With the U.S. Swimming Championships nearing next month, this week’s Pro Series-ending stop in Mission Viejo, California, is a key meet to determine favorites to make the world championships team.
Individual Olympic champions Lilly King, Simone Manuel and Ryan Murphy, plus rising stars Hunter Armstrong, Claire Curzan and Torri Huske headline the action, with nightly finals at 8 p.m. ET on USASwimming.org (Wednesday and Saturday) and Peacock (Thursday and Friday). CNBC airs highlights on Saturday at 11:30 a.m. and Sunday at 1:30 p.m.
They’re all focused on nationals the last week of June, where the top two in most individual events make the team for July’s worlds in Fukuoka, Japan. Mission Viejo marks the last top-level domestic meet before nationals.
King and Murphy are in similar spots. Both are 2016 Olympic gold medalists. Both are 2022 World champions. Both already rank in the top two in the U.S. this year in their primary events going into Mission Viejo.
King is the headliner in the breaststrokes this week in the absence of her primary American rivals Lydia Jacoby, Annie Lazor and Kate Douglass. She ranks second in the U.S. in 2023 in the 100m and 200m breast events behind Jacoby (1:06.09) and Douglass (2:22.75), respectively.
A Murphy-Armstrong showdown in the 100m backstroke could be the top men’s race of the meet. Murphy has largely ruled the backstrokes in the U.S. for the last decade, but training partner Armstrong beat him at each of the last three Pro Series meets.
Manuel, the 2016 Olympic 100m free co-champion, is working her way back after taking 17 months off from competition following the Tokyo Games. She is looking up in the 2023 sprint freestyle rankings at fellow veterans Abbey Weitzeil, Erika Brown and Catie DeLoof.
Those top lists in the 50m and 100m frees will become more crowded this week. Curzan and Huske, both coming off NCAA seasons at Stanford, will swim their first long-course meters meet of the year. Each made the 2022 World Championships team in four individual events.
OlympicTalk is on Apple News. Favorite us!Follow @nbcolympictalk