Four Takeaways from Florida OT Qualifier: Lochte, Dressel, Masse and More

Caeleb Dressel. Photo Courtesy: Eurosport

Orlando hosted a low-key Olympic Trials qualifier this weekend that nonetheless attracted some big names, like Ryan Lochte and Caeleb Dressel. A few quick takeaways from the Florida OT qualifier:

The Dressel program

Dressel isn’t just an all-purpose sprinter. He’s not bad at distance freestyle either, it turns out. He clocked in at 4:00.06 in a rare chance to swim the 400 free, and while it’s not a Trials cut nor will it end up on his plate in Omaha in June, it’s an impressive display of range.

Closer to the wheelhouse, Dressel set down a casual 22.04 to win the 50 free and a 48.63 in the 100. He went 52.90 to claim the 100 fly, which was more than 2.5 seconds faster than Lochte.

Lochte progress report

All in all, not bad. Lochte went 1:50.60 in the 200 free, just .01 off what he was in the TYR Pro Swim Series in Greensboro last fall. He went 1:50.25 at nationals last summer and was 1:46.62 in finishing fourth at Olympic Trials in 2016.

Lochte won the 200 individual medley in 2:00.05; his season-best is a 1:58.89 in the Toyota Open in December. He was also second in the 100 back (56.20) and sixth in the 100 fly (55.52).

It may be too much to posit such a small meet as instructive for Lochte’s Trials program. But in 2016, he entered five events, earning an individual swim in Rio in only the 200 IM. At 35, Lochte probably needs to be more strategic than the all-world generalist he once was. He swam only prelims of the 100 free and 100 fly at Trials in 2016, and if he steers away from the U.S.’s prodigious backstroke depth, then the IMs and 200 free (for its relay potential) might be the avenue he pursues.

Masse building a big 2020

Kylie Masse is a reigning world champ, so it shouldn’t be a surprise when the Canadian dominates meets like this. She not only won all three events she entered, but she set down fast times as an early marker in 2020. In the 100 back, her 59.71 was close to the 59.48 season-best from January’s Toronto Grand Prix. The 2:09.01 in the 200 back is a season-best (and quicker than her prelims time from Canadian trials last year).

The 100 fly is where things get interesting. Masse cracked a minute in 59.89 for the second time in her career. The other was a 59.27 in Toronto in January. That muddies the picture for Canadian trials. Maggie MacNeil is the reigning World Champion in the 100 fly. Penny Olekiask won silver in Rio (though her 2019 fastest was only 58.33). And Rebecca Smith was 10th at Worlds last year. That will be a hotly contested race at Trials in six weeks.

Two names to watch

Two 14-year-olds who turned in fast times at the Florida OT qualifier: Gracie Weyant won the 200 breast to get her Olympic Trials cut in 2:31.70. She also won the 200 IM. Addison Sauickie finished second in the 400 free, one of four top-four finishes for her, in a trial cut of 4:15.56.

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