It’s a clash of young and old in the women’s 100 free this morning. Each of the three circle-seeded heats will pit an established veteran or two against a young up-and-comer.
We start off with two-time Olympic medalist Abbey Weitzeil leading our first heat against 16-year-old Claire Curzan. Weitzeil made the 2016 Olympic team in this event, winning gold as prelims leg of the women’s medley relay and silver as part of the women’s 4×100 free relay. Curzan just likely qualified for her first-ever Olympic team on Monday night, taking second in the 100 fly.
Next up is former American record-holder Mallory Comerford taking on 100 fly champ Torri Huske. Comerford was an 18-year-old fast riser as of our last Olympic Trials, making semifinals of the 100 and 200 frees. Since then, she’s won 7 World Championships gold medals and two silvers, all as part of relays in this 100 freestyle distance. Huske has been perhaps the breakout star of the meet so far, setting an American record in her 100 fly win and later making finals of the 200 IM despite swimming a tough 200 free/200 IM double in both heats and semifinals.
In the final heat, two-time world champion and defending Olympic champion Simone Manuel will make her 2021 Trials debut. She and former NCAA star Erika Brown will match up with 2019 World Junior champion Gretchen Walsh, 18.
We’ll get to see Ryan Murphy lead the 200 back heats after winning the 100 back a few nights ago and booking his return to the Olympic stage. Behind Murphy, Texas A&M standout Shaine Casas looks to bounce back after a third-place finish in the 100 back on Tuesday night.
Bryce Mefford was a breakout performer in that 100 back, and he’s arguably better in this distance. So is Austin Katz, who will battle Mefford in heat 5. Casas takes on six-time Olympic champ Ryan Lochte in heat four, with Cal star Daniel Carr between them. In the final heat, Murphy will clash with Florida’s Clark Beach.
The 200 breast should be a smash. Lilly King defended her Olympic Trials title in the 100 breast Tuesday night – the first woman to do so since the 1980s. But she’s got a tough field to face in the longer distance, especially after both Annie Lazor and Bethany Galat swam very well in the 100 – both Lazor and Galat are more endurance-based breastrokers who should thrive in the 200, while King is more of a sprinter who is working to add the 200 to her world-level range.
The session will end with the 200 IM, pitting Trials 400 IM winner Chase Kalisz against Trials 100 breast winner Michael Andrew in a true clash of two of USA Swimming’s most versatile talents – one (Kalisz) geared towards endurance and the other (Andrew) a true speedster.
That event will also feature 6-time Olympic gold medalist Ryan Lochte trying to make his fifth consecutive U.S. Olympic team at the age of 36 Lochte is taking on a brutal 200 back/200 IM double this morning, at least per heat sheets. Olympic 4×200 free relay qualifier Andrew Seliskar should also be in the mix, along with Texas’s Carson Foster, who has had two close shaves with the Olympic team already this week.