2021 U.S. Olympic Trials Wave II: Day 1 Finals Live Recap

2021 U.S. OLYMPIC SWIMMING TRIALS

The first batch of American Olympians will be named tonight during the first finals session from the U.S. Olympic Trials in Omaha, with Tokyo spots on the line in the men’s 400 IM, men’s 400 free and women’s 400 IM.

We’ll also see two sets of semi-finals in the women’s 100 butterfly and men’s 100 breaststroke, where the top-eight swimmers will qualify for the final on Monday night.

The men’s 400 IM kicks things off, and the race could shape up very similarly to the one we saw in 2016. Back then, Ryan Lochte opened up a big early lead before being overtaken by Chase Kalisz and Jay Litherland, who claimed the two Olympic spots.

This time, Kalisz and Litherland are expected to fight it out with Carson Foster, the University of Texas rising sophomore who qualified first out of this morning’s prelims in 4:10.50.

Bobby Finke, who will be among the favorites later in the meet in the 800 and 1500 freestyle, will also have a chance if he’s within striking distance with 100 meters to go.

The lone scratch from the prelims came from Gunnar Bentz, who opts out of the 400 IM, moving Penn State’s Michael Daly into the final.

The men’s 400 free presents a unique scenario—what happens if the second-place finisher (or the winner, for that matter) isn’t under the FINA ‘A’ cut?

The fastest American inside the qualifying period, Zane Grothe, failed to make the final, and NCAA standout Kieran Smith is the top seed after going 3:48.05 in the prelims. Smith owns a best time of 3:47.71, and the Olympic qualifying time sits at 3:46.78.

Smith is forecasted to be able to get under that time, but it would take a massive drop for anyone else in the field to do so. Jake Mitchell was 3:47.9 in 2019, and next up is Ross Dant, who hit a best of 3:48.40 in the prelims.

If the second-place finisher isn’t under 3:46.78, they won’t be named to the Olympic team. If the winner is also not under the ‘A’ standard, they can swim the event at the Olympics, but must receive an official invite by FINA to do so.

Similar to the Grothe miss in the 400 free, the women’s 400 IM had a surprise with Madisyn Cox failing to make the final.

Melanie Margalis remains the favorite to win, but in Cox’s absence the race for second opens up, with the likes of Hali FlickingerEmma Weyant and Ally McHugh firmly in the mix.

Leah Smith and Brooke Forde, who will be out in lanes seven and eight, could also contend if their at their best. Smith owns a best time of 4:33.86 from 2017, second only to Margalis among swimmers in the field. Forde owns a PB of 4:35.09 from 2018.

The women’s 100 fly has a slew of possible contenders for Olympics spots tomorrow night, with veteran Kelsi Dahlia and newcomer Torri Huske staking their claim to a pair of Lane 4 appearances tonight after breaking 57 seconds in the prelims.

Michael Andrew had the swim of the morning session in the men’s 100 breast, shattering the American Record in a time of 58.19Andrew Wilson also had a phenomenal performance, setting a new best time in 58.80.

MEN’S 400 IM FINAL

  • World record: Michael Phelps (USA) – 4:03.84 (2008)
  • American record: Michael Phelps – 4:03.84 (2008)
  • U.S. Open record: Michael Phelps – 4:05.25 (2008)
  • World Junior record: Ilya Borodin (RUS) – 4:11.17 (2021)
  • 2016 Olympic Champion: Kosuke Hagino (JPN) – 4:06.05
  • 2016 U.S. Olympic Trials Champion: Chase Kalisz – 4:09.54
  • Wave I Cut: 4:25.99
  • Wave II Cut: 4:23.24
  1. Chase Kalisz (ABSC), 4:09.09
  2. Jay Litherland (DYNA), 4:10.33
  3. Carson Foster (RAYS), 4:10.86

In a race that was eerily similar to the 2016 Trials, Chase Kalisz and Jay Litherland punched their ticket to the Tokyo Games in the men’s 400 IM for the second straight Olympiad, going 1-2 with Kalisz coming out on top.

Carson Foster, who paced this morning’s prelims in a personal best time of 4:10.50, opened up a massive lead from the get-go (similar to what Ryan Lochte did five years ago), and was over two seconds clear of Litherland and three of Kalisz at the 200.

Kalisz did what he does best on the breaststroke leg, motoring down the two laps with a blistering 1:08.25 split to out-split Foster by over three seconds and take the lead.

Then, down the stretch on freestyle, Litherland began pursuing Foster in the race for second, with Kalisz soaring to victory in 4:09.09.

All told, Litherland (57.36) was over three seconds better than Foster (1:00.83) on freestyle, claiming the second spot in a time of 4:10.33. Foster touched third in 4:10.86, and Bobby Finke picked up a sizable best time for fourth in 4:11.44.

Kalisz’s time is his fastest since the 2018 Pan Pacs, and slots him into second in the seasonal world rankings, trailing only reigning world champion Daiya Seto (4:09.02) of Japan.

Litherland takes Foster’s spot in fifth in the rankings.

WOMEN’S 100 FLY SEMI-FINALS

  • World Record: Sarah Sjostrom (SWE) – 55.48 (2016)
  • American Record: Dana Vollmer – 55.98 (2012)
  • US Open Record: Claire Curzan (USA) – 56.20 (2021)
  • World Junior Record: Claire Curzan (USA) – 56.20 (2021)
  • 2016 Olympic Champion: Sarah Sjostrom (SWE) – 55.48
  • 2016 US Olympic Trials Champion: Kelsi (Worrell) Dahlia – 56.48
  • Wave I Cut: 1:00.69
  • Wave II Cut: 59.59
  1. Torri Huske (AAC), 55.78 AR
  2. Claire Curzan (TAC), 56.81
  3. Kelsi Dahlia (CARD), 56.91
  4. Kate Douglass (UVA), 57.07
  5. Katie McLaughlin (CAL), 57.63
  6. Regan Smith (RIPT), 57.73
  7. Olivia Bray (TXLA), 58.07
  8. Aly Tetzloff (WOLF), 58.21

18-year-old Torri Huske blew the doors off the first semi-final of the women’s 100 fly, scorching her way to a new American Record in a time of 55.78, lowering the nine-year-old mark of 55.98 set by Dana Vollmer at the 2012 Olympic Games.

Huske, who turns 19 and is therefore ineligible to break the World Junior Record, entered the meet with a best time of 56.69, set in April.

The Arlington Aquatics swimmer is now the third-fastest woman in the event’s history, trailing only world record holder Sarah Sjostrom and China’s Zhang Yufei.

All-Time Performers, Women’s 100 Butterfly (LCM)

  1. Sarah Sjostrom (SWE), 55.48 – 2016
  2. Zhang Yufei (CHN), 55.62 – 2020
  3. Torri Huske (USA), 55.78 – 2021
  4. Maggie MacNeil (CAN), 55.83 – 2019
  5. Emma McKeon (AUS), 55.93 – 2021
  6. Dana Vollmer (USA), 55.98 – 2012

Claire Curzan, the 16-year-old that holds that World Junior Record in 56.20, qualified second from Huske’s heat in an easy-looking 56.81.

2016 Trials winner Kelsi Dahlia (56.91) out-touched Virginia’s Kate Douglass (57.07) in the second semi, as they advanced third and fourth overall for the final. Douglass’ swim was also a new personal best time.

Regan Smith, who’s favored in both the female backstroke events later in the meet, advanced sixth overall in 57.73.

MEN’S 400 FREE FINAL

  • World Record: Paul Biedermann (GER) – 3:40.07 (2009)
  • American Record: Larsen Jensen – 3:42.78 (2008)
  • US Open Record: Larsen Jensen – 3:43.53 (2008)
  • World Junior Record: Mack Horton (AUS) – 3:44.60 (2014)
  • 2016 Olympic Champion: Mack Horton (AUS) – 3:41.55
  • 2016 US Olympic Trials Champion: Connor Jaeger – 3:43.79
  • Wave I Cut: 3:57.29
  • Wave II Cut: 3:54.21
  1. Kieran Smith (FLOR), 3:44.86
  2. Jake Mitchell (CSC), 3:48.17
  3. Ross Dant (NCS), 3:48.30

It was Kieran Smith against the clock in the men’s 400 free final, and the University of Florida swimmer got the job done as he torched his personal best and got well under the FINA ‘A’ cut in a time of 3:44.86.

Smith, 21, got out and attacked the race from the jump, flipping in a blazing 1:50.35 at the 200. He held it together down the back-half, annihilating his previous best of 3:47.71 and the Olympic qualifying time of 3:46.78.

This performance makes Smith the first first-time Olympian of the Trials so far. He now ranks tied for 10th in the world this season.

Four men ended up finishing within three-tenths of one another in the hotly-contested race for second, with Carmel’s Jake Mitchell out-touching Ross DantChris Wieser and Brooks Fail in a time of 3:48.17. That falls two-tenths shy of Mitchell’s best of 3:47.95, set at the 2019 World Juniors.

Since two men didn’t hit the ‘A’ standard here, then whoever has the fastest ‘A’ cut time, and the highest finish at Trials, at any other meet in the qualifying period gets to go. That window is open until June 27. Zane Grothe, who is not in this final, has hit the cut. There’s a FINA-approved meet in Mission Viejo June 26-27. If a swimmer achieves the cut in Mission Viejo, and finished ahead of Grothe here in Omaha, they would get the spot above him.

Dant clocked 3:48.30 in third, a tenth faster than his PB from the prelims, while Wieser (3:48.42) and Fail (3:48.47) also hit best times.

WOMEN’S 400 IM FINAL

  • World Record: Katinka Hosszu (HUN) – 4:26.36 (2016)
  • American Record: Katie Hoff – 4:31.12 (2008)
  • US Open Record: Katinka Hosszu (HUN) – 4:31.07 (2015)
  • World Junior Record: Yu Yiting (CHN) – 4:35.94 (2021)
  • 2016 Olympic Champion: Katinka Hosszu (HUN) – 4:26.36
  • 2016 US Olympic Trials Champion: Maya DiRado – 4:33.73
  • Wave I Cut: 4:51.79
  • Wave II Cut: 4:47.72
  1. Emma Weyant (SYS), 4:33.81
  2. Hali Flickinger (SUN), 4:33.96
  3. Melanie Margalis (SPA), 4:34.08

Not to be outdone by the wild ride that was the men’s 400 IM, the women’s event will come out of Day 1 as an early contender for race of the meet.

Just like she did in the prelims, butterfly specialist Hali Flickinger jumped out to the early lead, turning in 1:01.42 at the 100. The Sun Devil Swimming representant sat a full two seconds clear of the field after the backstroke leg, and then things got a little crazy.

Melanie Margalis, known for her massive back-half splits in this race, had a Chase Kalisz-esque breast leg, splitting 1:15.42 to go five seconds faster than Flickinger and pull almost even with her going onto the freestyle.

Then, coming down the last 50, it briefly looked like it was Margalis’ race, with Flickinger, Emma Weyant and Leah Smith battling for second. Then another twist.

Weyant turned on the jets, and Margalis tightened up, earning Weyant, the 19-year-old Sarasota Shark, the victory and her first Olympic berth in a time of 4:33.81.

Weyant, who deferred going to school at Virginia for a year, improves on her previous best of 4:35.47, set at the 2019 Summer Nationals.

Flickinger smashed her personal best time of 4:37.55, set in April, to snag second from Margalis in 4:33.96, leaving the 29-year-old Margalis locked out of an Olympic spot in 4:34.08. Margalis’ best stands at 4:32.53.

Smith had her best swim since 2017 in the event, finishing a close fourth in 4:34.55.

MEN’S 100 BREAST SEMI-FINALS

  • World Record: Adam Peaty (GBR) – 56.88 (2019)
  • American Record: Michael Andrew – 58.19 (2021)
  • US Open Record: Michael Andrew (USA) – 58.19 (2021)
  • World Junior Record: Nicolo Martinenghi (ITA) – 59.01 (2017)
  • 2016 Olympic Champion: Adam Peaty (GBR) – 57.13
  • 2016 US Olympic Trials Champion: Kevin Cordes – 59.18
  • Wave I Cut: 1:03.29
  • Wave II Cut: 1:01.97
  1. Michael Andrew (RPC), 58.14 AR
  2. Nic Fink (ABSC), 58.50
  3. Andrew Wilson (ABSC), 59.08
  4. Kevin Cordes (ABSC), 59.33
  5. Max McHugh (UOFM), 59.68
  6. Josh Matheny (PEAQ), 1:00.25
  7. Will Licon (TXLA), 1:00.33
  8. Ben Cono (GAME), 1:00.36

Michael Andrew one-upped himself after a record-breaking prelims swim, re-lowering his American Record of 58.19 in the men’s 100 breaststroke with a time of 58.14, breaking the U.S. Open 50 breast record in the process.

Racing in the second semi-final, Andrew scorched his way out to a massive lead on the opening 50, turning in 26.83 to break his previous U.S. Open Record of 26.84 set in 2018.

Almost nine-tenths clear of his next-closest competitor at the turn, Andrew was pursued by Nic Fink down the stretch, but he still won the heat decisively in slicing .05 off his newly-minted American Record.

The 22-year-old Andrew maintains his spot as the third-fastest man of all-time in the event, and has set himself up to make his first Olympic team tomorrow night.

Fink, who had lowered his best time down from 59.40 to 59.21 this morning, had an unbelievable second 50 despite failing to catch Andrew, closing in 30.77 for a final time of 58.50, making him the second-fastest American ever.

The 27-year-old was seventh in this event in 2016, and has never made the Olympic team despite representing the U.S. at the 2013, 2015 and 2017 World Championships.

Taking third in the second semi was 2016 winner Kevin Cordes, who clocked 59.33 for his fastest swim since 2017, the year in which he set what is now the former American Record of 58.64.

In the first semi-final it was Andrew Wilson, the top American in this event in 2019, claiming the easy win in a time of 59.08. Wilson came into the meet with a best of 58.93, and lowered that down to 58.80 in the heats. We’ll be a big factor in tomorrow’s final.

2021 NCAA champion in this event Max McHugh reeled off his second straight PB in the event to qualify fifth overall in 59.68, while 18-year-old Josh Matheny got himself into the final in sixth (1:00.25) after a prelims best of 1:00.06.

Will Licon, who qualified eighth out of the 2016 semis in 1:00.30, was near-identical to that for seventh in 1:00.33, while Ben Cono (1:00.36) rounds out the finalists.

Most notably missing the final was Cody Miller, the 2016 Olympic bronze medalist, who tied for 11th overall in 1:00.66. That showing is a far cry from Miller’s season-best of 59.65, set at the U.S. Open in November.

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Admin
1 year ago

If 2 don’t hit the A cut here, then whoever has the best “A” cut time at any other meet in the qualifying period gets to go. That window is open until June 27. Zane Grothe, who is not in this final, has an “A” cut. There’s a FINA-approved meet in Mission Viejo June 26-27.

Full explanation here: https://swimswam.com/only-smith-breaks-otq-in-400-free-final-what-now/

Joel Lin
Reply to  Braden Keith
1 year ago

That is a crazy thing to consider in these next 3 minutes. What a bizarre circumstance if so.

Joel Lin
Reply to  Joel Lin
1 year ago

Now, could Grothe be added to the team in this event given second finisher was not in A cut time?

PVSFree
Reply to  Braden Keith
1 year ago

So Zane Grothe is now an Olympian? This is possibly the oddest way someone’s qualified

Last edited 1 year ago by PVSFree
Joel Lin
Reply to  PVSFree
1 year ago

Strange days indeed
most peculiar, mama

Snarky
Reply to  PVSFree
1 year ago

Perhaps Indiana’s only male olympian this go-round.

Joe
Reply to  Braden Keith
1 year ago

and Jake Magahey

SBseammer
Reply to  Braden Keith
1 year ago

When you say “gets to go”… are they automatically qualified or does USAS/FINA name them? Could the 2nd 400FR spot potentially stay vacant?

Admin
Reply to  SBseammer
1 year ago

The only way they don’t go is if they decline (currently Zane is eligible) or the roster fills up at 26 before then.

Right Dude Here
Reply to  Braden Keith
1 year ago

Has it ever happened before that a swimmer who did not compete at trials went on to represent the US at the games?

DLswim
Reply to  Right Dude Here
1 year ago

Not in recent history… who knows in the 1910’s or 20’s.

Caleb
Reply to  Braden Keith
1 year ago

So we should expect a few of these guys to be racing Mission Viejo in two weeks?

Admin
Reply to  Caleb
1 year ago

That would be my guess.

Ghost
Reply to  Braden Keith
1 year ago

Is that a FINAA approved meet…it has to be to count

toocool4u
Reply to  Caleb
1 year ago

so the point of trials is??????

Joe
Reply to  Braden Keith
1 year ago

Braden–are there time trials that swimmers could take advantage of during this meet?

JimSwim22
Reply to  Joe
1 year ago

Usually they have TT. I wonder if those times count for A cut

Admin
Reply to  JimSwim22
1 year ago

They do. There’s a meet in the Bahamas too.

Ghost
Reply to  Braden Keith
1 year ago

Other much smaller countries make harder standards for their Trials and we go to the other extreme to make it easier to make it!

A C
Reply to  Ghost
1 year ago

not sure about that; show us a side-by-side comparison

Grant Drukker
Reply to  Joe
1 year ago

I heard that there were time trials today.

Wahooswimfan
Reply to  Braden Keith
1 year ago

Yes, after his last 100 of the 400 IM, Finke should do that meet!

DCSwim
Reply to  Braden Keith
1 year ago

This is…. embarrassing, to say the least

Snarky
Reply to  DCSwim
1 year ago

Embarrassing that the “top tier” swimmers in this event choked. Congrats to Keiren and the young guns who performed. I’d say the US future looks strong.

maverick1993
Reply to  Braden Keith
1 year ago

3:44.6 if i remember correctly

Joe
Reply to  maverick1993
1 year ago

I think 3:45.78 was his seed time

Stank
Reply to  Braden Keith
1 year ago

I think the wise decision would be just taking Smith for the 400, allowing a spot to be filled by someone else who has a better chance of contributing to a relay/medal count

Swammer22
Reply to  Stank
1 year ago

I agree, but if they don’t hit the 26 person cap they might as well open it up to whoever can qualify

DLswim
Reply to  Stank
1 year ago

I think if they don’t hit the cap they more or less have to select Grothe because the selection criteria were created in advance. They would have to have some other reason not to take him…

Swammer22
Reply to  Braden Keith
1 year ago

I think the rules are that only people who placed ahead of Grothe at trials and get the A cut can make the team over him so Fink wouldn’t make it.

A C
Reply to  Braden Keith
1 year ago

No. They just need to make the FINA A cut, not beat Grothe’s time.

Réda
1 year ago

I mean u could see the guy in his last videos talking about 2016 trials and dwelling in nostalgia… social media fame made him forget that nothing is given. Same thing happended in 2019 cut the injury bu****

seetheworldswim
1 year ago

I am so happy for Michael Andrew! I absolutely rolled my eyes with all the hate he received here just for having a different approach…
I think all the guys were frustrated by him training a lot less km and having great results still

ivan de smedt
1 year ago

never happened,that second finished swimmer in an olympic trials event has not reached an A standard time.usa male distance swimming has become very poor

Billy Howard
1 year ago

Based on only one finals session, Swimswam commentators might have missed their taper. Only 724 comments (including this one). Hopefully, we are saving our energy for another session.

Landen
1 year ago

I never bet again Litherland on the last 50

SwimReason
1 year ago

Cody Miller’s career be like: “and….that’s a wrap!”

room full of Harry Potter toys
Reply to  SwimReason
1 year ago

Not really. He has a vlog about a baby now.

Deep end
Reply to  SwimReason
1 year ago

Dude is in the warmdown pool every session till the 200 doing 50s pace and DPS drills obsessively tryna find some magic. Over under 2:10? I say over.

Making it would be Pieroni-esque

SwimReason
Reply to  Deep end
1 year ago

Honestly, I really hope he can find something. If he decides to hang in for another three years, my best advice would be to stop vlogging and give Anthony Erwin a call. I think the man is focusing on the wrong things. But, I can be wrong…

Virtus
1 year ago

I called it after the first 25 of the free leg he always does it

Case Kalish
1 year ago

Insane night

About James Sutherland

James Sutherland

James swam five years at Laurentian University in Sudbury, Ontario, specializing in the 200 free, back and IM. He finished up his collegiate swimming career in 2018, graduating with a bachelor's degree in economics. In 2019 he completed his graduate degree in sports journalism. Prior to going to Laurentian, James swam …

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