Swims You Might Have Missed in the Knoxville 800 Frees (Pro Swim Day 1)


It was a short session on day 1 of the 2022 Pro Swim Series in Knoxville, with only the men’s and women’s 800 free on the schedule.

There were still a few notable swims that you might have missed on the first day of action.

Day 1 – Swims You Might Have Missed

Many of those came from the host University of Tennessee men’s team. The Tennessee men have gained attention this season for their young sprinters Jordan Crooks and Gui Santos, who will race on Thursday morning, but their distance group performed well on Thursday morning.

  • Jack Little, a 22-year-old 5th year for the Volunteers, swam out of the slowest heat with a yards entry time, but managed to climb to 6th place in 8:12.40. His best time of 8:15.61 was done at a club meet in Arizona in May 2021, which was also the last time he swam the event. He was short of his yards bests midseason, so maybe this time means big things still to come next month at SECs.
  • Rafael Ponce de Leon Castilla, a 22-year-old junior for the Volunteers, finished 7th in 8:13.03. That’s 1.3 seconds shy of the Peruvian National Record and is a 1.6 second improvement on his best time. He did swim a personal best in the 200 free, though not the 500 or the mile, midseason in yards.

There were also some big swims from some of the younger entrants as well. While you surely caught the 1-2-3 finish for the teenage Sandpiper girls in their event, you might have missed what some of their teammates did.

  • 16-year-old Sandpiper swimmer Luke Ellis finished 10th in the men’s race in 8:17.05. That’s a huge 7+ second drop for the high school sophomore. Ellis is a great yards distance swimmer, maybe the best in his class. He swam 4:22.2/8:57/14:49 in the 500, 1000, and 1650-yard freestyles, and it looks like this week, his long course times are going to catch up a bit.
  • 18-year old Macky Hodges, a USC commit who recently moved from Mission Viejo to Sandpipers, was another yards entry who dropped an 8:55.78 in the 800 free. Even from Mission Viejo, a relatively high-volume program, the distance freestyles were not on Hodges’ radar at all. But while not all Sandpipers are primarily distance freestylers, if you’re going to swim in the Sandpipers’ national-level group, you’re going to do some distance freestyle. That was her first-ever 800 free in long course. She didn’t swim much beyond 200 yards with Mission Viejo. The time isn’t going to shatter the earth, but it continues a narrative about swimmers transitioning to Sandpipers, and is a solid performance for an 18-year-old in an event debut.


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2 months ago

Right on the edge is Luke Whitlock. Watch for him in the 1500. He’s going to make an impact in college and beyond.

2 months ago

I think you missed Tommy Frye’s swim 😔

Purple Dinosaur
Reply to  masterclass
2 months ago

He added 17 seconds. Why you wanna blast your teammate like that? Weak.

Sherry Smit
2 months ago

Hodges’s swim was huge for her! I seriously think she has a shot at making the worlds team this year in the 200 Free. With what Ron has done with his girls, I wouldn’t put it past him or someone like Macky who’s willing to do the work.

2 months ago

I know these types of articles don’t get the most clicks or comments, but I appreciate them!

About Braden Keith

Braden Keith

Braden Keith is the Editor-in-Chief and a co-founder/co-owner of SwimSwam.com. He first got his feet wet by building The Swimmers' Circle beginning in January 2010, and now comes to SwimSwam to use that experience and help build a new leader in the sport of swimming. Aside from his life on the InterWet, …

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