Four Storylines to Follow at the TYR Pro Swim Series March in San Antonio

Caeleb Dressel
Photo Courtesy: MIKE LEWIS / ISL

Four Storylines to Follow at the TYR Pro Swim Series in San Antonio

March is on! And although most of the swimming excitement will be geared toward the return of the NCAA Division I & II Championships in a couple weeks, March means long course and Trials season are vastly approaching. In case you forgot, this is the Olympic year, and we are 144 days away from a long five-year wait for Tokyo that has been detoured for an extra year. As much excitement as NCAAs brings, the long course action is what swimming fans have been dying to see in the lead-up to Olympic Trials.

The meet will begin Wednesday at 5:00 p.m. local time. Finals will begin each night at 7:00 p.m. local time with prelims slated for 10:00 a.m. (women) and around 12:45 p.m. (men).

This weekend’s TYR Pro Swim Series in San Antonio will be another racing opportunity for many of the professional swimmers vying to make the Olympic team, so we will take a look at some of the interesting storylines ahead of this weekend’s meet.

Return of Dressel, Ledecky & Manuel

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Simone Manuel. Photo Courtesy: Becca Wyant

We already saw Caeleb Dressel light it up at the ISL last fall, but we haven’t really seen much from Stanford teammates Katie Ledecky and Simone Manuel. Neither of them competed in the ISL and neither of them swam at the US Open in December, so we really have no idea where they are ahead of the Olympic Trials. Ledecky and Manuel are about as sure of a bet as you can get to make this summer’s Olympic team – we just haven’t seen them race in over a year, so it will be interesting to see them swim again.

Ledecky is in all the freestyle events from the 50 to the 1500 while Manuel is in the 50, 100 and 200 free.

Dressel also did not compete at the US Open nor the Pro Swim Series in January so we don’t know what kind of long course shape he is in. Again, he is as sure of a bet to make the Tokyo team as anyone competing this weekend, it is just a matter of where is he in the long course venue. He is slated to swim the 100 and 200 free, and the 100 and 200 fly in his return to long course racing. These three are going to be the faces of USA Swimming this summer and the fact they are all racing in the same pool will certainly stir some excitement into swimming fans everywhere.

Beryl Gastaldello Returns After Stomping ISL Competition

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Photo Courtesy: Mine Kasapoglu/ISL

After six weeks of racing in the ISL last autumn in Hungary, there were some questions over how France’s Beryl Gastaldello would translate her short course success to the long course venue. Gastaldello had the fastest time in the world in the 100 butterfly and was second in the 100 freestyle and also sixth in the 50 free in short course meters last year. She has seemingly reborn her career in her postgrad so what does that look like in long course? We will find out this weekend in San Antonio as she is in the 100 free, 100 fly and 200 IM.

France right now has a good group of sprint freestylers that could make a late run at the podium in the 4×100 free relay with Gastaldello, Charlotte Bonnet and Marie Wattel, who have all seen tremendous improvements somewhat late in their professional careers as they are all in their mid-20s.

How do the Undergrads do After Conference and Ahead of NCAAs?

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Cal’s Reece Whitley. Photo Courtesy: Connor Trimble

This early March Pro Series has always been a favorite of college coaches to give their athletes a chance at racing long course a couple weeks ahead of NCAAs, sort of as a reminder that this is the main goal for the year – to perform well in the Olympic pool. This coming weekend will see a number of undergrads in long course action, including the likes of Stanford’s Brooke Forde, Georgia’s Luca Urlando and a handful of Cal guys who are currently in the middle of Pac-12s in Houston.

Daniel Carr, Sean Grieshop, Trenton Julian, Destin Lasco, Bryce Mefford, Dare Rose, Bjorn SeeligerReece Whitley and Zach Yeadon will make the three hour drive west on I-10 to San Antonio to race this weekend after putting up times for NCAA consideration at Pac-12s and potentially win a conference title. How will all the college swimmers fare in long course after a year of primarily short course racing? There have been limited racing opportunities for them this season, and there may be some rust to get out before Trials, so many coaches are likely using this weekend as an opportunity to race good long course competition ahead of Trials. In a year with so many uncertainties, it will be another step towards normalcy to get some long course racing in before the summer.

No Multi Site

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Photo Courtesy: Peter H. Bick

The good news about this weekend’s TYR Pro Swim Series in San Antonio is that there is only one site for the meet. Although no fans will be in the venue and it will still be socially distant with the ongoing COVID pandemic, there won’t be any comparing across sites. All of the best swimmers will be in the same spot, which gives fans a little sense of normalcy back after so many meets with one or two heats in each event. In fact, it was this meet last year that was marked as the last meet in the US before the world was put on pause because of the pandemic.

It seems as if fans are still trepidatiously looking forward to NCAAs and the Olympics like they are the horror movie Candyman. Of course if we can get out of this Pro Series with no COVID cases and growing comfort over holding more and more people at a swim meet, then we will feel more and more comfortable about NCAAs, Olympic Trials, and eventually, the Olympic Games.

The US Open was split across nine sites in December. The Pro Series in January was in two locations. But this weekend’s meet will have everybody, and will certainly feel like a normal swim meet as we restart the march towards Tokyo and the Olympics.

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