By Jim Rusnak//Director of Media Properties | Friday, August 10, 2018
TOKYO – Here are some notes from this morning’s prelims, and some things to watch for during day 2 finals of the 2018 Pac Pacific Championships.
Women’s 100m Freestyle
Simone Manuel and Mallory Comerford qualified as the first and third seeds for tonight’s finals of the 100m freestyle in 53.23 and 53.30. Manuel has played the role of giant slayer in this event on the international stage over the past couple years, beating favorite Cate Campbell of Australia for gold at the 2016 Olympic Games and world record-holder Sarah Sjostrom of Sweden at last year’s FINA World Championships. Given those wins, it’s pretty safe to say Manuel is no longer the underdog, but look for her to have her hands full not only with Comerford, but with Campbell, who qualified as the second seed in 53.27. Taylor Ruck of Canada, who upset Katie Ledecky with a meet record in last night’s 200 free, is also in the mix as the fourth seed.
This is Manuel’s second Pan Pacs. She finished third in the 100 free at the 2014 meet. Comerford, who won five gold medals last year at the FINA World Championships, is competing in her first Pan Pacs.
Men’s 100m Free
Three Americans – Zach Apple, Caeleb Dressel and Blake Pieroni – finished as the top three swimmers in this morning’s prelims, but only two may swim in the “A” final. Apple took the top spot in 48.03, followed by Dressel in 48.13 and Pieroni in 48.21.
Apple qualified for his first major international competition at last year’s FINA World Championships, where he won gold as a member of the 400 free relay team, swimming in prelims. He finished fourth in this event two weeks ago at the Phillips 66 National Championships in Irvine, Calif.
Dressel, meanwhile, had a somewhat disappointing Nationals, where he finished sixth in the 100 free. This coming off a hot 2017, where he won seven gold medals at the FINA world Championships and was named FINA Male Swimmer of the Year and USA Swimming Athlete of the Year. He holds the American record in the 100m free at 47.17, which he set last year at Worlds.
Women’s 200m Butterfly
Hali Flickinger and Katie Drabot qualified 1-2 in the women’s 200m butterfly, touching in 2:07.05 and 2:08.40. Flickinger finished seventh in this event at the 2016 Olympic Games and ninth at last year’s World Championships. She was also national champion in the 200m butterfly in 2017 and 2018. This despite battling a chronic virus that kept her sick for three years. She had her tonsils removed last summer in order to resolve the issue and has seen improvement in her health and performances ever since. Standing at 5 feet, 5 inches, she might just be the smallest member of the U.S. Pan Pacific Championships team.
Drabot is competing in her first Pan Pacific Championship, but does have some international experience, winning silver in the 200m free at the 2017 World University Games.
Men’s 200m Butterfly
Jack Conger is the top seed for tonight’s finals of the men’s 200m butterfly in 1:55.18. He took third in this event two weeks ago at Nationals. This is his first Pan Pacific Championships, but he has Olympic experience and finished fifth in the 200m fly at last year’s World Championships.
The No. 2 spot for tonight goes to Zach Harting in 1:55.28. Harting was the runner-up in this event at Nationals and is competing in his first major international competition.
Women’s 100m Backstroke
Kathleen Baker broke the world record in the 100m backstroke two weeks ago at Nationals, turning in a time of 58.00. The former mark had been held by Kylie Masse of Canada at 58.10, set at last year’s FINA World Championships. The two will be going head-to-head tonight, with Masse qualifying first in this morning’s prelims in 58.29, a Pan Pacs meet record. Baker took the second seed in 58.41.
The No. 2 American is Regan Smith, in 59.27. Smith, 16, set the world junior record in this event two weeks ago at Nationals in 58.83.
Men’s 100m Backstroke
Ryan Murphy set the Pan Pacs meet record in this morning’s prelims of the 100m backstroke, turning in a time of 52.19. Murphy is the world record-holder in this event in 51.85. He is also the reigning Olympic champion in the 100 back and won bronze in this event at Worlds last year.
Matt Grevers qualified as the second seed in 53.27. Grevers was the 2012 Olympic Champ in the 100 back and won silver in this event at Worlds last year. He also finished with a silver in the 100 back at the 2014 Pan Pacific Championships. He is one of the U.S. team captains, along with fellow veteran Nathan Adrian.
The U.S. has won the men’s 100 back at all but two Pan Pacific Championships – in 2014 and 1987. The 2014 Pan Pacs Champ, Ryosuke Irie, is the third seed in 53.68.