| Sunday, August 12, 2018
TOKYO – Here’s a look at how the American swimmers did in this morning’s prelims on day 4 of the 2018 Pan Pacific Championships, and some storylines to watch in tonight’s finals.
Women’s 200m Backstroke
Regan Smith and Kathleen Baker took the No. 1 and 3 spots in this morning’s prelims of the 200m back in 2:07.86 and 2:08.38. The duo tied for first in this event two weeks ago at the Phillips 66 National Championships in Irvine, Calif.
Smith finished eighth in the 200 back at the 2017 FINA World Championships, her first major international competition. Baker took the bronze in the 200 back at last year’s World Champs. She also won bronze earlier this week in the 100m back.
Men’s 200m Backstroke
Ryan Murphy set the Pan Pac Championships meet record in this morning’s prelims of the men’s 200m back in 1:54.07, breaking the former mark of 1:54.12 set by Ryan Lochte in 2010. Murphy also set the meet record in the 100m back twice on day 2 – once in prelims, once in finals. He is the reigning Olympic record-holder in this event and finished second at last year’s FINA World Championships. At the 2014 Pan Pacific Championships, he finished fourth in the 200 back.
Austin Katz took the second seed in 1:55.69. He won silver in this event at the 2017 World University Games.
Olympian Jacob Pebley took third in this morning’s prelims in 1:55.95, but will be swimming in B finals, due to the rule that only allows two swimmers per country in the “A” final.
The United States has won gold in this event at every single Pan Pacific Championships since the meet started in 1985.
Women’s 50m Freestyle
Simone Manuel qualified third in this morning’s prelims of the women’s 50m free in 24.56. Manuel took silver in the 50 at the 2016 Olympic Games and bronze at the 2017 FINA World Championships. She was fourth in this event at the 2014 Pan Pacific Championships. Manuel has won two silver medals already at this meet – one in the 100 free and one in the 400 free relay – and a bronze in the 400 mixed medley relay.
Abbey Weitzeil will be swimming in tonight’s “A” final as the sixth seed in 24.91. She was 12th in the 50 at the 2016 Olympic Games, and 15th at last year’s worlds.
The last time an American won gold in this event at Pan Pacs was 2010.
Men’s 50m Free
Michael Andrew, the U.S. national champion in Irvine two weeks ago, is the top seed for the men’s 50m free in 21.83. This is his first senior international long course meet, but he won gold in this event at the 2017 FINA World Junior Championships. He won bronze earlier this week as a member of the 400m mixed medley relay.
Caeleb Dressel is the second seed in 22.17. Dressel won gold in the 100 fly, silver in the 100 free and bronze in the mixed medley relay here in Tokyo. He is the American record holder in the 50m free in 21.15, which he set last year winning gold at the FINA World Championships.
The U.S. has won the 50 at three of the last four Pan Pacs.
Women’s 200m Breaststroke
Lilly King and Micah Sumrall went 1-2 for the Americans this morning in the prelims of the 200m breaststroke. King’s time of 2:22.41 was almost three seconds faster than her fifth-place finish two weeks ago at the Phillips 66 National Championships. King was fourth at Worlds last year in this event, 12th at the 2016 Olympic Games.
Sumrall finished fifth in this event at the 2014 Pan Pacific Championships. She also won bronze in the 200 breast at the 2013 World Champs and silver at the 2015 World Champs. She was the national champion in this event two weeks ago in Irvine.
Men’s 200m Breaststroke
Josh Prenot set the meet record in this morning’s prelims in 2:08.02. Prenot won silver in this event at the 2016 Olympic Games and finished fourth at WUGs in 2014. He also holds the American record in 2:07.17.
Andrew Wilson took the second seed in 2:08.66. He finished fourth in the 100m breast on the first night of competition here in Tokyo. He won gold in the 200m breast at the 2017 World University Games.
A win tonight for either of these swimmers would be the first for an American at Pan Pacs since 2006.
Women’s 1500m Freestyle
Katie Ledecky is the top seed in the timed finals of the women’s 1500m free. She has been the first and last name in female distance swimming since she won gold at the 2012 Olympic Games in London. In distances of 400 meters and above, she has not lost a single race since then, nationally or internationally. She holds the world record in the 1500 in 15:20.48 – about 22 seconds faster than the next-fastest female swimmer of all time in this event, Kate Ziegler.
Joining her in the top heat in finals tonight will be Ashley Twichell. Known primarily as an open water specialist, Twichell was the national champion two weeks ago in Irvine.
Men’s 800m Freestyle
Zane Grothe and Jordan Wilimovsky will represent the U.S. as the first and second seeds in the timed finals of the men’s 800m free. Grothe won this event at Nationals and finished eighth at last year’s Worlds. He took silver earlier this week in the 1500 and bronze in the 400 free.
Wilimovsky, who represented the U.S. in the 1500 and the 10k open water event at the 2016 Olympic Games, is swimming the 800 for the first time at a major international competition. He won gold in the 1500 on Thursday and will also swim the 10k open water event here in Tokyo on Tuesday.
The U.S. has never won gold in the men’s 800 free at Pan Pacs.