Every championship is a step closer to the Olympics for the United States’ top swimmers, but the Pan Pacific Championships is one of the most important before the Olympic Trials in 2020.
Meant to serve as a midway-point international meet between Summer Olympics, American titans in the sport will have to prove themselves not just against one another, but against other swimming powers such as Japan and Australia.
You wouldn’t think there was any woman in the world who could outswim Bethesda native and decorated Olympian Katie Ledecky, but in the 200-meter freestyle, she could have some trouble.
The best time for Taylor Ruck, of Canada, this year is just four-tenths of a second off Ledecky’s. Ledecky will need to maintain her typical Olympic caliber to stave off her competitor.
Bel Air native Chase Kalisz will also be tested this weekend, sparring with Olympic gold medalist Kosuke Hagino and Daiya Seto in the 400-meter individual medley. While Seto finished after Kalisz in the Rio Olympics, taking bronze to the Marylander’s silver, Seto’s 400 IM time is the second-fastest in the world this year.
Kalisz’s is the fastest.
Coming off an explosive season as a Florida Gator where he broke records four times at the NCAA Division I championships, Caeleb Dressel is due for another memorable meet. He struggled at the Phillips 66 Nationals two weeks ago, partly because of his overwhelming eight-event schedule, leaving his time-splitting strengths at the door.
Nonetheless, he’s entered in six individual races at Pan Pacs and at least one relay, with an option for the United States team to add him to another.
Here’s how to watch the Pan Pacific Swimming Championships:
When: Thursday through Sunday
Where: Tokyo, Japan
Thursday — Day 1 Finals, Olympic Channel, 5:30 a.m. (delay), 5:30 p.m. (re-air)
Friday — Day 2 Finals, Olympic Channel, 6 a.m. (delay), 6 p.m. (re-air)
Saturday — Day 3 Finals, Olympic Channel, 6 a.m. (delay), 8 p.m. (re-air); Finals, NBC, 4 p.m. (taped)
Sunday — Day 4 Finals, Olympic Channel, 5 a.m. (delay), 8 p.m. (re-air); Finals, NBC, 4 p.m. (taped)
Events order (finals only):
Day 1 — Women’s 100m breaststroke; Men’s 100m breaststroke; Women’s 200m freestyle; Men’s 200m freestyle; Women’s 400m individual medley; Men’s 400m IM; Mixed 4x100m medley relay
Day 2 — Women’s 100m freestyle; Men’s 100m freestyle; Women’s 200m butterfly; Men’s 200m butterfly; Women’s 100m backstroke; Men’s 100m backstroke; Women’s 4x200m freestyle relay; Men’s 4x200m freestyle relay
Day 3 — Women’s 400m freestyle; Men’s 400m freestyle; Women’s 100m butterfly; Men’s 100m butterfly; Women’s 200m IM; Men’s 200m IM; Women’s 4x100m freestyle relay; Men’s 4x100m freestyle relay