By Mike Gustafson//Contributor | Monday, June 4, 2018
The commencement of June always means several things to me: End of school, and the beginning of outdoor summer swimming. For some teams, this also means the beginning of long course morning practices, two-a-day workouts, and those epic long swim meets under the sun.
This first week of June will also feature some of the fastest swimming of the season. The TYR Pro Swim Series continues its tour across America, this time at beautiful Santa Clara, California. Could we see Katie Ledecky continue her world record smashing success? Will Ryan Lochte emerge with a fantastic 400 IM and show that he’s going to be a favorite come 2020? What about the short course swimmer of the year, Caeleb Dressel? Will he display some long course prowess as well?
Many questions linger. Answers soon to come. As always, here are your 5 storylines for this week’s latest installment of the TYR Pro Swim Series…
1. Ryan Lochte returns to the TYR Pro Swim Series…
After serving a suspension, Ryan Lochte returns to the TYR Pro Swim Series this week. I’m eager to see him race in the 400 IM. With Michael Phelps now retired, it’ll be interesting to see how the 33-year-old Lochte fares in what is arguably swimming’s most grueling event, after a 10-month competitive suspension. I’m not expecting a world record. But 2018 is an important year, both for international roster teams as well as momentum.
2. Lilly King looks toward 2020, and a continued dominance in the breaststroke events.
Outside of Katie Ledecky, King is probably the swimmer I love watching most. King has an opportunity to go down as one of the greatest breaststrokers of all time. Expect the competitive King to chase that 200 breaststroke world record later this summer; I’m curious to see how she does several weeks away from the Phillips 66 Nationals.
3. Caeleb Dressel is the most exciting U.S. male swimmer right now.
Is there any male swimmer more exciting than Dressel? I don’t think so. Dressel flabbergasted swimming fans this past spring with his blistering record-breaking performances. Now, long course. Can Dressel sustain that incredible momentum heading into the 2018 summer championship season? I’m most anticipating his 100 butterfly. With Michael Phelps out of the butterfly picture, all eyes now turn towards Dressel, who could by all means be an even better sprint butterflyer than Phelps. Bold statement. We’ll see.
4. Meanwhile, Katie Ledecky is still the greatest swimmer in the world today… and maybe ever.
Ever? While the basketball world debates the tired question, “Who was better: LeBron or Jordan?” swim fans are witnessing their own potentially greatest-ever athlete in Ledecky. Coming off a world record breaking performance at the previous TYR Pro Swim Series event in Indianapolis, Ledecky will certainly jump-start a similar debate among swim fans: “Who was better: Phelps or Ledecky?” In my opinion, there’s no need to compare; both are great in their own right. Instead of comparing, how about we all just sit back and enjoy?
5. Ryan Murphy seeks backstroke greatness.
This has been much documented: The U.S. men have a long history with backstroke greatness. So many all-time legends have backstroked under the red-white-and-blue, including today’s recent backstroke legend, Ryan Murphy. This weekend, Murphy will have two unique battles. In the 200 backstroke, Murphy will battle Jacob Pebley; I expect Murphy to win this one, but you never know at these mid-season meets. The more interesting race, to me, is in the 100 backstroke: Murphy versus Grevers. The 2012 Olympic gold medalist against the 2016 Olympic gold medalist. Grevers’ endurance is amazing, and if he’s anywhere in any sprint backstroke championship final, you can’t count him out. This is the race I’m most excited to see.
Don't miss any of this week's action live from Santa Clara. Check out the TV/Webcast schedule