SwimSwam Pulse is a recurring feature tracking and analyzing the results of our periodic A3 Performance Polls. You can cast your vote in our newest poll on the SwimSwam homepage, about halfway down the page on the right side.
Our most recent poll asked SwimSwam readers which race on the women’s side they’re most interested in at the upcoming U.S. National Championships:
Question: Which women’s event (where the U.S. has 3+ world-class swimmers) is most intriguing at Trials?
200 IM – 37.4%
100 backstroke – 30.9%
200 backstroke – 18.1%
100 breaststroke – 5.6%
200 breaststroke – 4.9%
Other – 3.0%
Every year, the United States will have a few events where they could realistically sweep the podium at the Olympics or World Championships if there wasn’t a restriction on the number of entries per nation.
We’ve certainly seen that in the men’s 100 backstroke for the better part of the last 15 years, and on the women’s side, the backstroke and breaststroke events have gotten increasingly competitive domestically, which makes for some marquee showdowns at the annual Trials meets.
Heading into the U.S. National Championships in just over one month’s time, there are a number of events where potential Worlds medalists will be left off the American roster with only so many spots to be had on the team headed to Fukuoka. We polled SwimSwam readers about which women’s event they’re most looking forward to in regard to the stacked nature of particular races, and the one that came out on top was the 200 IM.
It’s easy to see why. In 2021, University of Virginia teammates Alex Walsh and Kate Douglass went 2-3 in the Tokyo Olympic final, putting two U.S. swimmers on the podium in the event at the Games for the first time since 1984.
Then last year, Douglass opted out of the event at the International Team Trials, which opened the door for youngster Leah Hayes to snag a spot on the Worlds team, placing second to Walsh at Trials in a time of 2:09.99, a new 15-16 National Age Group Record.
Walsh went on to win the world title, while Hayes dropped more than a second in just two months to claim bronze in 2:08.91.
Now, with Douglass coming off obliterating the 200 IM all-time record in short course yards at the NCAA Championships, she appears to have turned her focus back towards the event in long course, setting up a must-see battle between the trio at Nationals.
While it would be easy to pencil in Walsh and Douglass as the favorites to go 1-2, Hayes is the fastest American so far this year at 2:10.03, and we also can’t overlook the likes of Torri Huske and Beata Nelson.
Finishing not too far behind the 200 IM in the poll was the 100 back, a supremely stacked race for the U.S. as they had four of the six fastest swimmers in the world last year.
Regan Smith is the defending world champion, Claire Curzan won bronze in Budapest, and both Rhyan White and Katharine Berkoff swam faster at the 2022 Trials than what was required to win a medal at Worlds.
That momentum has carried on into this season, as Smith, Berkoff, Curzan, Isabelle Stadden and Leah Shackley all rank inside the top 12 in 2022-23. We also can’t overlook Olivia Smoliga, who was third behind Smith and White at the 2021 Olympic Trials.
Next up was the 200 back, where Smith, White and Phoebe Bacon lead the way after having gone to battle at the last two Trials, with Curzan, Stadden and Shackley knocking on the door.
The 100 and 200 breast events both trailed by a wide margin in the poll, though both are extremely competitive at the top with Lilly King, Lydia Jacoby and Annie Lazor racing for two spots in the 100 breast, and King, Lazor and Douglass (and maybe Jacoby again) fighting it out in the 200 breast.
Last year, King (2:21.19), Douglass (2:21.43) and Lazor (2:21.91) all swam faster at Trials than what King went to win the world title (2:22.41).
Below, vote in our new A3 Performance Poll, which asks: Which men’s event is the most interesting as we head into U.S. Nationals (World Trials):
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The A3 Performance Poll is courtesy of A3 Performance, a SwimSwam partner.