Photo by Peter H. Bick
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Each day through August 19 (US), Swimming World will provide medal predictions for the Pan Pacific championships. We invite you to offer your thoughts on who is in line to win medals in the comments section!
Commentary by David Rieder
CHARLESTON, South Carolina, August 15. WITHOUT a doubt, the numbers indicate that the Australian men should be favored in the Pan Pacific 400 free relay. James Magnussen and Cameron McEvoy are the only two men to have swum under 48 seconds headed into the year, and they have a solid third swimmer in Tomasso D’Orsogna, who has clocked a 48.72. However, they have no other men under 49, and Kenneth To, the fourth-place finisher in the event at Australia’s Nationals in April, announced this week he would miss Pan Pacs with a back injury.
The Americans are coming off a decidedly-slow 100 free final at Nationals, but they have options. Nathan Adrian should go head-to-head with Magnussen in the 100 free final, so consider that leg a draw. Unlike Australia, which has clear distinctions between their second, third, and fourth options, the U.S. has a jumbled mess of depth. Jimmy Feigen won the silver medal at the event at Worlds last year, so he probably brings the most potential, though he has not shown he can return to the 47.8-range of last summer.
Michael Phelps and Anthony Ervin both swam 48.7s in prelims at Nationals before slower finals swims, but their swims from later in the week indicate both have better performances in them. Ryan Lochte has become a fixture on this relay, and Matt Grevers is also an option. Although the top four at Nationals were Adrian, Lochte, Feigen, and Conor Dwyer, in that order, National team coordinator Frank Busch indicated that in no way would that dictate the final squad. He said the coaches intend to pick the team based on who is swimming well.
Japan and Canada aren’t known for their freestyle sprinters, so look for Brazil to claim bronze. Even without Cesar Cielo on the team, the likes of Marcelo Cherighini, Bruno Fratus, Nicolas Oliveira, and Joao de Lucca should be able to propel this team to a comfortable third-place finish.
Men’s 400 free relay medal predictions:
Gold: United States
Much has changed in the previous year since Megan Romano chased down Alicia Coutts for the U.S. to win the world title in the women’s 400 free relay. First and foremost, neither will likely swim the relay at Pan Pacs. Romano cannot, having not qualified for the U.S. team, while Coutts deals with increased competition from countrywomen as she focused on other events. Without her, the team of Bronte Campbell, Melanie Schlanger, Emma McKeon, and Cate Campbell set the world record in the event with a 3:30.98 at the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow.
That time beat the Americans’ World title-winning time of 3:32.31 by nearly a second and a half. Neither Romano nor Natalie Coughlin will return from that relay, as their spots have been taken by Simone Manuel and Abbey Weitzeil. Manuel came into her own at Nationals, dropping her best time to a 53.60, while Weitzeil emerged as a national contender in the 100 free for the first time. Shannon Vreeland and Missy Franklin will return from that title team, and their veteran presence will be important in guiding the two newcomers.
Unlike the men, the U.S. women won’t have many options to choose from, so even though Weitzeil will likely be the weakest leg, they must ride her out in her first big international meet. In theory, Katie Ledecky could be an option, but her 100 free has not developed to the point where she would be trusted over Weitzeil on this relay.
Meanwhile, Canada should be in the driver’s seat for third for this relay. They finished third behind Australia and England at the Commonwealth Games, and they took fifth at last year’s World Championships – almost two and a half seconds ahead of Japan. The team of Victoria Poon, Sandrine Mainville, Chantal van Landeghem, and Sam Cheverton should all return from that Barcelona squad.
Women’s 400 free relay medal predictions:
Silver: United States
Previous Pan Pacs medal predictions: