By Jim Rusnak//Director of Media Properties | Thursday, July 26, 2018
IRVINE, Calif. – The first day of the 2018 Phillips 66 National Championships saw two U.S. Open and meet records fall, 12 people added to the U.S. Pan Pacific Championship roster and some all-around fast swimming at the William Woollett Jr. Aquatics Center.
What’s in store for tonight? Let’s take a look:
Women’s 200m Free
Gabby DeLoof, younger sister of U.S. National Teamer Ali DeLoof, is the top seed in tonight’s finals of the women’s 200m freestyle in 1:56.76. Three of the four DeLoof sisters are competing here in Irvine. Catie DeLoof finished 23rd in this morning’s prelims of the 200m free, and Ali is a backstroke specialist, swimming in the 50 and 100 back, and the 50 free later in the meet.
Gabby DeLoof will be chased by Katie Ledecky, who has won the last two national titles in this event. Ledecky will also be going for her 15th career national title, which would tie her for eighth all time among women with Missy Franklin and Dara Torres. Ledecky won the 800m free on the first night of competition.
Also in the mix will be Olympians Leah Smith, Melanie Margalis, Allison Schmitt and Simone Manuel. Schmitt was an Olympic gold medalist (2012) and is the American record-holder in this event.
Men’s 200m Free
Andrew Seliskar sits in the top spot in 1:45.77. Known primarily as a butterflyer and IMer, Seliskar was a gold medalist in the 200m fly, 200m IM and 400m IM at the 2014 Junior Pan Pacific Championships, and finished 8th in the 50m and 200m fly at the 2015 World University Games.
Olympian Blake Pieroni, who won the 100m free last night, is the second seed. Olympians Conor Dwyer, Townley Haas, Jay Litherland and Jack Conger will also compete in tonight’s finals. Haas has won the last two national titles in this event.
Women’s 200m Breaststroke
Olympian Micah Sumrall, who competed in the 2012 Games in London, was the fastest swimmer in this morning’s prelims in 2:23.27. She last won a national title in this event in this very pool in 2014. She also finished second in the 200m breast at the 2013 national championships.
She will face some tough competition from Olympic gold medalist Lilly King, who won the last three national titles in this event, and Bethany Galat, who won silver in the 200m breast at last year’s FINA World Championships.
Men’s 200m Breast
Olympian Josh Prenot missed his American record by about half a second this morning on his way to qualifying first in the prelims of the 200m breast in 2:07.69. His American record stands at 2:07.17.
After setting the American record in this event at the 2016 U.S. Olympic Team Trials, Prenot went on to win silver at the Olympic Games in Rio. He finished third in the 200m breast at last year’s national championships, however, and missed out on competing at the 2017 FINA World Championships in Budapest.
Last year’s champion, Olympian Kevin Cordes, is the third seed. Cordes has three national titles in this event, including 2013 and 2014. U.S. National Teamers Will Licon, Nick Fink, Andrew Wilson and Olympian Cody Miller also qualified to swim in tonight’s finals.
Women’s 200m Backstroke
Sixteen-year-old Regan Smith broke out onto the international scene last year when she finished second in the 200m back at last year’s national championships and then went on to finish 8th in this event at the FINA World Championships, setting a world junior record in the process. She qualified first for tonight’s finals of the 200m back in 2:07.03.
Right behind her is Olympian Kathleen Baker, who was the national champion in this event last year and a bronze medalist at the 2017 FINA World Championships.
Men’s 200m Breaststroke
Olympians, training teammates and good friends Ryan Murphy and Jacob Pebley have finished 1-2 at Nationals in the men’s 200m back for the past three years (including Olympic Trials). They are seeded 1-2 after this morning’s prelims – Murphy in 1:56.39 and Pebley in 1:56.88.
Murphy is the defending Olympic champion in this event, and finished second at last year’s FINA World Championships. Pebley was fifth in the 200 back in Rio and won bronze at last year’s World Championships.
Women’s 50m Butterfly
Olympian Kelsi Dahlia, the defending national champion in the women’s 50m butterfly, qualified first in this morning’s prelims in 25.97. Dahlia is the American record holder in this event in 25.48. She finished fourth in the 50 fly at last year’s FINA World Championships.
Men’s 50m Butterfly
American record-holder Caeleb Dressel and World Junior record-holder Michael Andrew tied for the top seed in this morning’s prelims of the 50m butterfly in 23.33. Dressel’s American record stands at 22.76. Dressel finished fourth in this event at last year’s FINA World Championships, while Andrew won this event at the FINA World Junior Championships.