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


Swimmers are now halfway through the 2021 U.S. Olympic Trials Wave I in Omaha, with two days of competition left.

This morning’s prelims session kicks off with some mid-distance freestyle action. Top seed Ellie Marquardt of TAC will be a swimmer to watch in the women’s 400 free, as her lifetime best time is 2 years old and she dropped a blistering  4:36 in the 500 yard free in 2020. This is her only event of the meet. ASC’s Malia Rausch, who won the 200 free last night,  and 16-year-old Summer Cardwell, who snagged 4th place in the 200 free, are seeded 2nd and 3rd within .20 of Marquardt

Liam Bresette of Arizona State tops the heat sheets in the men’s 400 free, .46 ahead of TASC’s Owen Kao. Bresette claimed 1st place in the 200 free final yesterday. #7 seed Colby Mefford of Sierra Marlins Swim Team scratched this event to focus on the 200 back where he is ranked 14th.

14-year-old Teagan O’Dell of Irvine Novaquatics is the youngest competitor in the field today, set to compete in heat 3 of the 200 back where everyone is about 1.5 seconds within top seed Megan Moroney‘s entry time of 2:13.16. Notably, Moroney has not swum this event since 2019 and her best time of 2:10.53 puts her well under the Wave II cut. She has an excellent chance of advancing on to Wave II here.

The women’s 200 back will be the shortest event this morning with just 19 entries and just 3 heats, similar to the women’s 4000 free with 20 entries and 3 heats. Everyone but 3 (or 4 in the 400) swimmers will get a second swim.

This morning’s prelims session will be a sprint fly show, with the 100 fly being the largest event for both the men and women with about 40 entries and 5 heats apiece.

On the women’s side, Hannah Saiz of Schroeder YMCA leads the field. Saiz is one of three women entered with a time under the 1:00.00 mark. While we won’t get to see Saiz, Nikki Venema (59.86) and Lizzy Cook (59.94) race each other in the circle-seeded prelims heats, we can look forward to an exciting battle tonight.

The men’s race may be especially close, with the top 2 seeds separated by .01. Harvard swimmer Michael Zarian of Veritas Swimming leads the field, closely followed by Lucas Bureau, a Virginia Tech grad. This was also the event that most people scratched other races to focus on. Drew Nixdorf, #29, and Aaron Sequeira, #9, dropped the 200 back.

Jacob Steele of Indiana Swim Club and Navy’s Billy Cadigan are seeded 1-2 in the men’s 200 back, separated by .08, but 16-year-old Caleb Maldari is not far behind. Maldari, who competes for Bluefish, posted the third all-time fastest 200 yard back time in his age group in December (1:45.69) and looks to improve his #22 rank in the event in long course. He is seeded 4th.

Women’s 400 Free – Prelims

  • 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

Top 8

  1. Addie Sauickie (SYS) – 4:15.96
  2. Sally Tafuto (OSU) – 4:16.77
  3. Malia Rausch (ASC) – 4:17.26
  4. Abigail McCulloh (SA) – 4:17.97
  5. Mary Smutny (SOFL) – 4:18.35
  6. Jillian Barczyk (COLA) – 4:18.36
  7. Sarah Dimeco (CAL) – 4:18.61
  8. Aurora Roghair (IFLY) – 4:18.77

15-year-old Addie Sauickie of Sarasota Sharks stole the show from heat 2, coming within .40 of her seed time. She split the race pretty evenly, taking into account the start off the blocks: 2:06.33/2:09.63.

Only Sauickie and second-place finisher Sally Tafuto beat the Wave I cut this morning. Mary Smutny, who went into the race ranked 20th out of 20 entries with a time of 4:16.77, leapt up to 5th place with a 4:18.35.

No one in the event matched their seed times so we can look forward to some fast swims tonight.

#2 seed Malia Rausch snagged the 3rd spot in the ‘A’ final tonight while top seed Ellie Marquardt finished in 14th place (4:20.96) and will get a second swim in the ‘B’ final.

Men’s 400 Free – Prelims

  • 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

Top 8

  1. Ivan Kurakin (TAC) – 3:57.88
  2. Curtis Wiltsey (NCS) – 3:57.91
  3. Clark Wakeland (UN-GA) – 3:58.30
  4. Griffin Hadley (CSC) – 3:58.32
  5. Rex Maurer (ROSE) – 3:58.48
  6. Liam Hutchinson (IA) – 3:59.29
  7. Jack Dubois (UMIZ) – 3:59.35
  8. Brice Barrieault (SAND) – 3:59.63

TAC’s Ivan Kurakin claimed the top spot in the ‘A’ final tonight, about 1.6 seconds off his seed time. He took out the first 100 with a 56.07, .02 ahead of 8th place finisher Brice Barrieault but Kurakin held 1:00’s and low 1:01’s to ultimately out touch NCS’ Curtis Wiltsey and win the heat.

Griffin Hadley also had a strong start to the race, flipping first at the 150 meter mark and 200 meter mark. He was right with Kurakin until the last 100 meters when Kurakin pulled away.

Top seed Liam Bresette ended up in 13th place (4:00.97) and he’ll get a second swim in the ‘B’ final but 2nd seed Owen Kao finished outside the top 16 in 23rd place.

Women’s 100 Fly – Prelims

  • 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

Top 8

  1. Trude Rothrock (TENN) – 59.64
  2. Nikki Venema (TIDEVA) – 59.89
  3. Lexi Cuomo (UVA) – 1:00.10
  4. Mia Kragh (RSD) – 1:00.11
  5. Lizzy Cook (THSC) – 1:00.36
  6. Grey Davis (CA-Y) 1:00.51
  7. Kyleigh Tankard (CGBD) – 1:00.61
  8. Gigi Johnson (SA-GA) – 1:00.61

Tennesee’s Trude Rothrock blasted a lifetime best 100 fly time of 59.64, taking half a second off her previous best from May. 2nd place finisher Nikki Venema came within .03 of her seed time to out touch Virginia’s Lexi Cuomo who took out the race with the 2nd fastest 50 split in the field: 27.70.

This was one third of a second faster than Venema’s 50 meter split, but Princeton swimmer Venema had a strong back half. Cuomo’s 50 split was just .07 behind Rothrock and it led her to take .39. off her seed time.

All top 8 swimmers cracked the Wave I cut, and Rothrock came within .05 of the Wave II cut.

Top seed Hannah Saiz finished 31st.

Men’s 100 Fly – Prelims

  • 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

Top 8

  1. Aaron Sequeira (CM) – 53.11
  2. Micah Slaton (TRI) – 53.28
  3. Noah Henderson (NCS) – 53.55
  4. Carl Bloebaum (RAYS) – 53.57
  5. Lucas Bureau (HOKI)  – 53.61
  6. Patrick Keough (KING) – 53.82
  7. Sam Artmann (TXLA) – 53.94
  8. Matthew Whelan (DUKE) – 53.97

Aaron Sequiera decided to drop the 200 back this morning to focus on his 100 fly and it paid off, he jumped up from #9 to #1, taking half a second off his seed time. He had the fastest 50 split: 24.86, and brought it home in 28.25.

Noah Henderson posted the 2nd fastest 50 split of24.92, but Micah Slaton really pushed the pace on the last 50 in heat 4 and snagged the 2nd spot in tonight’s ‘A’ final.

2nd seed Lucas Bureau snagged 6th, within .20 of his seed time.

Top seed Michael Zarian finished 34th.

Women’s 200 Back – Prelims

  • 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

Top 8

  1. Bayley Stewart (UN-CO) – 2:13.33
  2. Taylor McCoy (COUG) – 2:14.00
  3. Aislin Farris (ABF) – 2:14.10
  4. Margaret Guanci (WA) – 2:14.15
  5. Sophie Brison (DYNA) – 2:14.41
  6. Jodi Ogle (KYA) – 2:14.53
  7. Rosie Murphy (SMST) – 2:15.92
  8. Annie Behm (JW) – 2:16.44

Bayley Stewart demolished her lifetime best time of 2:14.45 from February 2020 to claim the top spot in tonight’s ‘A’ final. She split the race 1:05.71/1:07.52. Also in heat 2 was 16-year-old Sophie Brison who set the pace fast at 1:04.89, but she finished 2nd in the heat and 5th overall.

The only person who posted a faster 100 split was 9th place finisher Torie Buerger who posted a 1:04.77 and a final time of 2:16.58.

16-year-old Aislin Farris earned a top-three spot in the ‘A’ final, though she was a second off her entry time. Brison came within .7 of her seed time.

14-year-old Teagan O’Dell finished a couple seconds off her seed time but snagged 10th place and a solid spot in the ‘B’ final.

Top seed Megan Moroney no-showed the race.

Men’s 200 Back – Prelims

  • 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

Top 8

  1. Caleb Maldari (ABF) – 2:01.17
  2. Colby Mefford (SMST) – 2:01.62
  3. Blake Hanna (CATS) – 2:01.84
  4. Jacob Steele (ISC) – 2:02.17
  5. Hunter Gubeno (CATS) – 2:02.28
  6. Landon Driggers (RI) – 2:02.49
  7. Sam O’Brien (FISH) – 2:02.52
  8. Bradley Dunham (SA-GA) – 2:02.58

16-year-old Caleb Maldari posted a lifetime best time in heat 5, taking .29 off his previous best from May. This bumps him up from the 22nd all-time fastest 15-16 swimmer in the event to #19.

#14 seed Colby Mefford crushed his seed time as well, by about half a second to claim 2nd place going into tonight’s ‘A’ final. Mefford was entered in the 400 free earlier but scratched to focus on this race, which turned out to be a smart move.

Maldari had the fastest 100 split, touching the wall at the halfway mark at 59.14 but Blake Hanna was just .20 behind him in heat 3. Hanna took about .40 off his seed time to snag 3rd, only .22 behind Mefford.

In heat 3, 16-year-old Chase Mueller kept up with Hanna, posting a 59.38 at the halfway point. While Hannah did pull away, Mueller’s 2:02.64 undercut his seed time by .03 and earned him the 3rd spot in the ‘B’ final.

Top seed Jacob Steele touched the wall in 4th place, about a second off his seed time but he is set up for a fast race in the ‘A’ final.

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Carol Glover
4 months ago

I’m thinking Ryan Murphy isn’t the 2016 US Olympic Trials Champion in the 400 free or that Michael Phelps won the 2016 US Olympic Trials in the 100 fly in a 21:00 🤭

Reply to  Carol Glover
4 months ago


4 months ago

Does anyone know if we can rewatch the finals streams? Thanks!

4 months ago

New USA Swimming Prelims stream link: https://livestream.com/usaswimming/events/9688990

4 months ago

Looks like the USA Swimming link has been removed. Their homepage is now redirecting to NBC Olympics link

Reply to  Yup
4 months ago

yeah, that’s the end of me watching from outside the US it seems :/

Bobo Gigi
Reply to  Koen
4 months ago

I remember that back in 2008 we could watch all the prelims of the real US olympic trials live and free on the USA swimming website and available for the entire planet.
That website also broadcasted live, free and outside of USA all the Grand Prix meets and all the US national championships, junior and senior, prelims and finals, I believe until 2015 or 2016.
The good old times….

He’s gotta go
Reply to  Bobo Gigi
4 months ago

I’m sure it has absolutely nothing to do with Tim Hinchey taking over in 2017 and prioritizing making money over pretty much everything else….

Wave 1.5 Qualifier
4 months ago

I know there have been some sour grapes here at times among commenters, but all things considered I am enjoying the Wave I experience as a fan. We’re getting personal accounts from athletes who aren’t setting world records but are still very very fast and have trained hard for years. And it will provide some fun background stories in the prelims heats next week in Wave II, i.e. “Coming up here in Heat 2, you might remember so-and-so from last week’s Wave I meet, who surprised everyone out of Lane 2 in the A Final and punched his ticket to be here today. Can he continue that streak and clock another PB?”

Reply to  Wave 1.5 Qualifier
4 months ago

I think it’s awesome also to really show the up-and-coming athletes, and just to showcase the breadth of swimming in the US. lots of these swimmers would be making A finals at trials in other countries. Y’all are a lucky bunch!

Wave 1.5 Qualifier
Reply to  Koen
4 months ago

I like the “To be continued…” aspect for those Wave I athletes who are hitting a good taper. In other OT cycles, some of them would be placing 30th-40th etc. in the giant meet and it is fun to hear their perspectives on what the race felt like, what they did to prepare, etc.

I’m pleasantly surprised.

Sir Swimsalot
Reply to  Wave 1.5 Qualifier
4 months ago

Agreed, we get so caught up in the top dogs of the swimming world that we forget or gloss over how insane these other athletes are. They are the 1%. Hearing their stories is cool. Not that there’s anything wrong with the top dogs of course.

4 months ago

Some 4:40+ In the 400! Ouch!!!

4 months ago

Is that Hahn girl swimming any more events?

Reply to  Xman
4 months ago


Reply to  Xman
4 months ago

Han*, and no, that was her only qualifying time.

Reply to  Braden Keith
4 months ago

Darn it was fun watching her run down the big kids yesturday.

Well maybe we will see her final at nationals next year.

Corn Pop
Reply to  Xman
4 months ago

The Ye Shiwen strategy but this time you like it. Surprise !

Reply to  Xman
4 months ago

Swim meet of champions at Mission Viejo later this month is a probable meet for her

4 months ago

The NBC Olympics link at the top takes you to the wrong stream I think