A Preview of USA Women’s 100 Free at the 2018 Summer National Championships

Photo Courtesy: Peter H. Bick

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By Kevin Donnelly, Swimming World College Intern.

This summer’s U.S. National Championships are less than a week away, and the swimming world is gearing up to see the country’s best take to the pool in Irvine, Calif. to fight for spots for this summer’s Pan Pacific Championships team. The meet is set to start on Wednesday, July 25th, and will run through Sunday, July 29th.

With the top four finishers automatically qualifying for Team USA’s Pan Pacs squad, the women’s 100 free for this coming week’s National Championships looks to be an especially interesting battle between a number of ladies, each of whom want to stake a claim in the title.

The Favorites

simone-manuel-

Photo Courtesy: Peter H. Bick

Only two women in the field have ever broken 53 seconds – those two being Simone Manuel and Mallory Comerford. Manuel holds the current American Record at 52.27 and is the reigning World champion, defeating Sarah Sjostrom for gold in 2017. She is also the 2016 Olympic champion, tying for gold with Canada’s Penny Oleksiak back in 2016. Manuel is one of three American women to break 54 seconds in 2018 and looks poised to repeat as national champion.

Meanwhile, Comerford’s current season best sits at 54.06, set at the TYR Pro Swim Series at Atlanta back in March. She took fourth last summer at the World Championships with a 52.77, yet she turned around to break this personal record after leading off Team USA’s 400 free relay with a 52.59.

Comerford shocked the swimming world during her time as a Louisville Cardinal when she tied for the NCAA title in the 200 freestyle with Katie Ledecky back in 2017. She also put up a strong new personal best time of 46.20 in the 100-yard freestyle at the 2018 NCAA Championships, to accompany her effort of 1:39.80 in the 200 free. Now with a strong summer of long course swimming under her belt, look for her to battle Manuel and potentially defeat her at Nationals.

The Veterans

allison-schmitt-

Photo Courtesy: Peter H. Bick

Margo Geer has had a roller-coaster ride through injury and upsets, but she is looking strong, putting up a personal-best time in 2018 with a 53.74. After a disappointing 2016 season, where Geer took 15th in the 100 free at Olympic Trials with a time of 54.91, she looks to be in strong position to contend for the Team USA squad for this summer’s Pan Pacs if she can stay true to form.

Allison Schmitt‘s speed has started to kick in, putting up a strong 54.34 at the TYR Pro Swim Series in Columbus – not too far off her personal best of 53.87. This 2012 Olympic gold medalist in the 200 freestyle has started to become a real competitor in the 100. Her personal best of 53.87 was set at the 2016 Olympic Trials, where she placed 5th and earned a relay spot for the Rio Olympics. She will be contending for the national title, if not for a relay spot, at this summer’s Pan Pacs.

2012 and 2016 Olympian Lia Neal, now a postgraduate swimming with Stanford, is one of the three American women to break 54 seconds in 2018, along with Manuel and Geer. Her time of 53.95 stands close to her personal best of 53.59, and she can certainly contend for a spot on Team USA this summer if she maintains that speed. Neal boasts a massive amount of international experience, as she was a relay swimmer for Team USA both at the 2012 and the 2016 Olympics.

The women’s 100 free is full of depth and talent, and Team USA looks to be set with a strong crop of contenders next week at Nationals. The 100 freestyle will be one of the feature events on day one of competition in Irvine (along with the 200 butterfly, the women’s 800 free, and the men’s 1500 free), and we will undoubtedly see some strong swimming with international qualifying on the line.

Click here to view the psych sheet for the meet.

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Author: Kevin Donnelly

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Kevin Donnelly swam competitively for eight years and remains involved in the sport as a year-round and summer league coach. Kevin has coached swimmers ranging from ages 9-18 for the Marlins of Raleigh, including multiple National Junior Team members and Olympic Trials qualifiers. He has also coached his local summer league team since the age of 14.

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