2012 Olympic Trials Qualifiers Fun Facts After 2011 Long Course Season

Braden Keith
by Braden Keith 6

September 06th, 2011 National

The 2011 Long Course season is all-but over in the United States, with the exception of the Pan American Games that are to take place in October. With that, USA Swimming has released their latest lists of Olympic Trials Qualifiers, and we took the time to dig out some fun facts about the qualifiers so far. Of course, these stats are likely to drastically change between now and June’s entry deadline, but it’s a fun progress report one season out.

Youngest and Oldest Qualifiers

On the men’s side of the competition, the youngest qualifier is Justin Lynch of the Terrapins Swim Team in the 100 fly. Justin just turned 15 on August 27th, but qualified back in July when he was only 14 with his time of 54.80. The oldest male qualifier (and oldest in history) is Steve West of Irvine Novaquatics thanks to his 2:20.65 in the 200 breaststroke at the TYR Fran Crippen Memorial Swim Meet of Champions in Mission Viejo in June, which was done when he was 39 years old (though West is ommitted from the official Olympic Trials Qualifiers List).

On the women’s side, the youngest qualier is Allie Szekely of the Central Bucks Swim Team in Doylestown, Pennsylvania. At the Namesnik Grand Prix back in April, she qualified for the women’s 100 breaststroke in 1:11.85 just two months after her 13th birthday (on a seven second time drop, no less). What’s even scarier about her potential is that the summer of 2011 was her first full long course season (though she swam a few meets in 2010). Other 13-year old qualifiers include Becca Mann of the Clearwater Aquatic Team with three qualifying marks and Lucy Castro of the Memphis Tiger Swim Club with a 26.17 in the 50 free. (Note: Castro either just turned 14 or turns 14 very soon – I was unable to nail down her exact birthdate, but it falls sometime during the change from long course to short course.)

At the opposite end of the spectrum is the ageless one – Dara Torres. So far this Olympic cycle, she has only qualified in the 50 free, with her best time coming at the Sette Colli Trophy in Rome at 25.09 in June. Torres is now 44 years old, and I’d expect her to hit a qualifying time in the 100 free as well as she gets further back into her training.

Torres is much more of an outlier than West is in terms of age. Two Trojan Swim Clubbers make up two of the next-three oldest qualifiers: 33-years young Dawn Heckman in the 400 free and 29-years young Keri Hehn in the 100 breaststroke. Erika Erndl also has Trials cuts in several events, but is not listed on USA Swimming’s official lists. Natalie Coughlin comes next amongst a group of 28-year old qualifiers. That really puts into perspective how spectacular the performances of Torres and Coughlin are past an age where most swimmers have retired.

Numbers of Qualifiers (Can’t find a good record of the numbers of qualifiers from 2008 for comparison, unfortunately)

  • USA Swimming lists 776 male athletes on their list of official Olympic Trials qualifiers. One shy of the lucky triple-7’s!
  • These 776 male athletes have qualified a grand total of 1567 events, which comes to just over two (2.01) events per competitor.
  • The women’s side has fewer athletes, with 734 total qualifiers, but more total qualifying events, at 1624. That comes out to about 2.2 events per swimmer.
  • The event with the most qualifiers on the women’s side is the 200 backstroke with 154. Explain that one!
  • The event with the most qualifiers on the men’s side is the 100 free with 158. Makes much more sense than the women’s.
  • In a bit of poetic comedy, if you ignore the distance freestyles (86 and 74 for men and women respectively), the events with the fewest competitors are exactly flip-flopped: Men’s 200 back (90) and women’s 100 free (111).

Club Qualifiers

  • No surprise here, the two-time defending USA Swimming National Champions Tucson Ford Aquatics has the most qualifiers, with 25 men and 18 women to make 43 total.
  • The Longhorn Aquatics Men have 22 qualifiers, but the Women have only 6 to leave them with 28 overall.
  • California Aquatics, the club arm of Cal-Berkeley, has 31 total (17 men, 14 women) qualifiers for the 2nd most.
  • Stanford Aquatics will also be taking a huge contingent, with 25 total athletes. If you chip in Palo Alto Aquatics, their total jumps to 36.
  • The Big Ten has some surprisingly large contingents qualified. Ohio State will send 22 athletes, Indiana will send 24, and Minnesota will send 19. The defending Big Ten Men’s Champions Michigan will send 28 total athletes: 18 representing Club Wolverine, and another 10 representing the University of Michigan.
  • For all of the heartburn that programs like Auburn and Trojan Swim Club get for training foreign athletes, they sure are sending a whole lot to the US Olympic Trials. Auburn will bring 24 total athletes and Trojan will bring 18, which doesn’t include college swimmers who train with those programs but represent their home clubs.

Geographical Breakdown

  • The two LSC’s with the largest representation are both in California. The Southern California LSC has 143 athletes qualified, with Pacific Swimming (San Francisco area) bringing 105 athletes.
  • The Southern Cali LSC is so loaded with talent, that even with a small geographical area, it had more qualifiers than any other state! Texas (which couldn’t get enough athletes in one LSC to crack the top 10) only had 111 altogether in it’s 5 LSC’s (though one, the Border Region that includes El Paso) has none.
  • After the two Cali entities comes Southeastern Swimming (74), Florida Swimming (67), and Middle Atlantic coming in 5th (66).
  • In total, 55 out of the 59 LSC’s have qualified athletes so far.
  • For bragging rights, here’s the top 10 LSC’s:

1. Southern California 143
2. Pacific Swimming 105
3. Southeastern Swimming 74
4. Florida Swimming 67 (note – this excludes the Gold Coast LSC that takes up the southern tip of the state)
5. Middle Atlantic 66
6. Indiana 65
7. Georgia 62
8. Arizona 57
9. North Carolina 53
10. Ohio 51

Anybody who is interested in digging through the lists on their own, they’re located here (Men’s Qualifiers | Women’s Qualifiers). We did our best to comb through and tweak where swimmers had recently changed squads, but there’s no guarantees that we caught every single one. Representations were done by the club that a swimmer officially represents.


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11 years ago

I was at the same sectionals as her this summer in pittsburgh and she did not do very well. I think she added in almost every event and was 2 or 3 seconds off her 100 breast time.

bobo gigi
11 years ago

Allie Szekely’s time in the 100 breaststroke is very impressive in April, but I don’t know why she didn’t swim in junior national championships this summer. In 54.80, Justin Lynch broke the NAG Record of Michael Phelps in the 100 butterfly.

11 years ago

I see the national team has been nnamed and I know that if you are over 18 years of age and not in college or are post grad AND have a top 16 world ranking, you are eligable to receive the 36k yearly stipend.
But to receive the 21k a year it looks like you still have to be top 16 (but have refused or been ineligible due to age or college).
So if you have made the national team and are in the top 6USA but have a #40 world ranking, what are your benefits?

11 years ago

What about Erika Erndl?

About Braden Keith

Braden Keith

Braden Keith is the Editor-in-Chief and a co-founder/co-owner of SwimSwam.com. He first got his feet wet by building The Swimmers' Circle beginning in January 2010, and now comes to SwimSwam to use that experience and help build a new leader in the sport of swimming. Aside from his life on the InterWet, …

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