The stakes might not be as high as two years ago or two years from now when it is for spots on the USA Swimming Olympics team. Nonetheless, this year’s Phillips 66 USA Swimming National Championships, July 25th-29th from Irvine, California, will serve as qualification for the Pan Pacific Championships from Tokyo in late August as well as for the 2019 FINA World Championships from Gwangju, South Korea. Additionally, qualifications for the World University Games for the younger swimmers are also in play.
Slightly lesser competitive than the US Olympic Trials where only the top 2 in most events makes the teams (top 6 for 100 Free and 200 Free since those are also the qualifiers for the relays), top 3 finishers in most events this week typically make the Team USA.
At roughly the midway point of this meet, Cal swimmers (current and alumni) have done quite well, as expected. Here are the results so far (I’m focusing only on the A-Finals).
Day 1 - Wednesday, July 25th
Men’s 200 Fly - Just missing out on making the team (from this event), Cal alum and 2016 Rio Calympian Tom Shields finished 5th while current Cal Bear Trenton Julian took 7th
Women’s 100 Free - Cal junior and 2016 Rio Calympian Abbey Weitzeil booked a spot on the team with a 4th place finish.
Men’s 100 Free - Cal alum and multiple year Calympian Nathan Adrian finished 2nd for another spot on the Team USA.
Men’s 1500 Free - Rising Cal senior Nick Norman, the first Golden Bear to win the Pac-12 title in the mile swim this past spring, finished 4th in this event.
Day 2 - Thursday, July 26th
Men’s 200 Free - Rising Cal senior Andrew Seliskar recorded his biggest victory of his career (both in college and world competition) yet by winning this event.
Men’s 200 Breast - Cal alum, fellow physics major, and 2016 Rio Calympian Josh Prenot adds another Cal victory on Thursday night.
Prenot credits part of his win to being really hyped by Seliskar’s victory from earlier. He also talks about recovering from a previously not widely known injury in the past year.
Women’s 200 Back - The 3rd Cal victory of the night goes to Cal rising senior in Kathleen Baker, who tied for the title with Regan Smith.
It's a TIE! Last night at the U.S. Swimming Championships, Kathleen Baker and Regan Smith both clocked times of 2:06.43 to share the 200-meter backstroke title. pic.twitter.com/QK2e762Y15— NBC Sports (@NBCSports) July 27, 2018
Men’s 200 Back - Make that 4 Cal victories on the night! Cal alum and 2016 Rio multiple Gold medalist Ryan Murphy continues to dominate the backstroke. He won this event over former Cal teammate and Calympian in Jacob Pebley. The Cal duo will both make the National Team. Also doing well in this A-Final are a pair of rising Cal sophomores in Bryce Mefford (5th) and Daniel Carr (6th).
Another Cal Bear of note who is done after the first two days without making the national team is Missy Franklin. Racing only in the 100 Free and 200 Free events (no backstroke where she has once dominated), Missy finished a disappointing 17th and 19th place overall. Missy will continue to train at Georgia with the hope of a swimming renaissance in two years.
Day 3 - Friday, July 26th
Men’s 400 IM - Cal sophomore Sean Grieshop booked a spot on the national team with a 3rd place finish in this grueling race.
Women’s 100 Fly - Joining the national team is Cal senior Katie McLaughlin, who finished 2nd in this event.
Men’s 100 Fly - 3 Cal Bears in this final but none finished in the top 3. Shields, Seliskar, and recent graduate Matthew Josa finished 5th, 7th, and 8th in this event.
Men’s 50 Breast - Recent Cal alum Connor Hoppe finished 5th in this A-Final.
Women’s 50 Back - Rising Cal junior Keaton Blovad finished 4th in this event.
Men’s 50 Back - It’s a men’s backstroke event so it should not shock Cal fans that Ryan Murphy got another win (and set a new American record). Rising Cal sophomores Carr and Mefford finished 6th and 8th, respectively.
Summary through Friday night:
Out of 22 events, Cal swimmers have won 5 of them.
On the Pan Pac squad, the growing list of Cal affiliated swimmers include: Abbey Weitzeil, Nathan Adrian, Andrew Seliskar, Kathleen Baker, Josh Prenot, Ryan Murphy, Jacob Pebley, Sean Grieshop, Katie McLaughlin.
We have two more days of racing left from Irvine. Cal fans can watch the finals in the evening on the Olympic Channel or online at USA Swimming. NBC will show taped delay of these finals today from noon to 2 pm PT.