TYR Pro Swim Series Westmont, Day 2 Prelims: Lydia Jacoby, Regan Smith, Leon Marchand Among Top Seeds

Lydia Jacoby -- Photo Courtesy: Peter H. Bick

TYR Pro Swim Series Westmont, Day 2 Prelims: Lydia Jacoby, Regan Smith, Leon Marchand Among Top Seeds

High-profile swimmers dotted the lineup Thursday morning at the TYR Pro Swim Series in Westmont, Ill., and the list of swimmers to capture the top seed includes 100 breaststroke Olympic gold medalist Lydia Jacoby in her signature event, setting up a finals showdown with Anna Elendt and Lilly King.

Jacoby was one of several standouts from the collegiate season to make their 2023 long course debuts, with Katharine BerkoffEmma SticklenLuke Hobson and Carson Foster all among that group as well as Leon Marchand, the Arizona State standout and two-time world champion for France who is just weeks removed from a historic performance at the NCAA Championships.

Women’s 200 Freestyle

Indiana’s Anna Peplowski took the top seed in prelims with a 1.44-second drop from her previous best time. Peplowski, who was sixth in the 200-yard free at the NCAA Championships last month, touched in 1:58.43, two tenths ahead of Nation’s Capital’s Erin Gemmell. Gemmell, the Junior Pan Pacs gold medalist in this event last year with a best time of 1:56.14, led the final heat most of the way before finishing just behind at 1:58.62.

Fox Valley’s Leah Hayes was the only other swimmer under 2:00 in the heats as she clocked 1:59.33, not far off her best time of 1:59.14. Hayes, 17, was the bronze medalist in the 200 IM at last year’s World Championships. Izzy Ivey (2:00.22) and Leah Smith (2:00.25) were next, while 15-year-old Madi Mintenko of Pikes Peak finished sixth in 2:00.59. Mintenko, 15, is the daughter of U.S. National Team Managing Director Lindsay Mintenko and Canadian World Championships medalist Mike Mintenko. Maria de Silva Costa (2:00.70) and Julia Mrozinski (2:01.22) also qualified for the A-final.

Men’s 200 Freestyle

Jorge Ida posted a best time by almost two seconds as he topped the prelims in 1:47.29 while Kieran Smith, one of the top Americans in the 200 free over the past few years (sixth at the 2021 Olympics and 2022 World Championships) placed second in 1:48.30. Smith actually had the slowest first 100 of anyone to qualify for the top-eight, but he kicked into high gear down the stretch. Estonia’s Kregor Zirk (1:48.33) and Turkey’s Batur Unlu (1:48.68) finished third and fourth, respectively.

Luke Hobson, the 200 and 500-yard free NCAA champion for the University of Texas last month, swam his first official long course race of the year and took fifth in prelims at 1:48.80, just ahead of Arizona State’s Grant House (1:48.82). Cal’s Robin Hanson (1:49.34) and Brazil’s Vinicius Tavares Assuncao (1:49.57) rounded out the top eight.

Women’s 100 Breaststroke

Lydia Jacoby, who opened her college career at the University of Texas with an NCAA title in the 100-yard breast, swam a strong time of 1:06.65 in her first race of the meet, claiming the top seed in the event by more than a half-second. Jacoby, now 19, was the surprise winner of Olympic gold in the 100 breast in 2021, but she finished just off the World Championships team last year.

Finishing second in prelims was Jacoby’s Texas teammate and German World Championships silver medalist Anna Elendt in 1:07.27, while world-record holder Lilly King grabbed third (1:07.56). King’s Indiana teammate Annie Lazor was the only other swimmer to break 1:09 (1:08.87), with Raya Mellott (1:09.10), Gabrielle Assis de Silva (1:09.27), Miranda Tucker (1:09.30) and Jhennifer Alves Da Conceiao (1:09.37) also qualifying for the top heat.

Men’s 100 Breaststroke

Nic Fink has been the top American in the breaststroke events over the past few years, and in 2022, he captured World Championships bronze in the 100 breast along with a short course world title in December. In Westmont, he led the way in a veteran group atop the heats with a time of 1:00.61. The 29-year-old Fink edged out 31-year-olds Cody Miller (1:00.74) and Jorge Murillo (1:00,74).

Louisville’s Denis Petrashov finished fourth in 1:00.95, while Michael Andrew, who ranks third all-time in this event at 58.14, took fifth in 1:01.13. Lyubomir Epitropov (1:01.19), Will Licon (1:01.36) and Joao Gomes (1:01.41) finished sixth through eighth, respectively.

Women’s 50 Backstroke

American-record holder and World Championships silver medalist Katharine Berkoff claimed the top seed for finals with her 27.42, three tenths short of her top time of 27.12 from last April. The NC State swimmer finished just ahead of Sun Devil’s Regan Smith, the world champion in the 100 back and American-record holder in the 100 and 200-meter races. Smith clocked 27.54, and Cal’s Isabelle Stadden also broke 28 with her time of 27.83.

The Czech Republic’s Simona Kubova was fourth (28.13) ahead of a pair of sprint freestyle specialists, Cal’s Abbey Weitzeil (28.33) and Tennessee’s Erika Brown (28.48). 2019 world champion Olivia Smoliga took seventh (28.52), and teenager Maggie Wanezek placed eighth (28.82).

Men’s 50 Backstroke

The top two finishers from last year’s World Championships will face off again after world champion Justin Ress topped prelims in 24.76 and the world-record-holding silver medalist Hunter Armstrong took second in 24.99. Cal’s Bjorn Seeliger, better known for his sprint freestyle skills but also the fastest 50-yard backstroker at the recent NCAA Championships, took third in 25.03.

Indiana’s Gabriel Fantoni took fourth in 25.43, followed by Ryan Held (25.53), Jacob Molaceck (25.54), Berke Saka (25.59) and Kai van Westerling (25.61).

Women’s 100 Butterfly

Regan Smith, who blasted her lifetime best in the 100 fly with a 56.60 at the last stop of the Pro Swim Series in Fort Lauderdale, finished comfortably ahead of the field in prelims in 57.83. Smith, the Olympic silver medalist in the 200 fly, had by far the quickest back-half of any swimmer in the field. Texas’ Kelly Pash finished second in 58.52, while Louisville’s Gabi Albiero was third in 58.77

Wisconsin’s Beata Nelson finished fourth in 59.35 while Emma Sticklen, the Texas swimmer who earned a come-from-behind NCAA title in the 200-yard fly last month, took fifth in 59.46. Gator Swim Club’s Natalie Hinds qualified sixth (59.68), with Katherine Zenick (1:00.17) and Leah Gingrich (1:00.29) also securing top-eight finishes.

Men’s 100 Butterfly

Shaine Casas swam a time of 50.40 in the 100 butterfly last year to move into a tie with former world-record holder Ian Crocker as the third-fastest American in history, with only Caeleb Dressel and Michael Phelps ahead. Casas opened his Westmont meet with a solid prelims time of 51.31, putting him seven tenths clear of the field. Virginia Tech’s Youssef Ramadan, the NCAA titlist in the 100-yard fly, took second in 52.02, and Indiana’s Marius Kusch grabbed the third spot in 51.20.

There was a tie for fourth, with NC State’s Arsenio Bustos and Florida’s Eric Friese both clocking 52.35, and rounding out the finalists were Kayky Marquart Mota (52.42), Zach Harting (52.69) and Tyler Sesvold (52.70). Ryan Murphy, the multi-time Olympic champion backstroker, made a rare butterfly appearance and finished 12th in 53.17.

Women’s 400 IM

Texas A&M’s Giulia Goerigk posted the top morning swim with a 4:45.19, a half-second ahead of Fox Valley’s Leah Hayes’ 4:45.69. Israel’s Anastasia Gorbenko, the two-time European champion in the 200 IM and the short course world champion in the 50 breast and 100 IM in 2021, took third in 4:48.55. Tennessee’s Alexis Yager finished fourth in 4:51.02, and Nation’s Capital’s Erin Gemmell was fifth in 4:51.81. Hayes and Gemmell both qualified for their second A-final of the day after previously making it back in the 200 free.

Nathalia Siqueira Almeida (4:52.13), Kim Herkle (4:53.17) and Nicole Zettel (4:54.08) were the remaining A-finalists.

Men’s 400 IM

No fireworks from Leon Marchand in his first official long course race of the year, at least not at the level of his incredible 3:28.82 400-yard IM last month. But Marchand did comfortably post the top morning effort in the longer medley, his 4:13.59 easily out-pacing the 4:16.23 posted by the man who won silver in the event behind Marchand at last year’s World Championships, Texas’ Carson Foster.

Hubert Kos, the Hungarian European champion in the 200 IM last year and now a teammate of Marchand’s at Arizona State, placed third in 4:17.08, followed by another Tempe-trained medley specialist, Chase Kalisz (4:19.79). Germany’s Cedric Bussing (4:20.31), Cardinal’s Tommy Bried (4:23.72), Brazil’s Brandonn Almeida (4:23.73) and St. Petersburg’s Bobby Finke (4:24.52) also finished among the top-eight.

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