Under-the-Radar Athletes Looking to Make A Splash at International Team Trials; Shackell Siblings Lurking


Under-the-Radar Athletes Looking to Make A Splash at International Team Trials; Shackell Siblings Lurking

This past month, hundreds of swimmers competed in either the TYR Pro Swim Series at Mission Viejo or the Indy Spring Cup in Indianapolis. For many athletes, these competitions were used as one last tuneup in preparation for the International Team Trials this month at the historic IU Natatorium in Indianapolis.

While swimmers like Katie Ledecky, Ryan Murphy, and Lilly King are expected to headline the meet, there are several other athletes flying just under the radar who could find themselves competing in Fukuoka at the 2023 World Championships. Here is a look at some of the contenders.

Kelly Pash

A senior from the University of Texas, Kelly Pash has been one of the most consistent swimmers on the collegiate level during her time on the Forty Acres. Last season at the NCAA Championships, Pash finished third in the 200 butterfly and helped lead the Longhorns to a second consecutive runnerup finish in the team standings. Additionally, two years ago, she finished third in both the 200 freestyle and 200 IM, and fifth in the 200 fly at the NCAA Championships.

So far this long-course season, Pash has put up times that have her in contention to make the World Championships team. At the TYR Pro Swim Series at Mission Viejo, Pash won the 200 fly and finished second in the 200 free. The 200 free, with relay places up for grabs, is relatively open.

Pash has been a consistent performer and this could be the summer where she breaks through and makes her first major international team.

Jack Alexy

A freestyle and backstroke specialist, Jack Alexy just completed his sophomore season at the University of California-Berkeley. During his sophomore campaign, Alexy was a major contributor, specifically in the sprint freestyle events, to the Bears’ national championship. At NCAAs, Alexy was runnerup in the 100 freestyle and added a sixth-place finish in the 50 free, swimming 40.92 and 18.87, respectively.

As Alexy gets ready to travel to Indianapolis for the International Team Trials, he’ll have a serious chance to make the World Championships team. At the Mission Viejo TYR Pro Swim Series, Alexy finished fourth in the 100 free with a time of 49.14. Earlier this season, he went 48.85 at the TYR Pro Swim Series at Westmont. That sub-49 effort is the fifth-fastest time swum by an American so far this year. 

Alexy just recently entered the conversation to make the World Champs Team and figures to have more speed to show at Trials.

Alex Shackell

The youngest athlete on this list, Alex Shackell is a rising junior from Carmel, Indiana and the #1 ranked female recruit in the class of 2025. During her sophomore season competing for the Carmel Greyhounds, Shackell won four state titles (two relay, two individual) while setting state records in both the 50 free and the 100 fly. Her  performances at the state competition were so outstanding that her fly time of 50.89 would have placed her in the top eight in each of the last 10 NCAA Championships.

Shackell has continued to shine in the long-course pool. At the Indy Spring Cup, she went a 2:08.68 in the 200 fly, which is the fourth-fastest performance by an American this year. As Shackell gets ready for Trials later this month in her own “backyard” she comes into the competition as a serious contender to make the team. In the 200 fly, only seven tenths of a second separate the No. 2 through No. 4 performers, and Shackell also excels in the 100 fly and 100 free.

Shackell is one of the rising stars for USA Swimming and while she may be the youngest athlete on this list, she can be considered a contender to qualify for Fukuoka.

Aaron Shackell

A recently graduated senior from Carmel High School and a Cal-Berkeley commit, Aaron Shackell heads into Trials on a roll. Shackell, also ranked first in his graduating class of 2023, set the national high school record in the 200-yard free at the IHSAA State Championships. His time of 1:32.85 broke the previous mark of 1:32.99, set in 2019 by Carson Foster. On top of his 200 free performances, Shackell also won the 500 free in a time of 4:15.35, the second fastest performance in IHSAA history. 

From the start of the 2023 long course season, Shackell has been one of top 200 freestyles in the country, and is currently ranked sixth among Americans in the event. For Shackell, what makes the 200 freestyle interesting is the fact that USA Swimming could take up to six individuals in the event for relay purposes, therefore giving him a greater possibility to make the Word Championships Team. 

While Shackell has his best shot at making the team in the 200 free, he could also contend in the 200 fly, an event he won at both Juniors Nationals and Junior Pan Pacs last summer. Even though Shackell isn’t the favorite in either event, he flies just under the radar.

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11 months ago

Everyone should be on the lookout for all the previous Jr. Team members. There are some really good 18u who could make top 8 in nearly every event.

Alex Wilson
Alex Wilson
11 months ago

I suggest keeping an eye on ASU’s Jonny Kulow. While he is both young and the free dashes are always hard to predict he has the second best 100 free time this year and is improving fast under Bob Boman and Herbie Behm’s coaching.

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