2016 U.S. Olympic Trials 6 Months Out: Men’s Formchart

2016 has arrived, and before we can do too much mashing and gnashing over who will win Olympic gold, there is still plenty of spots in those Olympic races to be earned. Below, we present our preliminary, cursory, 6-months out, way too early 2016 formchart for the U.S. Olympic Trials.

Beginning in May, SwimSwam will dig deeper into each event and finalize our predictions.

50m Freestyle           2012 Qualifying Time (2nd Place): 21.60

                                                       2015 Best      US Rank       World Rank     Oly. Experience

1.Nathan Adrian                            21.37             1                       2                    ’08,’12

2.Caeleb Dressel                            21.53             2                       4                        No

3.Cullen Jones                                   21.87               4                         11                     ’08,’12

4. Josh Schneider                               21.80               3                         6                         No

5.Anthony Ervin                                21.98               5                         17                   ’00,’12

6.Michael Chadwick                          22.03               6                        21                      No

Darkhorse: Michael Andrew            22.34               11                       61                     No

After Nathan Adrian’s American record at Worlds and Caeleb Dressel’s blistering 21.53 at Nationals, it’s hard to put anyone ahead of them as of now. Cullen Jones will be the fastest he’s been since his silver medal in London, but will that be enough to get by Adrian/Dressel? After Michael Andrew’s recent 19.2 yards swim he’s fit for a dark horse pick.

100m Freestyle            2012 Qualifying Time (Ind.): 48.46  Relay: 48.88

                                                                  2015 Best      US Rank        World Rank     Oly. Experience

1.Nathan Adrian                              48.31                    1                      12                        ’08,’12

2.Caeleb Dressel                              48.78                  3                       33                          No

3.Michael Chadwick                           48.87                     4                          39                         No

4.Jack Conger                                     49.02                   6                          48                         No

5.Maxime Rooney                               48.87                  4                         39                        No

6.Matt Grevers                                   49.70                 22                      138                    ’08,12

Darkhorse: Ryan Hoffer                     49.73                23                       144                       No

*Top-6 finishers qualify for the team in the 400m free relay

Despite what many considered a shaky World Championships performance in the 100 free, Nathan Adrian was still the fastest in the U.S. field by a wide margin. After that, it’s going to be an incredibly close field. Dressel and Michael Chadwick have been on fire so far this NCAA season, Jack Conger threw down two sub-48 relay swims at WUGs and Maxime Rooney is a major star on the rise. Despite Matt Grevers poor time of 49.7 from last season, he never swam a tapered flat-start 100 free and seems to be rejuvenated after a sub-par Worlds performance. After going 41.23 in the 100 yard free, Ryan Hoffer will test his mettle in long course.

Side note: I think we’ll likely see Michael Phelps and Ryan Lochte swim the preliminaries, maybe the semi’s, and scratch, provided they’ve gone fast enough that they think they’ll be locks for the relay (as it is ultimately up to the coaches).

200m Freestyle           2012 Qualifying Time (Ind.): 1:46.56  Relay: 1:47.02

                                                     2015 Best        US Rank       World Rank      Oly.Experience

1.Ryan Lochte                             1:45.36                1                         3                     ’04,’08,’12

2.Conor Dwyer                            1:46.62              2                        16                         ’12

3.Maxime Rooney                           1:47.10              3                         24                          No

4.Jack Conger                                   1:47.62             8                          43                        No

5.Zane Grothe                                   1:47.11              4                         27                          No

6.Clark Smith                                    1:49.23           20                       139                         No

Darkhorse: Trevor Carroll               1:48.78            16                        100                        No

* Top-6 finishers qualify for the team in the 800m free relay

Lochte and Conor Dwyer have been the perennial top-2 since 2013, and as of now are the clear favorites for the two individual spots this summer. There 9 guys who went 1:47 in 2015, so the relay spots are wide open. Maxime Rooney and Zane Grothe had fantastic summers, Clark Smith has been on fire this NCAA season, and Trevor Carroll has made steady improvements every summer and has been fast so far this season in the NCAA. Jack Conger is very dangerous in this event, however it could become a scheduling conflict for him at Trials with the final landing on the same day as the 200 fly semi.

400m Freestyle           2012 Qualifying Time: 3:47.83

                                                        2015 Best        US Rank       World Rank        Oly.Experience

1.Connor Jaeger                        3:44.81              1                        6                             ’12

2.Conor Dwyer                          3:47.53              5                        21                            ’12

3.Clark Smith                                3:47.10               4                         18                               No

4.Zane Grothe                               3:45.98               2                         9                                No

5.Michael McBroom                     3:46.69              3                         16                               No

6.Townley Haas                             3:48.69              6                         30                              No

Darkhorse: True Sweetser           3:49.33              8                          44                             No

Connor Jaeger has proven himself time and time again, and will be the one to beat in this event. Conor Dwyer has picked this event up again after moving more towards the 100 and 200 recently, and his Winter National title was very impressive. Smith and Grothe had a good battle at US Nationals, and Michael McBroom and Townley Haas will contend as well. True Sweetser had a breakout Nationals that saw him post two 3:49s, making him a threat heading into Omaha.

1500m Freestyle           2012 Qualifying Time: 14:52.51

                                                            2015 Best          US Rank     World Rank        Oly.Experience

1.Connor Jaeger                           14:41.20                  1                      2                             ’12

2.Michael McBroom                   14:57.07                  3                       11                           No

3.Jordan Wilimovsky                        14:57.05                  2                     10                             No

4.True Sweetser                                15:10.73                5                      32                            No

5.Andrew Gemmell                           15:09.92              4                       31                            ’12

6.PJ Ransford                                     15:14.04              6                       49                            No

Darkhorse: Evan Pinion                   15:23.98             17                       92                           No

Jaeger is the undisputed number 1 in this event. The battle for 2nd should come down to McBroom and Jordan Wilimvosky, but we could see some surprises. True Sweetser’s stock is on the rise, and he cannot be overlooked. 2012 Olympian Andrew Gemmell and 2015 NCAA 1650 runner-up PJ Ransford will be there as well. Look out for Tennessee’s Evan Pinion, who has been impressive thus far in the NCAA season.

100m Backstroke           2012 Qualifying Time: 52.86

                                                                  2015 Best         US Rank      World Rank       Oly.Experience

1.Matt Grevers                                    52.54                3                        5                        ’08,’12

2.Ryan Murphy                                  52.18                 1                         2                            No

3.David Plummer                                  52.51                 2                         4                             No

4.Nick Thoman                                      53.20                4                          12                           ’12

5.Eugene Godsoe                                   53.96                5                          27                            No

6.Luke Kaliszak                                      54.23                8                          35                           No

Darkhorse: Jake Taylor                        54.60                13                         59                          No

Despite Ryan Murphy’s 52.18 mixed medley lead-off time not officially counting towards World Rankings due to men and women not being allowed to race alongside in solo events, were going to use it here, because he did go that time. However, Matt Grevers is my pick for first place as he seemed to use his disappointment at Worlds as motivation as he had a dominant Duel in the Pool. Murphy and David Plummer give the US 3 of the top 5 100 backstrokers in the world, but one will miss out on a spot. Nick Thoman will be in tough to regain his 100 back Olympic spot, and Luke Kaliszak had a very impressive summer. BYU’s Jake Taylor is someone to watch out for after a strong start to the NCAA season.

200m Backstroke            2012 Qualifying Time: 1:54.88

                                                        2015 Best          US Rank     World Rank        Oly.Experience

1.Ryan Lochte                                 1:57.96                7                      29                      ’04,’08,’12

2.Ryan Murphy                               1:55.00               1                       5                             No

3.Tyler Clary                                        1:56.26               2                      8                              ’12

4.Jacob Pebley                                     1:56.29                3                     9                               No

5.Patrick Mulcare                                 1:57.34               6                     18                             No

6.Sean Lehane                                        1:57.11              5                       15                           No

Darkhorse: Austin Katz                        1:58.51               10                    39                          No

After failing to qualify for the World Championship team in this event, Ryan Lochte didn’t swim a tapered 200 back in 2015, hence his relatively low rankings. However, I believe he’ll reclaim his spot at the top of the heap in Omaha. 2012 Olympic champion Tyler Clary will be in tough to qualify in this event with Lochte at his best and Ryan Murphy on the rise. Jacob Pebley is coming off a pair of gold medals in this event over the summer at the World University Games and US Nationals, Sean Lehane is coming off a Pan Am gold medal and Patrick Mulcare had a breakout Winter Nats in December. Keep an eye out for Austin Katz who medalled at Junior Worlds.

100m Breaststroke         2012 Qualifying Time: 1:00.15

                                                                 2015 Best          US Rank      World Rank       Oly.Experience

1.Kevin Cordes                                  1:00.27                5                     25                         No

2.Cody Miller                                      59.51                   1                      8                          No

3.Nicholas Fink                                      59.52                  2                       9                            No

4.Andrew Wilson                                    59.65                  3                      12                           No

5.Sam Tierney                                          1:00.15                4                     22                          No

6.Brendan McHugh                                 1:00.50               6                     35                          No

Darkhorse: Michael Andrew                  1:00.68               10                   49                          No

After a few slip-ups in 2014, Kevin Cordes had an excellent World Championships in 2015, quietly winning 4 medals and leaving no doubt that he can perform under pressure. He didn’t qualify for Worlds in the 100, but he was clearly the right choice for the medley relays, posting three 58-second splits in his three opportunities. Cody Miller has been on fire lately, and will certainly challenge Cordes for the top spot, as will Nicholas Fink. Andrew Wilson and Sam Tierney are coming off Summer and Winter National titles respectively, and Brendan McHugh has been 1:00 many times in the last few months. Teenage phenom Michael Andrew continues to smash NAG records, and will be very dangerous at the Olympic Trials. This event might be his best shot at making the team.

200m Breaststroke         2012 Qualifying Time: 2:09.97

                                                                2015 Best           US Rank      World Rank     Oly.Experience

1.Kevin Cordes                                  2:08.05                 1                       3                          No

2.Will Licon                                       2:10.02                 6                    25                        No

3.Nicholas Fink                                   2:08.89                   2                       7                         No

4.Cody Miller                                       2:09.08                   4                       11                       No

5.Josh Prenot                                       2:08.90                   3                        8                       No

6.Andrew Wilson                                 2:09.84                    5                      21                     No

Darkhorse: Reece Whitley                  2:11.30                     7                      47                    No

After a silver medal at Worlds, Kevin Cordes is certainly the number one pick in a race that could be one of the closest at the Trials. Six men have a very realistic chance of placing in the top-2. Will Licon proved he can swim big when it counts at NCAAs, and I think we’ll see some magic from him in Omaha. Nic Fink posted a very impressive 2:08.8 on the World Cup circuit, and Cody Miller recently became the third man under 1:50 in yards. Josh Prenot and Andrew Wilson also dipped below 2:10 in 2015, and teenage standout Reece Whitley certainly has sky-high potential.

100m Butterfly           2012 Qualifying Time: 51.32

                                                                       2015 Best            US Rank       World Rank     Oly.Experience

1.Michael Phelps                                    50.45                     1                       1                   ’00,’04,’08,’12

2.Tom Shields                                         51.03                    2                       5                         No

3.Jack Conger                                           51.33                       3                       8                          No

4.Ryan Lochte                                           52.29                      8                       36                   ’04,’08,’12

5.Tim Phillips                                            51.75                       5                        18                        No

6.Matthew Josa                                          51.68                     4                         16                        No

Darkhorse: Connor Black                          52.61                    10                       52                       No

The men’s 100 fly will be one of the most highly anticipated races of the Trials. It was hard to pick just 6 and a dark horse with so many fast American men in this event. Phelps is the undisputed favorite. I mean, he’s the 3-time defending Olympic champion and will look for number 4 this year. Tom Shields had a very impressive 2015 including a 4th place finish at the World Championships, and Jack Conger was the runner-up behind Phelps at Nationals. Ryan Lochte is very capable in this event having finished 3rd at the last Olympic Trials, and Tim Phillips and Matthew Josa were both well under 52 in 2015. Connor Black of Stanford is someone to watch for, after going a personal best 52.61 in August.

200m Butterfly            2012 Qualifying Time: 1:55.12

                                                                     2015 Best            US Rank        World Rank     Oly.Experience

1.Michael Phelps                                           1:52.94                     1                         1              ’00,’04,’08,’12

2.Jack Conger                                                1:54.54                     2                        8                       No

3.Tom Shields                                                   1:55.75                     3                         17                        No

4.Andrew Seliskar                                            1:55.92                     5                        20                       No

5.Tyler Clary                                                      1:55.86                      4                        19                      ’12

6.Pace Clark                                                       1:56.84                     6                         32                      No

Darkhorse: Michael Thomas                          1:57.61                      11                        57                      No

Phelps will be favoured to walk away with both butterfly titles in Omaha, with Shields and Conger battling for the other spot. Andrew Seliskar and Tyler Clary were both under 1:56 this year, and Pace Clark broke through at Nationals with a 3rd place finish. Youngster Michael Thomas will be someone to keep an eye on after he posted 1:57 swims at Nationals and World Juniors, where he won a bronze medal.

200m Individual Medley    2012 Qualifying Time: 1:54.93

                                                                              2015 Best             US Rank        World Rank   Oly.Experience

1.Michael Phelps                                           1:54.75                  1                         1                 ’00,’04,’08,’12

2.Ryan Lochte                                                1:55.81                   2                          2                  ’04,’08,’12

3.Will Licon                                                        1:58.43                   5                         18                        No

4.Conor Dwyer                                                 1:57.96                     3                         10                         ’12

5.Josh Prenot                                                   1:58.38                     4                          16                         No

6.Andrew Seliskar                                            1:59.93                     11                         39                        No

Darkhorse: David Nolan                                 2:00.15                     13                        43                       No

The 200 IM field is loaded with lots of big names, but there is little to decide in terms of Olympic selections. Phelps and Lochte have dominated this event, with no one other than the two of them winning the last 3 Olympic and 7 World Championship titles. Behind them, names such as Will Licon, Conor Dwyer, Josh Prenot, and many others will battle for places 3rd through 8th in the final. This is an event Dwyer could easily drop as he has a much better chance of qualifying in his other events, but unless he makes the 100 free final he may as well swim as it would be his last event. Andrew Seliskar scratched this event at Nationals but has a lot of untapped potential in this event and could challenge for a top-3 spot. SCY American record holder David Nolan will look to make some noise in this his signature race from college in long course. He has shown marked improvement since joining Bob Bowman in Tempe including a 2:00.15 personal best at Winter Nationals.

400m Individual Medley    2012 Qualifying Time: 4:07.89

                                                                                 2015 Best            US Rank        World Rank     Oly.Experience

1.Chase Kalisz                                                   4:10.05                 1                        4                       No

2.Tyler Clary                                                      4:11.71                  2                        5                       ’12

3.Will Licon                                                         4:20.70                   18                     96                         No

4.Josh Prenot                                                      4:13.15                    4                         10                       No

5.Jay Litherland                                                  4:12.43                      3                          7                        No

6.Gunnar Bentz                                                   4:14.16                    5                          18                     No

Darkhorse: Sean Grieshop                                4:15.67                    6                         22                     No

Chase Kalisz and Tyler Clary have been the perennial top-2 in this event since Michael Phelps and Ryan Lochte stop competing in it. The rest of the field will have a difficult time taking out Kalisz and/or Clary, but there’s plenty of young talent that will hungry to do so. Will Licon famously took out Kalisz at the NCAA Championships in March, but had a disappointing prelims swim at Nationals. Jay Litherland and Josh Prenot dominated this event at the World University Games going 1-2, and Gunnar Bentz won Nationals but a wide margin. Sean Grieshop will be one to watch after finishing 3rd at Nationals and then winning gold at Junior Worlds.

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5 years ago

Not sure Lochte will do the 200 back but I’d sure love to see it

5 years ago

Not including Clark Smith in the 1500 just because he’s never swam it seems…unwise, given his 8:33 1000 🙂

Reply to  PK
5 years ago

1500 m LC is quite different as regards 1000 yd SC. I see Clark Smith a great prospect for an individual spot in the 400 free and a possible 800 free relay addition. Regarding 1500 free I have to see him in LC, but I think he will focus on shorter events at trials.
Curious to see Lochte’s choices at trials: 200 im and 200 free are a certainty, I don’t know if he will swim 200 back or a shorter event like 100 fly or 100 free for the relay.
Moreover, at Worlds2015 400 im has been a weak event (easy winner an out of shape Daya Seto ). For Lochte this is an off-event after London2012,… Read more »

Reply to  paolo
5 years ago

We saw basically the same exact circumstance in 2008, though-PVK had really never swam the 1500 at a high level meet before 2008, when he went a 14:52 at the Ohio GP and decided to actually focus on it, and then went 14:45 at Trials. Prior to that his best was 15:14.

Every Olympic cycle there’s a swimmer who gains a ton of momentum in the year leading up to trials and surprises people in a spot where they hadn’t previously made a significant team. Smith or Wilson seem like the best bets for that sort of trajectory.

Jim C
Reply to  PK
5 years ago

A ratio and proportion with Ledecky;s best times for 1000y and 1500m gives 14:41.37 Even adding 2% it is a 14:59.

Reply to  PK
5 years ago

I agree. The first time I saw Clark on video with that incredible smooth stroke, I said oh boy- this guy will give Connor a run for the money someday. The 400 for sure, the 1500 if he does it, and a shot at the 800FR relay top 6.

I also think Ryan Hoffer might sneak in for that 100FR- on the relay for sure, and possibly a top 2 performance!

I am thrilled to say that I will be in Omaha watching these guys!

5 years ago

I’d love to see Conger make the team in at least one event. He has potential to medal in 6 events – 100/200 fly 100/200 free 4 x 100/200 free relays

Reply to  A
5 years ago

Conger being behind all the 2012 qualifying times with no Olympic experience, doesn’t look good. I’d love to see him make the team though.

About James Sutherland

James Sutherland

James swam five years at Laurentian University in Sudbury, Ontario, specializing in the 200 free, back and IM. He finished up his collegiate swimming career in 2018, graduating with a bachelor's degree in economics. In 2019 he completed his graduate degree in sports journalism. Prior to going to Laurentian, James swam …

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