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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 Jeff Commings
PHOENIX, Arizona, August 12. TODAY’S medal predictions for the Pan Pacific championships focuses on the four butterfly races among men and women in Australia. The four Pan Pac charter nations – Australia, Canada, Japan and the United States – look to dominate the medal podium.
Tom Shields is going into the meet as the only American automatically picked for the team in the 100 and 200 fly, but he’ll have his hands full with a few swimmers looking to supplant him and try to get into the championship final.
Michael Phelps swam faster in the 100 fly prelims than Shields’ winning time in finals at nationals, so I believe Phelps will be the one to beat in Australia. I am surprised that Phelps is swimming the 100 fly faster in 2014 than he did at the 2012 Olympics, but sometimes that’s the nature of the sport. I still believe there’s a 50-point swim in Phelps, but the chilly weather in Australia (high temperature of 70 degrees Fahrenheit) might keep him from that next week.
Shields needs to keep his momentum going from nationals, because Japan’s butterfly crew will be tough in the 200 fly. Takeshi Matsuda, the reigning 200 fly Olympic bronze medalist, will have a challenge just to get in the final, as countrymen Daiya Seto and Masato Sakai will be looking to get those two championship final spots allowed per country.
A few swimmers in the 1:56 range will help field an impressive final. Tyler Clary (USA), Leonardo de Deus (Brazil), and Grant Irvine (Australia) have the potential to make the fight for medals a wide-open field. Clary has the potential to be faster, and Irvine will be boosted by a home crowd. De Deus is the dark horse, but anything is possible in the final.
As for the 100 fly, the most interesting thing about it will be the fight among the Americans to get into the championship final. Again, only two per country get into the A final and a third can swim in the B final. That means Shields, Phelps, Tim Phillips and perhaps Ryan Lochte will be putting together strong prelim swims and I can’t wait to see how that shakes out on the scoreboard. This could be a case of the B final winner swimming fast enough to get a medal.
After the Americans, the field drops off a bit, with Japan’s Takuro Fujii and Hirofumi Ikebata the only others in the field posting 51-second swims this year. I suspect Chris Wright of Australia might get under 52 as well, but going from 52.16 to 51-low is a big ask for Wright.
Men’s butterfly medal predictions:
Gold: Michael Phelps, USA
Silver: Tom Shields, USA
Bronze: Takuro Fujii, Japan
Gold: Daiya Seto, Japan
Silver: Tom Shields, USA
Bronze: Tyler Clary, USA
It’s been said many times that the women’s butterfly events for the United States looks very weak, but last week’s nationals shows that the Americans are making a resurgence. In Dana Vollmer’s absence, a few are stepping up to post times that will challenge for medals next week at the Pan Pacific championships and for championship final places in the big 2015 and 2016 meets.
In the 100 fly, Canada’s Katerine Savard will be riding the wave of her Commonwealth Games victory, while Alicia Coutts will be looking to brush aside a subpar Commonwealth Games with a victory at home. Only two swimmers per country are allowed in the A final of any event at the Pan Pacific championships, so Australia’s trio of Coutts, Emma McKeon and Madeline Groves will be battling each other in the heats.
Americans Kendyl Stewart, Claire Donahue and Felicia Lee have the ability to challenge for a medal, but will need to be in the 57-low range.
As for the 200 fly, Japan’s Natsumi Hoshi is well above the rest. Her world-leading time of 2:05.98 is about a second ahead of Groves, her closest competitor. Cammile Adams will need to hope that competing at the Commonwealth Games took some of the edge off the Aussies, but she’ll need to put up a 2:06 on the scoreboard to be in the hunt for a silver medal. She swam a 2:06.75 at worlds last summer, and that could be enough to place second if Groves isn’t firing on all cylinders.
Women’s butterfly medal predictions:
Gold: Alicia Coutts, Australia
Silver: Katerine Savard, Canada
Bronze: Emma McKeon, Australia
Gold: Natsumi Hoshi, Japan
Silver: Madeline Groves, Australia
Bronze: Cammile Adams, USA
Previous Pan Pacs medal predictions: