The 2017 US Nationals, or World Championship Team Trials, begins on Tuesday, serving as USA Swimming’s meet for selecting swimmers for the World Championship, the Junior World Championships, and the World University Games teams. Because of this, Florida Swim Network decided to take our chances at predicting which swimmers would make the World Championship team in each event!
How the swimmers qualify:
The top two finishers in each Olympic event are guaranteed a spot on the roster, as well as the third through sixth place finishers in the 100/200 free for the 400/800 free relays. The top finisher in the non-Olympic events (50 fly, back, breast, men’s 800, and women’s 1500) are also guaranteed roster spots.
Men’s team predictions:
50 Free: 1st – Nathan Adrian, 2nd – Caeleb Dressel
Reasoning: Nathan Adrian has been the US’s premier sprinter for the past several years, with his highlights including 7 Olympic medals, 4 gold, 1 silver, and 2 bronze. Adrian has been in good form this season as well, posting the fastest time amongst Americans, clocking in at a 22.09 at the Indianapolis Pro Swim Series. Dressel, the American record holder in the yards form of this event, has posted the #2 time in the country this season, clocking in just .04 slower than Adrian’s time at a 22.13. Dressel’s best time stands at a 21.53 from 2015, but it wouldn’t be surprising to see him dip below that due to the massive improvements he’s made in yards since then.
100 Free: 1st – Caeleb Dressel, 2nd – Nathan Adrian, 3rd – Ryan Held, 4th – Michael Chadwick, 5th – Michael Jensen, 6th – Blake Pieroni
Reasoning: Florida’s Caeleb Dressel almost did the unthinkable back in March at the Men’s NCAA Championships, coming an agonizing .01 away from breaking the 40-second barrier in the 100 yard freestyle. He swam the 100 free at the Olympics and broke the 48-second barrier, yet some swim fans were still disappointed due to his otherworldly yards performances. With that being said, it wouldn’t be surprising for Dressel to finally have that breakthrough long course swim and become that international star that swim fans expect him to be. Cal alum Nathan Adrian, the 2012 Olympic gold medalist in this event, has been a consistent 47-low/46-high split on US sprint relays for the past several major international meets, so look to him to show off his unwavering consistency and qualify for this team posting a 47-high. NC State’s Ryan Held dropped a surprising 48.2 at the US Trials last year and continued to drop more time in yards this season; we’re expecting a solid 48-low swim from him to qualify. Missouri’s Michael Chadwick surprised the swimming community back in March when he became the 4th man ever to break the 41-second barrier in yards. After a disappointing Trials last year, he should have the fire to make the US squad in this event. Cal freshman Michael Jensen has already gone a best time this season, posting the 6th fastest time in the nation at a 49.35, dropping nearly three quarters of a second in-season. If he hits his taper, he could qualify to the World Championship team. Indiana Olympian Blake Pieroni had a fantastic NCAA season as well, dropping more than a second from his best time. He holds the #3 time in the nation right now at a 49.18, so he should be able to dip into the 48-range to qualify for the team.
200 Free: 1st – Townley Haas, 2nd – Blake Pieroni, 3rd – Jack Conger, 4th – Gunnar Bentz, 5th – Clark Smith, 6th – Zane Grothe
Reasoning: Texas’s Townley Haas, the American record holder in the yards form of this event, is known for not having the best turns, meaning he should be a better long course swimmer. He proved that those assumptions were correct when he won this event at Trials last year in a 1:45.66. Haas has posted the fastest time in the nation, being the only swimmer to dip under 1:48. It wouldn’t be surprising to see Haas dip under 1:45 this summer and challenge for the medals in Budapest. Indiana star Blake Pieroni followed Haas’s lead into the 1:30-range in the version of this event, dropping nearly a second and a half from his best time. He’s also posted the #2 time in the nation this season, coming within two tenths of his best time. Look to him to have big drops this week in Indy and take that second individual spot. Texas Olympian Jack Conger has been talking about being a multi-event qualifier this year and seems to have a fire lit under him after only qualifying for the 800 free relay last year. He’s posted the #4 time in the country this season and should qualify for one of the relay spots with relative ease. Georgia Olympian Gunnar Bentz has posted the #9 time in the country at a 1:49.54, a full second faster than he was at the same point last season. He should take a relay spot if he hits his taper as well as he did at Trials last season. Texas Olympian Clark Smith had a fantastic senior year in the NCAA, breaking the 500 and 1650 free records in March. Smith is also a fantastic long course 200 freestyler, taking the sixth and final relay spot at Trials last year. With his yards improvements, he could drop more time and qualify again this season. Auburn grad Zane Grothe has a best time of 1:47.11 and holds the #3 time in the nation this season at a 1:48.73. After barely missing out on the Olympic team last season, he should qualify for the US squad in Budapest.
400 Free: 1st – Clark Smith, 2nd – Zane Grothe
Reasoning: As mentioned earlier, recent Texas grad Clark Smith broke the American record in the 500 free, the yards form of this event, this season. With the 1st and 2nd place finishers in this event at Trials last year, Connor Jaeger and Conor Dwyer, not swimming it this season, Smith should be able to take first in this event. 4th place finisher in this event last season, Auburn grad Zane Grothe should be able to clinch the second spot on the roster, especially considering he’s posted the fastest time in the nation this season at a 3:47.99.
800 Free: 1st – Clark Smith
Reasoning: Texas’s Clark Smith is only seeded with a 7:57.91 in this event, but he should see a huge drop considering he hasn’t swam this event tapered and his best time was done during a 1500. No one in the swimming community would be surprised to see him drop into the sub
7:50-range or possibly faster considering the context of his best time and his huge yards improvements this season.
1500 Free: 1st – True Sweetser, 2nd – Robert Finke
Reasoning: With the top 3 finishers at last year’s Trials, as well as Grothe and Smith, opting not to swim the 1500, it should be a relatively wide-open event. However, the #1 and #2 seeds, Stanford freshman True Sweester and rising high school senior Robert Finke, should take the two spots. Sweester, a Florida native, dropped 13 seconds over the course of his first college season. He also posted a blistering 15:04.52 at the US Open last summer, and has already beat his time from Trials last season this season at the Santa Clara Pro Swim Series. 17-year old Olympic Trials finalist and Clearwater native Robert Finke dropped a 15:05.29 last season at Jr. Pan Pacs, as well as an extraordinary 14:37.71 at the Florida Senior Champs in February, so he should be able to clinch the second spot for the World Championships squad.
50 Back: 1st – Ryan Murphy
Reasoning: It’s hard to predict the stroke 50’s, but Ryan Murphy, gold medalist in both backstrokes in Rio and 100m backstroke WR holder, makes it easy. He split a 25.13 en route to his WR swim, so look for him to dip under the 25-second barrier to take the lone spot in the 50 back.
100 Back: 1st – Ryan Murphy, 2nd- Matt Grevers
Reasoning: USA backstroking star Ryan Murphy should take first in this event with relative ease, even though his NCAA season could be considered lackluster by his incredible standards. However, Murphy cites the transition from meters back to yards as the reason for his somewhat disappointing season, so look to him to qualify in a 52.low. 2012 Olympic gold medalist in this event, Matt Grevers, finished a heartbreaking 3rd at Trials last season. After flirting with the idea of retirement, Grevers is back and better than ever, posting the #1 time in the nation this season at a 53.31. He should take the second spot on the team, breaking the 53-second barrier.
200 Back: 1st – Ryan Murphy, 2nd – Jacob Pebley
Reasoning: Cal backstroking duo Ryan Murphy and Jacob Pebley should take the two spots on the US roster fairly easily, with both of them clocking 1:55’s this season and being the only two Americans under 1:59. Murphy has already posted a quick 1:55.82 this season, while Pebley has posted times nearly 2 seconds faster than he was at the same point last season. Pebley holds the #1 time in the nation at a 1:55.56, and should drop a substantial amount of time off his best of 1:54.77.
50 Breast: 1st – Kevin Cordes
Reasoning: Cordes holds the American record in this event at a 26.76, being only one of two Americans to ever break the 27-second barrier. He took his 100 breast at Trials last year out faster than anyone else in the field, posting a first 50 split of 27.49. He should be challenged by fellow Olympic gold medalist Cody Miller in this event, however, we expect Cordes to take the one spot on the roster.
100 Breast: 1st – Cody Miller, 2nd – Andrew Wilson
Reasoning: Cody Miller, surprise bronze medalist in Rio and American record holder in this event, has been in good form this season, posting a 1:00.30 for the #1 time in the nation this season. That time from the Indy Pro Swim Series is also a tiny bit faster than he was at the same meet last year, which is a good indication for his potential to drop time. Recent Emory grad and DIII legend Andrew Wilson holds the #3 time in the nation at a 1:00.45. Wilson has made huge improvements this past year in NCAA competition, dropping nearly a full second off previous his best time from 2015. If Wilson puts together a near-perfect race, he should be able to upset Olympic gold medalist Kevin Cordes for the second spot in this event
200 Breast: 1st – Josh Prenot, 2nd – Will Licon
Reasoning: Olympic silver medalist Josh Prenot flirted with the world record at Trials last year, but ended up falling short by just sixteen hundredths. However, missing that record seems to have lit a fire under Prenot, who holds the fastest time among US swimmers this season at a 2:09.93, making him the only man under 2:10. It would not being too surprising to see Prenot take his American record under 2:07 and challenge Japanese swimmer Ippei Watanabe’s new world record of 2:06.67 from January. Texas star Will Licon finished a heartbreaking 3rd at Trials last year to miss the Olympic team by just fourteen hundredths. However, that seems to have put a chip on Licon’s shoulder. Licon became the first man under 1:48 in the 200 breast to win the event at NCAA’s by nearly three and a half seconds. If Licon can convert his yards form to meters, he should take the second spot on the team.
50 Fly: 1st – Caeleb Dressel
Reasoning: Florida’s star sprinter Dressel has made huge improvements in his fly this season, bettering his personal best in the 100 by nearly a full second. Dressel upset the Olympic gold medalist Joseph Schooling at the NCAA championships in March to break every record on the books. We already know Dressel’s got raw speed, so he should be able to beat out some of the more 200 fly-oriented swimmers like Tom Shields and Jack Conger.
100 Fly: 1st – Tom Shields, 2nd – Jack Conger
Reasoning: US Olympian Tom Shields has been flirting with the 51-second barrier for nearly 2 years now. With his improvements in yards, he has a very good chance at joining that elusive 50-second club. Shields became the first man to go 43 in the 100 fly in December before both
Schooling and Dressel went under his record in March. Texas Olympian and recent grad Jack Conger has also made improvements in yards this season, dropping about a quarter of a second off his best 100 time and three quarters of a second off his best 200 time to win his first NCAA title. Conger has spoken extensively this season about being a multi-event threat at Trials, so look to him to take the second spot in the 100 fly.
200 Fly: 1st – Jack Conger, 2nd – Chase Kalisz
Reasoning: As mentioned before, Jack Conger has been on fire this yards season, becoming only the second man under 1:38 in the 200 fly and winning his first NCAA title. Conger’s best in this event stands at a 1:54.54, so any improvement to that best time would essentially guarantee him a spot on the team in this event. Georgia Olympian Chase Kalisz has been on fire in this event this season, already dropping over half a second from his best time in season to go 1:55.82. That means that Kalisz could very likely drop into the 1:54 range to take the second spot on the World’s roster for this event.
200 IM: 1st – Chase Kalisz, 2nd – Michael Andrew
Reasoning: Without the Phelps/Lochte to dominate this event like we’ve become accustomed to over the past decade, it opens up the event to an entire new generation. Georgia Olympian Chase Kalisz seems to be leading that charge of the new generation. Kalisz has posted the fastest time amongst US swimmers this season at a 1:57.21, well over a second faster than the #2 time. He should qualify in this event without a problem. Age group phenom Michael Andrew has posted the #3 time in the country this season at a 1:59.12 and is only one of 3 men under 2:00 this season. Andrew has had a stellar season so far, becoming a short course world champion in the 100 IM back in December. If he can carry his momentum through Trials, he could qualify for his first major international meet.
400 IM: 1st – Chase Kalisz, 2nd – Jay Litherland
Reasoning: Georgia Olympian Chase Kalisz had a stellar summer last year in the 400 IM, improving from a 4:09.22 to a 4:06.75. He’s also already posted a 4:09.43 this season, presumably unrested. If he can continue this momentum, he should have no problem qualifying for the World Championships team. Kalisz’s Georgia teammate Jay Litherland surprised the swimming community when he beat out Ryan Lochte in the 400 IM to qualify for his first Olympic berth. Litherland already holds the #2 time in the nation this season at a 4:13.79, nearly a second faster than the #3 time. Neither one of these Georgia Bulldogs should have any problem making the World Championships roster.
Courtesy of Peter Brukx and Robbie Dickson