U.S. National Championships Predictions, Part One

By David Rieder

INDIANAPOLIS, Indiana, June 22. JUST days remain until the beginning of the Phillips 66 U.S. National Championships at the IUPUI Natatorium in Indianapolis. Swimming fans have eagerly anticipated this week since the conclusion of swimming at last summer's Olympics. Now, finally, the U.S. will pick the World Championship team. Plenty of big names remain from the London team, but plenty of events have vacancies that will force young, new faces to step to the forefront. Who steps up in Indy will help decide who leads the way for the U.S. this Olympiad.

Obviously, no one really knows who will step up until they hit the water on Tuesday, but here's one man's best guesses as to who might prevail and make their way on to the World Championship team. To best predict the meet, one must take a look at the event schedule and its potentially-huge effects on the winners. On the men's side, no athlete has to deal with scheduling woes more than Ryan Lochte. On the first day of action, he will probably swim the 100 free in order to earn a spot on the 400 free relay team, especially since he did not enter any other events that day.

His potential double on the second day could open the door for young swimmers in some of Lochte's best event. Lochte, the reigning World champion in both the 200 free and 200 back, will have to swim both events that day. After a year of admittedly training less than he normally does, will Lochte have enough to finish in the top two – or at the very least, top six – in the 200 free – and then hold off challengers such as Jack Conger and Ryan Murphy, along with Olympic gold medalist Tyler Clary, in the men's 200 back?

Looking through these predictions, the name Elizabeth Pelton might seem a bit out of place in the women's 200 free as a relay qualifier for the World Championships. Pelton, most often known as a backstroker and IMer, has made some major strides in freestyle during her outstanding freshman season at Cal. She finished a close second behind Olympic gold medalist Allison Schmitt at NCAAs and recently posted a 1:58-mid performance at the Santa Clara Grand Prix. Pelton has a strong chance to establish herself as a key member of the consistently-strong American 800 free relay.

For the first time, the World Championship Trials will feature the 50-meter stroke events. USA Swimming has announced it will select just the event winners to swim the events at World Championships, while other athletes on the team will fill the other slot. Oftentimes, the best 100-meter swimmers don't dominate at the 50-meter distance, especially in the 50 fly. Pure sprinters can muscle a 50 of any stroke, especially fly, so people like Cullen Jones or Matt Grevers, sprinters who hardly ever swim the 100 fly, might have a real shot to contend.

Without further ado, check out my predictions from the first two days of the National Championships.

Tuesday, June 25
Women's 200 Fly
1. Cammile Adams
2. Jasmine Tosky
3. Becca Mann

Men's 200 Fly
1. Tyler Clary
2. Bobby Bollier
3. Dan Madwed

Women's 100 Free
1. Missy Franklin
2. Megan Romano
3. Natalie Coughlin
4. Allison Schmitt
5. Lia Neal
6. Jessica Hardy

Men's 100 Free
1. Nathan Adrian
2. Matt Grevers
3. Ricky Berens
4. Ryan Lochte
5. Anthony Ervin
6. Jack Conger

Women's 800 Free
1. Katie Ledecky
2. Chloe Sutton
3. Becca Mann

Men's 1500 Free
1. Connor Jaeger
2. Michael McBroom
3. Andrew Gemmell

Wednesday, June 26
Women's 200 Free
1. Missy Franklin
2. Allison Schmitt
3. Katie Ledecky
4. Elizabeth Pelton
5. Megan Romano
6. Shannon Vreeland

Men's 200 Free
1. Ryan Lochte
2. Ricky Berens
3. Matt McLean
4. Conor Dwyer
5. Clay Youngquist
6. Connor Jaeger

Women's 200 Breast
1. Laura Sogar
2. Micah Lawrence
3. Annie Zhu

Men's 200 Breast
1. Kevin Cordes
2. Clark Burckle
3. Scott Weltz

Women's 200 Back
1. Missy Franklin
2. Elizabeth Beisel
3. Elizabeth Pelton

Men's 200 Back
1. Tyler Clary
2. Ryan Lochte
3. Ryan Murphy

Women's 50 Fly
1. Dana Vollmer
2. Christine Magnuson
3. Kelsey Floyd

Men's 50 Fly
1. Tom Shields
2. Cullen Jones
3. Tyler McGill