From Junior Pan Pacs To Senior: Looking Back On 2014 Junior Team

Photo Courtesy: Griffin Scott

By Andy Ross

The 2018 Junior Pan Pacs are just a few days away from the tropical island of Fiji. The United States will be sending a stacked team, which can be viewed here. The meet is a great showcase for the young talent budding in the Pan Pac nations of Australia, Canada, Japan and the United States. Being such a small meet, it was even compared to being just a really fast summer league meet by 2018 team captain Drew Kibler in 2016.

All in all, the Junior Pan Pacs has been home to some future Olympians, like when Chase Kalisz and Daiya Seto dueled in the 400 IM at the 2012 meet a year before going 1-2 at the 2013 World Championships.

At the 2012 Junior Pan Pacs, eight total members of that American team went on to make the 2016 Olympic Team. Leah SmithKathleen BakerSimone Manuel and Kalisz were among those swimmers that would win individual medals in Rio, while Cierra RungeOlivia Smoliga, Jack Conger and Gunnar Bentz would go on to win medals in relays at those Olympics.

Also at that 2012 meet, Australia had Mack HortonTaylor McKeown and Madison Wilson on their team, who went on to swim at the 2016 Olympics and place in the top eight, including Horton who went on to win the gold medal in the 400 free. Canada had Kierra Smith and Sydney Pickrem as future Olympic finalists and Japan had Seto and Yui Ohashi who would go on to win major medals for them at future meets.

So for swimming fans, it can be a fun four year journey to see where these swimmers end up in the future. So Swimming World looked at the 2014 United States Junior Pan Pacs team and highlighted the nine swimmers from that team that went on to swim at the 2018 Senior Pan Pacs in Tokyo earlier this month.

Michael Andrew

Photo Courtesy: Griffin Scott

2014 results: silver, 100 back

2018 results: gold, 50 free; 7th, 100 breast; bronze, 4×100 mixed medley relay

Michael Andrew was finishing up his first year as a professional swimmer in 2014 and he was swimming at his first international meet for Team USA. There was a lot of skepticism over whether Andrew was capable of sustaining his success and advancing to the next level. But granted, he was only 15-years-old, and he was one of the best junior swimmers for Team USA. In hindsight, the fact he was the youngest male swimmer on the team had to be a sign that he was due for big things.

Andrew, now 19, is the fastest American, winning three national titles in 50 strokes, as well as the 100 breast. Andrew’s ceiling is still pretty high as he seems to keep improving each and every meet. Andrew is now a real player in the world of swimming and he could challenge for an individual medal in Tokyo in two years.

Katie Drabot

Photo Courtesy: Griffin Scott

2014 results: gold, 200 free; gold 4×200 free relay; gold, 4×100 medley relay

2018 results: bronze, 200 fly

Drabot was about to start her junior year of high school when she swam for Team USA at the Junior Pan Pacs in Hawaii. Drabot was another one of the most promising young swimmers in the United States at the time. She was the number one recruit in the class of 2016 and perhaps the most versatile swimmer in high school going into the 2014-15 school year.

Four years later, Drabot made her break through at the Nationals in Irvine by clinching a spot on the Pan Pac team in the 200 fly. Drabot is now turning into a 200 flyer for Team USA, and could be due for bigger things as she is just beginning her junior season at Stanford.

Ella Eastin

Ella Eastin Summer Nationals 2014

Photo Courtesy: Griffin Scott

2014 results: gold, 400 IM; gold, 200 IM

2018 results: 4th, 200 IM

Despite winning two golds in Hawaii in 2014, Eastin still had a disappointing summer. She was about to start her senior season, where she would be one of the top recruits in the class of 2015. She went faster the summer before, smashing the junior national meet record with a 4:38.97, that still stands today. But she revealed she had an injury that summer that was keeping her from competing at 100%.

Eastin finally made her first senior team in 2018, where she muscled her way on the plane to Tokyo with a third place finish in the 200 IM on the last day of the meet. Much like 2014, Eastin had an out of the pool setback that kept her from performing at her best in 2018. Regardless, she still made the team this summer and is one of the favorites for Team USA moving forward.

Sean Grieshop

Sean Grieshop 2014 Summer Junior Nationals

Photo Courtesy: Kristin Karkoska

2014 results: bronze, 1500 free

2018 results: 9th, 400 IM

Sean Grieshop was one of the youngest members of the Junior Pan Pac team in 2014 as he was about to start his sophomore year of high school. Grieshop’s big breakthrough didn’t come until a summer later in 2015 when he was the Junior World Champion in the 400 IM and a member of the gold medal winning 4×200 free relay team. Being one of the youngest swimmers on the team, Grieshop was dubbed a name to watch for the future.

Grieshop made his first major international team in 2018 with his third place finish at Nationals in the 400 IM, finally beating his best time from the 2016 Trials. Grieshop is still relatively young and he is still a name to watch for the future, but he has already proved he can get it done at the senior level.

Townley Haas

Photo Courtesy: Kristin Karkoska

2014 results: gold, 200 free; gold, 4×200 free relay; gold, 4×100 medley relay

2018 results: gold, 200 free; gold, 4×200 free relay

Haas was emerging as one of the bright young talents of the future in 2014. At the Junior Nationals that summer, Haas won the 100, 200, 400 and 800 free finals, missing the meet record by fractions in the latter three. Haas was approaching his senior year as perhaps the number one recruit in the class of 2015. He was a tall, lanky kid with a lot of room to improve and he was a must have on any college roster.

Haas is now the United States’ premiere 200 freestyler, and has been since splitting a 1:44 at the Olympics in 2016. Despite finishing fourth in the 200 free at Nationals in 2018, Haas rebounded to win the 200 free gold at Pan Pacs and swim one of the fastest relay legs ever on the end of the 4×200 free relay to snag the gold from Australia. It is certain to say Haas lived up to the hype around him coming out of high school, and he could still improve as he gets stronger.

Lilly King

Photo Courtesy: Griffin Scott

2014 results: gold, 100 breast; 4th, 200 breast; gold, 4×100 medley relay

2018 results: gold, 100 breast; silver, 200 breast; silver, 4×100 medley relay

King was having a great summer in 2014 when she made her first major international team for the Junior Pan Pacs. That summer at Nationals she also qualified to make the 2015 World University Games. There, she broke 1:07 for the first time in the 100 breast, winning the silver medal. King was sixth in the 100 at the 2014 Nationals. No one was really paying attention to the 17-year-old at the time, who was just a few weeks shy of committing to Indiana. But in just two short years, she became an Olympic gold medalist.

King is now the face of breaststroke in the United States and is now a world record holder. King is approaching her senior year at Indiana where she is undefeated at the NCAA Championships in the 100 and 200 breaststroke; something a lot of people did not see coming when she committed to Indiana in September 2014.

Blake Pieroni

Photo Courtesy: Griffin Scott

2014 results: silver, 200 free; silver, 100 free; gold, 4×200 free relay

2018 results: gold, 4×200 free relay

Pieroni was coming off a summer in 2014 where he moved down early before his freshman year to train in Bloomington with his future teammates at Indiana. Pieroni’s move paid dividends as he won two individual medals in Hawaii at Junior Pan Pacs and a gold in the 4×200 free relay. That success set up Pieroni for a great college career where he was able to anchor Indiana’s first NCAA relay title in a long time.

Pieroni is now one of the main guys in the 100 and 200 free for Team USA, coming away with an upset win in the 100 free at Nationals. He is coming off his third straight major team and he is certainly one of the main stays on the National team going forward, even though he doesn’t feel like a veteran yet.

Andrew Seliskar

andrew-seliskar-summer-nationals-2014 (1)

Photo Courtesy: Griffin Scott

2014 results: gold, 200 fly; gold, 400 IM; gold, 4×200 free relay; silver, 100 fly; gold, 200 IM

2018 results: silver, 200 free; gold, 4×200 free relay

Andrew Seliskar was easily the swimmer of the meet at the 2014 Junior Pan Pacs. Seliskar and Townley Haas were the two busiest swimmers in Hawaii at that meet as both were about to start their senior seasons of high school. Seliskar was probably the number one recruit in the class of 2015. He was Swimming World’s high school swimmer of the year in 2015 and there was a lot of hype around him and what he could do in the future.

Seliskar’s career was not as fabulous as a lot people may have presumed. He has yet to win an individual NCAA title, but he did finally win his first long course national title this past summer, winning the 200 free in Irvine in July. Seliskar made his first National A team trip to Japan for the Pan Pacs where he finished second in the 200 free, behind Haas of all people.

Grant Shoults

Photo Courtesy: Griffin Scott

2014 results: did not advance to finals

2018 results: 4th, 400 free

Shoults was a quiet member of the 2014 team, failing to make a single A-Final in the meet. But he used that experience in 2014 to launch on to the scene a summer later in 2015 when he won the 400 free at the World Juniors as a captain for Team USA. Shoults was also on the 4×200 free relay team that summer with Sean Grieshop that won the gold medal and set the World Junior Record at the time.

Shoults and Grieshop’s careers have been eerily similar. Both made their first Junior Teams in 2014, both had huge breakthroughs in 2015, both signed to swim for Bay Area colleges, and both made their first major senior teams in 2018. Shoults finished fourth in the 400 free at Pan Pacs, just a couple weeks after his runner-up finish in the 400 free in front of a home crowd at Nationals.

How Could We Forget…

Rikako Ikee

rikako-ikee-2015-fina-world-juniors-1 (1)

Photo Courtesy: Adrian Seetho/Singapore Swimming Federation

2014 results: 10th, 200 free; bronze, 100 fly; silver, 4×100 medley relay; 4th, 50 free; 5th, 100 free

2018 results: silver, 200 free; gold, 100 fly; bronze, 4×100 medley relay; 5th, 100 free; 6th, 50 free

A 14-year-old Rikako Ikee was just another name on the Junior Pan Pac roster for Japan four years ago. Just a year later at the Junior Worlds in Singapore she won two gold medals in the 50 and 100 fly and added a silver in the 50 free. Just a year after that, she reached the final in Rio in the 100 fly, placing fifth.

Ikee is now one of the best swimmers in the world at just 18-years-old. She currently has the number one time in the world in the 100 fly and is tied for third in the world in the 200 free. She is one of Japan’s biggest hopes for a medal in two years at the Olympics and she is showing she is the real deal with her 2018 performances.

Shayna Jack

Photo Courtesy: Swimming Australia Ltd.

2014 results: gold, 100 free; gold, 4×100 free relay; silver, 200 free; silver, 4×200 free relay; 5th, 50 free

2018 results: gold, 4×100 free relay; 7th, 100 free

Jack was just 15 at Junior Pan Pacs in 2014 and was the gold medalist in the 100 free and swam second on the winning 4×100 free relay. Australia has been known to produce great sprint freestylers and Jack certainly had potential to be one of the next great ones.

Jack is one of Australia’s key pieces in their free relays and she is still 19, so when/if the Campbell sisters make their way out of the sport, Jack could be next in line to be the face of sprinting for Swimming Australia.

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Author: Andy Ross

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Andy Ross is the new man on board at Swimming World. He is based out of Fort Lauderdale, Florida at the International Swimming Hall of Fame. He is a 2017 graduate of Southern Illinois University where he graduated cum laude.

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