IRVINE, Calif. — The U.S. will fly 60 swimmers to Australia this week to prepare for the Pan Pacific Championships. It will depart without three swimmers who have combined to win 51 Olympic and World Championships medals.
Natalie Coughlin, Allison Schmitt and Katie Hoff were the three biggest names to enter the U.S. Championships last week and fail to make the top three in any individual event (or top four for a relay).
Therefore, they did not qualify for the Pan Pacific Championships. Therefore, they cannot qualify for the 2015 World Championships.
This year is the first year since 2000 and the Sydney Olympics that not one of Coughlin, Schmitt or Hoff will compete at a major international meet.
Coughlin, the oldest women’s swimmer at the U.S. Championships at 31, finished seventh in the 100m freestyle Wednesday and sixth in the 50m free Sunday.
Coughlin, who got really sick last week due to food poisoning from bad shrimp, said she feels good about moving forward with her career.
“I don’t think I’ve ever been to a meet before where I could say I did everything in my power to be ready, and I did,” she said. “There’s always going to be stumbles along the way.”
The three-time Olympian owns 32 combined Olympic and Worlds medals, the most of any U.S. woman ever.
“Sometimes it serves as motivation,” said Coughlin, noting Matt Grevers, who missed 2010 Pan Pacs and 2011 Worlds and won Olympic 100m back gold in 2012. “Sometimes you need that extra kick, that salt in the wound.”
Schmitt, a six-time Olympic medalist, failed to make the eight-woman final in all of her events — the 100m, 200m and 400m frees.
Schmitt, who won as many medals in London as Missy Franklin (five), also missed the 2013 World Championships team.
“The bigger picture is 2016,” said Schmitt, who recently signed with Adidas, whose slogan is “All In.” “Yeah, it’s disappointing, and I was hoping to do better this Nationals, but things happen. It gives me more motivation and things to work on.”
Hoff won three medals each at the 2005 Worlds, 2007 Worlds and 2008 Olympics. She missed the 2012 Olympic Team and took a yearlong sabbatical.
Hoff had strong results this spring, but injury kept her from showing that form in Irvine, where she pulled out of three events and was 27th in the prelims in the 100m free.
Add in the fact that reigning Olympic 200m breaststroke champion Rebecca Soni is retired and that Olympic 100m butterfly champion Dana Vollmer hasn’t competed in nearly a year.
Franklin and Katie Ledecky will lead the U.S. women to Pan Pacs, but their surrounding cast will not include the other most recognizable recent names in U.S. women’s swimming.