The 2021 calendar year of swimming kicked off with the January TYR Pro Swim Series, held in both Richmond, Virginia and San Antonio, Texas. With over one-third of the field being comprised of U.S. National Team or National Junior Team swimmers, the meet produced plenty of fast swims, decorated fields and close finishes.
Both the San Antonio and Richmond sites followed numerous local, state and federal health guidelines in order to host the meet, culminating in hundreds of negative on-site COVID tests, health screenings, athlete and coach spacing on deck and more.
At the end of the four-day meet, swimmers managed to crank out impressive times that are sure to build on their momentum as athletes set their sights on the 2021 U.S. Olympic Team Trials – Swimming in June.
For those who missed the action last week in Richmond and San Antonio, here were some of the impressive showings and events from an exciting four days of racing:
800-meter freestyle produces memorable finishes
The meet kicked off with the 800m freestyle, which featured impressive swims in both the men’s and women’s events. On the men’s side, the eight-minute-long race came down to a finish that was separated by just over two tenths of a second, as Zane Grothe went 7:59.05 to out-touch fellow U.S. National Teamer Kieran Smith’s 7:59.27.
On the women’s side, it was Haley Anderson’s 8:34.93 swim in San Antonio that earned the title, but it was Claire Weinstein who arguably had the most memorable swim, going 8:45.34 to shave 21 seconds off her personal best and earn a U.S. Olympic Team Trials - Swimming cut. At just 13 years and 10 months of age, Weinstein is now the youngest Trials qualifier of the nearly 1,300 swimmers who have met the Trials time standards.
Men’s 100m backstroke juggernauts square off
The highly-anticipated event did not disappoint at the January TYR Pro Swim Series, as less than one second separated the top-3 finishers. When all was said and done, it was Justin Ress (53.37) who earned the victory from Richmond over Ryan Murphy (53.55) and Shaine Casas (54.32) in San Antonio. The swim gave Ress his second-fastest time since 2019 and the second fastest time in the world since 2020. The close finish of this meet’s event is sure to add an extra layer of excitement to an already talented and decorated event in American swimming.
Three wins, three days for Smith
One of the most impressive individual showings from the meet came from Kieran Smith, who was 22 one-hundredths away in the 800m freestyle from capturing a win on all four days of the competition. While the opening-day win in the 800m freestyle eluded him, Smith went on to win the 200m freestyle on Friday, 400m freestyle on Saturday and 200m I.M. on Sunday. Of all his swims, Smith said his I.M. showing was “the best feeling I’ve had at a meet in a really long time. It felt really, really good.”
How sweep it is…
A trio of elite talents came away with sweeps at last week’s meet, as Nic Fink and Emily Escobedo captured both breaststroke victories in their field, while sprinter Catie DeLoof won both the 50m and 100m freestyle events. The three swimmers have now combined for 11 TYR Pro Swim Series event victories dating back to 2019.
Young sprinter thrives on national scene
After donning the American-flag cap at the 2019 FINA World Junior Championships and earning his first U.S. National Team selection in 2020, emerging sprinter David Curtiss took another leap forward in 2021 after he claimed his first TYR Pro Swim Series win of his career. His 50m freestyle time of 21.98 was the only sub-:22 swim of the meet, and out-touched a field that featured 10 other U.S. National Team members. Not only did Curtiss come away from the meet with a first TYR Pro Swim Series win, but he also set a new personal best in prelims, going 21.87 to earn Richmond’s top seed.
Former backstroke world-record holder blazes the I.M.
While she has a silver medal and a former world record in the 100m backstroke, Kathleen Baker proved her talents expand to I.M. as well as her 2:10.30 earned her the 200m I.M. title. This marks Baker’s first TYR Pro Swim Series I.M. victory in eight years and was the third-fastest 200m I.M. swim of her career.
As calendars inch closer to the 2021 U.S. Olympic Team Trials – Swimming, make sure to stay up to date on the upcoming slate of events at www.usaswimming.org/events