2018 USA Swimming Nationals Recap


Toby Jackson

Michael Andrew (right) hugs Peter Andrew (his dad and coach) after his win in the 100 metres breaststroke.

From July 25-29, the 2018 USA Swimming National Championships were held this past summer in Irvine, CA, and the excitement was top-notch. With multiple US open, American, meet records, and a world record, the swimmers definitely put on a show. This was the most prestigious domestic event this year. With the nationals being the qualification meet for the 2018 Pan Pacific Championships and the 2019 World Championships, it had considerably high stakes. While many members of the Pan Pacific team were first-timers like Michael Andrew, there were also a number of returners that made the team including Olympic swimmers Katie Ledecky, Kathleen Baker, Caeleb Dressel, and Nathan Adrian.

Ledecky won the 200m and 400m with considerable leads and won the 800m by over 10 seconds. Even though she self described the race as not feeling “super sharp” with it, she still owns the top 19 fastest times in history for the race.

Baker had one of biggest highlights of the meet, breaking her first world record in the 100m backstroke with a time of 58.00.

According to usaswimming.com “I’m overjoyed with a world record and a first-place win,” Baker said. “I am on cloud nine right now. It’s always been a goal of mine. To come back and drop another half second at 21 years old is just pretty great.”

Prior to Nationals this year, there was a lot of talk about Dressel becoming US Swimming’s next “golden boy.” While having a less than ideal race in the 100m freestyle, he knew he had to put it all out in the 100m butterfly if he wanted to set himself up well for the next two years. And put it all out Dressel did, finishing first with a time of 50.50 seconds in the 100m fly, which was the fastest time in the world this year. He also finished second in the 50 free and 50 fly.

Nathan Adrian from Cal Berkeley Aquatics has been described as the most consistent US swimmer in the 50 and 100m freestyle for the better half of the last decade. He placed third in the 50 freestyle. Later that next month at the Pan Pacific championships in Tokyo, Japan, he was chosen as one of the team captains. He scratched his 50 free to save energy for the 4X100 medley relay, where he out-touched Japan’s Katsumi Nakamura by a mere 5 hundredths of a second to bring home the gold.

USA Swimming’s dark horse Michael Andrew also had an unprecedented level of success at nationals this past summer. This would be the first meet of his adult career after turning 18 in April. Often questioned for his nontraditional training style, Andrew silenced all doubters by claiming national titles in the 50 free, 50 breast, 50 fly, 100 breast, as well as placing third in the 100 fly. While the 50 fly was Michael’s first national title, the 50 free and 100 breast were bigger milestones in the scope of the upcoming 2020 Olympic Games where the only 50 that is swum is the 50 free.

According to usaswimming.com “This is the first race I cried afterwards,” Andrew said. “I’m not an emotional person, I really never cry. I feel like it hasn’t quite sunk in yet, obviously Worlds is still a year away. To have that sealed now, is a huge weight lifted off my shoulders. What’s nice is that we still have three days of racing left. It’s an amazing feeling. I feel free.”

With an enormous amount of success at Nationals and the Pan Pacific Championships, Team USA has set themselves up pretty well for the next few years leading up to the Olympics.