Five Swim Meets to Watch in 2019

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Photo Courtesy: Peter H. Bick

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2019 is officially here and that means it is time to preview what is to come in the upcoming calendar year. There will be plenty of exciting meets to watch, including the FINA Long Course World Championships, NCAA Championships and U.S. Nationals. Below are Swimming World’s top five picks for meets every swimming fan should pay attention to in 2019.

Women’s Division I NCAAs

Venue

Photo Courtesy: Peter H. Bick

Where: Austin, Texas

When: March 20-23

Why watch? Viewers will watch one of the greatest classes of swimmers (Lilly KingMallory Comerford and Ella Eastin) swim in their final NCAA meet and get to see if Stanford can win its third straight team title to become the first team to do so since Auburn (2002-04).

Even without superstars Katie LedeckySimone Manuel and Kathleen Baker in attendance, the women’s field still features must-see names. Out of the thirteen event winners in 2018, seven of them return in 2019.

World Record holder King will be looking to become the first woman to win eight NCAA breaststroke titles. Comerford will look for her third 200 free title while going up against the number one ranked swimmer in the world in the long course 200 free, freshman Taylor Ruck, as well as Siobhan Haughey, who already beat her head to head this year.

Three of the four fastest women ever in the 100 fly will lock horns on Friday night of the meet. American Record holders Beata Nelson and Abbey Weitzeil will go for their first individual national titles, while the distance events will be wide open this year without Ledecky.

Stanford is not the heavy favorite they have been the last two years going into the meet, since they have a lot of new faces this season. Can Cal’s senior leadership push them to an upset win? How will Texas fare in its home pool? Or will Michigan’s stars lead them to victory?

The men’s meet is going to be great too, but if you call yourself a swimming fan, you need to tune in to this meet the week before.

World University Games

Italy Cheering World University Games 2015

Photo Courtesy: Gwangju Summer Universiade Organizing Committee

Where: Naples, Italy

When: July 4-10

Team USA Roster

Why watch? It’s the first major international meet of the summer and will be something to keep up with during your summer taper when you’re getting hyped up for your end-of-season meet.

In 2015, six women (Hali FlickingerMolly HannisLilly KingLia NealLeah SmithAbbey Weitzeil) and four men (Jack CongerJay LitherlandJacob PebleyJosh Prenot) swam at this meet before making the 2016 Olympic team a year later. Many swimmers for the United States will look to make the same jump to the Olympic Team at the meet this time around. The meet has also seen international swimmers do the same, potentially previewing some races on the world’s biggest stage in Tokyo.

FINA World Championships

Venue World University Games Gwangju 2015

Photo Courtesy: Gwangju Summer Universiade Organizing Committee

Where: Gwangju, South Korea

When: July 21-28

Team USA Roster

Why watch? It’s the appetizer for the big show next summer.

Every swimmer that wins a medal at this summer’s Worlds will have the target on their back heading in to the Olympic year. It will be the first time the world has come together for a meet since 2017, with everyone splitting off into their “regional” meets this past year.

2018 was a big year for (relative) newcomers Taylor RuckAlys Thomas, Ariarne TitmusPiero Codia and Michael Andrew, plus many others. Assuming they all make their respective World Championship teams (Andrew already has), how will they fare on the world stage after their strong 2018 campaigns?

What will each nation’s team look like a year out? Who looks good and who doesn’t? It’s going to be a fun eight days, and it’s the meet we have all been waiting for.

Pan American Games

Jul 10, 2015; Toronto, Ontario, Canada; Paraguay flag bearer Benjamin Hockin leads the delegation in the parade of nations during the opening ceremony for the 2015 Pan Am Games at Pan Am Ceremonies Venue. Mandatory Credit: Rob Schumacher-USA TODAY Sports

Photo Courtesy: Rob Schumacher/USA Today Sports Images

Where: Lima, Peru

When: August 6-10

Team USA Roster

Why watch? The meet will be streamed at a decent time since Peru is on Eastern Standard Time, so it will be nice to watch while you’re eating dinner after practice. And because Nathan Adrian is going to be there.

The 2015 swim meet was actually a really fun meet to watch, with the Canadian crowd providing a great atmosphere in Toronto. We will see if Peru can produce a similar crowd this time around, but it should be a solid meet regardless. Brazil usually sends a strong team. Argentina and Colombia will also be in the mix while Jamaica’s Alia Atkinson will probably be in attendance. Trinidad’s Dylan Carter might make an appearance as well.

And who knows, maybe Thiago Pereira will come out of retirement.

Six total athletes from USA Swimming’s 2015 roster made the Olympic team in 2016 (Gunnar BentzKatie MeiliAllison SchmittOlivia SmoligaKelsi Worrell and Amanda Weir), so there will be some breakout swims to keep an eye out for. It will also take place a week after the World Championships, in case those eight days of great racing were not enough.

With the meet taking place after Worlds, there will be plenty of motivation for the athletes having already seen what the best of the best put up. It will be a similar set-up to the Olympics, with the swimmers staying in a village amongst athletes in other sports.

Junior World Championships

fina-world-championships-venue

Photo Courtesy: FINA (Instagram)

Where: Budapest, Hungary

When: August 20-25

Why watch? So you can sound like the smartest person in the room at your Olympic watch party next year when someone from this meet shocks everyone in Tokyo and you mention “I watched them last year at Junior Worlds.”

There will be a couple of swimmers at this meet that will win Olympic gold medals at some point in the future, whether it will be 2020, 2024, or maybe 2028. But the world’s future stars will be on display in Budapest a week before Labor Day. Kyle ChalmersPenny OleksiakAnton ChupkovRikako Ikee and Taylor Ruck are now some of swimming’s biggest stars, and they were all in attendance at the 2015 meet.

Four members of the 2015 World Juniors team made the World Championships team this summer for Team USA (Brooke FordeMichael Andrew,Zach Harting and Grant Shoults), and a few others are knocking on the door for the Olympic team next year (Austin Katz, Grant HouseSean Grieshop and Beata Nelson).

USA Swimming will not name the team for the 2019 World Juniors until after the U.S. Nationals (July 31-August 4). Yes it was short course, but the Winter Junior Nationals were very promising with young stars Gretchen WalshCarson Foster and Gianluca Urlando putting up some great swims. All three of them should be in contention to make the World Junior trip this summer, as well as rising star Claire Tuggle.

All commentaries are the opinion of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Swimming World Magazine nor its staff.