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.
Towson University swimmer Jack Saunderson swam a blazing time of 51.48 seconds in the 100-meter butterfly preliminaries July 27 at the Phillips 66 National Championships, where the 21-year-old beat favorites such as Michael Andrews and Caeleb Dressel.
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.
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: