100m Freestyle World Champ Trials Preview: Solidifying of the Guard

Olivier Poirier-Leroy is a former National level swimmer from the beautiful west coast of BC. In feeding his passion for swimming, he has developed YourSwimBook.com: a comprehensive tool that designed for swimmers to track and analyze their results.

Previous World Championship Trials previews:

The 100m freestyle has long been one of the marquee events at the Olympics and World Aquatic Championships since first recognized by FINA in 1905. Names such as Weismuller, Spitz, Biondi, Phelps, and now Adrian grace the pantheon of American sprint freestyle.

Six of the swimmers who raced for Olympic births in Omaha a year ago are back this year, including the top 5, with Beijing 4×100 free relay superhero Jason Lezak retired, and Scot Robison off the radar.

Can Jimmy Feigen translate 2012 NCAA sprint event titles into long course success? Will Cullen Jones, coming back after time off, get back to his 100m free form of 2009 when he went 48.3? Or will Matt Biondi and Tom Jaegar hijack lane 8 and do a 100m relay, shattering Cesar Cielo’s world record by four-and-one-half seconds?

The Favorite…

Nathan Adrian, reigning Olympic champ, is coming off a solid performance at the Santa Clara Grand Prix, where he posted the 4th fastest time in the world this year at 48.08, which is faster than what he swam at trials in 2012.

That time also makes him the fastest American this year by almost a full second. Despite this, he was also the clear favorite in the 50 last year at Olympic Trials only to place third behind Cullen Jones and Anthony Ervin. Regardless, with the man-legend Lezak gone, London individual gold in hand, Adrian has ascended to be the next great name in the long line of great American 100m freestylers.

Internationally, James Magnussen is the man to beat. He has the fastest textile 100 all-time, and posted a 47.53 – fastest in the world by .4 seconds this year – back in April. It will be interesting to see if he and the Australian team have bounced back after the debacle that was the London Games.

The Challengers…

The main challenge should come from Ricky Berens, Cullen Jones and Anthony Ervin. Berens and Ervin have both put out in-season 49’s this year. Ervin in particular has been looking sharp,recently laying down a 22.0 in the 50 with a performance that he called just “OK.” He also outraced Jones, Berens, and Garret Weber-Gale in the 100 at the Arena Grand Prix in Charlotte, taking it out in a blistering 22.9.

After taking some time off after London, while also traveling the country as an ambassador for the Make a Spash Tour, Cullen Jones cranked out a 22.16 for the 50 in Charlotte. Jones is a big-meet swimmer, saving his big swims for meets such as World Trials. Expect him to be much faster and challenge Adrian on the front half.

Longhorns Aquatics’ Jimmy Feigen is hoping to build on the silver he got for swimming in the 4 x 100m free relay in London, as well as on the 50-yard and 100-yard NCAA titles from 2012 and qualifying for an individual event. He will need to seriously flirt with his best of 48.4 to make the team outside of a relay. Fellow Longhorn and 200 specialist Ricky Berens swam a 49.55 on June 7th at the Texas Senior Circuit, and also broke the American 200 yard record in March swimming a 1:31.31 after a last minute shave down. With his mid-range speed he should be a factor closing.

Also not traditionally known for the shorter sprint events, Ryan Lochte put up a 49.53 in Santa Clara a few weeks ago. Given that he has been busy with his exploits into reality television, his recent results aren’t overly suggestive of where he will be performing by the time Trials come around. Keep in mind though that this race is early in the meet (the second event, after the 200 fly) and so Lochte with his famously challenging schedule will be well rested.

Another new addition this year will be Conor Dwyer, who put up a 49.59 at Santa Clara, the first time he’s ever gone below 50. More of a mid-distance freestyler, Dwyer turned heads with that swim, putting him into the conversation for a relay spot. With that kind of in-season speed he may prove to be the one to surprise the field in Indianapolis.

Fellow 2012 Trials finalist and yet another Longhorn, Garrett Weber-Gale has also had a very busy year. Despite having his hands full working as a food and health advocate, visiting the White House and running his health & fitness website, Weber-Gale has continued training since London. His focus is past World Trials, however, as he is just using the meet as a tune-up for the Maccabiah Games in Israel in July, so don’t expect best results from him. (Matt and Reed bring up the rebuttal, though, that he’s still swimming for a spot on the National Team and all of the benefits that come along with that.)

18 year old phenom Jack Conger, who took down a 30 year old high school record for the 500 free in February, is an outside bet to make the relay. He swam an unshaved 50.5 in Charlotte, and looks poised and hungry to make his first international team.

Swimmers who we’ve left out because either they’ve said they won’t be swimming, or we’ve inferred it from a lack of competing: Michael Phelps, Jason Lezak, Scot Robison, Dave Walters, Davis Tarwater, Nick Brunelli, Alex Coville, Nick Brunelli, Eric Bruck, and Bobby Savulich.

Here are my top 8, and I wanted to go a step further and peg the times. Full top 8’s with best times (2010-2013) below.

  1. Nathan Adrian                   47.80
  2. Anthony Ervin                   48.20
  3. Cullen Jones                       48.45
  4. Ricky Berens                      48.74
  5. Conor Dwyer                     48.80
  6. Ryan Lochte                       48.91
  7. Jimmy Feigen                    48.95
  8. Jack Conger                        49.20
Olivier’s Picks Braden’s Picks Matt & Reed’s Picks Morgan’s Picks
1. Nathan Adrian, California Aquatics, 47.52 Nathan Adrian, California Aquatics, 47.52 Nathan Adrian, California Aquatics, 47.52 Nathan Adrian, California Aquatics, 47.52
2. Anthony Ervin, California Aquatics, 49.08 Jimmy Feigen, Longhorn Aquatics, 48.48 Anthony Ervin, California Aquatics, 49.08 Jimmy Feigen, Longhorn Aquatics, 48.48
3. Cullen Jones, SwimMAC, 48.46 Ryan Lochte, Gator Swim Club, 48.83 Ricky Berens, Longhorn Aquatics, 48.80 Ryan Lochte, Gator Swim Club, 48.83
4. Ricky Berens, Longhorn Aquatics, 48.80 Matt Grevers, Tucson Ford, 48.55 Cullen Jones, SwimMAC, 48.46 Matt Grevers, Tucson Ford, 48.55
5. Conor Dwyer, NBAC/Gator Swim Club, 49.59 Ricky Berens, Longhorn Aquatics, 48.80 Jimmy Feigen, Longhorn Aquatics, 48.48 Anthony Ervin, California Aquatics, 49.08
6. Ryan Lochte, Gator Swim Club, 48.83 Anthony Ervin, California Aquatics, 49.08 Conor Dwyer, NBAC/Gator Swim Club, 49.59 Ricky Berens, Longhorn Aquatics, 48.80
7. Jimmy Feigen, Longhorn Aquatics, 48.48 Cullen Jones, SwimMAC, 48.46 Matt Grevers, Tucson Ford, 48.55 Cullen Jones, SwimMAC, 48.46
8. Jack Conger, Machine Aquatics, 49.84 Dax Hill, Texas, 49.79 Garrett Wener-Gale, Longhorn Aquatics, 48.49 Garrett Wener-Gale, Longhorn Aquatics, 48.49
Darkhorse Darkhorse Darkhorse Darkhorse
Sam Rairden, Tennessee, 50.03 Derek Toomey, Minnesota, 50.12 Jack Conger, Machine Aquatics, 49.84 Sam Rairden, Tennessee, 50.03

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Everyone always underestimates Cullen


I am a huge CJ fan. Ervin and Adrian (not to mention other possible surprises) are swimming too well right now for Jones to overcome them in 50/100. I will say with confidence that if he goes to Worlds, it will only be on the 400FR relay. If this were Olympic trials, I would express more confidence in his training efforts thus far. But hey, he likes to shock us.


You seen him lately? Not the most fit Jones we have ever seen.


My dark horse is Karl Krug. Top 8 in both 50 and 100 at ultra swim and has been training with Chris Davis at Swim Atlanta. Chris can produce some good 100 swimmers considering he has the current American Record Holder in Amanda Weir. Could be someone to watch out for


I second that about Krug. The former CIF champ and NCAA stalwart is a threat.

bobo gigi

Nathan Adrian of course with an easy win in Indianapolis. 48 low or 47 high will be enough for him so he can keep his best for Barcelona. Behind him anything is possible!!!! It’s too hard to find a name so I stop my predictions here. I don’t need a headache!
But it would be good to watch new names in this race, at least in final, like Matt Ellis (49.24 last year when he won the junior pan pacs), Jack Conger (49.84 last year) or Tyler Messerschmidt. And among the youngsters I will watch Caeleb Dressel, 16, who has swum 50.85 last year.

The only reason I was apprehensive about Matt Ellis was because he’s transitioning in his training. Was at Georgia, now working at Nitro, soon to be at Texas. Have doubts about how that will go this year, though long term he’s surely a pick.

About Olivier Poirier-Leroy

Olivier Poirier-Leroy

Olivier Poirier-Leroy has been involved in competitive swimming for most of his life. Starting off at the age of 6 he was thrown in the water at the local pool for swim lessons and since then has never wanted to get out. A nationally top ranked age grouper as both a …

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