2016 Olympic Trials Psych Sheet Shows 8.4% Fewer Swims Than in 2012


USA Swimming released the initial psych sheet for the 2016 Olympic Trials today, as we reported here. The 2016 version of the U.S. Olympic Team selection meet will consist of 9% fewer swims for men and 8% fewer swims for women than the 2012 equivalent. Some events, like the men’s 100 free and men’s 200 fly will feature nearly half the entrants than they did four years ago, while others, such as men’s 100 back and women’s 800 free, will be significantly larger events.

Below you will see the number of entrants per event from both the 2016 and 2012 psych sheets, and the year-over-year percentage increase or decrease.



2016 2012 Y/Y % 2016 2012 Y/Y %
50 free 177 179 -1.1% 186 164 13.4%
100 free 98 176 -44.3% 105 136 -22.8%
200 free 115 136 -15.4% 119 115 3.5%
400 free 112 123 -8.9% 109 117 -6.8%
1500/800 free 101 96 5.2% 89 71 25.4%
100 back 192 133 44.4% 168 167 0.6%
200 back 123 113 8.8% 143 196 -27.0%
100 breast 147 144 2.1% 125 153 -18.3%
200 breast 106 134 -20.9% 125 133 -6.0%
100 fly 141 130 8.5% 141 167 -15.6%
200 fly 87 145 -40.0% 103 144 -28.5%
200 IM 107 133 -19.5% 132 129 2.3%
400 IM 100 120 -16.7% 138 136 1.5%
Total Swims 1606 1762 -8.9% 1683 1828 -7.9%

When USA Swimming announced the 2016 Olympic Trials qualifying standards in September, 2014, we noted that for the first time in many Olympic cycles they had tightened the qualifying criteria across the board. Faster times were required to qualify in all 26 events. Notably, we remarked:

Across the board, the time standards for the women’s events average 0.78% faster for 2016 Trials than for 2012 Trials. The biggest changes come in the 400 free, 200 back, and 200 fly which are 1.4, 1.4 and 1.5 seconds faster, respectively. The 100 free, while only a half second faster for 2016 than 2012, is the largest percentage jump: a full 1.22% faster. The 800 free, which was the least populated event at 2012 Trials, changed only slightly (.5 seconds, or .09%).

It should come as no surprise, then, that the events which have seen the biggest drops in entrants on the women’s side of the meet are the 100 free, 400 free, 200 back, and 200 fly. The 800 free, meanwhile, enjoyed the largest increase in entrants.

Similarly, our 2014 analysis of the time standards for men revealed that:

In relative terms, the biggest changes for 2016 take place in the 100 free, both breasts, and the 200 fly. The 200 breast, in particular, saw a drop of 2.4 seconds. Given breaststroke has not been one of Team USA’s strongest events on the world stage, this may be USA Swimming’s way of throwing down the gauntlet to coaches across the country.

The 2016 psych sheet shows that both the 100 free and 200 fly are down by more than 40% compared to 2012, and the 200 breast, by more than 20%. The backstroke events, and especially the 100 back, have a great deal more entrants than four years ago, while the IMs, 200 free, and 200 breast are all down between 15-20%.

USA Swimming had made it clear that the 1850+ athletes participating at 2012 Olympic Trials was more than they had expected at the time, and that they were aiming to have 1300 at the 2016 meet. At the same time, the goal is not to make Trials an elite meet; it is still an important priority for USA Swimming to give the younger swimmers their first experience in this environment, and to motivate them to reach higher during the next quadrennial.

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Does anybody know the number of athletes they actually hit this time around?


Here’s a blurry infographic that says 1,790 swimmers: http://www.usaswimming.org/DesktopDefault.aspx?TabId=2665&Alias=Rainbow&Lang=en

I believe that count was done after the last qualifiers release. There were more added last weekend, but also qualifiers who aren’t swimming. So, best guess would probably be around 1825-1850 who will actually show up and race.


Having more than 100 swimmers in the 400 free and IM events seems out of whack.

There should be more respect for the true contenders for the final 8 in the 400 events not to make them wait for hours.

Also, it gives the finalists less rest until they swim the final in the evening.

USA Swimming blew it with the time standards.


Prelims are flighted for the 400s…… pay attention.


Oh, I see they’ve done that. It’s good that they’ve accommodated the top contenders that way.


They still need to reduce it further. There are a large amount of swimmers barely making the cut. Good for ticket sale though.


agree it should be smaller, much smaller but if they want to sell out the venue, they need bodies….it all about the $$$$$$$$$$$$$


why does it need to be smaller though?


just heads up, when you lower the cuts, there is always going to be a larger amount of people all bunched up near the minimum. its a psychological thing

About Anne Lepesant

Anne Lepesant

Anne Lepesant is the mother of four daughters, all of whom swim/swam in college. With an undergraduate degree from Princeton (where she was an all-Ivy tennis player) and an MBA from INSEAD, she worked for many years in the financial industry, both in France and the U.S. Anne is currently …

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