Day 5 Finals Live Recap


Annika Johnson contributed to this reporting.

Saturday Finals Heat Sheets

It’s the final session of the 2022 U.S. Nationals in Irvine, California and we have six events lefts: the women’s 1500 free, men and women’s 200 IM, men’s 800 free, and men and women’s 50 free. Check out our full finals preview here.

Texas’ Erica Sullivan leads the 1500 free in a Ledecky-less final followed by Sierra Schmidt of Scottsdale Aquatics. In the 200 IM, Zoie Hartman of Athens Bulldog Swim Club and Mission Viejo’s Justina Kozan blasted best times in prelims to secure the top two finals spots. Shaine Casas of Longhorn Aquatics had control over the men’s 200 IM this morning, posting a 1:57.50 to win the race. He was one of two swimmers under the 2:00 mark including 2nd seed Grant House from Sun Devil Swimming

Olympic gold medalist Bobby Finke has lane four in the men’s 800 free final, his first long-distance race of the meet after he scratched the 1500 free. The 2nd seed tonight is Wolfpack Elite’s Will Gallant who won the 1500 free final by demolishing his best time by 14 seconds. To cap off the meet will be the 50 freestyle led by Polish four-time Olympian Katarzyna Wasick on the women’s side and Cavalier Aquatics’ Matt King in the men’s event. 2020 U.S. Olympians Abbey Weitzeil and Michael Andrew are also in the mix, seeded 3rd and 7th in their respective finals.

Women’s 1500 Freestyle – Final

  • World Record – 15:20.48, Katie Ledecky (2018)
  • American Record – 15:20.48, Katie Ledecky (2018)
  • U.S. Open Record – 15:20.48, Katie Ledecky (2018)
  • LC Nationals Record – 15:40.50, Katie Ledecky (2021)
  • World Junior Record – 15:28.36, Katie Ledecky (2014)

Top 3:

  1. Maddy Gough (Australia) – 16:07.34
  2. Mariah Denigan (Indiana Swim Club) – 16:12.44
  3. Kensey McMahon (Alabama Swim Club) – 16:16.22

Alabama’s Kensey McMahon took it out early, leading through the 400m point. Australian Olympian Maddy Gough, who was a finalist in Tokyo in this event, was just behind McMahon through most of the opening 400m, the moved ahead before the 500m mark. 

Gough continued to build her lead from there, hitting the halfway mark at 8:04.61. At that point McMahon was in 2nd, with Indiana Swim Club’s Mariah Denigan in 3rd.

Gough extended her lead on the back half of the race, while Denigan passed McMahon for 2nd. Gough easily held on to win in 16:07.34, followed by Denigan at 16:12.44 and McMahon in 16:16.22.

Longhorn Erica Sullivan, the Tokyo silver medalist in this event, finished 4th in 16:26.90, as she continues to bounce back from shoulder issues.

Women’s 200 IM – Final

  • World Record – 2:06.12, Katinka Hosszu (2015)
  • American Record – 2:06.15, Ariana Kukors (2009)
  • U.S. Open Record – 2:07.84, Alex Walsh (2022)
  • LC Nationals Record – 2:08.32, Kathleen Baker (2018)
  • World Junior Record – 2:08.91, Leah Hayes (2022)

Top 3:

  1. Leah Smith (Longhorn) – 2:11.67
  2. Zoie Hartman (Athens Bulldog) – 2:12.04
  3. Beata Nelson (Wisconsin Aquatics) – 2:12.46

Beata Nelson took advantage of her strengths to jump out to a quick lead on the front half of the race, and she’d built enough of a gap over the first 100m to hold onto the lead through the breaststroke leg.

But top-seeded Zoie Hartman and distance free ace Leah Smith had narrowed the gap to within half a second at the 150m mark. For the first half of the freestyle leg, it looked like Nelson might’ve had enough in the tank to hold for the win. But Smith put her head down and kicked it into the gear. powering ahead of both Hartman and Smith to get her hand on the wall first.

Smith’s winning time of 2:11.67 ties her personal best, which came just last December. Hartman touched 2nd in 2:12.04, while Nelson touched just ahead of Justina Kozan, 2:12.46 to 2:12.56.

Men’s 200 IM – Final

  • World Record – 1:54.00, Ryan Lochte (2011)
  • American Record – 1:54.00, Ryan Lochte (2011)
  • U.S. Open Record – 1:54.56, Ryan Lochte (2009)
  • LC Nationals Record – 1:54.56, Ryan Lochte (2009)
  • World Junior Record – 1:56.99, Hubert Kos (2021)

Top 3:

  1. Shaine Casas (Longhorn) – 1:55.24
  2. Grant House (Sun Devil) – 1:59.03
  3. Baylor Nelson (SwimMAC) – 1:59.13

Fans have been wondering for a while what Shaine Casas could do with a tapered 200 IM, and they got an initial answer tonight. Casas blasted out to an early lead; he glided a bit long into the first wall, but was still under world record pace at the halfway point. He didn’t lose much on the breaststroke leg, touching about two-tenths over Ryan Lochte’s world record pace. He couldn’t match Lochte’s epic free leg, but he still stopped the clock in a stunning 1:55.24.

That swim moves Casas up to #3 all-time among US men, behind only Lochte and Michael Phelps. Casas’ previous best time of 1:56.70 had him ranked #7 among Americans. Of course, today’s swim moves him past Carson Foster as the fastest American this year, and it’s only 0.02 shy of Leon Marchand’s gold medal time from Worlds.

While most eyes were on Casas, there was a great battle for 2nd between Sun Devil’s Grant House and SwimMAC’s Baylor Nelson. House got the touch, clocking a new personal best in 1:59.03. But Nelson was right behind, and he also hit a new lifetime best with his 1:59.13.

400 IM champion Kevin Vargas was the only other man under 2:00, finishing in 1:59.62, his first time under two minutes.

Men’s 800 Freestyle – Final

  • World Record – 7:32.12, Lin Zhang (2009)
  • American Record – 7:39.36, Bobby Finke (2022)
  • U.S. Open Record – 7:43.32, Bobby Finke (2022)
  • LC Nationals Record – 7:44.57, Zane Grothe (2018)
  • World Junior Record – 7:45.67, Mack Horton (2013)

Top 3:

  1. Bobby Finke (St. Petersburg) – 7:51.21
  2. Will Gallant (Wolfpack) – 7:53.34
  3. David Johnston (The Swim Team) – 7:54.60

Coming into this race weren’t entirely sure what we’d get from defending Olympic gold medalist Bobby Finke in this event, after he scratched the 400 IM due to non-Covid related illness and placed 4th in the 400m free yesterday.

Longhorn David Johnston had three top-five finishes this meet heading into tonight, and he took was the early leader, holing that spot through 350m but Finke passed him by the halfway mark. Meanwhile, 1500m champion Will Galant moved past Johnston and hung on Finke’s shoulder for most of the rest of the race.

However, Finke blasted off the final turn, and he did what he’s wont to do, outsplitting Gallant 26.99 to 28.46 on the final 50 and winning 7:51.21 to 7:53.34.

Johnston touched 3rd in 7:54.60, almost three seconds ahead of 400m champion Jake Magahey (7:57.360.

Women’s 50 Freestyle – Final

  • World Record – 23.67, Sarah Sjostrom (2017)
  • American Record – 23.97, Simone Manuel (2017)
  • U.S. Open Record –24.08, Pernille Blume (2019)
  • LC Nationals Record – 24.10, Simone Manuel (2018)
  • World Junior Record – 24.17, Claire Curzan (2021)

Top 3:

  1. Katarzyna Wasick (Team Rebel Aquat-CA/UNLV) – 24.17
  2. Gretchen Walsh (Nashville Aquatics/UVA) – 24.47
  3. Claire Curzan (TAC Tians) – 24.74

Katarzyna Wasick of Poland continues to have a great summer, as she actually went a hair faster tonight than she went to win silver in this event in Budapest last month, with tonight’s time of 24.17 just edging her 24.18 from Worlds.

Behind her, Gretchen Walsh clocked a new best time, stopping the clock in 24.47, improving on her 24.53 from April’s US Trials. Claire Curzan, whose best time of 24.17 from last year would’ve tied Wasick tonight, took 3rd in 24.74.

Men’s 50 Freestyle – Final

  • World Record – 20.91, Cesar Cielo Filho (2009)
  • American Record – 21.04, Caeleb Dressel (2019/2021)
  • U.S. Open Record – 21.04, Caeleb Dressel (2021)
  • LC Nationals Record – 21.04, Caeleb Dressel (2021)
  • World Junior Record – 21.75, Michael Andrew (2017)

Top 3:

  1. Matt King (Cavalier/UVA) – 21.83
  2. Justin Ress (Mission Viejo) – 22.01
  3. Jack Alexy (Un-Cal) – 22.18

Matt King already had a share of a national title after tying for the 100 free earlier this week, but tonight he captured the crown solo after winning the 50 free by nearly two-tenths of a second. The rising UVA junior got under 22 for the first time this morning with a 21.95, and improved his best time again tonight with a 21.83.

100 back champion Justin Ress looked to be ahead for part of the race, and he ended up 2nd behind King at 22.01. That looks to be the 2nd-fastest time of his career, behind only a 21.91 from last summer’s Olympic Trials.

Rising Cal sophomore Jack Alexy touched 3rd in 22.18, just 0.05s shy of his lifetime best of 22.13 from April’s US Trials. He got his hand on the wall just ahead of US Olympian Michael Andrew, who took 4th in 22.20 in one of only two events he competed this week.

King’s UVA teammate Connor Boyle had a great swim to win the B-final; the rising sophomore hit a new lifetime best in 22.19, which would’ve put him right between Alexy and Andrew in the A-final.

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