backstroke. Kos, the defending World Champion in the 200 back, is coming off an impressive SCY meet in Greensboro this past weekend. There, he clocked massive best times of 1:39.26 in the 200 IM, 3:35.82 in the 400 IM, and 1:36.54 in the 200 backstroke.

This meet will also see Kharun post some LCM times to finish off 2023 after breaking several ASU SCY butterfly records this fall. Kharun placed 4th in the 200 butterfly at the World Championships in Fukuoka last summer, tying 16-year-old Thomas Heilman in a time of 1:53.82.

Siobhan Haughey Building Upon Strong World Cup Performances

Siobhan Haughey will look to continue her 2023 momentum into this year’s U.S. Open. Haughey, who is currently being trained by coach Tom Rushton, is entered in the 50, 100, 200, and 400 freestyles in addition to the 100 breaststroke.

Haughey is coming off an impressive performance at the World Cup circuit this past October, where she became the 3rd fastest 100 freestyler of all-time (52.02). She won the 100 and 200 freestyle at each of the three World Cup stops, and will be among the favorites claim the U.S. Open titles in both events.

At the World Championships this past summer, Haughey claimed an individual silver in the 100 freestyle (52.49) before going on to claim six medals at the Asian Games in Hangzhou.

In addition to her signature freestyle races, Haughey is also slated to swim the 100 breaststroke. She broke the 50 breaststroke at the Asian Games this past September, posting a time of 30.36 in the process to claim the bronze medal. She may have her eye on the national record of 1:07.69 in the 100, currently held by Yvette Kong. Kong set the record in 2016 at the Dutch Championships in Eindhoven.

Dressel Returns as American 100 Free Field Deepens

The U.S. Open will mark Caeleb Dressel’s fourth meet since returning to the sport this past February, and he has entered his three signature events: the 50 free, 100 fly, and 100 free.

At the World Championship Trials in June, Dressel recorded a 22nd place finish in the 50 free (22.72), 19th place finish in the 100 free (49.64 in finals, 49.42 in prelims), a 3rd place finish in the 50 fly (23.35), and a 5th place performance in the 100 fly (51.66).

Dressel’s return only deepens the 100 freestyle field in the United States, with the U.S. nearing the deepest it has ever been in the event. In 2023, the U.S. men’s 100 free saw a resurgence from the previous few years, beginning to come close to the depth it possessed when the event was deepest in 2019.

Here’s a look at how 2023 currently compares to 2019:

2019 Top 6 2023 Top 6
Caeleb Dressel – 46.96 AR Jack Alexy – 47.31
Ryan Held – 47.39 Ryan Held – 47.63
Maxime Rooney – 47.61 Destin Lasco – 47.87
Zach Apple – 47.69 Matt King – 47.93
Blake Pieroni – 47.87 Chris Guiliano – 47.98
Tate Jackson – 47.88 Macguire McDuff – 48.08

Four of the top six from 2023 will be in attendance in Greensboro, with Jack Alexy and Destin Lasco both opting to compete for Cal at the Minnesota Invitational (SCY) instead.

At the Ohio State Invitational last weekend, Notre Dame’s Chris Guiliano posted a sizzling 47.98 season-opener in the 100 free, equaling his personal best time in the process. Guiliano will be present in Greensboro this week to contend for the U.S. Open title.

Some Bonus Storylines:

  • Ahmed Hafnaoui, who recently moved training bases to train under the tutelage of Mark Schubert, will renew his rivalry with Florida-trained athlete Bobby Finke. The two battled it out in both the 800 and 1500 in Fukuoka, with the 1500 race being separated by just 0.05. While Florida typically keeps their cards close until the big taper meets at the end of the summer, this should still give a good indicator of where each of them is at in their training.
  • Michael Andrew is set to compete in three events in Greensboro: the 50 freestyle, 100 butterfly, and 100 breaststroke. After missing the US World Championship team last summer, Andrew showed progress at the World Cup series in October with some season-best performances. Andrew is also set to compete at the Doha 2024 World Championships, where he will contest the four stroke 50s. He has been up and down since the Olympics – sometimes good, sometimes bad, sometimes these events, sometimes those. But that’s his career. It seems like this meet has him focusing in on his most likely Olympic Trials events and will be a chance to bring some stability to his narrative headed toward Paris.
  • 2016 Olympic Champion Penny Oleksiak and World Champion Kayla Sanchez will both be in attendance after making the move to train under Jeff Julian at Mission Viejo. Oleksiak is only entered in the 100 freestyle, while Sanchez is slated to swim the 50 & 100 freestyles in addition to the 100 back.

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emoney117
3 months ago

Is this meet going to be live streamed anywhere?

Sub13
3 months ago

Was so excited for this to start tomorrow and now I see the first day is only 800s. Blergh

Swimfan27
3 months ago

Casas is ridiculously talented. I truly hope he can turn things around and excel at trials and international competitions. He has the potential to medal in multiple events and I bet is capable of a 47-mid to 47-low 100 free split for the relay.

SwimmyJimmy
3 months ago

Is there a livestream?

HOO love
3 months ago

Let’s go HOOS!✌🏼

HelpOnTheWay
3 months ago

Ticket sales to the event appear to be on hold on Ticketmaster as of Tuesday, Nov. 28. Anyone have ticket information or know if we can buy tickets in person in Greensboro? Or is it sold out?

HelpOnTheWay
Reply to  HelpOnTheWay
3 months ago

I see individual days will be sold on location. False alarm.

mds
3 months ago

Kos also had 4th #1 NCAA time in 100 Backstroke at :44.37.

Hiswimcoach
3 months ago

Luuuuuuuka. 349 incoming

mds
Reply to  Hiswimcoach
3 months ago

Has it ever been revealed whether Luka is doing his primary training at DART, Georgia or ASU?

bobthebuilderrocks
Reply to  mds
3 months ago

that’s Luca

I miss the ISL
Reply to  mds
3 months ago

That’s Luca Urlando but he’s taking an Olympic redshirt at ASU but he has said nothing about whether or not he is returning to Georgia after his redshirt. He still has two years of eligibility left I think. In a Social Kick podcast he said he thinks he will, but he’s not sure.

Hiswimcoach
Reply to  Hiswimcoach
3 months ago

Noting the downvotes. Let’s see what happens …. Kid is the real deal