Top 5 Storylines of the 2022 US National Championships – Women’s Edition

2022 US SUMMER NATIONALS

With only a few days until the 2022 US National Championship meet in Irvine, it’s time to take a look at all of the biggest storylines to follow along with. Even with many members of the World Championship team opting out of this competition, stars still lead the psych sheets, setting up for an exciting week in Irvine.

Here are the top women’s storylines to follow:

1. Can Katie Ledecky Keep Her Momentum From Worlds? 

American superstar Katie Ledecky had a historical performance at the 2022 World Championships, winning gold medals in the 400 freestyle, 800 freestyle, 1500 freestyle, and 4×200 freestyle relay. In the latter of the 4 events, she dropped her fastest 200 freestyle split ever,  1:53.67, which also stands as the 3rd fastest all time

In Irvine, Ledecky is slated to swim the 200 freestyle, 800 freestyle, 100 freestyle, and 400 IM, adding some “off” events to her traditional lineup. Notably, she’s not slated to swim neither the 400 freestyle nor the 1500 freestyle despite her performances in those events at the 2022 World Championships. 

Coming off of Worlds, it is hard to tell how tapered Ledecky will be for this meet, especially as she could probably easily win the 200 and 800 freestyle even without a taper. Also, this is only Ledecky’s second major championship under Anthony Nesty at Florida, making it even more interesting to watch. 

2. The Return of Erica Sullivan

After finishing second to Ledecky at the 2020 Olympic Games and earning a silver medal in the 1500 Freestyle, Erica Sullivan appeared to have momentum on her side. She took that momentum to her freshman year at the University of Texas, earning a 2nd place finish in the 1650 freestyle and a 3rd place finish in the 500 freestyle. Though Sullivan swam slightly off of her best times in both events, she still seemed strong leading into the summer of 2022 and the US World Championship Trials. However, her training plans were derailed when she suffered a shoulder injury this spring, keeping her out of the 2022 US International Team Trials and off of the US Team for the 2022 World Championships. 

Since then, Sullivan has contested a few minor meets, but has not thrown down any extraordinary times. After the Mission Viejo Pro Swim Series stop in June, Sullivan said that she was still “not satisfied” with her results and is still looking to get back down to her times from Tokyo. 

Sullivan is slated to swim the 800 freestyle and the 1500 freestyle, entering the meet seeded 2nd and 1st, respectively. She will once again go head-to-head with Ledecky in the shorter of the two events. 

3. Who Will Step Up in Wide-Open Breaststroke Fields?

With the absences of Lilly King, Annie Lazor, Lydia Jacoby, and Kate Douglass, the fields for both the women’s 100 and 200 breaststroke are wide open. Those four swimmers have collectively represented the US in those two events for both the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and 2022 World Championships, leaving little room for anyone to break into the breaststroke scene. However, their absences now leave the door open for some new names to emerge onto the national level. 

In the women’s 100 breaststroke, USC’s Kaitlyn Dobler leads the field. Dobler was the 2022 NCAA Champion in the yards version of this event and entered with a seed time of 1:06.19 that she posted to finish 3rd at the US International Team Trials in April, where she narrowly missed the World Championships team by one spot. Behind Dobler, who is the only person seeded in the 1:06 range, University of Denver star Emma Weber, Australian Mikayla Smith, and Ohio State swimmer Hannah Bach hold entry times under 1:08 to take the next three seeds. It seems clear that those 4 should be the ones battling for the National Title, but watch out for Virginia’s Anna Keating posted a huge personal best in the 200 breaststroke at Trials, and could drop a similar performance here. 

With her time from Trials, Keating leads the field in the women’s 200 breaststroke (2:24.62). She is seeded narrowly ahead of teammate Ella Nelson, who holds a seed time of 2:24.80. The pair hold the only seed times under 2:26 as the clear frontrunners to contend for the title. However, Australians Mikayla Smith and Matilda Smith enter seeded 3rd and 4th, respectively, and could look to shake up the rankings. 

4. Can Beata Nelson Capture Her First National Title? 

Despite breaking NAG, NCAA, and American Records, Beata Nelson has yet to capture an individual National Title in the long course pool. This year, Nelson is set up in the position to finally capture that elusive title, but she’ll definitely have to face some tough competition to get there. 

Nelson enters the meet as the top seed in the women’s 200 IM (2:11.55), arguably her best event. However, she’s closely followed by Olympian Leah Smith (2:11.67) and age group star Justina Kozan (2:11.96). In addition to the 200 IM, Nelson holds the 7th seed in the 100 backstroke, the 4th seed in the 100 butterfly, the 7th seed in the 200 freestyle, and the 5th seed in the 100 freestyle. Watch for her in the 100 butterfly as well, as Nelson recently threw down a personal best of 58.24 at an in-season competition. Though she will still have to race Claire Curzan, Nelson could throw down another big swim here, especially with a taper. 

It is also likely that Nelson may not be on a full taper for this meet as well as she is slated to represent the United States at the Duel in the Pool meet against Australia in late August. 

5. Claire Curzan Taking on a Loaded Schedule

Speaking of Curzan, who qualified for the 2022 US World Championship Team in the 100 butterfly, 100 backstroke, 100 freestyle, and 50 butterfly, she’ll also be taking on a heavy schedule here and she’s in the position to take home multiple national titles. 

With 4 entries, Curzan currently holds the top seed in both the 100 backstroke and 100 butterfly, both events that she raced at Worlds last month. She enters as the heavy favorite in the 100 butterfly, leading the field by over a second with her seed time of 56.35. In the 100 backstroke, Curzan narrowly holds the top seed over Olympic teammate Rhyan White, setting themselves up for a tight race. Curzan also has the 50 freestyle and 200 backstroke on her schedule, both events that we haven’t seen her race tapered yet. In the 200 backstroke, Curzan will face similar competition from White, who holds the top seed, while the 50 freestyle will see her take on Kasia Wasick and Abbey Weitzeil

 

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Sherry Smit
4 months ago

Excited to see how Claire Tuggle does with her new training at UVA. I remember watching my daughter swim at 2018 JR’s, and Claire was there and absolutely stunned me with her amazing 200/400. I see a huge future in her and I feel like she still has so much more in store

SSN
4 months ago

Beata’s been working a lot on her LCM swimming, she should do well!

Is she sticking with 2IM as her primary? Is she gonna go for those backstroke events?

OLOAP
4 months ago

6) Will the long break benefit to Claire Tuggle to step up to what she was expected up until a couple of years ago?
7) Can Gretchen Walsh regain her form that would make her an absolute lock for the 400 free relay?
8) How fast Teagan O’Dell and Kayla Han will go this week?

Melanie
Reply to  OLOAP
4 months ago

TUGGLE TUGGLE TUGGLE

Sherry Smit
Reply to  OLOAP
4 months ago

I feel like Gretchen Walsh is going to need more than a year to get back to her 2019 LC form.

Coach Crozz
4 months ago

Australian swimmers Matilda Smith and Mikayla Smith, while sharing the same surname, are not sisters.

Miss M
Reply to  Coach Crozz
4 months ago

True that.

Mikayla and Reidel Smith are sisters … and Brendon Smith is their brother!

MarkB
Reply to  Coach Crozz
4 months ago

Well, the surname isn’t THAT unusual.

Hswimmer
4 months ago

I’m ready to see Gretchen Walsh show up in a practice suit

Go Kamminga Go
4 months ago

Biggest question:

What is happening with Caleb Remel Dressel?

Steve Nolan
Reply to  Go Kamminga Go
4 months ago

we’re not allowed to know.

Mr Piano
Reply to  Steve Nolan
4 months ago

I mean would anyone beside the Dressel family and Nesty know?

Last edited 4 months ago by Mr Piano
Ol' Longhorn
Reply to  Mr Piano
4 months ago

Well, Speedo investors should know. Speedo Intl is a publically traded company. Anyone holding stock sure as hell should know whether the biggest name for Speedo is done, doped, or looks like he’s going to have a sensational rebound. This ain’t the amateurs. More than the feels and privacy is involved. If he wants to drop the endorsement, sure, be as opaque as you want.

H2OCoach13
Reply to  Ol' Longhorn
4 months ago

Speedo in not public. Owned by a privately held company. Plenty of stakeholders that are interested for sure, but no shareholders that are obligated to know.

Retired Swimmer
Reply to  Ol' Longhorn
4 months ago

Is there a stipulation in his contract that states he needs to make his medical status available to investors or the public? Would the laws in the UK (where HQ is) even allow for this information to be freely distributed?

applesandoranges
Reply to  Mr Piano
4 months ago

He’s not even telling Nesty. He’s above it all, actually.

HeatFan14
Reply to  Go Kamminga Go
4 months ago

i just want to know if he’s okay 🙁

Steve Nolan
Reply to  HeatFan14
4 months ago

Right! I assume that’s how most of us – a v narrow stretch of niche fans – feels at this point.

swimswamer
Reply to  Go Kamminga Go
4 months ago

Usually athletes representatives just send a bs statement like “family emergency” or “feeling a bit under the weather”.
It would avoid all this speculation, almost feels like it´s on purpose.
Either that or it´s amateur hour and he needs a new publicist or something.

Lilly Kong and Chlorine Diddy
Reply to  Go Kamminga Go
4 months ago

We won’t know for sure until Popovici has finished competing at Euros in August. Dressel’s entire psychological state currently rests on Popovici’s success or failure in breaking the 100 free world record this summer. If he breaks it, then Dressel should be supervised very closely by his family; perhaps he should even be brought to a mental health facility and placed in a padded room for his own safety.

BOBFROMTHEISLAND
Reply to  Lilly Kong and Chlorine Diddy
4 months ago

Don’t think it’s that deep

Last edited 4 months ago by BOBFROMTHEISLAND
free swimming
Reply to  Go Kamminga Go
4 months ago

why are you in every thread asking about dressel you salty aussie

Meathead
4 months ago

Always fun to watch Katie race. With CD going MIA, and King starting to fade, Katie is at the top of the totem pole for USA swimming

confused capybara
Reply to  Meathead
4 months ago

King just got gold at world champ, how she’s fading?

Meathead
Reply to  confused capybara
4 months ago

7th in 50 and 4th in 100…not what I would call the top of the totem pole for Team USA

Pvdh
Reply to  Meathead
4 months ago

Katie has never not been the top of the totem pole since she broke out lol. Very briefly shared it with Mike when he returned but that’s it.

Last edited 4 months ago by Pvdh
Weinstein-Smith-Ledecky-Sims
Reply to  Pvdh
4 months ago

Katie has never not been the top of the totem pole.

SMH!

free swimming
Reply to  Pvdh
4 months ago

Dressel the 7 time, 6 time and 5 time gold medalist wasn’t top of the totem? nah just cos he pulled out of worlds doesn’t mean dressel slander should become the norm

Lilly Kong and Chlorine Diddy
Reply to  Meathead
4 months ago

It’s been over 4 years since Ledecky has set a PB. At this point, she is no longer surging. She is merely maintaining her position at the top of a couple of distance events.

Weinstein-Smith-Ledecky-Sims
Reply to  Lilly Kong and Chlorine Diddy
4 months ago

2022 FINA World Aquatics Championships
Female Swimmer of the Meet
Katie Ledecky

End of discussion.

MCH
Reply to  Weinstein-Smith-Ledecky-Sims
4 months ago

2022 FINA World Aquatic Championships
No Titmus
Reopen discussion.

Weinstein-Smith-Ledecky-Sims
Reply to  MCH
4 months ago

No points given for cowardice.

End of discussion.

Last edited 4 months ago by Weinstein-Smith-Ledecky-Sims
Calvin
Reply to  MCH
4 months ago

Boi. She would have still been female swimmer of the meet.

Swimfan
Reply to  MCH
4 months ago

2022 FINA World Aquatic Championships
No manuel
Reopen discussion.

Troyy
Reply to  Swimfan
4 months ago

Manuel hasn’t been relevant in nearly 3 years.

free swimming
Reply to  MCH
4 months ago

Ledecky still would’ve won more golds than her reopen discussion

Troyy
Reply to  free swimming
4 months ago

Maybe, maybe not.

Dmswim
Reply to  Meathead
4 months ago

Ledecky is the fastest ever in two events by a lot. She’s also been the best in the world for a decade. Dressel and King don’t have that resume.

Weinstein-Smith-Ledecky-Sims
Reply to  Dmswim
4 months ago

Lilly King did not even medal in the women’s 100 meter breaststroke at the 2022 FINA World Aquatics Championships.

Weinstein-Smith-Ledecky-Sims
Reply to  Dmswim
4 months ago
Weinstein-Smith-Ledecky-Sims
Reply to  Dmswim
4 months ago

Fun Fact:

Katie Ledecky has never lost in the final of the women’s 1500 meter freestyle at a major international tournament.

free swimming
Reply to  Weinstein-Smith-Ledecky-Sims
4 months ago

dressel has never lost a 50 free or 100 fly

Ghost
4 months ago

Does any non Worlds woman put up a time that would have qualified individually in April? I say no.

Last edited 4 months ago by Ghost
bobthebuilderrocks
Reply to  Ghost
4 months ago

Matt Fallon

bobthebuilderrocks
Reply to  bobthebuilderrocks
4 months ago

Oh crap just saw you said woman, my bad

SAMUEL HUNTINGTON
Reply to  Ghost
4 months ago

The obvious possibility here is Dobler, she was very close in April.

IMO
Reply to  SAMUEL HUNTINGTON
4 months ago

And G. Walsh. And Gemmell.

USA
Reply to  IMO
4 months ago

And Weitzeil

Ghost
Reply to  IMO
4 months ago

I said individually but with Katie bowing out of 200 individually for Worlds, Gemmell probably best bet because we weren’t great after her

Weinstein-Smith-Ledecky-Sims
Reply to  Ghost
4 months ago

There is hope for the future:

Weinstein
Sims

Admin
Reply to  Ghost
4 months ago

I get the whole field? Then I’m definitely saying yes. I wouldn’t sell out on any one swimmer, but with the field…someone’s going to pop something.

But if I had to sell out, the easy pick would be Jacoby in the 100 breast. She should be able to get under 1:06.17 on a second chance.

IMO
Reply to  Braden Keith
4 months ago

I thought Jacoby wasn’t swimming?

Admin
Reply to  IMO
4 months ago

Oh yeah, you’re right.

I’ll still take the field.

Joel Lin
Reply to  Braden Keith
4 months ago

I’m most excited to see what the Texas women’s NCAA team puts together this week after many opted out of Trials given the proximity to the NCAA championship season double tapers. Excited to see some fast times from Pash in particular.

Another wild card going into this meet is Matt King. That dude was crazy fast in the 50 & in the 100 at NCAAs + it seemed he’d parlay into a better long course swimmer considering his turns & underwaters weren’t his strength. He was simply very very fast on the surface. 48 low? 47 high? Anything is possible.

Also intrigued by Justin Ress going into this meet. Relaxed & local for him, this meet could portend toward life… Read more »

Admin
Reply to  Joel Lin
4 months ago

These are great angles.

About Nicole Miller

Nicole Miller

Nicole has been with SwimSwam since April 2020, as both a reporter and social media contributor. Prior to joining the SwimSwam platform, Nicole also managed a successful Instagram platform, amassing over 20,000 followers. Currently, Nicole is pursuing her B.S. in Biomedical Engineering at Worcester Polytechnic Institute. After competing for the swim …

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