SwimSwam Pulse is a recurring feature tracking and analyzing the results of our periodic A3 Performance Polls. You can cast your vote in our newest poll on the SwimSwam homepage, about halfway down the page on the right side, or you can find the poll embedded at the bottom of this post.
Our most recent poll asked SwimSwam readers to predict the top women’s 400 IMer at the end of the summer:
Question: Who will be the top American W400 IMer by the end of the summer?
- Ella Eastin – 47.4%
- Leah Smith – 25.2%
- Katie Ledecky – 12.0%
- Melanie Margalis – 10.8%
- Madisyn Cox – 3.7%
- Other – 1.0%
Nearly half of voters believed Ella Eastin would be the top women’s 400 IMer in the United States this summer, trusting in a big comeback swim after a shocking disqualification last year. Eastin was set to finish second last summer but took a disqualification for the so-called ‘Lochte Rule,’ which disallows dolphin kicking on one’s back during the freestyle portion of an IM. The DQ was one of a slate of violations of that rule, which prompted some harsh criticism from fans and sportswriters alike, and ultimately led to FINA softening its rules only a few weeks later.
Eastin is currently just 4th in the nation this season in long course, but is also coming off a historic short course season in which she obliterated the NCAA and American records in the 400 IM by nearly two seconds.
Second in our poll was 2017 national champ Leah Smith, who took a very light fall season but has since roared back with the #2 time in the nation this year, a 4:37.64 from the Columbus PSS meet. Smith was a full three seconds faster than Eastin last summer even if Eastin hadn’t been DQ’d, so the poll results are clearly expecting a big rise from Eastin to match her short course improvements.
Katie Ledecky checks in behind Smith. Ledecky has only swum this event twice this season in long course, but does rank 5th among Americans. She swam the event during college season, breaking the American record and beating Eastin at Pac-12s before falling to second at NCAAs. It’s unclear if Ledecky will even swim this race at Nationals or Pan Pacs, but it’s the logical next step, as she’s already historically dominant in the 400, 800 and 1500 frees and has added the 200 and 100 (and their corresponding relays) to her international repertoire as well.
Current national leader Melanie Margalis only got a relatively small share of the votes, but that’s probably a product of her well-publicized aversion to swimming that event at Nationals. But Margalis could still swim the race at Pan Pacs if she qualifies in other events, and there’s an outside chance her 4:36.81 could hold up as the top American time even if she doesn’t swim it again – though that would require the rest of the field to perform pretty poorly the rest of the summer.
Madisyn Cox is 3rd nationally this season, but has been absent from competition since swimming a nation-leading 4:37.94 at the Atlanta Pro Swim Series in March. Cox was entered in the Austin Sectionals over the weekend, but scratched that meet as well, leading to some concern about her availability. We reached out to the Texas program back in April when Cox scratched the Mesa Pro Swim Series, and were told that she was finishing up school, but wasn’t injured or ill.
Only a very small few voted for another candidate. Other highly-ranked options are 200 fly Olympian Hali Flickinger, Penn State standout Ally McHugh, Eastin and Ledecky’s Stanford teammate Brooke Forde and 200 breaststroke star Bethany Galat, who was also DQ’d out of the A final of this event a year ago.
Below, vote in our new A3 Performance Poll, which asks voters the same question, only about male 200 freestylers:
The A3 Performance Poll is courtesy of A3 Performance, a SwimSwam partner