TYR Pro Swim Series Westmont Races to Watch: Jack Alexy, Caeleb Dressel to Clash in 100 Freestyle

Jack Alexy -- Photo Courtesy: Peter H. Bick

TYR Pro Swim Series Westmont Races to Watch: Jack Alexy, Caeleb Dressel to Clash in 100 Freestyle

While many of the world’s best swimmers already swam a championship-style meet this year at last month’s World Championships, most of the top Americans who did not make the trip to Doha will race long course this weekend at the TYR Pro Swim Series in Westmont, Ill., with distance star Katie Ledecky among the few exceptions. In an Olympic year, midseason meets provide opportunities for assessing training and practicing race strategies, which can sometimes result in unexpectedly fast in-season results. But simply getting long course racing experience is so critical that three of Cal’s best men’s swimmers are skipping the Pac-12 Championships to compete in Westmont.

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Every final in Westmont will be judged based on how it impacts the status quo heading into this summer’s Olympic Trials. Who will improve their positioning, and who might set themselves up as a breakout candidate? Here are some of the races we have a particularly close eye on:

Men’s 100 Freestyle: Making his 2024 debut in Westmont will be Caeleb Dressel, who has become a father already this year. Dressel will swim the 50 and 200 free plus the 100 butterfly before he races the 100 free, but this one is highly-anticipated given the implications for the American men’s 400 freestyle relay, which fell to bronze in Dressel’s absence at last year’s Worlds. Dressel will face off against Jack Alexy, who blasted his way to silver in the 100 free at last year’s Worlds, and at the last stop of the Pro Series in Knoxville, Tenn., he clocked a swift time of 48.24, a mark ranked third among Americans this year behind Chris Guiliano’s 47.49 from a post-ACC Championships time trial and Matt King’s 48.06 from Worlds. Can Alexy get closer to breaking 48? Can Dressel challenge him? Can anyone else in a field including veterans Ryan Held, Brooks Curry, Justin Ress, Drew Kibler and Blake Pieroni reach that range to begin setting up for a sub-48 swim at Trials?


Lilly King — Photo Courtesy: Peter H. Bick

Women’s 100 Breaststroke: It’s hard to believe it’s been almost five years since Lilly King last won an international gold medal in the 100 breast. She was favored to win the world title last year before Ruta Meilutyte stormed forward to win gold while King stunningly missed the podium. But she has been off to a strong start in 2024; in Knoxville, King clocked 1:05.67, which would have earned silver at the Doha World Championships while finishing only four tenths away from gold. Moreover, Meilutyte has not been close to her 100 breast form from last year, as she placed 17th at Worlds in 1:07.79. King will have little competition in the 100 breast in Westmont, but if she can get closer to 1:05-low territory, she will be well on track.

Women’s 100 Butterfly: The last time Torri Huske competed at the U.S. Open three months ago, she looked revitalized coming off a disappointing summer in which she swam well off her best times from 2022. In her best event, the 100 fly, she finished ahead of top rivals Gretchen Walsh and Claire Curzan while swimming faster than she went on the way to winning a bronze medal at Worlds last year. So far this year, Walsh has posted the fastest time ever in the 100-yard fly while Curzan has bagged a Worlds silver medal in the event, so Huske would surely like a nice performance here to start the Westmont meet and set herself up for continued strong swimming across her entire program. Regan Smith will also race the 100 fly and try to provide a challenge, but Smith is surely focused on the backstroke races plus the 200 butterfly.

Men’s Distance Freestyle: In July, Ahmed Hafnaoui posted an incredible World Championships performance, winning silver in the 400 free before collecting double golds in the 800 and 1500. Hafnaoui has competed sparingly since then, and when he traveled to Doha last month for the World Championships, he failed to advance out of prelims in any of his events. His form is a big question mark. Heck, so is his attendance; he was entered in the U.S. Open and the Knoxville Pro Series before scratching out. Will he race in Westmont? If so, can he begin the long trek back toward prominence? He will have plenty of tough competition, led by defending 800 and 1500-meter gold medalist Bobby Finke and a quartet of men who are part of Hafnaoui’s current training group with The Swim Team: Marwan ElkamashWill GallantDavid Johnston and Michael Brinegar.

Women’s 200 Freestyle: Especially in an Olympic year, expect some extra attention on the relay events as the United States tries to assemble gold-medal-winning quartets. The women’s free relays look like a daunting task right now given the presence of dominant Australian teams. The world-record-setting Aussies beat the United States by almost four seconds at last year’s Worlds. None of the Americans from that squad are in the field in Westmont, but there are a few who could impact the 2024 group. The most prominent of them is Claire Weinstein, who defeated Ledecky for the national title in the 200 free last June but was bumped from the relay amid a disappointing Worlds. Veterans Paige Madden and Simone Manuel have both looked strong this season while Katie Grimes is certainly capable of putting together a quality 200-meter race to impact a relay. We also have to consider Leah Hayes a threat to make a drop for a relay spot. The Americans here could get a push from Canada’s Taylor Ruck and the Philippines’ Kayla Sanchez.

More meet information can be found here.

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