In light of the Olympic postponement, United States National Team member Erica Sullivan is waiting to see who USC will hire to replace outgoing head coach Dave Salo before confirming she will enroll next fall.
Sullivan graduated high school in 2018 and committed to USC, deferring her enrollment a year to focus on training for Tokyo. Salo announced in January that the 2019-20 season would be he last with the program, also leaving the fate of his associate head coach and the U.S. Olympic open water head coach Catherine Kase up in the air.
Now that the Games are pushed back a year and her future coaching staff is uncertain, Sullivan told SwimSwam she has “no idea” what her college plans are.
“Normally I would be okay with going to school and trusting the staff to give me the training I need, but since I am still in the dark about who my coach will be at USC, I don’t want to put anything in stone,” Sullivan wrote in a message. “I’m probably gonna wait until they announce who the coach is and then make some decisions. I wish I could you that I’m leaning in a certain direction, but I’m really not. Definitely have some big decisions to make when news is announced.”
Sullivan, 19, has long been a contender in open water, but finished third among Americans in the 10K at 2019 Nationals — a spot away from making the 2019 FINA World Championships team (then the top 10 finishers at Worlds made the Olympic team). But recently, Sullivan has surged in the pool, putting her squarely in the running for a berth in the 1500 when it makes its Olympic debut next year.
She owns a 15:55.25 lifetime best from June 2019 (one of three U.S. women under 16 minutes in the last two seasons) and her 16:01.71 from the Knoxville Pro Swim Series stops in January makes her the second-fastest American this season behind only Katie Ledecky. The Knoxville swim leaves her nearly 10 seconds ahead of No. 3-ranked Ashley Twichell.
As for NCAA potential, Sullivan would be a huge “get” for any program. Her 15:23.81 1650 from December would have been the fastest in college swimming this season by about 20 seconds (and is the second-fastest 1650 ever), and her 4:37.95 lifetime best in the 500 would be a near-lock for the A-final at NCAAs.