Win in 200 IM at Pro Swim Series Reinforces Michael Andrew’s Trials Plan

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Photo Courtesy: Mine Kasapoglu / ISL

Win in 200 IM at Pro Swim Series Reinforces Michael Andrew’s Trials Plan

The challenge for Michael Andrew, as a sprinter first and a stroke specialist second, has always been narrowing down a program for meets like Olympic Trials.

The shorter the race, the better, generally speaking for the 21-year-old. But off a win in the 200 individual medley at the TYR Pro Swim Series this week, a little length might be his friend if it shows off the breadth of his ability. And it doesn’t hurt that the winning time of 1:58.05 he turned in is the fastest time in the world this year.

That’s certainly the way his parents and coaches, Peter and Tina, view it. As Michael Andrew described the hierarchy of events in the virtual mixed zone via Zoom Saturday night:

“If I was to nail it down to three focus events, it would be 100 breaststroke, 50 freestyle, 200 IM. If you ask me, my focus is, I love that 50 free, 100 breast, they’re my two prime (events). And the IM is a big focus just because I can swim all four strokes and I feel like for years, I’ve kind of neglected pursuing that event because it’s such a challenge in terms of endurance for what I’ve always been as that sprinter. My dad would say the 2IM is the No. 1 and my mom would say the same. They love that race; they think it’s a very beautiful race when swum right. Those three are my prime going into trials, and it lays up nicely in the schedule and we’ll see where it goes from there.

It would seem that the 200 IM presents an opportunity to get to Tokyo. Michael Phelps won gold in Rio. He won’t be in Omaha this year. Fifth at the Games was Ryan Lochte, vying for a fifth Olympics before he turns 37 in August.

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Michael Andrew; Photo Courtesy: Becca Wyant

The last two World Championships, in 2017 and 2019, have featured Chase Kalisz winning medals (gold and bronze, respectively) and Abrahm DeVine in 10th then eighth. For whatever it may be worth at this early juncture, DeVine was second Saturday in 1:59.65, Kalisz fourth in 2:00.79 after having won the 400 IM Friday night.

Andrew said he was hoping to be in the 1:57 range. He sees improvement on just the final 50 – 29.67 in the morning; 30.01 at night; a goal time of around 28.5 once Omaha rolls around – as a significant part of the process to be yielded in training.

Part of the IM’s allure is where it fits in the schedule. In Omaha for Trials, Andrew will have the men’s 100 breast in the first two days of the tournament with the third day off. The men’s 100 free is on Day 4, and he’ll likely want to throw down at least a prelims time for the relay reckoning.

That leaves the IM on Days 5 and 6, then the 50 free on the last two days, a trials with four events and zero doubles. Given his value as a relay piece, that could be even more consequential in Tokyo.

At the PSS stop, Andrew won the 100 breast in 1:00.10, besting likely Trials contenders Nic Fink, Kevin Cordes, Will Licon and Josh Prenot, all on the downside of 25 years old. He swam the 200 free but got a did-not-finish, hopping out midway after setting a fast first 50 time since he wouldn’t swim the 50 on the final day, resting for the IM.

“It feels very rookie-like,” Andrew said with a smile. “You don’t get out in the middle of the race. But I probably should’ve finished the 200 for giggles.”

The world’s fastest time designation, while nice, doesn’t do much for him, he said. He shouted out Kosuke Hagino in particular for some fast recent swims as likely to topple it. So it’s unlikely to factor into his thinking for Trials.

“It feels good. I honestly didn’t know that was going to be the fastest time in the world,” Andrew said. “I remember hitting the world and they announced it, and I was like, ‘oh that’s pretty cool.’ I feel like it’ll be short-lived. … It’s always nice to swim the fastest time in the world, and now we get to take that motivation and move on to the next meet and get stronger.”

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