The women’s 100m breaststroke is going to be a dogfight, a race that will likely come down to the wire. There’s so much international talent jam-packed into this event, that it’s tough to even say who will make the final.
More than eight American women have been able to crack the top 25 world rankings during one of the last four years since the London Olympics, making each and every one of them a contender for the Olympic team.
Jessica Hardy has been the fastest American woman this quadrennial in the 100m breaststroke with the 1:05.18 she threw down at the 2013 World Championships to take home the bronze medal. In Barcelona, she also won a bronze in the 50m breaststroke and gold as a member of the 4x100m medley relay.
In 2014, Hardy won gold in the 100m breaststroke at the Pan Pacific Championships and silver as a member of the 4x100m medley relay. Since then, she hasn’t earned an international medal.
Injury plauged her leading up to the 2015 World Championships where she finished 10th overall, failing to make it out of the semifinals. Despite the injury however, she was able to final in the 50m breaststroke.
Hardy’s been a 1:07.09 this season, and if she can get down into that 1:05 range she should be a lock for Rio. Coming off that 2015 she’s a little bit of a wildcard, and potentially in the shadow of Katie Meili.
Meili, who swims for David Marsh at SwimMAC Carolina, emerged onto the global scene in the 100m breaststroke last summer with a stunning performance at the Pan American Games in Toronto.
Out in a 1:05.64 during the heats, Meili led the way through prelims and finished first in the final with a 1:06.26. Her 1:05.64 time ranks her as the second fastest American over this quadrennial.
Already this season, Meili has been close to her winning time from the Pan Am Games, sporting a 1:06.59 which ties her for ninth in the world this year. She’s on the up-and-up and could very well lead the charge in Omaha.
Coming up strong behind Meili and Hardy will be Breeja Larson and Molly Hannis. The two share the fourth fastest time of the last quadrennial with equal 1:06.16 performances. The difference, however, is that Larson swam hers in 2013, and Hannis swam hers earlier this year.
At the 2016 Southern Premier meet in Knoxville, Hannis was a 1:06.16, a time that ranks her the sixth fastest performer in the event this season.
Larson’s time is from the 2013 US National Championships which doubled as the World Championship trials. Since then, the fastest she’s been was a 1:06.73 in August of 2014. Last season her best time was a 1:07.19. If she wants a shot at making her second Olympic team she’s going to need to drop down closer towards a 1:06-flat.
Lilly King is a bit of a wildcard in this event in the sense that she’s just a freshman at Indiana, and hasn’t fully proven herself in the long course pool at a major competition. She was incredible at the NCAA Championships and has been on the come-up for a long time now.
This season, she broke both the 100 and 200 breaststroke American record with a 56.85 performance in the 100 and a 2:03.59 in the 200. King was also a 1:05.73 this season in the long course pool which ranks her as the third fastest American woman in this event over the last four years. If she’s able to match or better that time come trials, there’s plenty of potential for an Olympic bid.
King could very well be the young swimmer to emerge at these trials, knock off a few previous international competitors, and start her international career.
Micah Lawrence has been relatively quiet in the 100 since winning the 100m breaststroke at the 2014 summer nationals. She failed to make it past the heats in the 100 last summer at the World Championships, although she put up a stunning performance in the 200 to take home the silver. Lawrence is a bit unpredictable, but has the experience to make the team.
Assuming the six aforementioned swimmers make the final, both Emma Reaney and Melanie Margalis would likely be the two swimmers to fill the seventh and eighth final spots. The two have been consistent over the last four years. Reaney’s best time of 1:06.74 and Margalis’ best time of 1:07.35 put them in great contention for a spot in the finals.
Margalis has already been right on her best this season with a 1:07.37 performance.
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