2021 U.S. Olympic Trials Wave I: Day 3 Finals Live Recap


The penultimate finals session of the Wave I meet is about to be underway, featuring the 400 free, 100 fly, and 200 back. The timeline of tonight should be roughly the same as last night – an hour.

Things will be kicking off with the women’s 400 free, where ASC’s Malia Rausch will be attempting to add a 2nd event to her Wave II schedule. Rausch won the women’s 200 free last night in a photo finish. She enters tonight’s final as the 4th seed, but has been significantly faster before than she was this morning.

The prelims of the men’s 400 free were relatively tame, with Ivan Kurakin posting the top time this morning. None of the men were under the Wave I standard this morning, but assuming this race shakes out like the 200 free yesterday, we should see a lot of improvement tonight.

Tennessee’s Trude Rothrock had an excellent swim in this morning’s women’s 100 fly, dipping under 1:00 for the first time. She led the morning heats at 59.64, with Nikki Venema also swimming under 1:00. Carl Bloebaum, who had an incredible men’s 200 fly on the first day of the meet, will attempt to win the men’s 100 fly tonight to add a second event to his Wave II schedule. The men’s 100 fly field is tight tonight, with all 8 men within about 0.9 seconds this morning.

Bayley Stewart, a Notre Dame swimmer, posted the top time in the women’s 200 back this morning by a significant margin. Colby Mefford, who earned a spot in Wave II in the 200 fly already, will be taking his shot in the 200 back again tonight.


  • World Record: 3:56.46  — Katie Ledecky (USA), 2016
  • American Record: 3:56.46  — Katie Ledecky, 2016
  • U.S. Open Record: 3:57.94 –  Katie Ledecky (USA) 2018
  • World Junior Record: 3:58.37 –  Katie Ledecky (USA) 2014
  • 2016 Olympic Champion: Katie Ledecky (USA) – 3:56.46
  • 2016 U.S. Olympic Trials Champion: Katie Ledecky – 3:58.98
  • Wave I Cut: 4:16.89
  • Wave II Cut: 4:13.28


  1. Sally Tafuto (OSU) – 4:13.98
  2. Malia Rausch (ASC) – 4:15.04
  3. Addie Sauickie (SYS) – 4:16.19

Ohio State’s Sally Tafuto swam her race perfectly, roaring into the leading on the final 100 of the race, and shattering her personal best. Tafuto entered the meet with a lifetime best of 4:16.05, marking an improvement of over 2 seconds today. She nearly even split the race, swimming a 2:06.62 on the first 200, and 2:07.36 on the back half. She completed the race with a 1:03.08 on the final 100.

Malia Rausch was in a battle with 15-year-old Addie Sauickie throughout the race, and was able to pull even with, and overtake, Sauickie on the final 100, just as Tafuto did. Rausch was the 200 free champion last night, and has now earned a second event for the Wave II meet.

Ellie Marquardt, who is a Princeton swimmer competing for TAC, posted the 2nd fastest time of finals tonight, winning the B final in 4:14.56. Unfortunately, because she was in the B final, she was unable to advance to Wave II in the race.



  • World Record: 3:40.07 – Paul Biederman (GER), 2009
  • American Record: 3:42.78 – Larsen Jensen, 2008
  • U.S. Open Record: 3:43.53 – Larsen Jensen (USA), 2008
  • World Junior Record: 3:44.60 – Mack Horton (AUS)
  • 2016 Olympic Champion: Mack Horton (AUS) – 3:41.55
  • 2016 U.S. Olympic Trials Champion: Connor Jaeger  – 3:43.79
  • Wave I Cut: 3:57.29
  • Wave II Cut: 3:54.21


  1. Ivan Kurakin (TAC) – 3:56.17
  2. Brice Barrieault (SAND) – 3:56.61
  3. Curtis Wiltsey (NCS) – 3:56.72

For the first time at the Wave I meet, the B final winner posted the fastest time in the field. Eli Shoyat blew away his previous best, and roared out to a lead over the rest of the B final. He touched in 3:55.75, touching as the only swimmer in the event at this meet to break 3:56.

The two swimmers who will be advancing are Triton Aquatic Club 21-year-old Ivan Kurakin, who also earned the top seed in prelims this morning, and Sandpipers’ Brice Barrieault, who was swimming down in lane 8. Kurakin was in the lead essentially from start to finish, and although it looked like he would get caught on the 2nd-to-last 50, he managed to kick it into gear on the final length, and touch first.



  • World Record: 55.48 – Sarah Sjostrom (SWE), 2016
  • American Record: 55.98 – Dana Vollmer, 2012
  • U.S. Open Record: 56.20 – Claire Curzan (USA), 2021
  • World Junior Record: 56.20 – Claire Curzan (USA), 2021
  • 2016 Olympic Champion: Sarah Sjostrom (SWE) – 55.48
  • 2016 U.S. Olympic Trials Champion: Kelsi Worrell – 56.48
  • Wave I Cut: 1:00.69
  • Wave II Cut: 59.59


  1. Nikki Venema (TIDEVA) – 59.24
  2. Lexi Cuomo (CAV) – 1:00.06
  3. Gigi Johnson (SA-GA) – 1:00.09

Nikki Venema was electric on the back half of this race, pulling ahead through the final 50 to leave no doubt she would punch a ticket to Wave II. The swim was a huge lifetime best for Venema, undercutting her previous best of 59.86. If she can replicate the time in prelims of Wave II, she may just be able to sneak into the top 16.

Virginia’s Lexi Cuomo got her hands on the wall 2nd by just 0.03 seconds, also earning her way to Wave II. After swimming a personal best in prelims, Cuomo took another 0.04 seconds off the time, and will have another shot at it in a week.

Top seed for finals, Tennessee’s Trude Rothrock, was well off her prelims time, finishing 4th.



  • World Record: 49.50 – Caeleb Dressel (USA), 2019
  • American Record: 49.50 – Caeleb Dressel, 2019
  • U.S. Open Record: 50.22 – Michael Phelps (USA), 2009
  • World Junior Record: 50.62 – Kristof Milak (HUN), 2017
  • 2016 Olympic Champion: Joseph Schooling (SGP) – 50.39
  • 2016 U.S. Olympic Trials Champion: Michael Phelps – 51.00
  • Wave I Cut: 54.19
  • Wave II Cut: 53.37


  1. Micah Slaton (TRI) – 53.02
  2. Aaron Sequeira (CM) – 53.08
  3. Carl Bloebaum (RAYS) – 53.36

In a very tight final, Micah Slaton and Aaron Sequiera’s well-timed finishes led them to the top times in the heat. Both Slaton and Sequeira swam lifetime bests in prelims and finals today, and both came in under the Wave II cut. Carl Bloebaum, who won the 200 fly decisively earlier in the meet, was left just outside advancing to Wave II in another event. However, Bloebaum still swam a lifetime best tonight, and came in under the Wave II standard, for what it’s worth.

16-year-old Mitchell Ledford from Treasure Coast won the B final in a new personal best of 53.58. The swim ties Ledford for 10th all-time in the 15-16 age group.



  • World Record: 2:03.35 – Regan Smith (USA), 2019
  • American Record: 2:03.35 – Regan Smith, 2019
  • U.S. Open Record: 2:05.68 – Missy Franklin (USA), 2013
  • World Junior Record: 2:03.35 – Regan Smith (USA) , 2019
  • 2016 Olympic Champion: Maya DiRado (USA) –  2:05.99
  • 2016 U.S. Olympic Trials Champion: Maya DiRado – 2:06.90
  • Wave I Cut: 2:14.69
  • Wave II Cut: 2:12.94


  1. Sophie Brison (DYNA) – 2:13.08
  2. Bayley Stewart (UN-CO) – 2:13.35
  3. Margaret Guanci (WA) – 2:14.51

Top seed heading into finals, Bayley Stewart, nearly negative split the race tonight, flipping in last place at the 50 and 100m marks. Stewart was out in 1:06.65 on the first 100, and came home in 1:06.70, touching just off her lifetime best for 2nd. Sophie Brison, on the other hand, led the race from the 2nd 50 on through the rest of the race. The swim for Brison marks a best time by 0.6 seconds. Both women will be advancing to Wave II in their first event thanks to that swim.

B final winner Tori Buerger posted a 2:14.12 to win the heat, which would have been 3rd in the A final.



  • World Record: 1:51.92 – Aaron Peirsol (USA), 2009
  • American Record: 1:51.92 – Aaron Peirsol, 2009
  • U.S. Open Record: 1:53.08 – Aaron Peirsol (USA), 2009
  • World Junior Record: 1:55.14 – Kliment Kolesnikov, 2017
  • 2016 Olympic Champion: Ryan Murphy – 1:53.62
  • 2016 U.S. Olympic Trials Champion: Ryan Murphy – 1:53.95,
  • Wave I Cut: 2:02.99
  • Wave II Cut: 2:00.81


  1. Colby Mefford (SMST) – 1:59.85
  2. Blake Hanna (CATS) – 2:00.11
  3. Bradley Dunham (SA-GA) – 2:00.96

Despite a massive lead at the 100 mark, Indiana University’s Jacob Steele, the 100 back champion, was unable to hold onto his lead, slipping to 4th on the final 50. Colby Mefford, on the other hand, was in dead last at the 100 mark, and turned on the jets coming home, roaring to a new lifetime best. The swim was a best for Mefford by well over a second, and if he can be under 2:00 again at Wave II, he may be able to advance to the semifinals. Mefford also will be competing in the 200 fly at Wave II, thanks to his 2nd place finish in that race on day 1.

Blake Hanna also had excellent closing speed, posting the 2nd fastest split in the field on the last 50. For what it’s worth, Hanna also had impressive reaction time on the start, getting off first in just 0.53 seconds.

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7 months ago

Curious as to why those who have qualified for wave 2 already swim the rest of the meet? If they qualify in more than one event they essentially shut out the 3rd place finisher in their second event?

Texas A&M Swim Fan
Reply to  Swimmer
7 months ago

Good observation👍.

Reply to  Swimmer
7 months ago

Thought the same thing. Literally doesn’t make any sense

Reply to  Swimmer
7 months ago

The 3rd place finisher isn’t their problem. They came prepared to swim all their events. They’re tapered shaved and ready. Why not swim for the experience and possibly a best time?

Reply to  BearlyBreathing
7 months ago

Why can’t the third place finisher go though if the second place already made it???…

Reply to  Hswimmer
7 months ago

because they came third

Reply to  BearlyBreathing
7 months ago

Because they can swim them at the Wave II meet a week later while shaved and rested for the experience and to get a best time?

Reply to  Swimmer
7 months ago

I’ve thought that they may do because of their taper being for wave 1 but from an outside perspective it just seems a bit unfair? Definitely wish usa swimming would move down to take the third place person in this situation-to not take away anything from those who wanna race and may double qualify but having two “new” from wave 1 for wave 2

Reply to  Swimmer
7 months ago

Alongside the other reasons people have given why this isn’t a great idea, it’s not fair to the swimmer who placed third in the first event a top two swimmer qualified for

Braden Keith(@braden)
Reply to  Joe
7 months ago

I think “fair” is a subjective concept. It’s a competition. If you want a spot, then go get it, right? They still have a fair chance to earn their spot in Wave 2.

Consider the perspective of the swimmer who already had a top 2 spot. If they got a top 2 spot, that means they probably hit their taper pretty bang on. Should they sacrifice that opportunity for a prelims/finals swim where they might go another best time? When they go to Wave 2, it’s probable that most of them aren’t going to get a second swim, so why should they sacrifice that chance on a nailed taper?

Reply to  Braden Keith
7 months ago

Sorry. I wasn’t very clear. I agree with you 100%. I was referring to it being unfair to third place finishers on Day 1 who do not have the opportunity to place someone who has already qualified, were third place swimmers on days 2-4 able to do so. Exactly what inclusive parent said below.

Inclusive Parent
Reply to  Swimmer
7 months ago

So the third place finisher on Day 1 can never make W2 but Day 4, you have a chance. Can’t work that way.

Reply to  Swimmer
7 months ago

This ain’t make a wish. This is Olympic Trials

Reply to  Swimmer
7 months ago

Wave I is Olympic trials in name only. In reality it’s a qualifying meet for Olympic trials.

Reply to  Troyy
7 months ago

Call it the wild card round

Reply to  Troyy
7 months ago

MY understanding is that Wave I & II were created due to Covid-19.
These are BOTH Olympic Trials, but each has a different format.
I find it a bit disrespectful to call Wave I a “qualifying meet” – it isn’t.

Reply to  Swimmer
7 months ago

Swimmer thanks. A bit brutal but still true. There is also a statistical reason behind USA Swimming’s decision that is founded in decades of results from previous OT that seems to further support its reasoning behind its decision.

Reply to  Swimmer
7 months ago

If I spent all season training for a meet that i was shaved and tapered to compete at, I would want to give all my events a shot. Not to qualify for Wave II but to go for best times and that is not unfair. These swimmers did not taper assuming they were going to make Wave II so scratching robs them the opportunity to swim all of their events. It’s not the swimmer’s fault for wanting to do their best in all their events.

Reply to  Swimmer
7 months ago

If things are going well, you might as well swim all of your events. They may not swim their Wave II races for 10 days and their taper could be shot by then.

Reply to  Swimmer
7 months ago

I doubt that these swimmers would get the same attention or recognition at wave 2, they would probably not have a chance to make it to a semifinal or final race in wave 2 so why not take the chance and get some more experience?

Reply to  Swimmer
7 months ago

If you can’t make top 2 you don’t deserve to go.

Reply to  Swimmer
7 months ago

I thought they could only swim the events in wave 2 that they came too 2 in ? So aren’t they looking for more swims in wave 2

7 months ago

Does anyone else hate PDF meet results as much as I do?
Upvote yes, downvote no.

Reply to  BearlyBreathing
7 months ago

Mixed feelings.

As a human, swimming fan reading them, I like the omega pdfs a lot – definitely a lot more than the hytek sites we see for a lot of meets.

As a human trying to automate crunching data for SwimSwam, and so need to pull out all the numbers and names in an automated fashion, I want all the pdfs to die in a grease fire.

tea rex
Reply to  Barry
7 months ago

Curious how you automate data scraping from hytek? My problem is always that you need to click from one event to another – they “appear” to have the same url.

7 months ago

Poor Eli Shoyat, posting the fastest time of the night and not making it! Great swim out of the B final though, kid is a stud distance swimmer.

Reply to  OLYSwimFreak
7 months ago

Gotta come to play in the morning

Reply to  Swim85
7 months ago

Touché, prelims are there for a reason

7 months ago

M 400 free is interesting. None of them even hit the Wave 1 standard. Time standard too fast?

Reply to  Pez
7 months ago

clearly I spoke too soon and was looking at prelims results 🙂 great job to those athletes

Last edited 7 months ago by Pez
Wave 1.5 Qualifier
7 months ago

LMAO at the twerk on the walk out for men’s 100 fly A-Final.

So confused
Reply to  Wave 1.5 Qualifier
7 months ago

Highlight of day 3 for sure!!!

7 months ago

That twerk tho 😂

7 months ago

Hopefully Stollings can get more LC experience, i think although underwaters are his strong suit he is still good on top of the water and could transition well. Not sure if he has easy access to a LC pool if two years ago he was driving 100 miles round trip to practice.

Texas Tap Water
7 months ago

What’s the actual and objective of these wave I Olympics Trials?

Surely it cannot be to select swimmers for the Olympics?

Can someone explain to me?

Last edited 7 months ago by Texas Tap Water
Reply to  Texas Tap Water
7 months ago

Give the people who qualified for trials the opportunity to race at trials while keeping it more safe for the Covid restrictions

Reply to  Texas Tap Water
7 months ago

To “cleanse” the body of Texas tap water.

Reply to  Texas Tap Water
7 months ago

The purpose of Wave I is to have USA Swimming fulfill their promise to these swimmers, which is if they meet the Olympic Trials Time Standard during the qualifying period, they will be allowed to compete at this meet. The pandemic forced USA Swimming to change the format in order to comply with lockdown and social distancing rules which were in place at the time of the announcement of this plan. Creating Wave I is a bit of a compromise. These swimmers may not be at the meet where the Olympic team is selected, but they are competing at the Olympic Trials.

Coach Mike 1952
Reply to  JoeSwimmer
7 months ago

And let’s face it – competing at the Olympic Trials is a BIG thing for a big majority of swimmers, their first taste of the real big time.