2016 US Olympic Trials Preview: No Clear Leader in Men’s 100 Breast

No American men are currently ranked in the top 10 in the world for the 100 breaststroke this season. Since the departure of Brendan Hansen from the international scene, the U.S. has not had a clear and consistent leader emerge from its incredibly deep field of talent.  Anyone having their best day could legitimately earn a shot at representing the USA in Rio, as the field of entries so far has 18 athletes at 1:01.00 or better with the fastest being less than 1.5 seconds under that threshold.  Here is the SwimSwam breakdown of the top times posted during the qualifying period for 2016 Olympic Trials in this event where America is just waiting for a breakaway performer to emerge as the alpha dog of the pack.

Cody Miller is 1/16th Japanese, so technically he should be allowed to do extra dolphin kicks.

Cody Miller has five different sub-minute races since 2014 – the most among Americans in that time frame.

Cody Miller touched at 59.51 in June of 2015 at Santa Clara which ranked him 8th in the world for the 2014-15 season.  In March he was within a half second of that while sporting a full beard at the Orlando Pro Series final with 59.94, but was disqualified for “multiple dolphin kicks” out of the turn.   Miller also has the top time in the nation for the 2016 season over 100 yards with 50.82 from the American Energy Pro-Am in December.  The Indiana Hoosier alum represented the USA at World Championships in Kazan, and currently trains with Badger Swim Club.

Nic Fink is only a hundredth of a second behind the top time from Miller with his 59.52 from a FINA World Cup last August.  That time ranked him 9th in the world for the 2014-15 season.  He is not a stranger to international competition, having placed as high as 8th at 2013 World Championships and 2nd at 2014 Pan-Pacs for this event. The former Georgia Bulldog continues to train in Athens.

Nic Fink throws up his hands, wondering "what good is it to be really fast at the slowest stroke?!"

Nic Fink throws up his hands, wondering “what good is it to be really fast at the slowest stroke?!”

Andrew Wilson rocked a 59.65 at 2015 Nationals in August and earned a name for himself on the national scene in a flash.  The Emory stand-out, (that’s right, Division III Emory,) blasted his way with that swim to become the sixth fastest American all-time.  He currently trains with the Longhorns in Austin. So far he is the only athlete in the US to have turned in a legal sub-1 minute performance since September with his 59.91 in March, which ranks him at 12th in the world for the 2015-16 season.

Kevin Cordes will always be remembered for demolishing the 1:50 barrier in the 200 short course yard breaststroke at NCAAs during his junior season with the first 1:48 in history.  He has since then also set American Records in short course meters for both the 100 and 200 breast.  In May of 2015 it was announced that Cordes would move to Singapore to train under Sergio Lopez-Miro to prepare for the 2016 Trials.  Cordes has also reportedly traveled multiple times to British Columbia to work with legendary breaststroke coach Joszef Nagy.  While the 200 seems to be his bread and butter, he has a legitimate shot to break away in the 100 if his new training environment helps him excel.

He knows it's not polite to point, but he does it anyway because he's Kevin freakin' Cordes.

He knows it’s not polite to point, but he does it anyway because he’s Kevin freakin’ Cordes.

Sam Tierney got a late start in swimming but carved out an excellent career after walking on at Missouri in 2011.  His best time is 1:00.15 from 2015 Winter Nationals which makes him the second fastest American for the current season.  He trains with the newly formed pro group at Mizzou.

Brendan McHugh set a US Open Record in the 50 breaststroke with a 27.10 to win Nationals in 2014.  That swim, coming after McHugh left the sport for several months at the start of law school, earned him a spot on the American team at FINA World Championships. The Penn grad turned in a lifetime best 51.62 over 100 yards at the King Marlin Pro-Am in Dallas this December.  His best long course performance is 1:00.31 from 2014 Nationals, but at 2015 Winter Nats he showed he is on track with 1:00.50 to rank him third among Americans this season.

DJ MacDonald just completed an outstanding career at The Ohio State University and is not a stranger to international competition.  He finished 4th in the 100 and 5th in the 50 breaststroke at the 2015 World University Games.  His top time of 1:00.51 is from that meet and was the 5th fastest time among Americans from the 2014-15 season.

Marcus Titus had given up swimming at one point, but after a stint as Head Coach for Team USA at Deaflympics he decided to get back to competing.  Now 29 years old and training at Tucson Ford Dealers Aquatics, he is in prime form, ranked 5th among Americans for the 2015-16 season with a near lifetime best 1:00.55.

Top 8 Picks:

Swimmer Best Time Since 2012 Predicted Time
Cody Miller 59.51 59.2
Nic Fink 59.52 59.4
Andrew Wilson 59.65 59.5
Kevin Cordes 59.70 59.6
Sam Tierney 1:00.15 1:00.0
Brendan McHugh 1:00.31 1:00.1
DJ MacDonald 1:00.51 1:00.4
Marcus Titus 1:00.55 1:00.5

Dark Horse Pick: Michael Andrew 

MA likes to watch Zoolander to get pumped up. He calls this look "The Breakout."

MA likes to watch Zoolander to get pumped up. He calls this look “The Breakout.”

Come on Viking!?  Why would you pick the kid as your Dark Horse when there are other accomplished breaststrokers like Will Licon, Josh Prenot, Brad Craig and Mike Alexandrov out of the top 8 ranking but still in the hunt?

In a field that is so tightly packed together, whoever is having the best day on the right day has a chance. Michael Andrew knows that as versatile as he is, this event is probably his best shot at making the team in an individual event.  Some people like to shoot him down as though he is “just a short course swimmer” and tends to fall apart in long course, but do you remember this race where he aced the back half against a world-class field for the 100 breast win at the 2015 Austin stop of the Arena Pro Series?  Yeah, he can bring it home with the best of them.  Andrew’s lifetime best 1:00.68 was done at Nationals in August of 2015, and he has been improving in short course (and most likely still growing) since then.  In yards, he turned in the 3rd fastest time among Americans this season with his 51.75 at the American Energy Pro-Am, and came out of that meet hard on himself because his turns were lousy. It’s a long shot, but not so long that the kid with the longest torso in history can be ruled out.

FIND LINKS TO ALL OF OUR U.S. OLYMPIC TRIALS PREVIEWS HERE

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KTHW

Courses 58.7. People forget what he did on relays last year

TAA

Cordes went 58.63 in mixed medley in Kazan…he is my pick..

Kristaps Porzingis

Cordez will go 57 and Licon 58. He would have won the 100 breast at NCAAs if he would have entered it. His first 100 of his 200 was 51 and a 50.6 in the relay. It will be a battle between him and Wilson for the 2nd spot. This weekends meet is going to give us a good look at what could go down.

Andrew Majeske

Hmm…isn’t this the handle for Andrew Wilson himself?

Markster

Not too impressed with these predictions. Kordes had an amazing relay split last summer. He also got a medal in both the 50 and 200 breast. I have a feeling he would have gotten 3rd in the 100 breast if he swam it as well

EmZee

This is the logic that needs to be said.

26.7 and 2:07.8 in the 50 and 200 is world class. He hasn’t had a good chance to swim the 100 in a while but has been consistent 58-mids from both Pan Pacs and Worlds in relays. To not put him as first in something like a 58.9 is simply wrong. And to put dolphin-kicking Cody Miller in at 1st is just salt in the wound.

After him it’s definitely a battle between Wilson (remember, this kid is training with the legendary Eddie Reese!), Fink (who has made consistent improvement), and Miller (fast, but always has a chance to be arrogant and get DQ’d).

weirdo

Does anyone know how to spell Cordes? Come on guys!

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