SwimSwam Pulse: Split Vote On Who Will Emerge As The Top US Woman In 100 Free

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 which American woman will be the top 100 freestyler in 2022:

Question: Who will emerge as the top U.S. woman in the 100 freestyle this year?

RESULTS

The idea for this poll came up as the event is arguably the most wide-open as we head into the U.S. International Team Trials at the end of the month.

Entering the Tokyo Olympic year in 2021, the race had been dominated domestically by Simone Manuel, who broke through and tied Canadian Penny Oleksiak for Olympic gold in Rio and then won back-to-back World Championship titles over a slew of international contenders.

But at the Olympic Trials last year we found out that Manuel had dealt with overtraining syndrome in the lead-up and she subsequently failed to make the final in Omaha.

Abbey Weitzeil, who was the #2 American in the race during Manuel’s reign, picked up the victory at Trials in a time of 53.53, edging out Erika Brown (53.59). Weitzeil went on to place eighth in Tokyo, dipping under 53 seconds in the semis, while Brown was 13th.

As we descend upon the next selection meet, it feels like this event needs a shot in the arm, new blood in the United States. Manuel doesn’t have a swim on record since Tokyo (she qualified in the 50 free, and anchored the 400 free relay final in 52.96), making the 100 free landscape a wide-open one heading to Greensboro.

The poll saw four swimmers garner a significant number of votes, led by teenage star Claire Curzan.

Curzan, who swam a PB of 53.55 last May and neared it earlier this month (53.68), was 12th in the event in Omaha and is unbelievably talented across a myriad of events. The 17-year-old should be very busy during trials, but the 100 free falls on the opening day of racing so she won’t have any scheduling conflicts.

Curzan picked up 26.6 percent of the votes, followed by University of Virginia superstars Kate Douglass (23.6) and Gretchen Walsh (21.8), with Weitzeil (18.6) ranking fourth.

Douglass is riding a lot of momentum after a flawless NCAA performance, and showed off her ability in the long course pool last year when she won an Olympic bronze medal in the 200 IM.

Walsh, though she failed to make it out of the prelims in this race in Omaha, was on fire during her freshman year with the Cavaliers and won the NCAA title in the 100 free in definitive fashion.

Walsh owns a LCM best of 53.74, set in 2019, while Douglass was 54.14 last year in Omaha (placing seventh in the final in 54.17). Both of them setting lifetime bests all season in the NCAA indicates more of the same is coming in long course.

Weitzeil has been as fast as 54.01 this season, which puts her in the mix, but she’ll likely need to be at or near career-best form if she’s to challenge for the win in Greensboro.

Torri Huske and Brown also picked up some votes, as did the ‘Other’ category, as there are several other names in contention, including Olivia SmoligaNatalie Hinds and Catie DeLoof, who were third, fourth and fifth in Omaha.

Huske notably swam a time faster than what won Olympic Trials in April 2021 (53.46), but missed the final in Omaha, placing 10th. The race also came towards the end of a long program for Huske, who won the 100 fly at the beginning of the meet in a new American Record and also placed fourth in the 200 IM and 11th in the 200 free. Having the 100 free on Day 1 could work in her favor.

Below, vote in our new A3 Performance Pollwhich asks: Which male swimmer saw their stock rise the most after the conclusion of last week’s national trials meets:

Which male swimmers' stock rose the most during the first week of trials meets?

View Results

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The A3 Performance Poll is courtesy of A3 Performance, a SwimSwam partner.

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snarky
2 months ago

Berkoff will be 53.

Big Mac #1
Reply to  snarky
2 months ago

With half the walls? I press x to doubt

Melanie
2 months ago

If Manuel takes this year off, 100% understandable. Even the best of the best need to sometimes take a break.

Melanie
2 months ago

Beata Nelson is my hot take. She has incredible SC history, and can possibly translate that into a 54 low 100 Free.

oxyswim
Reply to  Melanie
2 months ago

Your prediction is that the top US women’s 100 free will be slower than a time already swum this year???

Troyy
Reply to  Melanie
2 months ago

What a tragedy trials being won in 54 low would be for US swimming.

Jawnick
2 months ago

My hot take is that the college swimmers won’t be as fast as we think they can be. Between conference and NCAA’s they must be exhausted. With such a short turn around between trials and NCAA’s I don’t think there will be enough time to train. Always like fast swimming so happy to be proven wrong.

Austinpoolboy
Reply to  Jawnick
2 months ago

Yes this a great point. So my instinct is to go with Curzan since wasn’t bound by the focus on NCAAs

Yozhik
2 months ago

@Chad: What about Mallory Comerford? The brightest ever supernova in the sky of American women freestyle sprint. In one year to go from 54 mid to the elite 52 mid and then same quickly get back to obscurity.

Last edited 2 months ago by Yozhik
Alex Dragovich
2 months ago

People forget Weitzeil came to the sport relatively late. I get the feeling she is still figuring LCM out and has some significant drops to come. Breaking through 53 in the 100 and hitting a 24.1 at the Olympics was huge for her. And the fact that her 200 continues to improve bodes well for her shorter distances, as it did for Manuel. I see her building up steam over the shortened quad and moving toward challenging for medals at major int’l meets in the sprint frees more so than any other American.

Chad
2 months ago

Dang no love for Simone?

Bud
Reply to  Chad
2 months ago

We all love Simone

Last edited 2 months ago by Bud
Tomek
2 months ago

Weitzeil will be either first or second

MTK
Reply to  Tomek
2 months ago

Yep, no reason to think otherwise given how the last 2 Olympic cycles have gone.

About James Sutherland

James Sutherland

James swam five years at Laurentian University in Sudbury, Ontario, specializing in the 200 free, back and IM. He finished up his collegiate swimming career in 2018, graduating with a bachelor's degree in economics. In 2019 he completed his graduate degree in sports journalism. Prior to going to Laurentian, James swam …

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