Skip to content

Five takeaways from U.S. Swimming Championships

Aug 11, 2014, 3:36 PM EDT

Michael Phelps, Ryan Lochte AP

IRVINE, Calif. — These U.S. Championships offered a glimpse of what could be in 2016 at the halfway point between Olympics. Here are takeaways from the past week to note as swimmers prepare for the Pan Pacific Championships:

1. The U.S. must go faster in Australia.

Katie Ledecky was sensational, Missy Franklin bagged three titles and Michael Phelps and Ryan Lochte showed signs of returning to form. We’ll get to all of them specifically later, but it was surprising to see only two world-leading times set in Irvine — Ledecky’s world record in the 400m freestyle and Phelps’ preliminary clocking in the 100m butterfly.

Pan Pacs, which are in Gold Coast, Australia, from Aug. 21-25, are largely a U.S.-Australia showdown. In individual Olympic events, the U.S. is even, 13-13, in fastest times this year versus the Aussies, who had their Nationals in April and sent their best swimmers to the Commonwealth Games in July.

If Pan Pacs end up being that tight for golds, it will be a big swing from the last few major international meets. Australia sank in London, with one gold medal and 10 overall in the pool (the U.S. had 16 golds with 30 total). The Aussies improved slightly at the 2013 World Championships, but the Americans still bagged way more golds (13 to 3) and total medals (29 to 13).

2. What happens when Katie Ledecky gets challenged?

Janet Evans brought up an interesting point when discussing Ledecky on Sunday. Yes, Ledecky has been spectacular this year, breaking world records in the 400m, 800m and 1500m frees.

The 17-year-old can’t go personal bests and record breakers every time she swims, though. And now her times are targets for every other distance swimmer in the world.

At some point, maybe in the distant future, she will come back to Earth and plateau, at least for a period. Likewise, she will eventually lose an important race.

How will she respond to such adversity, Evans asked. Well, Ledecky has gone through a rough international meet before. She was ill at Duel in the Pool in Glasgow, Scotland, in December, finishing sixth in the 400m free and making one podium, second in the 200m free.

She’s seemed to rebound quiet nicely from that.

That’s a bit different from getting flat-out beat while fit and healthy, and at a major international meet, which Duel in the Pool is not.

Video: Ledecky breaks 400m free world record

3. Ryan Lochte has as much to prove as Michael Phelps.

You could make an argument Phelps was having a better meet than Lochte going into Sunday.

Neither had a victory, but at least Phelps had posted that world-leading 100m fly time before getting out-touched by .01 in the final. He also would have been near (perhaps better than) Lochte’s second-place time in the 100m free if not for that flukey missed turn.

Phelps is coming off a 20-month competitive retirement. Lochte, who is one year older than Phelps, is coming off nine months of knee problems, beginning with that overzealous fan encounter in November, then coming back too early in February and finally a re-tear of an MCL in the spring.

Remember, Phelps and Lochte faced off in three finals in a July meet, Lochte’s first in three months. And Phelps was faster in all of them.

Lochte edges Phelps in 200m IM

4. Missy Franklin’s dominance is being tested.

The bubbly rising Cal sophomore became the first woman to win six gold medals at a single World Championships last year. She goes into Pan Pacs ranking no higher than No. 3 in the world in her four primary individual events — 100m and 200m frees and backstrokes.

Franklin said after Nationals that she was still learning how to taper under a new coach, Teri McKeever in Berkeley. We’ll see if she’s timed it right at Pan Pacs, where she could face women who have been faster than her this year in all of her events.

Those are three Aussies in the 100m free, Ledecky and Aussie Emma McKeon in the 200m free, Aussie Emily Seebohm in the 100m back and three Aussies in the 200m back (though one, Meagen Nay, missed Commonwealths due to injury).

5. New (teen) talent has yet to fully break through.

Here are the U.S. swimmers ranked in the top three in the world in individual Olympic events — Franklin, Lochte, Ledecky, Phelps, Nathan Adrian, Tyler ClaryKevin CordesAnthony Ervin, Matt GreversTom Shields and Melanie Margalis.

Of those 11, eight are individual Olympic champions. A ninth, Cordes, won the 100m and 200m breaststrokes at the 2013 U.S. Championships.

That leaves Shields, who swept the 100m and 200m butterflies, and Margalis, who won the 200m IM, as the major international meet rookies.

Both were born in 1991. It appears as if the U.S. might not have a teen sensation splash on the international scene this year. In 2011, it was Franklin. In 2012, it was Ledecky. Last year, Chase Kalisz won a Worlds silver.

*Correction: An earlier version of this article failed to mention Ervin having one of the three fastest times in the world this year in an event.

U.S. roster for Pan Pacs

Latest Posts
  1. Edmonton Oilers hire Olympic pairs champion as skating coach

    Sep 17, 2014, 3:38 PM EDT

    David Pelletier Getty Images

    Canadian from memorable 2002 Olympic pairs competition to coach NHL players.

  2. Kaitlyn Farrington, Olympic halfpipe champ, eyes slopestyle at Dew Tour

    Sep 17, 2014, 2:13 PM EDT

    Kaitlyn Farrington Getty Images

    Olympic halfpipe champion is focused on two competitions this season.

  3. Curling sculpture unveiled at Olympic Museum (photos)

    Sep 17, 2014, 10:54 AM EDT

    Curling statue

    Curling is the first Winter Olympic sport to have a sculpture in the Olympic Museum park.

  4. Paula Radcliffe set for first race since pulling out of London Olympics

    Sep 17, 2014, 10:38 AM EDT

    Paula Radcliffe Getty Images

    World record holder, now 40, could enter two more major marathons.

  5. Hicham El Guerrouj, King of the Mile, could still run fast at 40

    Sep 17, 2014, 10:04 AM EDT

    Hicham El Guerrouj Getty Images

    Two-time Olympic champion runs five or six times per week.

  6. Shaun White ‘more motivated’ to compete than before Sochi

    Sep 17, 2014, 9:30 AM EDT

    Shaun White Getty Images

    Two-time Olympic halfpipe champion “more poised” for slopestyle success in 2018.

  7. Lolo Jones eliminated from ‘Dancing with the Stars’

    Sep 17, 2014, 8:41 AM EDT

    Lolo Jones Getty Images

    Jones posted she had “flashbacks of the three Olympics and that people constantly tease me about.”

  8. Rio Olympic ticket prices start at about $20 in Brazil

    Sep 16, 2014, 4:10 PM EDT

    Rio 2016

    More than 7.5 million tickets will be available for the Games.

  9. Kohei Uchimura’s mother competes in gymnastics meet

    Sep 16, 2014, 11:35 AM EDT

    Kohei Uchimura Getty Images

    Shuko Uchimura hadn’t competed in some 30 years, according to Japanese report.

  10. Boston’s potential advantage in 2024 Olympic bid race

    Sep 16, 2014, 9:11 AM EDT

    Boston Getty Images

    “The city is the Olympic park,” official tells Boston Globe.

  11. Paralympic president clarifies Pistorius stance, looks to Rio

    Sep 15, 2014, 4:27 PM EDT

    Oscar Pistorius, Alan Oliveira Getty Images

    IPC president Sir Philip Craven looks ahead to an anniversary and a new frontier for the Paralympics.

  12. Usain Bolt, Michael Phelps hope to meet for first time before Olympic farewell

    Sep 15, 2014, 2:36 PM EDT

    Usain Bolt, Michael Phelps Getty Images

    The greatest Olympians of this generation discuss thoughts on one another.

  13. U.S. men’s volleyball team eliminated at World Championships

    Sep 15, 2014, 11:44 AM EDT

    USA Volleyball Getty Images

    U.S. bounced in Poland with five-set loss to Argentina.

  14. What U.S.’ FIBA World Cup title means for Olympics

    Sep 15, 2014, 11:16 AM EDT

    Kyrie Irving AP

    The second-biggest winner from the FIBA World Cup may be a nation that didn’t compete in Spain.

  15. Carolina Kostner called to hearing in ex-boyfriend’s doping case

    Sep 15, 2014, 11:05 AM EDT

    Carolina Kostner Getty Images

    Olympic bronze medalist figure skater dated Olympic race-walking champion when he tested positive.

  16. Oscar Pistorius’ Nike contract terminated

    Sep 13, 2014, 8:52 PM EDT

    Oscar Pistorius

    Nike had suspended its contract with the runner six days after he shot and killed his girlfriend.

  17. Jenny Simpson has long-standing record in sight after spectacular season

    Sep 12, 2014, 4:50 PM EDT

    Jenny Simpson Getty Images

    Simpson, racing the Fifth Avenue Mile on Saturday, is one tenth away from breaking a 31-year-old mark.