Manuel’s New U.S. Open Record Highlights First Night Of Finals At 2018 US Nationals

Photo Courtesy: Andy Ross

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The 2018 Phillips 66 National Championships kick off tonight in Irvine, CA with the best of the United States vying for spots on a number of international rosters for this summer and next year’s World Championships team. The first day of finals featured the men’s and women’s 200 fly and 100 free as well as the women’s 800 free and the men’s 1500 free.

Stanford’s Simone Manuel had the swim of the evening, setting a new U.S. Open record in the women’s 100 free. Meanwhile, Georgia’s Hali Flickinger was just off her new U.S. Open record in the 200 fly after breaking Mary T. Meagher’s 37-year-old U.S. Open record in prelims, while Blake Pieroni and Justin Wright both had come from behind wins in the men’s 100 free and 200 fly, respectively. 

And wrapping up the session with the distance events, Katie Ledecky dominated the 800 free even though she was a bit off her season best from earlier this year while Jordan Wilimovsky secured his own win in the men’s 1500 while moving well up in the world rankings. Check out full recaps from the first night of finals below!

Day One Heat Sheet
Day One Predictions
Day One Official Results

Day One Finals

  • Women’s 200 Butterfly
  • Men’s 200 Butterfly
  • Women’s 100 Freestyle
  • Men’s 100 Freestyle
  • Women’s 800 Freestyle
  • Men’s 1500 Freestyle

Women’s 200 Butterfly

Hali Flickinger was just off of her U.S. Open record this morning but still pulled out a win in the first final of the meet with a 2:06.14. That was .27 off of her morning swim that broke Mary T. Meagher’s record from 1981. The 24-year-old Georgia swimmer led from 100 and didn’t look back, turning at 1:00.01 for a slightly faster out than this morning before fading just a touch relative to this morning on the second 100.

In second was Stanford’s Katie Drabot in 2:07.18, while Regan Smith was just behind her in 2:07.42. That was another huge drop for Smith, who had already taken 2 seconds off of her lifetime best with her morning swim of 2:08.87. That also moves her to #2 all-time for 15-16 year olds, behind Meagher’s old U.S. Open record that she posted when she was just 16.

In fourth was Dakota Luther in 2:08.09, while Olivia Carter (2:09.40), Asia Seidt (2:09.62), Sarah Gibson (2:10.00), and Taylor Pike (2:10.50) rounded out the rest of the A final. 16-year-old Lindsay Looney won the B-final in 2:10.03, dropping about half a second from her time this morning after qualifying 10th.

womens200fly

Men’s 200 Butterfly

Arizona’s Justin Wright used an incredible back half to win the 200 fly, dropping nearly a second from his top seeded 1:55.49 to take the win and punch his ticket to Pan Pacs with a 1:54.63. Wright was sitting seventh through the first 100 meters of the race, but came on considerably over the last stretch of the race to hit the wall first and record another career best time. Wright was 29.62/29.61 on the final two 50’s of the race, the only swimmer in the field to have a sub-30 split on his final 50.

In second was Florida’s Zach Harting with a 1:55.11, while there was a tie for third between 16-year-old Gianluca Urlando and Jack Conger. Those two recorded matching 1:55.21’s, just a tenth back from second. Conger had actually led the race through the 150 before fading down the stretch, while Urlando improves on his time from the morning to break 1:56 for the the first time. He now sits second all-time behind only Michael Phelps.

Rounding out the rest of the final was Tom Shields (1:55.25), Chase Kalisz (1:55.42), Trenton Julian (1:56.20), and Jack LeVant (1:56.43).

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Women’s 100 Freestyle

Simone Manuel blew away the field in the 100 free, hitting the wall in 52.54 to finish as the only woman in the field under 53 seconds. That time broke Mallory Comerford’s U.S. Open and meet record of 52.81 from last summer and was less than 3-tenths off Manuel’s own American record of 52.27 from 2017 Worlds. Manuel flipped first at the 50 in 25.62 and never looked back, recording the only closing split under 27 seconds in the field (26.92).

Comerford was second in tonight’s final, finishing in 53.09, while Margo Geer improved on her lifetime best from earlier this season to finish third in 53.44. Also punching her ticket to Pan Pacs will be Cal’s Abbey Weitzeil, who was fourth in 53.56.

Rounding out the rest of the final was Stanford’s Lia Neal (53.95), Allison Schmitt (54.24), Kelsi Dahlia (54.41), and 15-year-old Gretchen Walsh (54.57). Notably, Cal’s Katie McLaughlin won the B-final in 54.24.

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Men’s 100 Freestyle

Swimming out of lane 6, Indiana’s Blake Pieroni was the first to the wall in the men’s 100 free with a 48.08 to take the win in a stacked field. Flipping fourth at the 50 in 23.17, Pieroni came home in a monstrous 24.91 to make a move down the stretch and get his hand on the wall first. That is Pieroni’s career best time, taking a little more than a tenth off of his old best of 48.23 from 2017.

In second was sprint powerhouse Nathan Adrian in 48.25, while the rest of the top-4 was rounded out by Townley Haas (48.30) and Zach Apple (48.34). Notably, Apple’s time from this morning (48.06) would have earned him the win tonight.

Ending up in fifth was Michael Chadwick, who flipped well ahead of the field at the 50 with a 22.73 before finishing in 48.44, while American record holder and World Champion Caeleb Dressel ended up sixth in 48.50. While that means he won’t qualify directly for this event, if he makes the team in another event he may have the opportunity to swim this event in Tokyo.

Rounding out the rest of the final was Maxine Rooney (48.56) and 2016 Olympian Ryan Held (48.65). Notably, Texas’ Tate Jackson won the B-final in 48.20, a time that would have finished second in the top-8, while Harvard’s Dean Farris also posted a strong swim for second in the B-final with 48.52.

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Women’s 800 Freestyle

Stanford’s Katie Ledecky added another national title in the women’s 800 free to kick off her first finals swim of Nationals, hitting the wall in 8:11.98. Ledecky pushed the pace early (as she often does), leading the race from start to finish and sitting under world record and U.S. Open record pace at different points throughout the race.

While she was flipped under world record pace at the 200 mark (1:58.24) she had fallen off to just under U.S. Open record pace at the 400 (4:02.29) at the halfway point before fading in the second half of the race. While she was able to keep her splits under 31 seconds through about the 300, she crept up gradually to 31-mids in the second half of the race. Her season best stands at 8:07.27 from the TYR Pro Series meet from Indianapolis.

In second was Leah Smith in 8:22.79, who was about five seconds off of her personal best time of 8:17.22 from last summer, while Haley Anderson finished third in a best time of 8:24.13. That wipes about 3 seconds off of Anderson’s best time of 8:27.11 from 2011. Just behind Anderson in fourth was Ally McHugh (8:24.22).

Rounding out the rest of the top-8 was Erica Sullivan (8:26.98), Mariah Denigan (8:28.15), Megan Byrnes (8:31.04), and Ashley Twichell (8:32.01).

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Men’s 1500 Freestyle

2016 Olympian Jordan Wilimovsky pulled away from what started as a tight race to pull out a win in the men’s mile, hitting the wall in 14:48.89. Wilimovsky was under U.S. Open through the 1000 mark of his swim, and while he came up slightly short of Peter Vanderkaay’s 2008 record his swim does stand as the fifth fastest in the world so far this year and punched him a ticket to Pac Pacs.

In second was 18-year-old Robert Finke, who finished in 14:55.34 to grab second and become the second fastest 17-18 year-old American in this event all-time. Back in third was Zane Grothe in 15:00.85. Both Finke and Grothe traded the lead with Wilimovsky through the first 800 of the event but couldn’t hang on with the 23-year-old.

Finishing in fourth was Cal’s Nick Norman (15:08.81), while Stanford’s True Sweetser was fifth in 15:10.65. Rounding out the rest of the top 8 finishers was Andrew Abruzzo (15:11.97), Chris Weiser (15:12.01), and PJ Ransford (15:16.18).

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Author: James Sica

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James Sica is the Men and Women's Assistant Coach at Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He has been an assistant coach at CMU in Pittsburgh, PA (2015-2017), a volunteer assistant coach with the Harvard women’s program (2014-2015) and an assistant with the Ithaca College men's program (2012-2014).

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