Top 10 Swims From the 2024 Speedo Grand Challenge in Irvine

by Riley Overend 54

May 27th, 2024 Club, News, Records

2024 NOVA SPEEDO GRAND CHALLENGE

After a lightning-fast weekend of racing in Irvine — a last tune-up for most ahead of Olympic Trials next month — we had to take a crack at a subjective top-10 rankings from the 2024 Speedo Grand Challenge.

10. Leon Marchand – 59.06 100 breast

The 22-year-old French superstar kicked off his weekend with a win in the 100 breaststroke, posting a personal-best 59.06 to take down his own meet record from prelims (1:00.62). On Friday morning, Marchand snuck under the old meet standard of 1:00.63 set by four-time Olympic champion Kosuke Kitajima back in 2010.

Before Friday, Marchand’s best time stood at 1:01.02 from the 2023 French Elite Championships. The Longhorn Aquatics pro now ranks 8th in the world this season.

 9. Hubert Kos – 1:56.46 200 back

The 21-year-old Hungarian claimed the 200 back crown in 1:56.46, a couple seconds off his best time from his 2023 world title (1:54.14). Although he was half a second off his season-best 1:55.95 from December, Kos still impressed with a time that would have finaled at the last Olympics in Tokyo. The NCAA runner-up also triumphed in the 100 back with a time of 53.81, within a second of his personal-best 53.08 from last month.

8. Simone Manuel – 1:57.03 200 free

Yes, on paper, Manuel’s runner-up finish in Saturday’s 200 free super final was not as fast as training mate Paige Madden‘s victory in 1:57.00. But we learned more from Manuel’s swim as her time of 1:57.03 broke her into the top 30 rankings globally this season, leapfrogging Erin Gemmell as the fourth-fastest American behind Madden (1:57.00), Anna Peplowski (1:56.99), and Katie Ledecky (1:54.97). That makes her a strong contender to qualify for the U.S. women’s 4×200 free relay next month in Indianapolis. Madden, meanwhile, was already the third-fastest American in the 200 free this season.

7. David Johnston – 3:48.06 400 free

Johnston crushed a 15-year-old meet record held by Tunisian Olympic champion Ous Mellouli (3:49.74) with his victory in 3:48.06, barely outdueling The Swim Team training partner Marwan Elkamash (3:48.21) in a tight finish.

It’s an encouraging sign for Johnston ahead of next month’s U.S. Olympic Trials. The 22-year-old owns a season-best 3:46.99 from the 2024 World Championships in February, ranking him 23rd in the world this season and 2nd among Americans behind Kieran Smith (3:46.80).

6. Paige Madden – 4:03.02 400 free

Madden lowered her 400 free meet record from prelims with a personal-best 4:03.02 on Friday night, five seconds clear of Sandpipers 18-year-old Katie Grimes (4:08.21). The 25-year-old University of Virginia graduate shaved almost a second off her previous-best 4:03.98 from the Tokyo 2021 Olympics in 2021, where she ultimately placed 6th in the final (4:06.81).

Before Friday, the meet record stood at 4:07.96 by Jeanne Jackson from way back in 2005.

Madden now ranks 9th in the world in the 400 free this season and 2nd among Americans behind only Katie Ledecky (3:59.44). She also won the 200 free in a season-best 1:57.00, putting her 25th in the world this season and third among Americans behind Anna Peplowski (1:56.99) and Katie Ledecky (1:54.97)

5. Regan Smith – 56.26 100 fly

Smith cruised to a dominant 100 fly victory in a lifetime best of 56.26 on Saturday night, dropping a tenth off her previous-best 56.36 from March. The 22-year-old Longhorn Aquatics standout remains the fifth-fastest performer in the world so far this season behind Gretchen Walsh (56.14), Angelina Kohler (56.11), Zhang Yufei (55.86), and Torri Huske (55.68).

4. Simone Manuel – 53.10 100 free

Manuel erased her own 100 free meet record from prelims (54.08) with a winning time of 53.10 on Sunday night— her fastest since her personal-best 52.04 at the 2019 World Championships.

The 27-year-old Longhorn Aquatics veteran now ranks 11th globally in the 100 free this season and 3rd among American women, just ahead of Gretchen Walsh (53.17) and behind Torri Huske (53.08) and Kate Douglass (52.98). After struggling with overtraining syndrome in the lead-up to Tokyo a few years ago, Manuel is back at the top of her game and in great shape to make her third U.S. Olympic team this summer.

Since her comeback under Bob Bowman, Manuel has steadily dropped her season-best 100 free time down from 54.21 last summer to 53.65 in December to 53.35 in March and 53.25 last month.

3. Gabi Brito – 25.71 50 free

The Beach Cities Swimming 13-year-old placed 3rd in the 50 free on Friday night with a personal-best 25.71. Brito reached the wall behind recent USC graduate Caroline Famous (25.58) and 27-year-old Olympic champion Simone Manuel (24.69), but ahead of recent USC graduate and Ecuadorian Olympian Anicka Delgado (25.81).

Brito became the fastest 13-year-old in the U.S. ever, sitting just ahead of Kate Douglass’s 25.80 from 2015. She’s also tied for the 12th in the U.S. girls’ 13-14 national age group (NAG) rankings, and just .02 seconds shy of the U.S. Olympic Trials cut (25.69).

2. Leon Marchand – 1:55.74 200 IM

Marchand captured the 200 IM on Friday night with a meet record of 1:55.74, the fourth-fastest time of his career and the second-fastest in the world this season behind Wang Shun‘s 1:54.62 from last September. What made the victory so impressive was that it came soon after his lifetime best in the 100 breast (59.06) earlier in the session. The 400 IM world record holder has been as fast as 1:54.82 en route to his second consecutive world title last summer.

  1. Regan Smith – 57.51 100 back

Lots of meet records and lifetime bests were set over the weekend, but only one American record was broken courtesy of the red-hot Smith. She lowered her own American standard of 57.57 from the 2019 World Championships while also taking down her U.S. Open record from March (57.64). Smith remains the second-fastest 100 backstroker in the world this season behind only Australian world record holder Kaylee McKeown (57.33 last October).

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Jen Goldman
24 days ago

So excited for Gabi Brito! Hard work paying off. Dreams do come true! Jen Goldman

Weinstein-Smith-Ledecky-Sims
25 days ago

The USA Swimming Olympic Team Trials commence in 17 days.

The number of Olympic Team Trials event previews to date – 3 out of a total of 28

Chop-Chop!

Sub13
Reply to  Weinstein-Smith-Ledecky-Sims
24 days ago

Australia’s start in 12 and we have 0!

Weinstein-Smith-Ledecky-Sims
25 days ago

Speedo Rankings
2023-2024 LCM Women’s 200 Free
Manuel, Simone – 1:57.03

comment image

Aragon Son of Arathorne
25 days ago

Simone is back!

Regan-wow/

Weinstein-Smith-Ledecky-Sims
25 days ago

Off Topic:

2024 NCAP Elite Qualifier psych sheets

han qihao
25 days ago

As a fan of both tennis and swimming, there are so many events to be excited about, Iga Swiatek will be aiming for a fourth French Open title

Troyy
Reply to  han qihao
25 days ago

If only it would stop raining in Paris 🌧️

han qihao
Reply to  Troyy
25 days ago

After watching Nadal’s match yesterday, I had tears in my eyes, I hope this is not the last time he plays in the French Open, he is the king of clay in my heart forever

Owlmando
25 days ago

Marchand 100 breast underrated

Troyy
25 days ago

Entries for Aussie trials have been published for anyone interested. I personally haven’t given them a look yet.

https://swimmingausprd.wpengine.com/wp-content/uploads/2024-Australian-Swimming-Trials-Start-List.pdf

Summer in Paris
Reply to  Troyy
25 days ago

O’Callaghan is entered in 100 back.

Rikako Ikkee swims 100 fly 100 free 50 free

Kaylee McKeown swims 200 free. I am thinking if not for the change of schedule (no thanks to uncle Bob) that made it impossible to swim 4×200 final, she’d try to swim in it. Now maybe she’s trying for a place in 4×200 prelims.

Joel
Reply to  Summer in Paris
25 days ago

I don’t want her in the prelims. Let her rest

Troyy
Reply to  Joel
25 days ago

Agree 100%. A swim in the 4×100 free prelims would make more sense for her schedule wise but probably too many ahead of her.

commonwombat
Reply to  Summer in Paris
25 days ago

Not reading too much into McKeown’s entry in both 100 & 200 free.

Would think she’d be delighted if she can better her PBs but:

  • she’s realistically only likely to try and lay down a marker in the 200 heats and scratch the final with her purpose being to say “I’m a contingency resource … if needed”
  • for the 100, she’s a less likely candidate to be called on for 4X100 but maybe its a direction she may investigate more post Paris

Could she notionally be amongst the top 4 fastest times for the 200 ? It’s possible but she’s not realistically going to be up with either MOC or Titmus who have the individual spots “locked”. … Read more »

Joel
Reply to  Troyy
25 days ago

Can you do your list that puts them in order of entry time (when you can) Troyy?

Sub13
Reply to  Joel
25 days ago

https://pastebin.com/ZGZ6jub0

(Credit to Troyy, not me)

snailSpace
Reply to  Sub13
25 days ago

Looking at the men’s 100 breast entry times, there seems to be enough talent at the top that maybe they will push each other to a 59. low – 58 high.

Summer in Paris
Reply to  Sub13
25 days ago

Thank you 👍

Emily Se-Bom Lee
Reply to  Troyy
25 days ago

no chalmers in the 200 free, I guess he’s taking no risks with the 100 free olympic final. cartwright seems to be returning to the event, though. cooper is entered in the 100 back, but we’ll see if that lasts. he did achieve A time within the qualifying period, however. forrester is swimming a reasonable schedule of 200/400 im, 200 free and back. we’ll have to wait to see what her form is like. all other entries are as expected

SNygans01
Reply to  Emily Se-Bom Lee
25 days ago

Kyle doing the 100fly?

Troyy
Reply to  SNygans01
25 days ago

50FR, 100FR, 100FL

Keen to see what he’s got in the 50 tbh

SNygans01
Reply to  Troyy
25 days ago

Yep.
Scanning through your list now (thanks!).
So far, noticed that Maddie Groves and Olympia Pope absent from their respective stroke 100s.

Troyy
Reply to  SNygans01
25 days ago

Pope’s there 100 and 200. Groves is not. Larkin is missing but according to Tom Decent he will be racing so maybe it’s a mistake. Dylan Andrea missing. Clyde Lewis missing. Maddy Gough missing.

SNygans01
Reply to  Troyy
25 days ago

D’oh!
Thanks Troyy.
Sam Short entered in the 200FS, which is interesting (potentially) re. the 800FS relay.

Troyy
Reply to  SNygans01
25 days ago

Maybe just wants to have a hit out to see what he can do? Surely coaches won’t consider using him with the 800 in the same session?

SNygans01
Reply to  Troyy
25 days ago

I suppose not.
Hopefully, he won’t be needed! Aside from Flynn, not many have really shown their cards recently in that event…

Based on entry times, we have:

  • 12 women (excl. Ikee) under 59s in 100fly
  • 12 women under 1:58 in the 200FS

Conversely, we have:

  • 7 men under 2:00 in the 200fly
  • 7 men under 55s in the 100BK

Mind you, if the ‘pointy end’ really step up in the latter, the depth is less of a concern!

Troyy
Reply to  SNygans01
25 days ago

I was looking at the 2021 Trials entry list earlier and quite a lot of events have more depth now. Some events a lot more like the women’s 100 fly and men’s 100 free.

The meet looks like it’s gonna be very well attended by juniors that impressed at age champs earlier in the year.

Joel
Reply to  Troyy
25 days ago

Maybe because a lot of them are from South East Qld? So not too far to travel.

Robbos
Reply to  Troyy
25 days ago

McEvoy in the 100 free
Issac Cooper in the 100 free & 100 back.

SNygans01
Reply to  Robbos
25 days ago

That’s genuinely interesting re. McEvoy!
Fantasy outcomes:

  • Cam – 47 point 100FS
  • Isaac – 52 point 100Bk

What odds?

Robbos
Reply to  SNygans01
25 days ago

Love to see that. It would improve our relay status in both 4×100 free & medley..

Troyy
Reply to  SNygans01
25 days ago
Last edited 25 days ago by Troyy
Robbos
Reply to  Troyy
25 days ago

I hope Tom is wrong. if McEvoy can put in a 47 point & kept for relay in Paris.

About Riley Overend

Riley is an associate editor interested in the stories taking place outside of the pool just as much as the drama between the lane lines. A 2019 graduate of Boston College, he arrived at SwimSwam in April of 2022 after three years as a sports reporter and sports editor at newspapers …

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