2017 U.S. Worlds Trials Previews: Licon Chasing Cordes, Prenot in 200 Breast

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

Kevin Cordes (photo: Simone Castrovillari)

Since 2013, Team USA’s Kevin Cordes has represented the Americans every year on the international stage in the 200 breast. Cordes, who was a finalist in both breaststroke races at the Rio Olympics, is the defending silver medalist in the 200 breast after taking 2nd to Marco Koch in 2015. To return to the podium, however, he’ll first have to earn a spot on the team against Olympic silver medalist Josh Prenot and NCAA champion Will Licon.

Cal’s Prenot (2:07.17), the American Record holder in the long course pool, is the favorite heading into Trials. He’s also within a half second of the World Record, which stands at a 2:06.67 done by Japan’s Ippei Watanabe back in January. Aside from Prenot, Cordes (2:07.81) is the only man who will enter with a best time below 2:08. While those 2 men represented the U.S. in Rio in this event, Texas’ Licon was narrowly behind, taking 3rd at Olympic Trials with a 2:08.14. He was just .14 shy of what it took to make the team, as Cordes clocked in at 2:08.00 in the final to take 2nd place.

During the 2016-17 NCAA season, Licon became the national champion in both breaststrokes. He shattered the American Record in the 200 breast, becoming the first man to break 1:48 and taking a 3rd straight title in the event with his winning time of 1:47.91. If he can carry that momentum into the long course season, we could see him on top of the podium at Nationals this time around.

Georgia’s Nic Fink has represented the U.S. at the past 2 World Championships. He swam this event in 2015, placing 10th in the semifinals. Outside of the 3 frontrunners, he’s the only man to have broken 2:09, having set a personal best 2:08.89 at the World Cup in 2015. Fink has consistently been sub-2:10 every summer since 2014.

Though they’ve had slightly more success in the 100 breast so far, Indiana’s Cody Miller and Emory’s Andrew Wilson can’t be counted out. Miller, the Olympic bronze medalist in the 100 breast, swam a personal best 2:09.05 at a 2015 World Cup meet. He wasn’t quite as fast last summer, but still swam below the 2:10-barrier. Wilson, who started training with Longhorn Aquatics in the lead up to 2016 Trials, continues to improve since breaking onto the National Team scene in 2015. He brought his time down to a 2:09.35 at Olympic Trials, and continued to show impressive speed when he shattered the NCAA Division 3 Record with a 1:50.80 in the 200 breast this season.

Olympic silver medal-winning 400 IMer Chase Kalisz has had some success in this race, and it actually fits into his probable Nationals lineup pretty neatly. But we don’t expect him to make a run at this event, especially the day before his all-important 400 IM. It’s probably more likely that we see Kalisz go after the 200 fly if he puts a premium on trying to qualify for Worlds in a non-IM event.

Since narrowly missing out on the Olympic Trials final with a 9th place finish, Junior National Teamer Daniel Roy has gotten even faster. Roy was the bronze medalist at 2016 Junior Pan Pacs, lowering his personal best 2:12.16. He’s already been within tenths of that this season with his 2:12.86 to place 5th in finals at the 2017 Arena Pro Swim Series in Mesa. Fellow National Junior Teamer Reece Whitley is also one to watch out for. He shattered the 15-16 NAG Record in the 200 yard breast with a 1:52.37, and has already been as fast as 2:11.30 in the long course pool.

National Team veteran BJ Johnson represented the U.S. in this event at the 2013 World Championships. Though he missed the team in 2015, he continues to be a top 8 swimmer in this race. Last summer, he took 6th at Olympic Trials with a 2:10.70, which was the fastest time he’s swum since qualifying for Worlds in 2013.


Place Swimmer Best Time Since 2015 Predicted Time
1 Josh Prenot 2:07.17 2:07.5
2 Will Licon 2:08.14 2:07.7
3 Kevin Cordes 2:07.81 2:08.2
4 Nic Fink 2:08.89 2:08.6
5 Andrew Wilson 2:09.35 2:09.0
6 Cody Miller 2:09.08 2:09.5
7 Reece Whitley 2:11.30 2:10.3
8 Daniel Roy 2:12.17 2:11.2

DARKHORSE: Michigan’s Jacob Montague competed alongside Roy and Whitley at the 2016 Junior Pan Pacs. He was a medalist in both breaststrokes at the Big Ten Championships and and NCAA scorer in the 200 breast during his freshman season with the Wolverines. Montague was a semifinalist in this race at 2016 Olympic Trials, and has been as fast as 2:13.15.

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tea rex
3 years ago

Correction on Kalisz: the 200 Br final is 2 days before the 400 IM at Worlds.
If Kalisz swims the 200 IM, he could do the 200 fly final just before 200 IM semis, and/or the 200 IM final just before the 200 br semis.


Reply to  tea rex
3 years ago

Tea Rex – it’s the day before at US Nationals, though, which is what we’re previewing here.

3 years ago

I’m really hoping to see a big drop from Whitley, huge fan. I think the top 5 is going to be tightly bunched with maybe 3 guys going 2:07 and 2 other right on the cusp. This is a solid event for the U.S.
However, I am waiting for someone to start closing the gap in Peaty in the 100. The guy is so dominant and I’m surprised no one has closed the gap on him. Would have thought we’d start seeing more guys dipping into 57 highs by now. Maybe a guy like Michael Andrews will in the future as he continues to develop and get stronger. But by then Peaty will be dropping 56 mids!

Ex Quaker
Reply to  stoobie
3 years ago

Your optimism is inspiring but I personally would bet against all of these claims.

Captain Awesome
Reply to  stoobie
3 years ago

Why would you expect other guys on 57 highs? Just because one person does it doesn’t mean others are capable of it. Like Ex-Quaker said, I think your hopes are wishful thinking.

Reply to  Captain Awesome
3 years ago

Have to echo this – The world is still a second off Phelps’ best 200fly a decade ago. That’s on a good day, too. The pack are 2 seconds back. Other examples of athletes who were a generation or two ahead of the rest, too. Sometimes, you just get that rare gem who finds what they were born to do, and combines that natural ability with an unrivalled work ethic & will to win.

Reply to  Dee
3 years ago

Yes, I’m hopeful. Will also be the first to admit I was way off.

Reply to  stoobie
3 years ago

Peaty is a freak. Rest of the world is still maxed at 58.3 right now.

3 years ago

Well, let’s look at it this way. Licon added half a second to his 200 IM at NCAAs from last year and the year before. In the 200 Breast he went only two tenths faster than last year but came back a good bit slower. I don’t think this shows much promise for long course, his pull outs are his X factor and he has half as many turns to hide off of. I would bet on Wilson or cordes for the second spot.

Reply to  Nah
3 years ago

2015 LCM 200 Breast = 2:10.02
2016 LCM 200 Breast = 2:08.14

2015 SCY 200 Breast = 1:49.48
2016 SCY 200 Breast = 1:48.12

Really not sure what this has to do with his 200 IM.

Reply to  completelyconquered
3 years ago

Just saying the improvement isn’t there for him to go 2:07

Reply to  Nah
3 years ago

two-tenths faster than last year would be a 2:07

Reply to  Nah
3 years ago

Wasn’t he 1:53/2:11 in 2014?

Sir Swimsalot
Reply to  Nah
3 years ago

He had an off race in his 200 IM. He should have been much faster, but hey, it happens to everybody. I’m optimistic. If you watched the latest Coleman’s Carpool he specifically said he is ready and raring to go. Good signs.

JP input is too short
Reply to  Sir Swimsalot
3 years ago

I’m ready and raring to go to… doesn’t mean I can do a 2:07 200 breast 😛

Reply to  JP input is too short
3 years ago

Well you aren’t the fastest 200y breastroker ever and havent gone 2:08 low like licon

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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