Photo Credit: Peter H. Bick
Editorial coverage for U.S. Senior Nationals proudly sponsored by Master Spas!
By Emily Sampl
BOULDER, Colorado, August 4. ONLY 48 hours remain until the start of the biggest meet on US soil this summer, the Phillips 66 National Championships. Needless to say, this is an extremely important meet for a lot of swimmers, as the results will determine not only the US squad for the Pan Pacific and Junior Pan Pacific Championships later this month, but next summer’s World Championships, World University Games and Pan American Games. Anyone who wants to take part in these meets has to step up in Irvine. Here are five storylines to keep an eye on at the meet.
1. Who will be representing the US at upcoming major international meets?
This summer marks the halfway point between the 2012 London Olympics and the 2016 Rio Olympics. While there are a lot of familiar faces at the top of the psych sheets – Ryan Lochte, Michael Phelps, Missy Franklin, Katie Ledecky, etc. – there are a ton of swimmers who are knocking on the door of being huge contributors internationally. Some of USA Swimming’s veteran swimmers might not make the cut, while others who were close to making major teams in 2012 and 2013 may finally solidify themselves as mainstays on international rosters. We will find out in two days.
2. Which swimmers will have their coming out party this week?
It happens at almost every major trials or qualifying meet – a less familiar or younger, up-and-coming swimmer drops a chunk of time or simply has a great race and qualifies for a major team. Who will it be this time? A lot of swimming fans have come to expect a “new” swimmer to qualify for a major team in something; they just don’t know what the event will be. Keep an eye out for swimmers on the verge of a breakthrough in prelims and finals, they just may be the one who ends up surprising everyone!
3. How will the US relays stack up internationally?
Results from this meet will have implications not only for qualifying for Pan Pacs, etc. in individual events, but relays as well. The US has a strong tradition in the relays at major international meets, and the first step to ensuring those relays are as fast as possible is by building a great roster in Irvine. The 100 and 200 freestyles will be especially important, as the top finishers should qualify for a spot on the 4×100 and 4×200 freestyle relays. The stroke 100s will be key as well in setting up great 4×100 medley relays, which the US is usually dominant in.
4. Will Ryan Lochte be ready to race?
After an up-and-down few months that have included a lot of event scratches as he recovers from a knee injury, Ryan Lochte will need to be on his game in Irvine as international roster spots are on the line. He’s entered in a full lineup of six events, including the 100 free, 200 free, 100 back, 200 back, 100 fly and 200 IM. He’s already done the 200 IM once this summer, at the Georgia Bulldog Grand Slam, which answered any questions about his ability to do breaststroke. Now it’s time to see how his training stacks up against the rest of the country in a taper meet.
5. How will Michael Phelps fare in the biggest meet of his comeback so far?
This meet will definitely be the biggest test of Michael Phelps’ comeback thus far. Phelps has only competed in a few meets since announcing his un-retirement, and now he’s up against the best the US has to offer, with a spot on two major teams on the line. He’ll contest the 100 free, 100 fly, 100 back and 200 IM in Irvine, and his placing in those events will determine whether he’ll swim relays as well. It will be great to have Phelps back in the mix, for the fans and swimmers alike.