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.
Women’s team predictions:
50 Free: 1st – Simone Manuel, 2nd – Kelsi Worrell
Reasoning: Simone is the obvious favorite after winning at trials and then going on to win silver in Rio. She is fresh off an incredible NCAAs where she broke American Records in both the 50 and 100 freestyle. The second place position is completely up in the air. Kelsi Worrell could steal the silver solely based off of the first 15 meters. Worrell has a very fast start followed up by powerful underwaters that could make her very hard to be caught by the rest of the field. It really is a toss up, and will be a fun race to watch.
100 Free: 1st – Simone Manuel, 2nd – Mallory Comerford, Relay Spots – Lia Neal, Kelsi Worrell, Katie Ledecky, Courtney Caldwell
Reasoning: This race is Simone’s to lose. She is the American Record holder in both long course and short course as well as, and probably even more important, the defending Olympic Gold Medalist. Mallory Comerford is having a breakout season that started off at Short Course Worlds and continued through the NCAAs where she tied Katie Ledecky in the 200Free. Comerford has already posted a sub 54 100 early in the long course, which is why she is our pick to earn the second individual spot in Budapest.
200 Free: 1st – Katie Ledecky, 2nd – Leah Smith, Relay Positions – Mallory Comerford, Simone Manuel, Melanie Margalis, Katie Drabot
Reasoning: Ledecky is the defending the Olympic Gold Medalist and really should have no trouble winning this race at Nationals. The race for second will be very exciting as Smith, Comerford, and Manuel all have very equal chances to get that individual spot. Smith managed to get second at last year’s trials to earn the individual swim at Rio, but Comerford is coming off of tying Katie at the NCAAs in this event.
400 Free: 1st – Katie Ledecky, 2nd – Leah Smith
Reasoning: Along with the 800, this is a very easy prediction. The race will always be for silver when Katie Ledecky is involved. Ledecky did not have any bumps in her transition from Bruce Gemmell to Greg Meehan, and that was obvious at the NCAA Championships. Smith should also have no issues qualifying in the second position. Last Summer Smith posted a 4:00 which made her the second fastest performer in history. Now a Virginia graduate, Smith can focus solely on closing the gap between herself and the Distance Queen.
800 free: 1st – Katie Ledecky, 2nd – Leah Smith
Reasoning: This is quite possibly one of the easiest predictions to make out of any event on either side of the roster. Katie Ledecky, the distance legend, should have no problem qualifying for the team, even if she adds upwards of 8 seconds to her best time. Her world record stands at 8:04.79, nearly 10 seconds faster than the second fastest performer in history, Rebecca Adlington. Leah Smith has the second fastest best time out of anyone in the field and shouldn’t have much of a challenge for the second spot.
1500 Free – Katie Ledecky
Reasoning: There really is no reason to defend this pick. She won this race by over 25 meters at the World Championships in 2015. The only question is whether she compete in this race at Nationals. The rule is that the winner of the 800 will have the choice to swim the 1500 at Worlds without having to compete in the event at Nationals.
50 Back: 1st – Ali Deloof
Reasoning: This race is completely wide open, with no clear person as the favorite. Deloof has a very powerful start and first 15m that could make her hard to beat. Deloof has been incorporating USRPT, the same training that Michael Andrew uses, which has improved her already fantastic sprinting abilities.
100 Back: 1st – Kathleen Baker, 2nd – Ali Deloof
Reasoning: Baker is the reigning Olympic Silver medalist in this event, and is the clear favorite to win this race in Indy. She had a very impressive NCAAs, silencing all the talks about a post-Olympic letdown. Deloof on the other hand is attempting to make her first Long Course World Championship team, and is in a great position to do so. She has already posted a 59 100 back at the Indy Pro Swim Series.
200 Back: 1st – Regan Smith, 2nd – Asia Seidt
Reasoning: Without world record holder and USA Swimming sweetheart Missy Franklin swimming this summer due to a double shoulder surgery a couple months ago, a new wave of American backstroking talent has a shot at swimming in Budapest. 15-year-old Regan Smith poses the biggest threat to take the top spot in Indy. The teenager has already dropped nearly 2 seconds from her best time to post the fastest time in the nation this season, at a 2:09.79. If she hits her taper, she could shock some people with her results. The only other woman to join Smith under the 2:10 barrier is Kentucky swimmer Asia Seidt. Seidt has posted a time just three-hundredths slower than Smith’s time, at a 2:09.82. Seidt has also improved massively in season, and could shock some as a relatively unknown swimmer on the international scene.
50 Breast: 1st – Lilly King
Reasoning: King has unbelievable brute speed, and should win this race without much trouble.
100 Breast: 1st – Lilly King, 2nd – Katie Meilli
Reasoning: This may be the only race where the United States will return both of its Olympic Medalists. King is hoping to post a time that is faster than what Efimova posted a couple weeks ago at the Mare Nostrum. Meilli has already posted some very fast times in the 100 at the Pro Swim Series, and may even be able to equal or be better than King throughout the back half of the race.
200 Breast: 1st – Katie Meili, 2nd – Madisyn Cox
Reasoning: Former Columbia swimmer Katie Meili has already gone a best time in this event this season, dropping over half a second to a 2:23.18. That would have won her Trials last season, so if she can repeat that performance in Indy, she should have no problem taking the top spot. Texas star Madisyn Cox has also been on fire this season, dropping about a second and a half from her best time from last season over the course of recent months. She now stands at a 2:25.62 and has a real shot at upsetting American breastroking queen Lilly King for the second spot on the roster for this event.
100 Fly: 1st – Kelsi Worrell, 2nd- Kendyl Stewart
Reasoning: Worrell is the returning Olympian in this event, and the clear favorite to defend her national championship. She has had a very solid fall and spring season, and looks to be in good shape coming into these national championships. Stewart is not riding the same momentum as Worrell, as she had a disappointing Olympic Trials where she did not make the Olympic Team. But she has incredible speed, and this event is completely open, so look to her to steal the second individual spot in Budapest.
200 Fly: 1st – Hali Flickinger, 2nd – Cassidy Bayer
Reasoning: Flickinger comes to Indy after finallng at this past summer’s Olympic Games as the huge favorite to defend her national championship in her signature event. Flickinger has been very fast already this season posting a 2:08.77 at the Austin Pro Swim Series in January. Bayer, who is coming off a major knee injury that kept her out of the pool throughout the fall, finished third at last year’s Olympic Trials. Without Camille Adams, it could finally be time for Bayer to break through and secure her first major international meet.
200 IM: 1st – Melanie Margalis, 2nd- Madisyn Cox
Reasoning: Margalis has already done eight 200 IMs, prelims and finals included, throughout the Pro Swim Series. Her fastest time of the season is a 2:10.43 from the Indy Pro Series in March, and recently has been a 2:11.43 in Atlanta. This was Melanie’s only individual event in Rio, and now without Maya Dirado in the picture, it is her event to lose. Madisyn Cox is our pick to steal second. Coming off a very impressive Short Course World Championships and NCAA season, the now-pro Cox has popped off two 2:11s at the Mesa and Santa Clara Pro Series. Now is the perfect time for her to shake off last year’s trials, and make her first Long Course World Championship Team.
400 IM: 1st – Madisyn Cox, 2nd – Ella Eastin
Reasoning – With the uncertainty of Elizabeth Beisel’s swimming shape and Maya Dirado no longer competing, the women’s 400 IM could produce two rookie’s for the Budapest squad. Cox is our pick to win the race after finishing fourth at last year’s trials. She also finished third at this year’s NCAAs, posting a best time. She was right off of her best at the Santa Clara Pro Swim Series winning in the time of 4:39.07. If Cox can keep the momentum rolling, she will be hard to beat. Eastin broke the American Record at the NCAA Championships and finished two seconds ahead of the field. The only concern is her performance from last year’s Olympic Trials. Eastin finished in ninth place and did not get to swim in the finals. If Eastin is able to gauge her speed better in the prelims, she could very well steal this one away from Cox.
Written by Robbie Dicksin