Five Men’s Storylines to Follow at the 2021 TYR Pro Swim Series

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Photo Courtesy: Peter H. Bick

Five Men’s Storylines to Follow at the 2021 TYR Pro Swim Series

The first major national level meet of 2021 will begin this weekend in San Antonio and Richmond as USA Swimming will hold the TYR Pro Swim Series in two locations to adhere to social distancing during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. With 152 days until the Olympic Trials, the countdown is on to Omaha and with 193 days until the rescheduled Tokyo Olympics, a good second wave of Olympic fever is spreading across the swimming community.

With the TYR Pro Swim Series being split in to two different sites, we will be previewing the men’s races after tackling the men’s. Many of the best American swimmers will be in attendance across the two sites including Ryan MurphyChase KaliszRyan Lochte and Ryan Held.

The meet will begin Thursday January 14 with the distance events, and will open up with prelims on Friday, January 15.

Start Times:

  • Richmond women’s prelims: 9 a.m. EST
  • San Antonio women’s prelims: 10 a.m. EST
  • Richmond men’s prelims: 12:00 p.m. EST
  • San Antonio men’s prelims: 12:30 p.m. EST
  • Richmond finals: 7 p.m. EST
  • San Antonio finals: 7 p.m. EST (Live on Olympic Channel)

Here are some of the storylines to follow this weekend in San Antonio and Richmond.

Who takes the 400 IM Trials preview?

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Jay Litherland. Photo Courtesy: Becca Wyant

The men’s 400 IM will kick off the Olympic Trials this summer and it is quickly becoming one of the most anticipated races at the meet. This weekend, five of the major players will be in attendance in San Antonio, led by 2017 World champ Chase Kalisz and 2019 Worlds silver medalist Jay Litherland, who have represented the US in this event the last four years. Upstarts Carson Foster and Charlie Swanson as well as Jake Foster will also have a say in who makes the team on opening night at Trials. Both Foster siblings have improved tremendously in their early days at Texas and could play a role in the top two if the Georgia pros are hasty. Swanson was also a 4:11 at the 2019 Pan American Games, which would have won bronze at the 2019 Worlds. It could be anyone’s game, but Kalisz and Litherland are still the favorites as of now, but that may change depending on what happens this weekend.

Murphy vs. Casas

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Ryan Murphy. Photo Courtesy: MIKE LEWIS / ISL

Ryan Murphy is the reigning Olympic champ in the 100 and 200 back, and has been the man for the US since Rio in those events. But Texas A&M junior Shaine Casas has risen as an Olympic contender in the 100 and 200 back with his swims in the 2019 US Nationals, as well as what he has done in short course yards. We didn’t get to see what he could do at last year’s NCAAs, but Casas is the real deal, and will get to race alongside Murphy for the first time to test what he is made of in San Antonio. Add in Texas senior Austin Katz, who made the 2018 Pan Pac team and won the World University Games in 2019, as well as rising stars Carson Foster and Will Grant, and the 200 back will be a can’t miss race this weekend in San Antonio.

Who is the best breaststroker in the US?

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Photo Courtesy: Peter H. Bick

With the emergence of Great Britain’s Adam Peaty in 2015, the United States has struggled to find a breaststroker to compete with the British star. Granted, every country has struggled to find a breaststroker on par with Peaty, but the US will have a glaring gap on the second leg of the medley relay when comparing splits for the Olympics. If the Americans can find someone that can go consistent 58 lows by the summer, then they will be looking pretty for keeping its Olympic medley relay streak going. Cody Miller won the 100 bronze in 2016 and was on the gold medal winning medley relay. This weekend in San Antonio, he will be racing alongside Worlds finalist Andrew Wilson, short course American record holder Ian Finnerty, long course American record holder Kevin Cordes, and long-time breaststroke veteran Nic Fink in what is still one of the most wide open events for Trials.

Where does the 200 free field stand?

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Zach Apple. Photo Courtesy: Peter H. Bick

There doesn’t appear to be a clear favorite for the men’s 200 freestyle with so many good contenders all around the 1:45/1:46 range. Andrew Seliskar and Townley Haas represented the US in 2019 and did not reach the final, but had good showings on the 4×200 free relay later in the meet. They are the top two seeds in the San Antonio field with Kieran SmithDean FarrisZach AppleMaxime Rooney and Drew Kibler in pursuit. Apple and Rooney were strong in the ISL, while Kibler has had a really good junior season with Texas in the fall. Smith and Farris are also going to be popular picks to make the team if they can show they are in 1:46 shape as we get closer to March.

How is the deep 100 free field?

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Ryan Held. Photo Courtesy: Connor Trimble

It is no secret that the men’s 100 freestyle field in the United States is as stacked as it has ever been. Even with Caeleb Dressel not swimming this weekend in the TYR Pro Swim Series, there’s a plethora of Tokyo medal contenders in action including Ryan HeldMaxime RooneyZach AppleTate Jackson, Dean Farris and Michael Chadwick. Whoever makes the team in the 4×100 free relay will likely need to be quicker than a 48.0 in the Trials final, which would be one of the quickest fields ever assembled. With so much hype surrounding that race based on the 2019 results, where five American men were ranked in the top ten in the world, we will finally get an opportunity to see where the field stands in 2021 and have some new long course data to work with. At the ISL this fall in short course, Apple and Rooney were among the best in the world so how will they translate to long course? Held and Farris did not swim in the ISL but are still popular picks to make the Olympic team so it will be intriguing to see how the race plays out this weekend.

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