2017 U.S. World Trials: Day 4 Finals Preview


Tonight’s finals session is the lightest on the schedule at the 2017 U.S. World Trials, as only three events are on the docket. Let’s a take a closer look now to preview you for tonight’s action.

400 Free


The women’s 400 free may have the most predictable 1-2 outcome of all races this week, as both Katie Ledecky and Leah Smith have been on a tear all meet and will look to add to their schedules tonight. Both have already nailed down individual spots in the 800 and 200, while Smith is also going to Budapest individually in the 400 IM and Ledecky has earned herself a spot on the 400 free relay. Ledecky will likely take down that 4:00 barrier tonight, and Smith could realistically give it a shot too. Her best stands at 4:00.65 from the Olympic Trials.

In the fight for Junior World Championship spots, Miranda Heckman and Madelyn Donohoe will duke it out for one available spot in the C-final. Leah Braswell has locked up the first spot by qualifying for the B-final.


The men’s race was incredibly tight this morning, as all eight championship finalists were separated by just 1.1 seconds. Clark Smith and Townley Haas will swim in lanes 4 and 5, and are probably the favorites to earn the two available spots. Those two and Zane Grothe were expected to be the three contenders, and Grothe showed he was on fine form with his 1:46.39 3rd place finish in the 200 free. This morning he may have gone out a little too hard, as he died near the end and almost missed the final . He’ll be out in lane 1, and the five others could all be factors as well after solid morning showings in the 3:50 range. Grant Shoults and Kevin Litherland were 3rd and 4th this morning, and will have lanes 3 and 6.

After narrowly missing the A-final, Jay Litherland (3:51.17) has opted not to scratch and could be in for a big PB from the B. His best sits at 3:50.69 from an in-season meet this year, and has been 2/2 so far with best times in the 200 free and 400 IM.

100 Breast


Indiana’s Lilly King will go for a sweep of the breaststrokes tonight in the women’s 100, after posting personal best times to win the 50 (American Record) and 200 breast. Given her performance in the 50, and that she broke Jessica Hardy‘s American Record, she could be in for another tonight. Hardy broke that 50 breast record on the first 50 of the 100 where she went onto break the 100 record, so if King goes out fast enough she could have a shot at it. The 100 record actually sits just a tenth slower (1:04.45) than Ruta Meilutyte‘s world record (1:04.35). Above all else, King will be looking to secure the win and the top time in the world for the year, currently held by her rival Yuliya Efimova (1:04.88).

Katie Meili leads the running for 2nd after a 1:06.10 this morning, and currently sits 2nd in the world behind Efimova with her 1:05.95 from the beginning of the month. Molly Hannis is probably the most capable of challenging the Olympic bronze medalist for the 2nd spot in this race, as she’s been as quick as 1:06.47 this year and was only a tenth behind Meili in the 50. Both women are looking at their last shot to make the World Championship team tonight.

In the Junior Worlds race, Allie Raab and Emily Weiss will battle for one available spot in the B-final, as Zoe Bartel has one locked up as an A-finalist.


Like King, Kevin Cordes looks primed for a breaststroke sweep tonight after a dominant 59.16 swim this morning. The swim moved him into #3 in the world, and leads his closest challenger, Nicolas Fink, by over six tenths. Fink qualified 2nd in 59.80, and will look to add a second individual event to his schedule in Budapest after taking 2nd behind Cordes in the 200 on Wednesday.

No one else in the field has qualified for Worlds yet, with Olympic bronze medalist and American Record holder Cody Miller and Andrew Wilson staring at their last chance to book a ticket. Will LiconJosh Prenot and Michael Andrew will have another shot tomorrow in the 200 IM (Andrew also has the 50 free), but would no doubt love to get the job done tonight.

Based on what we’ve seen so far in the meet, it shapes up to be Cordes 1st, and then a close race for 2nd between Fink, Miller and Wilson. Prenot and Licon don’t have the same early speed the others are capable of, and Andrew was a close call to even get in the final.

100 Back

Four women sub-1:00 and four men sub-54 this morning leaves us with two very exciting races to finish off the session.

Of the five women in contention for the win, only Ali DeLoof as yet to qualify for Worlds, while in the men’s race it’s veteran Matt Grevers of the four leading contenders.


Kathleen Baker leads the women’s field after a solid morning showing of 59.49, and after winning the 200 and a close runner-up finish in the 50 has to be the favorite. 50 back winner Hannah Stevens, 200 back runner-up Regan Smith, and Olympic finalist Olivia Smoliga will fight it out with DeLoof for the 2nd spot, assuming Baker takes the win. Anything could happen in this one, the strength at the top of the field is so strong and all have proven themselves before.

Lucie Nordmann and Grace Ariola will battle for one available World Junior spot in the B-final, with Smith locking one up by getting in the A-final.


Basically the same thing goes for the men. Olympic champ Ryan Murphy has to be favored given that win in Rio and the fact he’s the fastest ever, but he could see a challenge tonight from either Grevers or Justin Ress. Ress beat both men in the 50 back last night, and lowered his 100 best time this morning in 53.27. Grevers finished a painful 3rd in this event one year ago in Omaha, and will need to deliver tonight to avoid the same fate. It could very well take sub-53 to get on the team.

Jacob Pebley was also sub-54 this morning in 53.72, and is definitely capable of sneaking in for a spot. Though Pebley is always thought of as more of a 200 backstroker, he was 52.95 in Omaha to finish 4th, and with his 200 back right on his time from the Olympic Trials, he could very well crack the 53 second mark.

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Dont think Grant Shoults swam a personal best this morning didnt he go 3.48 and world juniors in 2015?


Can’t believe we got another potential 52 backstroke that fast


I am so nervous for Grevers.

E Gamble

I’m nervous for Grevers, Cody Miller, and an individual race for Smoliga. ?


I hope Cody Miller gets a dq

About James Sutherland

James Sutherland

James formerly competed for the Laurentian Voyageurs in Sudbury, Ontario, specializing in the 200 free, back and IM. He finished up his collegiate swimming career in February of 2018, placing 11th at the OUA Championships in the 200 IM, and graduated with a bachelor's degree in economics in May. He …

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