2021 TYR Pro Swim Series: Justin Ress, Catie DeLoof Continue Momentum in 100 Freestyle

justin-ress
Photo Courtesy: Sarah D. Davis/theACC.com

2021 TYR Pro Swim Series: Justin Ress, Catie DeLoof Continue Momentum in 100 Freestyle

The strength of the men’s sprint scene during the two-site TYR Pro Swim Series over the weekend was undoubtedly in Richmond. After the top three finishers in the 50 free came from the Virginia stop on Saturday night, the 100 freestyle was even more tilted toward Richmond on Sunday evening, as the fastest-four times came from the East Coast.

Backing up his victory in the 100 backstroke from a night earlier, Justin Ress took top honors in the 100 free with a mark of 49.18, which was .34 clear of the 49.52 produced by Michael Chadwick. Austin Surhoff, the 30-year-old former Texas standout, delivered a 49.76 outing for third place, while Coleman Stewart (49.84) also cracked the 50-second barrier.

A product of North Carolina State, Ress made a statement in his events, as he set a personal best in his 100 backstroke win and was not far off his personal record of 48.74 in the 100 free. In San Antonio, Ryan Held was the top finisher, going 49.86 to fend off Zach Apple (49.91).

“It’s been a staple of my races for a while now (to close well),” Apple said. “It wasn’t always that way but it is something I have trained to do, like putting your head down in the last few repetitions in a race set.”

Apple commented on the stacked field in the US right now in the 100 freestyle:

“It is always good to race the best and that is pretty easy to do in the 100 free in the US. It is always fun to race those guys. They are going to be the guys we are on relay teams with at the Olympics so we should get to know them well and how they race. It is good to be pushed that way.”

For the women, Catie DeLoof kept the sprint strength in Richmond as she capped her sprint double. With a win in the 50 free already notched, DeLoof posted a time of 54.33 over two laps, which was good for a .34 margin over Olivia Smoliga, who went 54.67 in San Antonio. Abbey Weitzeil followed Smoliga in 55.13.

“I was really happy to just finish strong. I worked the back half and the finish as much as I could,” Smoliga said. “I was watching my video from this morning and I didn’t do as many underwaters and I breathed off the turn as well. It was just a little bit more polishing tonight. I knew Abbey would be out fast so I wanted to make sure I was as close as possible so I could finish it if I was in range of her. I just followed her lead and went with her momentum to the finish.”

Not only did DeLoof enjoy a strong weekend behind her sprint double, Smoliga walked away with strong results from Texas. Prior to besting the field in the 100 free in San Antonio, Smoliga dipped under one minute in the 100 backstroke while placing second to Regan Smith. Smoliga is a part of one of the top training groups in the United States with the pro group at the University of Georgia with swimmers like Melanie MargalisChase Kalisz and Nic Fink.

“All we do is feed off each other,” Smoliga said. “How we are at meets is how we are at practice. We don’t let anyone take it easy. At practice we expect the best and when we are racing, too. When we see great races it just carries momentum for the group. We have a great group in Georgia so it is awesome to be a part of it.”

“This field is incredible which is why I was so pleased with the race,” Smoliga said. “Just to be able to race the way that I was. I am looking forward to swimming freestyle and backstroke this year so I wouldn’t put myself in one category.”

“I was hoping to go a lot faster than I did but I feel like that was the consensus from everyone,” Weitzeil said. “It was a bit of an odd meet just because there aren’t a ton of people here and the pool was shallow. It was an odd transition but I was really happy to see everyone and do race rehearsal which was why I came – to be in the hotel and what I do before the race. There was a lot to learn from.”

Weitzeil is one of the favorites to make the Olympic team in this event after concluding a successful college career at Cal in March 2020.

“This whole year after the Olympics were cancelled, my mindset went to, ‘next year how can we do?’ and it was more towards ‘anywhere I can get race practice, I will take it.’ Meets got cancelled and then ISL happened and it was a great opportunity to get international racing even if it was in short course meters. The mentality right now is not different but it is easier to focus on swimming and not put my energy towards school.”

“It was hard to get my mental capacity back to be able to train full-time again. It was a lot of doubles and learning how to stay mentally there in practice when I’m not used to it. My lifting was not consistent at all during this summer so having a new weights coach and learning a different style was an adjustment.”