2016 U.S. Olympic Trials Previews: Men’s 100 Free & USA Redemption

Following the 2012 London Olympics Games, much of the conversation about Team USA’s male sprinters has focused on the veteran men and lack of youth to keep the Americans on the podium in the 400 free relay for Rio 2016. Things began to look bleak in 2014, when only 2 American veterans, Olympic gold medalists Nathan Adrian and Michael Phelps, were able to swim under 48.50. A year later at the 2015 World Championships, the downward trajectory continued when the American men failed to make the finals of the 400 free relay. In the face of heavy criticism, Team USA has badly needed its young male sprinters to step up. In the lead up to Rio, quite a few have done just that.

Caeleb Dressel's response after smashing his own records with a 18.20 in the 50 free. Photo Credits: Tim Binning/TheSwimPictures.com

Caeleb Dressel‘s response after smashing his own records with a 18.20 in the 50 free. Photo Credits: Tim Binning/TheSwimPictures.com

Caeleb Dressel has asserted his way into the Olympic conversation with his multiple American and NCAA Records during his first 2 seasons at Florida, as well as his 2015 National Championships title in the 100 free. The 19-year-old Dressel powered his way to a 48.78 last summer to win the National title. Dressel has been getting better and better, with tremendous yards swims of 18.20 in the 50 and 40.46 in the 100. After downing Nathan Adrian‘s American Record in the yards pool, the youngster now has a chance to showdown with the defending Olympic champ at trials. Dressel looks ready for the challenge, having swum a best time in season with his 48.74 at the Tennessee Aquatics June Invite, just 3 weeks ahead of trials.

Maxime Rooney


Dressel is one of a slew of young swimmers who are now in the picture for this event. Missouri’s Michael Chadwick and incoming Florida freshman Maxime Rooney broke onto the scene last summer, as they were the only American men under 49 aside from Adrian and Dressel. Chadwick posted a 48.87 to win Athens sectionals. Rooney matched that performance, swimming a 48.87 at the 2015 FINA Junior World Championships.

Texas’ Jack Conger will likely make a run for a 400 free relay spot. Conger, who finished 2nd behind Dressel at 2015 Nationals, swam a 49.02 at the 2015 World University Games. He’s shown promising signs that he’s capable of going faster with multiple 47.9 relay splits at that meet.

While these swimmers give us the potential to see a changing of the guard, we definitely can’t count out veteran Nathan Adrian. Following his Olympic gold in 2012, Adrian maintained a top 3 position at 2013 Worlds (47.82) and 2014 Pan Pacs (48.05). Adrian swam a 48.00 at Mesa Pro Swim this season, the fastest he’s been since 2014 and less than a half second off his winning 47.52 from 2012.

With the hype surrounding the Olympic year, it wouldn’t be surprising to see more American veterans return to stronger form. Conor Dwyer and Matt Grevers swam on the 400 free relay at Worlds last summer. Grevers swam a 48.67 on the 3rd leg, and Dwyer followed suit with a 48.44 anchor. Individually in this Olympic cycle, Grevers’ fastest has been a 48.91 from 2013, and he hasn’t entered the 100 free tapered since. He’s done his part for Team USA on the 400 free relay before, splitting a 47.54 in London. Like Grevers, Dwyer focuses more on other events, but has been a 48.94 from a flat start.

Also members of the 2015 Worlds relay, Anthony Ervin and Jimmy Feigen have been far from their bests recently. Feigen missed semis at the 2015 World Championships, swimming a 49.12 out of prelims. On the relay, Ervin swam a 49.69 from a rolling start, with a painful looking 2nd 50. To make the Rio team, Feigen and Ervin will need to return to 2013 Worlds form, where Feigen split a 47.7 and Ervin split a 47.38 on the 400 free relay.

This season, USA National Teamer Josh Schneider broke 49 for the first time with a 48.91 at the FINA World Cup. He then went on to improve that time at U.S. Winter Nationals, placing 4th in 48.76. After a narrow miss in the 50 free at 2012 trials, Schneider will be looking to make his first Olympic team.

While neither swam this event last summer, it’s likely that Michael Phelps and Ryan Lochte will challenge for a relay spot. In the first year of his comeback, Phelps posted a 48.45 at 2014 Pan Pacs, the 2nd fastest time done by an American since 2013. Phelps has been as fast as 47.51 from a flat start (2008) and a 47.15 relay split (2012). Individually since London, Lochte has swum a 48.58 from 2013 worlds, and his relay split there was a 47.80. Time will tell if Lochte’s move to SwimMAC has helped him build his speed.

Men’s 100 Free Top 12 Predictions:

Place Name Best Since London Predicted Time Training Base
1 Nathan Adrian 47.84 47.6 University of California, Berkeley
2 Caeleb Dressel 48.74 47.9 University of Florida, Gainesville
3 Michael Phelps 48.45 48.2 Arizona State, Tempe
4 Jack Conger 49.02 48.5 University of Texas, Austin
5 Maxime Rooney 48.87 48.5 Pleasanton Seahawks, CA
6 Jimmy Feigen 47.82 48.6 SwimMAC Carolina, Charlotte
7 Matt Grevers 48.91 48.6 University of Arizona, Tucson
8 Ryan Lochte 48.58 48.6 SwimMAC Carolina, Charlotte
9 Anthony Ervin 48.49 48.7 University of California, Berkeley
10 Conor Dwyer 48.94 48.7 Trojan Swim Club, Los Angeles
11 Josh Schneider 48.76 48.8 University of Cincinnati, Cincinnati
12 Michael Chadwick 48.87 48.8 University of Missouri, Columbia

Dark Horse: High school junior Ryan Hoffer swam a blistering 41.23 in the 100 Yard Free at 2015 Winter Juniors. His long course best is a 49.73 from 2015 Junior Worlds. If the Cal commit can translate his improvements to long course, he should have a shot at the top 8.


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7 years ago

At the 2012 OTs for the Men’s 100 FR, the cut offs were:

49.76 Prelims 16th
49.03 Semis 8th *
48.88 Finals 6th
48.46 Finals 2nd
* ( Lochte scratched after Semis so Lezak 9th 49.05 made finals)

I am certain the cut off times at the 2016 trials will be faster.

Since Phelps & Conger shouldn’t really be part of the Mens 100 FR conversation for trials. (other than their prelim times) let’s talk a little more about this article’s Dark Horse pick, Ryan Hoffer. As we’ve seen Hoffer is very fast, has a phenomenal SDK ( Streamline Dolphin Kick) (During his 41.23 100 FR race, he SDKed close to the 15… Read more »

7 years ago

In Rio

McEvoy 46.8 WR
Adrian 47.1
Dressel, Condorelli battle it out for third, with Dressel coming out on top in 47.5

7 years ago

Michael Andrews? Does he figure in the 100 at all? He did ok at the World Jnrs…

Joe Momma
7 years ago


7 years ago

There is a great mix of veterans and up and comers here. As a fan, I can’t decide if I want to see the old guys get one more shot or the young guns take over. Either way, there are a lot of guys that can be in the 47 high/48 low range. I hope the US gets a couple of those guys to step and get lower into the 47 territory at trials. To win the relay, it 47s only.

7 years ago

I would not be surprised if Dressel only makes 50 for Rio, and not 100 free. Dressel’s free when not breathing and when breathing a lot are two different things.

tea rex
7 years ago

Is the Olympic Trials pool 10 lanes?

I think they should allow 10 finalists for the relay events. I always feel bad for the 7th and 8th place finishers.

Irish Ringer
Reply to  tea rex
7 years ago

But then wouldn’t you feel sorry for the 9th and 10th place finishers?

tea rex
Reply to  Irish Ringer
7 years ago

If you make finals, you’ve got a 3/4 chance to make the team. It feels more like selecting who DOESN’T qualify than who does.

America has a ton of depth in the relay events – it would be nice to showcase as much of it as possible.

Reply to  tea rex
7 years ago

Yes, the Olympic pool is 10 lanes, but they will not be using (or give a number) to the outside lanes, which are left empty to decrease turbulence. As a result, it is not always bad luck to qualify 7th or 8th for the final and the advantage of being in a center lane (from a perspective of hydrodynamics anyway) is decreased.

7 years ago

1) Adrian, Nathan 47.78
2) Dressel, Caeleb 48.03
3) Phelps, Michael 48.28
4) Lochte, Ryan 48.50
5) Conger, Jack 48.58
6) Schneider, Josh 48.70
6) Grevers, Matthew 48.70
Swim-Off: Grevers wins the swim off in 48.48, Schneider goes 48.94.

Ride de Janiero:
1) Mcevoy, Cameron GOLD 46.81 WR
2) Adrian, Nathan SILVER 47.56
3) Ning, Zateo BRONZE 47.65

Reply to  SeanSwimmer
7 years ago

Mcevoy is the next Magnusson…..remember it

Reply to  SeanSwimmer
7 years ago

Lochte cannot make the team…..instead Anthony is the best bet

Reply to  Shibly
7 years ago

Seriously, Ervin has lack of endurance for the 100. Lochte can make the relay if no one else steps up and post a good time.

About Lauren Neidigh

Lauren Neidigh

Lauren Neidigh is a former NCAA swimmer at the University of Arizona (2013-2015) and the University of Florida (2011-2013). While her college swimming career left a bit to be desired, her Snapchat chin selfies and hot takes on Twitter do not disappoint. She's also a high school graduate of The …

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