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


Olympic spots will be up for grabs in four events during the third night of action from Omaha, with finals scheduled for the men’s 200 freestyle, women’s and men’s 100 backstroke, and the women’s 100 breaststroke.

Defending Olympic champions Ryan Murphy and Lilly King come in as the top seed in their respective events, and are favored to officially punch their ticket to the Tokyo Games tonight in the men’s 100 back and women’s 100 breast, respectively.

The same goes for Regan Smith in the women’s 100 back, as the second-fastest woman in history and former world record holder was nearly six-tenths faster than her nearest competitor in last night’s semi-finals.

The men’s 200 free final marks the first of four events at the Trials where relay selection will be on the line, and most likely the top-six finishers will make the Olympic team (and the top-four are guaranteed). Leading the pack out of both the prelims and semis was Kieran Smith, the lone man in the field who has already qualified for the Games after winning the 400 free on Night 1.

We’ll see additional semi-final heats in the women’s 200 free, men’s 200 fly and women’s 200 IM, with this morning’s top seeds going to Leah SmithZach Harting and Kate Douglass, respectively.

The women’s 100 breast final will also feature a unique nine-swimmer final after Molly Hannis’ disqualification in last night’s semis was overturned, and there will be a men’s 400 free time trial at the end of the session to see if anyone can get under the FINA ‘A’ cut of 3:46.78. Reportedly, Jake Mitchell will be the only athlete competing in tonight’s time trial, with another expected later in the week.


  • World Record: Federica Pellegrini (ITA) – 1:52.98 (2009)
  • American Record: Allison Schmitt – 1:53.61 (2012)
  • US Open Record: Allison Schmitt (USA) / Katie Ledecky (USA) – 1:54.40 (2012 / 2021)
  • World Junior Record: Yang Junxuan (CHN) – 1:55.43 (2019)
  • 2016 Olympic Champion: Katie Ledecky (USA) – 1:53.73
  • 2016 US Olympic Trials Champion: Katie Ledecky – 1:54.88
  • Wave I Cut: 2:01.69
  • Wave II Cut: 2:00.24
  • FINA ‘A’ Cut: 1:57.28
  1. Katie Ledecky (NCAP), 1:55.83
  2. Paige Madden (UVA), 1:56.44
  3. Katie McLaughlin (CAL), 1:57.37
  4. Allison Schmitt (SUN), 1:57.53
  5. Brooke Forde (LAK), 1:57.82
  6. Gabby Deloof (CW), 1:57.95
  7. Bella Sims (SAND), 1:58.00
  8. Leah Smith (CLCK), 1:58.22

Katie Ledecky inched ahead of Paige Madden on the back-half of the first semi-final in the women’s 200 freestyle, putting up a time of 1:55.83 to earn Lane 4 in tomorrow night’s final. At the 2016 Trials, when Ledecky didn’t have to swim the 1500 free heats on the same day, she was 1:55.10 in the semis.

Ledecky ranks second in the world this season by virtue of her 1:54.40 swim at the Mission Viejo Pro Swim in April.

Madden, who earned an Olympic berth last night by taking second to Ledecky in the 400 free, touched second in 1:56.44, dropping over a second off her previous best time of 1:57.47 set in May. That slots Madden into 10th all-time among Americans, inching ahead of Katie McLaughlin‘s 1:56.48 from 2019. McLaughlin was third in the first semi in 1:57.37, a time that stood up as the third-fastest overall.

31-year-old veteran Allison Schmitt, a three-time Olympian and the 2012 Olympic gold medalist in this event, emerged victorious in a tight second semi-final, clocking 1:57.53 to edge out Brooke Forde (1:57.82), Gabby Deloof (1:57.95), Bella Sims (1:58.00) and Leah Smith (1:58.22).

The swims for Forde and Sims were new best times, with Sims moving up to fourth all-time in the 15-16 age group.

For Smith, sneaking into the final is a big deal considering her near Olympic misses earlier in the meet in the 400 IM and 400 free.

Fourth in the first semi, 16-year-old Erin Gemmell of Nation’s Capital improved on her prelim PB of 1:58.96 in 1:58.67, ranking her 10th all-time in the girls’ 15-16 age group. She’ll be the first alternate for tomorrow’s final.


  • World Record: Paul Biedermann (GER) – 1:42.00 (2009)
  • American Record: Michael Phelps – 1:42.96 (2008)
  • US Open Record: Michael Phelps (USA) – 1:44.10 (2008)
  • World Junior Record: Hwang Sun Woo (KOR) – 1:44.96 (2021)
  • 2016 Olympic Champion: Sun Yang (CHN) – 1:44.65
  • 2016 US Olympic Trials Champion: Townley Haas – 1:45.66
  • Wave I Cut: 1:50.79
  • Wave II Cut: 1:49.65
  • FINA ‘A’ Cut: 1:47.02
  1. Kieran Smith (FLOR), 1:45.29
  2. Townley Haas (NOVA), 1:45.66
  3. Drew Kibler (TXLA), 1:45.92
  4. Andrew Seliskar (CAL), 1:46.34
  5. Zach Apple (MVN), 1:46.45
  6. Patrick Callan (UN-MI), 1:46.49

It looked like a three-man race at the 100, with Kieran SmithTownley Haas and Zach Apple taking early command of the men’s 200 free final. On the third 50, however, Smith and Haas created some separation from the field, and then the stage was set for a wild battle on the last 50.

Smith edged in front down the stretch, getting his hand on the wall first in a time of 1:45.29, dropping almost a half-second from semi-final PB (1:45.74) to add a second individual event to his Olympic program after winning the 400 free on opening night.

The 21-year-old now ranks eighth all-time among Americans.

Haas, who won this event at the 2016 Trials, came through in a big way after an up-and-down quad, touching in 1:45.66 for second—which actually ties his winning time from the 2016 final.

In the mad scramble for relay spots, Haas’ former Texas Longhorn teammate Drew Kibler held steady on the back-half, splitting a pair of 27.1s, to grab third place in a best time of 1:45.92. Kibler entered the meet having never broken 1:47.

Andrew Seliskar made a big rally on the third 50, putting himself into the mix with a 26.92 split, and then managed to hold Apple at bay to pick up fourth in 1:46.34.

The third and fourth-place finishers are assured an Olympic relay spot, while fifth and sixth will likely be added later. Those spots went to Apple (1:46.34) and Patrick Callan (1:46.49), with Blake Pieroni (1:46.57) and Carson Foster (1:46.67) on the outside looking in.


  • World Record: Kaylee McKeown (AUS) – 57.45 (2021)
  • American Record: Regan Smith – 57.57 (2019)
  • US Open Record: Regan Smith (USA) – 57.92 (2021)
  • World Junior Record: Regan Smith (USA) – 57.57 (2019)
  • 2016 Olympic Champion: Katinka Hosszu (HUN) – 58.45
  • 2016 US Olympic Trials Champion: Olivia Smoliga – 59.02
  • Wave I Cut: 1:02.69
  • Wave II Cut: 1:01.49
  • FINA ‘A’ Cut: 1:00.25
  1. Regan Smith (RIPT), 58.35
  2. Rhyan White (BAMA), 58.60
  3. Olivia Smoliga (ABSC), 58.72

In one of the most highly anticipated finals of the meet, Regan Smith came through over an elite field to win the women’s 100 backstroke and qualify for her first Olympic team.

Smith, who set the (now former) world record in this event at the 2019 World Championships in 57.57, blasted out to an early lead on the opening 50 in 27.90, two-tenths under Australian Kaylee McKeown‘s newly-minted world record pace.

On the second 50, where Smith usually shines, she tied up a bit, losing ground to a hard-charging Rhyan White and Olivia Smoliga, but held on sufficiently for a final time of 58.35.

The 19-year-old Smith set a new U.S. Open Record of 57.92 in the semi-finals, but it was all about getting on the team in this race (not unlike Michael Andrew’s 100 breast swim from last night).

The race for second saw White (58.60) out-touch 2016 winner Smoliga (58.72) for an Olympic spot, making her (possibly) the first Youth Olympian to make the U.S. Olympic team.

None of the eight finalists swam a personal best time.


  • World Record: Ryan Murphy (USA) – 51.85 (2016)
  • American Record: Ryan Murphy (USA) – 51.85 (2016)
  • US Open Record: Aaron Peirsol (USA) – 51.94 (2009)
  • World Junior Record: Kliment Kolesnikov (RUS) – 52.53 (2018)
  • 2016 Olympic Champion: Ryan Murphy (USA) – 51.97
  • 2016 US Olympic Trials Champion: Ryan Murphy – 52.26
  • Wave I Cut: 56.59
  • Wave II Cut: 55.51
  • FINA ‘A’ Cut: 53.85
  1. Ryan Murphy (CAL), 52.33
  2. Hunter Armstrong (OSU), 52.48
  3. Shaine Casas (TAMU), 52.76

Ryan Murphy held off an unbelievable late push from the upstart Hunter Armstrong to win his second straight Olympic Trials 100 backstroke title in a time of 52.33, adding just over a tenth to his season-best (52.22) from last night.

That swim from the semi-finals ranks Murphy second in the 2020-21 world rankings.

Armstrong, a 20-year-old out of Ohio State, surprised many when he popped off with a 52.67 swim in the semi-finals, and he went almost a full two-tenths quicker tonight to make the team (most likely) in the second spot.

Turning seventh at the 50 in 25.73, Armstrong turned on the jets coming back, marking the only swimmer in the field to close sub-27 in 26.78. That moved him past early leader Shaine Casas to snag the runner-up spot in 52.48, making him the fifth-fastest American of all-time.

Casas, who owns a PB of 52.72, blasted out in 25.18 but faded a bit coming home, taking third in 52.76, while Bryce Mefford went sub-53 for the third time in two days for fourth in 52.91.

Two of the men expected to challenge for the second spot coming into the meet, Justin Ress and 2012 Olympic champ Matt Grevers, finished fifth and sixth in 53.00 and 53.27, respectively.


  • World Record: Lilly King (USA) – 1:04.13 (2017)
  • American Record: Lilly King – 1:04.13 (2017)
  • US Open Record: Jessica Hardy (USA) – 1:04.45 (2009)
  • World Junior Record: Ruta Meilutyte (LTU) – 1:05.21 (2014)
  • 2016 Olympic Champion: Lilly King (USA) – 1:04.93
  • 2016 US Olympic Trials Champion: Lilly King – 1:05.20
  • Wave I Cut: 1:10.99
  • Wave II Cut: 1:09.55
  • FINA ‘A’ Cut: 1:07.07
  1. Lilly King (ISC), 1:04.79
  2. Lydia Jacoby (STSC), 1:05.28
  3. Annie Lazor (MVN), 1:05.60

Lilly King jumped on it early and locked in her spot on a second U.S. Olympic team, roaring to victory in the women’s 100 breaststroke in a time of 1:04.79—just shy of her world-leading 1:04.72 from the semis and the fourth-fastest swim of her career.

Lydia Jacoby, the 17-year-old out of Alaska, becomes the state’s first Olympic swimmer in the second spot, lowering her 17-18 National Age Group Record from the semi-finals in the process.

Jacoby went 1:05.71 last night, and after turning fifth at the 50 in 30.94, made her way through the field to take second in 1:05.28, notably out-splitting everyone (including King) with a 34.34 back-half.

King’s training partner in Bloomington, Annie Lazor, settled for third in 1:05.60, having swam a PB of 1:05.37 yesterday.

With Jacoby’s swim tonight and King and Lazor’s from the semis factored, the U.S. women now own the top three spots in the world this year.

2020-2021 LCM Women 100 Breast

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Bethany Galat joined the sub-1:06 party in 1:05.75 for fourth, also moving up one spot into sixth in the world. Molly Hannis, who got into the final after her DQ from last night was overturned, was seventh in 1:07.26.


  • World Record: Kristof Milak (HUN) – 1:50.73 (2019)
  • American Record: Michael Phelps – 1:51.51 (2009)
  • US Open Record: Michael Phelps (USA) – 1:52.20 (2008)
  • World Junior Record: Kristof Milak (HUN) – 1:52.71 (2018)
  • 2016 Olympic Champion: Michael Phelps (USA) – 1:53.36
  • 2016 US Olympic Trials Champion: Michael Phelps – 1:54.84
  • Wave I Cut: 2:01.19
  • Wave II Cut: 1:59.63
  • FINA ‘A’ Cut: 1:56.48
  1. Luca Urlando (DART) / Zach Harting (CARD), 1:55.21
  2. Trenton Julian (CAL), 1:55.35
  3. Gunnar Bentz (DYNA), 1:55.42
  4. Nicolas Albiero (UOFL), 1:56.29
  5. Corey Gambardella (ISC), 1:56.56
  6. Zach Brown (NCS), 1:57.02
  7. Brooks Fail (CLCK), 1:57.08

Luca Urlando and Zach Harting ended up producing matching 1:55.21s to win their respective semi-finals and qualify tied for first heading into tomorrow’s 200 fly final, but the real story of the semis? It was Trenton Julian, who attacked the second heat with reckless abandon—and held on reasonably well.

Julian, who came into the meet ranked first among Americans this season with his 1:55.77 best time at the Atlanta Classic one month ago, blasted out with splits of 25.11/28.54/29.60 through the 150, turning just two-tenths shy of Michael Phelps‘ meet record pace with one length to go.

Harting made up more than two seconds on Julian on the last 50, splitting 29.88 to Julian’s 32.10, but the two finished very cose, with Julian just over a tenth back of Harting’s 1:55.21 in 1:55.35 for a new PB.

Urlando was very solid in winning the first heat over Gunnar Bentz (1:55.42), who went under his old PB of 1:55.51, while Nicolas AlbieroCorey GambardellaZach Brown and Brooks Fail also got into the final, with Gambardella and Brown hitting new best times.

Notably missing was Miles SmachloJack CongerTom Shields and Justin Wright. Shields was an Olympian in this event in 2016, placing second to Phelps at the Trials.


  • World Record: Katinka Hosszu (HUN) – 2:06.12 (2015)
  • American Record: Ariana Kukors – 2:06.15 (2009)
  • US Open Record: Kathleen Baker (USA) – 2:08.32 (2018)
  • World Junior Record: Yu Yiting (CHN) – 2:09.64 (2021)
  • 2016 Olympic Champion: Katinka Hosszu (HUN) – 2:06.58
  • 2016 US Olympic Trials Champion: Maya DiRado – 2:09.54
  • Wave I Cut: 2:17.39
  • Wave II Cut: 2:15.26
  • FINA ‘A’ Cut: 2:12.56
  1. Alex Walsh (NAC), 2:08.87
  2. Kate Douglass (UVA), 2:09.99
  3. Meghan Small (TNAQ), 2:10.09
  4. Madisyn Cox (TXLA), 2:10.22
  5. Melanie Margalis (SPA), 2:11.25
  6. Torri Huske (AAC), 2:11.42
  7. Emma Barksdale (GAME), 2:11.52
  8. Beata Nelson (WA), 2:11.55

It was all about the NCAA champion University of Virginia in the second semi of the women’s 200 IM, as Cavalier teammates Alex Walsh and Kate Douglass went 1-2 en route to qualifying with the top two times for tomorrow night’s 200 IM final.

Walsh, who won the NCAA title in this event this past season as a freshman, was almost a full second back of Douglass after 50 meters of butterfly—with Douglass scorching out under world record pace in 27.08—but made it all up on the backstroke leg with a quick 32.91 split, opening up a three-tenths of a second lead on her collegiate teammate.

Then, Walsh extended that lead on breast, with Melanie Margalis, one of the pre-race favorites, well back in third. Walsh was up by almost a second on Douglass and two on Margalis at the 150, and out-split them both on freestyle as well as the 19-year-old Nashville Aquatic Club product put up a personal best time of 2:08.87.

That swim improves on Walsh’s previous best of 2:09.01, set at the 2019 U.S. Open, moving her up one spot into seventh all-time among Americans. It also ranks her third in the world this season.

Douglass touched second in 2:09.99, improving her previous best of 2:10.53, and Margalis was third in 2:11.25, safely qualifying for the final in fifth.

In the first semi, Meghan Small, who was seventh in this event five years ago, out-duelled Madisyn Cox for the victory in 2:10.09, smashing her previous best of 2:11.26 set at the 2015 Pan Am Games. Cox, the fastest American this season with her 2:08.51 from the Longhorn Invite in May, qualifies fourth overall in 2:10.22.

Fresh off making the Olympic team in American Record fashion last night in the 100 butterfly, Torri Huske qualified sixth for the final in 2:11.42, with her PB standing at 2:11.18 from the U.S. Open in November 2020.

Notably missing the final was Kathleen Baker, the second-fastest American in history, who recently announced she had fractured her foot last month. Baker put up a time of 2:12.95, and was actually the fifth-fastest swimmer in the field through the 150 before closing in 32.98 to finish 11th.


  • FINA ‘A’ Cut: 3:46.78
  1. Jake Mitchell (CSC), 3:45.86

In an unbelievable solo time trial effort, Carmel Swim Club’s Jake Mitchell produced the swim of his life to crush the Olympic qualifying time of 3:46.78 in 3:45.86, effectively putting him on the U.S. Olympic team.

Mitchell really attacked the race, out almost two seconds faster than he was in the individual final at the 100 (52.63) and more than three at the 200 (1:49.86) before closing just a quarter of a second slower, 1:56.00 compared to 1:55.25 on Sunday on the back-half.

Mitchell’s splits:

  • 25.16
  • 27.47 (52.63)
  • 28.47
  • 28.76 (1:49.86)
  • 29.13
  • 28.90 (2:47.89)
  • 29.13
  • 28.84 (3:45.86)

If you haven’t been following along, only Kieran Smith (3:44.86) went under the FINA ‘A’ time in the men’s 400 free final, leaving the second Olympic spot up for grabs. If no one in the field that finished ahead of Zane Grothe, who was 11th in the prelims, managed to get under the 3:46.78 standard, then the Olympic spot would be Grothe’s provided there was space on the roster.

As the runner-up in the final, Mitchell had first dibs on the available spot—as long as he went sub-3:46.78, it would be his, even if someone else went faster. And he did just that, dropping more than two seconds from his best time of 3:47.95, set at the 2019 World Juniors, in the process.

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Dying Breed
1 year ago

Rowdy Gaines digs deep to get the greatest US freestylers of all time – Debbie Meyer, Janet Evans, etc – searching more for hyperbole than accuracy. He completely whiffs by not mentioning Shirley Babashoff from the forgotten 1976 team who qualified in all the freestyle events and medaled in all but the 100 freestyle. The East German doping is legendary but Rowdy could give a shout-out to Shirley. It often seems that when you join the press corps in swimming you have to take an oath to never mention the US 1976 Women’s Olympic team without using the terms “poor losers” or “whiners”.

1 year ago

My question is Steve upvoting his awful takes himself or are that many of you that lame?

1 year ago

Still think KL needs to choose 1500m or 200m. She may even miss a medal in 200m if she tries

Vic Serra
1 year ago

Big question here, Dressel swam prelims of 200 free to post a time that would put him on the relay in Tokyo, his time didnt make the top 6 at the end, so what now? Everyone knows Dressel can go 1.44 on a relay with a medal on stake..
Another question is why he didnt swim at least semi finales…he didnt have any other events, so besides posting a 1.45 and secure a more than probable gold medal in Tokyo, it could have been a very good test for his events coming up… Do you guys think he will end up swim it in Tokyo?

Bobo Gigi
1 year ago


KL and Paige Madden are the 2 favorites.
That double 200 free/1500 free will be incredibly tough for KL as she’s logically not the same athlete anymore as in 2016. She takes the risk of losing in both events.
Thrilled to see Bella Sims qualifying for the final. I’m rooting for her to make the relay team. USA badly needs new young fast talents for the next year in mid-distance freestyle. Right now we see Bella Sims, Erin Gemmell and Claire Tuggle. Hopefully they will keep developing to help the US 4X200 free relay reclaim the gold medal in 2024.


The 2 favorites 1st and 2nd.… Read more »

1 year ago

Rowdy is a big time Masters swimmer. Holds a lot of free records.

1 year ago

Aus Swim Trials shits on US Swim Trials

1 year ago

He has a 25m pool in his back yard. Bob Bowman visits him practically every day.

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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