The 2018 Pan Pacific Swimming Championships began Aug. 9 in Tokyo at the Tatsumi International Swimming Center. Continuing until Aug. 14, teams from 18 different countries will be participating in the event, which includes the United States.
The USA brought a strong roster to the competition, and many of these athletes hoped to use this event as a way to clinch a spot on the 2019 Worlds team. With the 2020 Tokyo Summer Olympics slowly approaching, the 2018 Pan Pacs brought many new and returning athletes to the international stage with dreams of going to the Olympics.
The men and women had the top qualifying times in 23 of the 35 events (11 events each and the top qualifying time for the 4×100-meter mixed medley relay).
Among the qualifiers on the women’s side are some of the top swimmers in the world from 2017: Katie Ledecky, Lilly King, Simone Manuel, Kathleen Baker and Bethany Galat.
Katie Ledecky made her first world appearance at the 2012 London Olympics where she shocked the world by winning the gold medal in the 800-meter freestyle at just 15 years of age. She then went on to win four gold medals at the 2013 World Championships in the 400-meter free, 800-meter free, 1500-meter free and the 800-meter free relay. The following year at the Pan Pacifics, she won gold in the same events and added a gold medal in the 200-meter free.
The year before the 2016 Rio Olympics, at the 2015 World Championships, she brought home five gold medals in those five freestyle events. Then, in Rio, she came home with gold in the 200-meter, 400-meter, 800-meter free and 800-meter free relay, and silver in the 400-meter free relay. A truly decorated female swimmer at just 21 years old, she attends Stanford University and recently announced that she has decided to train professionally in hopes of attending the 2020 Olympics.
Ledecky entered the 2018 Pan Pacifics with the top entry time in the 200-, 400-, 800- (10 seconds faster than the next entry time) and 1500-meter free (35 seconds faster).
Lilly King, also 21, has won many medals at international competitions. At the 2016 Olympics, she won gold in the 100-meter backstroke where she set an Olympic record. She also won gold in the 400-meter medley relay and placed 12th in the 200-meter backstroke.
More recently, King competed for Indiana University at the 2017 National Collegiate Athletic Association Championships, where she won first place in the 100-yard and 200-yard breaststroke. Last year, she won four gold medals at the 2017 World Championships in the 50-meter back, 100-meter back, 400-meter medley relay and 400-meter mixed medley relay.
King entered the competition with the fastest time, 1:04.13, in the 100-meter breaststroke 0.90 ahead of the next fastest time from fellow American Katie Meili.
Simone Manuel, 22, just finished her career at Stanford by leading the team to the 2018 NCAA title and winning the 50-yard and 100-yard freestyle. She competed at the 2016 Olympics where she tied for gold in the 100-meter free, won gold in the 400-meter medley relay and won silver medals in the 50-meter free and 400-meter free relay.
At the 2017 World Championships, Manuel won five gold medals in the 100-meter free, 400-meter free relay, 400-meter medley relay, 400-meter mixed free relay and 400-meter mixed medley relay. She also won bronze in the 50-meter free.
This year at the Pan Pacs, she competed in the 50-meter and 100-meter freestyle.
Kathleen Baker, 21, mainly competes in the backstroke. She was a member of the 2016 Olympic team where she won gold in the 400-meter medley relay and silver in the 100-meter backstroke. At the 2017 World Championships, she won gold in the 400-meter medley relay, silver in the 100-meter back and bronze in the 200-meter back.
Most recently, at the 2018 Phillips 66 Nationals, she set a world record in the 100-meter back at 58.00. Baker competed in the 100-meter back, 200-meter back and the 200-meter individual medley at the 2018 Pan Pacs.
Finally, Bethany Galat, turned 23 years old Aug. 10 during Day 2 of the competition. Galat graduated from Texas A&M University this year. She competed at the 2016 Olympic Trials, but did not make the team that traveled to Rio. She won the silver medal at the 2017 World Championships in the 200-meter breaststroke, and she was runner-up at the 2018 Phillips 66 Nationals in the 200-meter breaststroke.
Galat competed in the 200-meter breaststroke at the 2018 Pan Pacs with the fastest entry time, 2:21.77.
On the men’s side, some of the top qualifiers were Caeleb Dressel, Ryan Murphy and Chase Kalisz.
Caeleb Dressel, 21, recently graduated from the University of Florida and competed in his first Pan Pacs this year. At the 2016 Olympic Games, he won gold in the 400-meter freestyle relay and the 400-meter medley relay. At the 2017 World Championships, he won seven gold medals: 50-meter free, 100-meter free, 100-meter butterfly, 400-meter free relay, 400-meter medley relay, mixed 400-meter free relay and mixed 400-meter medley relay. He also placed fourth in the 50-meter butterfly. During the World Championships, he was also named Male Swimmer of the Year and the USA Swimming Athlete of the Year.
Dressel competed in the 50-meter free and the 100-meter butterfly, where he was entered with the fastest times in each, at the 2018 Pan Pacs.
At just 16-years-old, Ryan Murphy took bronze in the 200-meter backstroke at the 2011 Pan American Championship. At the 2016 US Olympic Trials, he placed first in the 100-meter back and the 200-meter back clinching him a spot on the team that competed in Rio.
At the 2016 Olympics, he won three gold medals in the 100-meter back, 200-meter back and the 400-meter medley relay.
Most recently at the 2018 Phillips 66 Nationals, he won gold in the 50-meter back, 100-meter back and 200-meter back while also setting an American record in the 50-meter back.
He competed in the 100-meter back and the 200-meter back at the 2018 Pan Pacs.
Chase Kalisz, 24, competed at the 2014 Pan Pacs for the first time and won bronze in the 400-meter individual medley (IM). He competed at the 2016 Olympics and won a silver medal in the 400-meter IM. At the 2017 World Championships, he won two gold medals in the 200-meter IM and the 400-meter IM. At the 2018 Phillips 66 Nationals, he also became champion in the 200-meter and 400-meter IM.
At the 2018 Pan Pacs, he competed in the two IM events as well where he entered with the two fastest times.
Other top entries included Townley Haas, 21 and a senior at the University of Texas, who entered with the top time in the 200-meter freestyle; Matthew Grevers, 33, had the fastest time entered for the 100-meter backstroke just 0.08 seconds ahead of Ryan Murphy; and Zane Grothe, 26, who placed first in the 400-meter and 800-meter freestyle at the 2018 Phillips 66 Nationals, had the fastest time entered for the 800-meter free at 7:44.57.
The USA also had the fastest times entered for five of the seven relays.
After Day 1 of competition Aug. 9, many Americans placed in the top three in their events.
Starting with the 100-meter breaststroke events, Lilly King was first after the heats and then won the final by 0.76 seconds. Andrew Wilson had the fastest time after the morning heats but placed fourth in the final with less than one second separating first place from sixth place.
In the 200-meter freestyle events, Katie Ledecky had the fastest time of the heats but placed third in the final by 0.71 seconds behind Taylor Ruck of Canada. On the men’s side, Andrew Seliskar was first after the heats placing ahead of his teammate Townley Haas. Haas ended up winning the final 1.03 seconds ahead of Seliskar for an American one-two showdown.
For the 400-meter individual medley, Chase Kalisz lived up to expectations coming in first after the heats and then taking home the win in the finals by 3.18 seconds ahead of Kosuke Hagino of Japan.
Two timed freestyle finals occurred Aug. 9, the women’s 800-meter and the men’s 1500-meter. For the women’s race, Katie Ledecky won with the fastest time almost eight seconds ahead of second place Ariarne Titmus of Australia. Jordan Wilimovsky won the 1500-meter free timed final with a fantastic swim. His time placed him ahead of two fellow Americans, Zane Grothe and Robert Finke making it an all-American podium.
To find out the schedule of events, visit https://panpacs2018.com/en/schedule/. For how to stream the 2018 Pan Pacs online, visit https://swimswam.com/2018-pan-pacs-tv-stream-broadcasting-schedule/.