With two years to burn before Olympic swimming returns to the grandest world stage for the 2020 Tokyo Games, the USA Swimming Phillips 66 Nationals will be the proving ground for a slew of up-and-coming swimmers hoping to make the national team.
The event, which runs Wednesday through Sunday in Irvine, Calif., serves as a qualifier for a pair of massive international meets leading up to Tokyo, the Pan Pacific Championships next month (also in Tokyo) and the 2019 World Championships (South Korea).
Five-time gold medalist and Bethesda resident Katie Ledecky will vie for her 15th world record in the upcoming days. At 21 years old, she has already amassed half the amount of world records Michael Phelps owned through his entire career.
Bob Bowman, the former head of the North Baltimore Aquatic Club and longtime coach of Michael Phelps, said on Monday that he regrets his "exercise of poor judgment" in 2011. He was responding to a swimmer's claim that he sent her inappropriate messages in 2011.
Ledecky is currently scheduled for the 100-, 200-, 400-, 800- and 1,500-meter freestyles.
Her Stanford teammate, Simone Manuel, who has two Olympic gold medals, shattered a pair of her own American records in the 50-meter freestyle and 100 freestyle at the 2017 World Championships and will try for gold in the 50-, 100- and 200-meter freestyles in Irvine. Lilly King, again with a pair of Olympic gold medals, will swim the 50-, 100- and 200-meter breaststrokes, as well as the 200-meter individual medley.
Sprinter Caeleb Dressel, 21, a seven-time world champion often dubbed the next Michael Phelps, snapped a handful of Southeastern Conference and American records this past winter. The Florida swimmer then broke a trio of records three days in a row at the NCAA Division I finals in the 50-yard freestyle (17.63), the 100-yard butterfly (42.80) and the 100-yard freestyle (39.90), the first man to break 40 seconds in that event.
He’s set to compete in a whopping eight events — the 50-, 100- and 200-meter freestyles, the 50- and 100-meter butterflies, the 50- and 100-meter breaststrokes and the 200-meter IM.
For Missy Franklin, who earned four gold and one bronze medal at the 2012 London Games, this week will be her first major meet since the 2016 Rio Games. She’s scheduled for two events, the 100- and 200-meter freestyles.