2017 U.S. Trials Previews: Will Comerford Snag a Spot in 100 Free?

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Simone Manuel has been shockingly good in the 100 free over the past year. She was already a top-tier sprinter, but after pulling off a stunning upset to tie for gold in the 100 free at the Rio Olympics, she was arguably even more jaw-dropping at 2017 NCAAs. Swimming fans watched as Manuel stepped up for the 100 free final, waiting to witness what could possibly have been the first sub-46 100 free ever done by a woman. What followed was beyond expectation, as she shattered her own American Record in 45.56. Manuel, the heavy favorite ahead of Trials, now looks to break her own American Record in the long course pool, which stands at a 52.70 from the Rio olympics.

Abbey Weitzeil, who also represented the U.S. in this race in Rio, is the 2nd fastest swimmer on the psych sheets. She’s was slightly off her bests during the short course season and hasn’t been quite as fast in-season at the Arena Pro Swim Series meets as she was last year. But it’s still likely we’ll see her on the team even if only for the relay. If she hits her stride, she could be looking at a sub-53. She’s already been 53-low a couple of times, including a 53.28 at 2016 Trials.

After a phenomenal NCAA season, Mallory Comerford looks to be the biggest threat for a roster spot behind Manuel. She made huge improvements in 2016, knocking over a second off her time to make semifinals at Trials. She’s already been half a second faster than that in 2017, putting up a quick 53.91 at the Arena Pro Swim Series in Indianapolis. With her improvements so far this year, it’s not inconceivable to think Comerford could be 53-low to 53-mid. During the yards season, she knocked over a second and a half off her best time, bringing it down to a lightning fast 46.35 at NCAAs.

Amanda Weir (photo: Tim Binning)

It’ll likely take a sub-54 to make the top 6, and 3 more swimmers return after competing on the 400 free relay in Rio: Amanda Weir, Lia Neal, and Katie Ledecky. It’s hard to predict how fast Ledecky will be since she’s one of the few swimmers who doesn’t have to taper at all for Trials to make the team in her main events, but her personal best 53.75 is from an in-season meet anyways. Weir has been representing the U.S. internationally for over a decade. Her fastest time in a textile suit is a 53.58 from 2006, but she came within 2 hundredths of that last summer, so it’s safe to say she’s one of the Americans’ top prospects in Indianapolis. Like Weir, Neal is a veteran of the 400 free relay and has continued to improve since making her first Olympic team in 2012.

Kelsi Worrell narrowly missed making the Olympic relay with an 8th place finish at Trials and set a personal best 54.00. She’s been showing great freestyle speed at the Arena Pro Swim Series meets so far this season, so we could see her dip into the 53s to snag a spot. Similarly, 2016 Trials semifinalists Olivia Smoliga and Madison Kennedy have been 54-low and could potentially take a relay spot if they’re able to dip into the 53-high range. Kennedy was 9th at Trials and boasts a personal best 54.18. Smoliga has been just off that with her personal best 54.21 and showed blistering speed during the short course season with her 46.30 at NCAAs.


Place Swimmer Best Time Since 2015 Predicted Time
1 Simone Manuel 52.7 52.5
2 Mallory Comerford 53.91 53.2
3 Abbey Weitzeil 53.28 53.5
4 Lia Neal 53.77 53.7
5 Amanda Weir 53.6 53.8
6 Katie Ledecky 53.75 53.8
7 Olivia Smoliga 54.21 54.0
8 Kelsi Worrell 54.00 54.0



In This Story


  1. john26 says:

    …what has she done in the last year that has suggested she can blast a 52.5? Apart from being American and therefore can “rise to the challenge”

    • He Gets It Done Again says:

      Well for starters she went 52.7 ten months ago and 45.5 in yards three months ago

    • Pvdh says:

      Why is it that so many posters are so dismissive of Americans improving their times by mere tenths, but are so willing to say that international swimmers can drop crazy amounts of time.

      • E Gamble says:

        My guess is there is some international trolling going on right before our national meet. ?

      • Dee says:

        Bias. The same reason Americans often over-estimate their swimmers, Brits theirs, Aussies theirs etc etc. It’s 50/50 though – That 52.7 is very much alone for now, I struggle to see 52.5 at Trials, virtually untested. At Worlds, I’d be surprised but not shocked. If she has a few more 52s swims, and solidifies, it’ll be a good season, even without a PB.

        Can’t see any of the top 3 hitting those times – Neal may be the one to nick 2nd.

        Manuel/Comerford individually for me.
        Neal, Ledecky, Smoliga, Weitzeil next 4.

        I’m not sure on Weitzeil this year though… I think she is as likely to miss the team as she is to make it.

    • Lauren Neidigh says:

      See her performance in Rio and at NCAAs. If you read the article you’ll see the reasoning.

  2. Paul says:

    Worrell not on the team and adding time? I doubt it.

  3. ArtVanDeLegh10 says:

    I’m very interested to see how Weitzel does. She hasn’t been very good since Rio SCY or LCM. Hopefully she can turn it around.

  4. gigglewater says:

    The finalists I agree, seem like these 8 swimmers.
    Same with Paul, I would rank Worrell hinger.
    The prediction time though…I just don’t see Manuel go 52.5 at here.

  5. ervin says:

    i bet Olivia Smoliga gets the sixth slot over Katie Ledecky, but then they put Ledecky on the relay anyway

    • Pvdh says:

      Ledecky split 52.6 and 52.7 on the relay last year. Why wouldn’t they include her?

      • Dee says:

        Because other athletes who work their arses off earned their chance by beating her?

        • Pvdh says:

          Tell me, would you put a swimmer, that you know isn’t the best option, on the finals of a relay that is contending for a medal?

        • KeithM says:

          The coaches in Budapest are going to select who they believe will be the four fastest girls regardless of their finishing order in Indy. The top 4 at Nationals would have to be impressive for the coaches to consider not putting a tapered Ledecky on the sprint relay. No swimmer “earns” their way onto a relay at the qualifying meet. Not even the winner. The selection process for the US is discretionary and always has been. That being said Ledecky can’t take anything for granted, which is why she’s entered the 100, although given she’s so dominant in the 800 there is little risk in swimming both heats and finals (should she qualify).

  6. BSD says:

    I think Lea Neal will beat Weitzeil, she’s looked good so far this season.

  7. Marley09 says:

    Simone won’t be anywhere near 52.5 in Indy because she doesn’t need to show all her cards. 53.0 to 53.5 is likely all she’s going to need to get an individual lane in Budapest. I think Amanda Weir might be left without a chair once the music stops. Worried about Weitzeil too.

    • Swimmer? says:

      Right, Manuel was 53.5 at trials last year, and she will probably be around there this year too.

    • Ex Quaker says:

      I wouldn’t doubt Amanda… Even at her age, her consistency in both meets and training is staggering. I’d honestly be surprised if she weren’t top 6.

  8. Karl Ortegon says:

    I don’t feel great about Weitzeil and Weir being top 6. Worrell has looked great this year so I’d give her a top 6 spot. Excited to see if someone younger (Ivey, Merrell, Ariola) can steal a finals spot away.

  9. Fremdsprachen says:

    1. Simone Manuel 53.30
    2. Lia Neal 53.59
    3. Mallory Comerford 53.63
    4. Kelsi Worrell 53.78
    5. Abbey Weitzel 53.84
    6. Katie Ledecky 53.95
    7. Olivia Smoliga 54.08
    8. Isabel Ivey 54.19
    (Amanda Weir swims 53.79 in B Final)

  10. MrBriefStroke says:


  11. Klorn8d says:

    What’s the event order tomorrow night? Will ledecky swim the 800 before or after the 100. Also if she gets top 2 in this event does she plan to take the individual spot or give it to the third place finisher since she already has a huge schedule?

  12. E Gamble says:

    Prelim heat #13 tomorrow Smoliga vs Weitzeil vs Comerford. ?

  13. Swimmer? says:

    Ledecky will be MUCH fresher than she was at Trials. I think she has a chance just as any other swimmer to qualify.

  14. ACC fan says:

    Is it just me, or is Mallory Comerford just ADORABLE?!!

  15. Steve Nolan says:

    “She was already a top-tier sprinter, but after pulling off a stunning upset to tie for gold in the 100 free at the Rio Olympics, she was arguably even more jaw-dropping at 2017 NCAAs.”


    • Steve Nolan says:

      There’s pretty much nothing she could have done this year “in the bathtub” that could live up to Rio. Like, even if she’d have gone a 44, it just wouldn’t have been the same.

      A gigantic upset Olympic gold medal is pretty much always going to be magnitudes ahead of any yards swim.

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About Lauren Neidigh

Lauren Neidigh

Lauren Neidigh is a former NCAA swimmer at the University of Arizona and the University of Florida. She got her M.S. in Criminology from Florida State and seems exceptionally confused about which team she should cheer for during the college football season. Lauren is currently working on her M.A. in …

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