2017 U.S. Trials Previews: Can Adrian Hold off Dressel in 100 Free?

Find links to all of our event-by-event previews here.

2017 U.S. Nationals/World Championships Trials

  • Tuesday, June 27th-Saturday, July 1st
  • 50-Meter Course
  • Indianapolis, Indiana
  • Meet Info

Caeleb Dressel (photo: Tim Binning)

After Caeleb Dressel‘s eye-popping 40.00 in the 100 free at NCAAs, swimming fans are eager to see what he can put together in the long course pool. Dressel hit a career milestone last summer when he made his first U.S. Olympic team in this event and broke 48 seconds for the first time in Rio. As the U.S. seeks redemption at Worlds after missing the final in 2015, Dressel is one of the keys to getting the Americans back on the podium and comes equipped with the experience of being on the winning 400 free relay at the 2016 Rio Olympics.

While he’s certainly one of the frontrunners for gold in this event in Indianapolis, Dressel has some tough competition. In the other corner, we have veteran National Teamer and Olympic champion Nathan Adrian, who won the 100 free at the 2012 Olympics and took bronze in Rio 2016. Adrian has been at the helm in this race for the Americans for several years now, and has consistently been a medalist on the international stage at Worlds, the Olympics, and Pan Pacs. He anchored the USA relay that won gold in Rio, and has already been as fast as 48.18 this season at the Mesa PSS.

Also among the returners from the Olympic gold medal relay in Rio are Ryan Held, Anthony Ervin, and Blake Pieroni, who all have best times in the 48-range. Held is the fastest of the three, and could compete for an individual spot. He smashed ACC Records during the NCAA season and could dip under 48 for the first time if he has similar improvements in long course. Pieroni looks primed for a drop and has already been as fast as 49.13 this season, which is just tenths shy of his 48.78 from 2016 Trials.

Michael Chadwick (photo: Mike Lewis)

We’ve seen big swims from a handful of guys already this season, and a few of them might be well on their way to a relay spot. Michael Chadwick comes to mind as a likely relay candidate. He narrowly missed making the Olympic team last summer and has only gotten better with a personal best 48.69 at 2017 Charlotte UltraSwim. Like Dressel, Chadwick had a big swim at NCAAs, lowering his best time to a 40.95 in the yards pool. Justin Ress (49.43) and Michael Jensen (49.35) have also had big in-season swims, breaking 50 seconds for the first time at the Atlanta Classic and Santa Clara PSS respectively.

NCAA butterfly champ Jack Conger has been clutch on Team USA relays, hitting multiple 47 splits at the 2015 Pan American Games. Conger has a conflict, though, as this event comes directly after the 200 fly, which is one of his best chances to make the team individually. His best time from a flat start is a 49.05 from 2015 Nationals. Similarly, Ryan Murphy hasn’t focused on this event at his championship meets, but he’s been a key piece of the Cal 400 free relays throughout his NCAA career and has managed to have some of the fastest splits of the field each time. Murphy has already put up a best time this season with a 49.60 at the Atlanta PSS. Since it doesn’t conflict with the backstrokes, we could see him swim it at Trials this time around.

National Teamers Matt Grevers, and Conor Dwyer are among the veterans in this event, having competed on the 4×100 free relay at past World Championships. Dwyer could sneak in there if he’s close to his best, which stands at a 48.94 from 2013 Nationals. Since 2015, Grevers’ best is a 49.55, and we can’t be sure he’ll opt to swim the event. If he does, however, he could have a shot. His lifetime best since the supersuit era is a 48.55 from 2012 Trials.


Place Swimmer Best Time Since 2015 Predicted Time
1 Caeleb Dressel 47.91 47.7
2 Nathan Adrian 47.72 47.9
3 Ryan Held 48.26 48.0
4 Michael Chadwick 48.69 48.4
5 Blake Pieroni 48.78 48.6
6 Anthony Ervin 48.54 48.6
7 Michael Jensen 49.35 48.8
8 Justin Ress 49.48 49.2

DARKHORSE: Auburn’s Zach Apple has shown great improvement since he joined the Tigers. This season, he earned All-American status individually at the 2017 NCAA Championships and scored in both sprint freestyle races. His best time is a 49.43 from 2016, but he’s already been within a couple of tenths of it with his 49.70 from this season’s Atlanta Classic.

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5 years ago

Looks like your darkhorse was right

5 years ago

According to the omega start lists, Conger isn’t swimming the 100 free, yet the Texas Pro Swim Group’s insta page says otherwise…

E Gamble
Reply to  AAA
5 years ago

He’s not listed on the heat sheets for the 100 free.

Reply to  E Gamble
5 years ago

Yes, that is what I stated. He is listed on the psych sheets

5 years ago

I’m interested to see what Townley Hass could do in the 100 LCM free. ( best event in swimming )

Reply to  Stallion6
5 years ago

Yeah Townly got some speed. Big 3rd place finish for him

Mark Rose
5 years ago

Hard to say how well Adrian will do considering he has been adjusting his approach to the 100. Also it seems that he has changed his form slightly. He may be firing on all cylinders or it will be another progressive learning experience as he adjusts. Regardless, I’m a huge Adrian fan and I’m predicting a sub 48. The Nat is a fast pool.

gator fan
5 years ago

Obviously I’m a little biased but I definitely think Dressel can take Adrian, but they’ll both have good swims, I say 47.6 Dressel and 47.7 from Adrian (same as last years Trials), I think Held could quite possibly dip under 48 at 47.9 just maybe. And Chadwick I think will go 48.1. Thoughts?

5 years ago

Dressel is not that special LC until he proves it. Ik y’all are gonna come at me and with all of his times and rankings but seriously. No. He needs to show consistency and be able to match professional Adrian’s level to beat him. Also, why doesn’t he compete in the 50 free LCM? Doesn’t he go the fastest times in history?

5 years ago

I’m really interested to see Adrian’s strategy change in full effect with his taper. It sounds like based on what Chalmers did at the Olympics last year, Adrian has his sights set on swimming it more like 22.high + 24.mid, rather than 22.mid and 25.low. You would think that given his recent success in the 50, going in the 21.3-21.7 range, going out 22.9 would feel rather easy for him.

5 years ago

This article has had the most comments so far – it shows how much we love the 100 free and the excitement it generates .

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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