Pan Pacs Medal Predictions: Picking Top Three In Men’s and Women’s 50, 100, 200 Freestyles

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PHOENIX, Arizona, August 18. FRIDAY’S men’s 100 freestyle final will Nathan Adrian’s opportunity to tie up the series of races between himself and James Magnussen, and it will be an intense race. Magnussen won the 2011 and 2013 world titles, while Adrian took the Olympic gold medal.

Magnussen gets a bit of a boost with the Australian crowd pulling for the sprint star at the Gold Coast Aquatic Centre, and that could be enough to give “Maggie” the win. Also working in Magnussen’s favor is the 47.59 from the Australian nationals in April, one of only two swims under 48 seconds in 2014. (I’ll get to the other sub-48 swim shortly.) Working against Magnussen is the reports that he is dealing with some back issues, but staying on the team means things might be in good shape.

Adrian was not likely fully rested at nationals, so we should see him under 48. The problem that often comes up in a 100 free final is the slower times generated by the existence of monster waves in the pool and the existence of too much adrenaline that tends to get athletes overexerted. That didn’t happen to Adrian at the Olympics, and he’ll need that experience on Friday. Cameron McEvoy, the other swimmer under 48 this year, could spoil things by either splitting Magnussen and Adrian on the medal podium, or getting the win if the two stars are too busy focusing on each other.

Whichever American gets in the final with Adrian – though I suppose we shouldn’t always assume Adrian’s a lock for finals – will be in the hunt. If it’s Jimmy Feigen, he can draw on his shocking silver-medal finish at worlds last year. If it’s Ryan Lochte, he will already be a winner just by being the second-fastest American in the 100 free at the meet, something not often mentioned in the same breath as Lochte. If Michael Phelps makes it in, he’s always a threat.

As for the men’s 50 free, this will be a four-way fight featuring the USA and Brazil. Adrian and Anthony Ervin are likely to line up against Marcelo Chierighini and Bruno Fratus in this final. Magnussen is improving in the 50 free but doesn’t specialize in it like the aforementioned four. Cullen Jones should make it into the B final and maybe post a time that would have challenged for a medal.

Now that we know that Tae Hwan Park is officially set for Pan Pacs, he’s the first name I think of for gold. He is the co-silver medalist from the Olympics and might have won the same medal or better at worlds last year if he hadn’t taken time off from competition. But Thomas Fraser-Holmes has different plans. If Park is only capable of a 1:45 on Thursday, that could leave the door open for Fraser-Holmes to pull off an upset that will whip the home crowd into a frenzy.

Conor Dwyer and Matt McLean (or Ryan Lochte or Michael Phelps) will be in the medal hunt, but no one has indicated that a 1:45 swim is in store this year. Let’s hope they all surprise us. The 200 free is the first event of the meet, and a race decided by a few tenths from first to fourth or fifth would set the tone for the remaining three days.

Men’s 50, 100 and 200 freestyle medal predictions:
50:
Gold:
Anthony Ervin, USA
Silver: Bruno Fratus, Brazil
Bronze: Nathan Adrian, USA

100:
Gold:
Nathan Adrian, USA
Silver: Cameron McEvoy, Australia
Bronze: James Magnussen, Australia

200:
Gold:
Tae Hwan Park, Korea
Silver: Thomas Fraser-Holmes, Australia
Bronze: Conor Dwyer, USA

I won’t waste much time discussing the women’s 50 and 100 freestyles. Cate Campbell wins both in a landslide. The Americans will have a tough time getting second in both, as Campbell’s younger sister Bronte is the challenger and has the potential to be part of an Aussie 1-2 sweep. Simone Manuel continues to improve, posting a lifetime best 24.56 at the U.S. nationals, but that’s a light year behind the 24.00 by Cate and the 24.20 by Bronte from the Commonwealth Games.

Missy Franklin and Manuel do not appear to be capable of a 52-second 100 freestyle in 2014, though we might see that from them in 2016. With that in mind, the Campbell sisters, both regularly swimming 52s this year, are a lock for the 100 free top two.

The 200 free isn’t as easy to predict. Katie Ledecky’s incredible 1:55.16 puts the target on her back in the event. This is the first event of the meet, and will be Ledecky’s only major challenge. If she can outswim Australian Emma McKeon, she is ensured of five gold medals.

Missy Franklin is the biggest question mark. She was second to Ledecky at nationals with a 1:56.40, but she wasn’t fully tapered. If she can approach the 1:54.81 that she swam on the way to world championship gold, she could drag Ledecky and McKeon along with her.

Let’s not forget about Bronte Barratt, the Olympic bronze medalist. She wasn’t on form at Commonwealth Games, but like many Australians, I expect her to be fully focused on top performances at Pan Pacs.

Women’s 50, 100 and 200 freestyle medal predictions:
50:
Gold:
Cate Campbell, Australia
Silver: Bronte Campbell, Australia
Bronze: Simone Manuel, USA

100:
Gold:
Cate Campbell, Australia
Silver: Bronte Campbell, Australia
Bronze: Missy Franklin, USA

200:
Gold:
Katie Ledecky, USA
Silver: Missy Franklin, USA
Bronze: Emma McKeon, Australia

1 Comment

1 comment

  1. Leja

    I don’t totally agree with you about 100 freestyle men. I say Australia gets gold and silver – with Magnussen and McEvoy, but not sure which of them will be the winner, and bronze goes to USA – Adrian.
    It’s discipline I’m most excited to watch.

Author: Jeff Commings

Jeff Commings is the host of several shows on SwimmingWorld.TV, including "The Morning Swim Show," which features interviews with people making headlines in aquatic sports. He graduated from the University of Texas at Austin with a degree in journalism and was a nine-time NCAA All-American.

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