TYR Pro Swim Series Mission Viejo: Abbey Weitzeil Swims Season-Best Time to Dominate Strong 100 Free Field (Women’s Recap)

Abbey Weitzeil -- Photo Courtesy: Peter H. Bick

TYR Pro Swim Series Mission Viejo: Abbey Weitzeil Swims Season-Best Time to Dominate Strong 100 Free Field (Women’s Recap)

With many of the top sprinters in the country converging in the women’s 100 freestyle final, Abbey Weitzeil claimed a dominant victory to start out the Thursday night finals session at the TYR Pro Swim Series in Mission Viejo, Calif. Women’s events in the session also included the 100 breaststroke, where world-record holder Lilly King got the win, and the 200 butterfly, where Texas teammates Dakota Luther and Kelly Pash engaged in a duel that came down to the final stroke.

Women’s 100 Freestyle

After missing out on the World Championships team last year, Abbey Weitzeil has quickly returned to her status as the top 100 freestyler in the United States. Facing off with many of the swimmers likely to join her in the final at U.S. Nationals next month, Weitzeil led start-to-finish and won the race by more than a second. Weitzeil finished the race in 53.26, knocking a tenth off her previous season-best mark of 53.36. The 26-year-old Weitzeil owns a best time of 52.99 from the Olympic semifinals in Tokyo two years ago.

The rest of the top finishers included the top-two Americans in the 100 free from last year plus a swimmer with an individual Olympic gold medal and two world titles on her résumé. Torri Huske, who took bronze in the 100 free at last year’s World Championships, took second in 54.27 in her first long course final since the end of the NCAA season.

There was a tie for third between Huske’s Stanford teammate Claire Curzan and the aforementioned past champion, Simone Manuel, with both swimmers clocking 54.50. Manuel did not compete last season after a rough Olympic summer in 2021. Sun Devil’s Olivia Smoliga, who like Manuel also trains at Arizona State University, placed fourth in 54.76.

Women’s 100 Breaststroke

Lilly King claimed a comfortable win in the 100 breaststroke as she prepares to seek a spot on her fourth consecutive World Championships team and perhaps reclaim the world title she won in 2017 and 2019. Out in 31.23 and back in 35.44, King clocked a time of 1:06.67, a bit off her season-best time of 1:06.28 from the March Pro Series meet in Fort Lauderdale. However, she was well behind the time of 1:05.84 that American rival Lydia Jacoby swam Thursday at the Mare Nostrum meet in Barcelona.

Kaitlyn Dobler, the USC swimmer who placed third in this event at last year’s U.S. International Team Trials, took second in 1:07.63, while Piper Enge took third in 1:09.05, just ahead of Isabelle Odgers (1:09.15) and Skyler Smith (1:09.24).

Women’s 50 Backstroke

In a field featuring 2019 world champion Olivia Smoliga as well as individual bronze medalists from last year’s Worlds in other backstroke events, Claire Curzan (100 back) and Rhyan White (200 back), it was a slight upset that Cal’s Isabelle Stadden finished a quarter-second clear of the field. Stadden raced to a time of 27.88 while White edged out Curzan for second, 28.13 to 28.14.

Curzan was racing for the second time in the session after previously tying for third in the 100 free, and also returning to the blocks was Smoliga, who placed fourth in 28.48 shortly after her own 100 freestyle race.

Women’s 200 Butterfly

A clash between two Texas Longhorns came down to the wire, and although Dakota Luther led for the entire race and even leading into the final strokes, Kelly Pash timed her finish just a bit better and touched first in 2:08.20, five hundredths ahead of Luther’s 2:08.25. Luther led by exactly one second at the halfway point and still by more than a half-second with one length remaining, but a brilliant 32.72 closing split propelled Pash to the end.

Pash actually edged out her best time of 2:08.39, while Luther swam a time of 2:07.02 in winning the event at U.S. Nationals last July. The two swimmers now rank 12th and 13th in the world, respectively, and only Olympic silver medalist Regan Smith has been quicker this season with her 2:07.92 last month in Westmont.

The rest of the field finished more than four seconds back, with Bailey Hartman taking third in 2:12.47.

Women’s 400 Freestyle

Bella Sims cruised to a win in the 400 free, showing some early speed before settling into 31-mid/high splits for most of the race. That helped her finish in 4:06.41, under her previous best time of 4:06.61 that propelled her to a third-place finish behind Katie Ledecky and Leah Smith at last year’s International Team Trials. Sims will Friday race in her best event, the 200 free.

Behind the 17-year-old Sims were three other teenagers, with Jillian Cox edging out 14-year-old Kayla Han for second, 4:10.22 to 4:10.56. Cox and Han previously finished 1-2 in the 1500 free Wednesday evening. Madi Mintenko, the 15-year-old daughter of U.S. National Team Managing Director Lindsay Mintenko, took fourth in 4:13.03.

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