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


Katie Ledecky should swim twice this morning, with qualifying heats of the 200 free and 1500 free.

In the 200, Ledecky will swim right alongside Paige Madden in a reunion of last night’s top two 400 free finishers. In the 1500, Ledecky will share a heat with two other 400 free A finalists: Sierra Schmidt and Haley Anderson.

The 200 offers plenty of crossover for sprinters swimming upwards in distance. 50/100 free world champ Simone Manuel will lead the first circle-seeded heat, and we’ll see Olympic backstroker Olivia Smoliga alongside Olympic champion 200 freestyler Allison Schmitt in the next heat before Ledecky and Madden close things down.

The 1500 will also bring in a new wave of over-distance and open water swimmers, like open water national champion Erica Sullivan and open water Olympic entrant Ashley Twichell.

There’s just one men’s event this morning – the 200 fly. 19-year-old Luca Urlando is the top seed, looking to carry on the U.S. legacy for what will be the first U.S. Olympic team without Michael Phelps in the 200 fly since 1996. Urlando is the top seed, but before his heat, we’ll get two alum-vs-collegiate battles. Trenton Julian just wrapped up his fourth season with Cal, and he’ll face Cal alumnus and Olympic 200 flyer Tom Shields in heat 5. Nicolas Albiero just won an NCAA 200 fly title for Louisville in his senior season; he’ll battle Louisville alum Zach Harting in heat 6.

The women’s side is much busier this morning with heats of three events. Ledecky leads both freestyle events. Meanwhile Madisyn Cox is the top seed into the women’s 200 IM, but 400 IM third-placer Melanie Margalis should be primed to challenge her. Former 100 back world record-holder Kathleen Baker missed the 100 back final last night, but she’s got her best shot at a return trip to the Olympics in this 200 IM. We’ll also see Alex Walsh, who won the NCAA title this year as a freshman, plus 100 fly winner and newly-minted Olympian Torri Huske.

Keep refreshing this page for live, event-by-event recaps of all the action from Omaha.

Women’s 200 free

  • 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

Top 16 Qualifiers:

  1. Leah Smith (CLCK) – 1:57.52
  2. Katie Ledecky (NCAP) – 1:57.58
  3. Allison Schmitt (SUN) – 1:57.84
  4. Paige Madden (UVA) – 1:58.08
  5. Gabby DeLoof (CW) – 1:58.39
  6. Katie McLaughlin (CAL) – 1:58.63
  7. Brooke Forde (LAK) – 1:58.72
  8. Erin Gemmell (NCAP) – 1:58.96
  9. Hali Flickinger (SUN) – 1:59.13
  10. Bella Sims (SAND) – 1:59.16
  11. Claire Tuggle (SMSC) – 1:59.37
  12. Torri Huske (AAC) – 1:59.48
  13. Abbey Weitzeil (CAL) – 1:59.53
  14. Izzy Ivey (CAL) – 1:59.60
  15. Kelly Pash (CSC) – 1:59.73
  16. Kayla Wilson (TIDE) – 2:00.03

Leah Smith missed out on a repeat Olympic bid in the 400 free last night, but she’s looking strong in the 200 with the top qualifying time out of heats. Smith was 1:57.52 to win her circle-seeded heat, swimming next to an empty lane due to scratches. (More on that below).

Katie Ledecky remains the favorite for the top spot, and she cruised a 1:57.58 to win her heat this morning. Ledecky won the 400 by a wide margin last night and really only did what she needed to this morning, with heats of the 1500 free coming later in the session.

There were some big-name no-shows in this event that should affect a lot of finalist predictions. #3 seed Simone Manuel did not contest this event. Manuel is a world champion in the 50 and 100 frees and the nation’s top sprinter, but was also expected to be a strong contender for the a 200 free and/or 4×200 free relay spot.

Other notable no-shows beyond the scratches we’d already reported: #5 seed Olivia Smoliga and #24 seed Catie DeLoof. Both are in tonight’s 100 back final.

2012 Olympic champ Allison Schmitt is third in 1:57.84. At the last Olympic Trials in 2016, it was Ledecky, Smith and Schmitt finishing in that order out of semifinals, and those same three lead us into the semis five years later.

Last night’s 400 free runner-up (and likely first-time Olympian) Paige Madden is fourth and only about half a second off her career-best.

Further back in the field, 16-year-old Erin Gemmell cut two-tenths off her best time to finish 8th in 1:58.96. That moves her up to #11 all-time in USA Swimming’s 15-16 ranks. She’s just ahead of Dana Vollmer and just behind Izzy Ivey, who also made this final.

16-year-old Bella Sims won one of the non-circle-seeded heats, dropping eight-tenths of a second to go 1:59.16. That moves her to #14 all-time in USA Swimming’s 15-16 ranks, just a tick behind Gemmell. It’ll be a young semifinal round tonight: those two are joined by 16-year-old Claire Tuggle, 17-year-old Kayla Wilson and 18-year-old Torri Huske.

Men’s 200 fly

  • 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

Top 16 Qualifiers:

  1. Zach Harting (CARD) – 1:55.34
  2. Nicolas Albiero (UOFL) – 1:56.13
  3. Trenton Julian (ROSE) – 1:56.42
  4. Gunnar Bentz (DYNA) – 1:56.46
  5. Miles Smachlo (CW) – 1:56.64
  6. Chase Kalisz (ABSC) – 1:56.74
  7. Luca Urlando (DART) – 1:56.94
  8. Brooks Fail (CLCK) – 1:57.04
  9. Corey Gambardella (ISC) – 1:57.32
  10. Jay Litherland (DYNA) – 1:57.67
  11. Justin Wright (NCAC) – 1:57.78
  12. Zach Brown (NCS) – 1:57.89
  13. Tom Shields (CAL) – 1:57.92
  14. Jace Crawford (FLOR) – 1:58.20
  15. Cole Crane (TXLA) – 1:58.33
  16. Jack Conger (PRVT) – 1:58.37

It’s Louisville teammates Zach Harting and Nicolas Albiero leading the way this morning. The two paced their circle-seeded heat in 1:55.3 and 1:56.1, respectively, and will lead the field into semifinals tonight.

For Harting, the time is three-tenths off his best time and 1.3 seconds faster than anyone went in heats of this event at 2016 Olympic Trials. Harting himself had a breakout meet at 2016 Trials, and was just 1:57.9 out of heats. He would go on to go 1:56.9 in both semis and finals. Harting gained some buzz in that field by wearing a Batman mask behind the blocks of semifinals, followed by a full Batman onesie before the final.

Albiero, the 2021 NCAA champ in the yards version of this event, went 1:56.13 this morning, about a tenth off his best time.

Cal’s Trenton Julian sits third after winning his heat in 1:56.42. Julian was the NCAA runner-up behind Albiero this year, and they’ll battle across semifinals tonight. Meanwhile NCAA fourth-placer Luca Urlando is also safely into the semis in 7th.

2016 Olympian (in the 200 free) Gunnar Bentz qualified fourth in what might be his best Olympic shot. He didn’t enter the 200 free this time around. Fellow 2016 Olympian Jack Conger (who also skipped the 200 free) barely snuck into semis in 16th place. Conger was third and Bentz fourth in this race five years ago.

One more veteran of note is Tom Shields, who took second in 2016 and made the Olympic team. He sits 13th after this morning.

Wave I champion Carl Bloebaum held onto his taper pretty well here, going 1:59.60. He was 1:58.90 to win the Wave I meet last week.

Carson Foster was a notable no-show. He was seeded 26th after morning scratches.

Women’s 200 IM

  • 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

Top 16 Qualifiers:

  1. Kate Douglass (UVA) – 2:10.53
  2. Madisyn Cox (TXLA) – 2:10.64
  3. Melanie Margalis (SPA) – 2:11.33
  4. Meghan Small (TNAQ) – 2:11.48
  5. Alex Walsh (NAC) – 2:11.88
  6. Beata Nelson (WA) – 2:12.09
  7. Emma Barksdale (GAME) – 2:12.38
  8. Torri Huske (AAC) – 2:12.51
  9. Evie Pfeifer (TXLA) – 2:13.31
  10. Julia Poole (NCS) – 2:13.32
  11. Leah Hayes (TIDE) – 2:13.38
  12. Kathleen Baker (TE) – 2:13.89
  13. Alexis Yager (TNAQ) – 2:14.38
  14. Charlotte Hook (TAC) – 2:14.50
  15. Abby Hay (UOFL) – 2:14.68
  16. Caroline Thiel (TAMU) – 2:14.72

Virginia’s Kate Douglass won heat 6 in a solid 2:10.53. That’s a personal-best by two-tenths of a second for Douglass, who hit personal bests in all three rounds of the 100 fly on Sunday and Monday. (For reference, she cut about two-tenths in heats, followed by another two-tenths in semis and four-tenths in the final).

It was the final heat that really shook up the rankings. 6 of 8 swimmers in the final circle-seeded heat made the semifinals, led by Texas Longhorn alum Madisyn CoxCox had a disappointing showing in Sunday’s 400 IM, falling from the #4 seed to missing the final in 10th. But she was much better here, safely winning her heat and finishing second overall.

Also from that heat: 4th qualifier Meghan Small5th qualifier Alex Walsh, 6th qualifier Beata Nelson, 10th qualifier Julia Poole and 14th qualifier Charlotte Hook. Small was only about two-tenths off her best time from 2015 Pan Ams. Walsh and Small were Pan Ams teammates in 2019, with Walsh winning gold in this event and Small silver. Walsh, the 2021 NCAA champ in the yards version of this event, was almost three seconds off her career-best time this morning, and might be primed for a big drop in semis tonight.

Melanie Margalis missed out on an Olympic bid in the 400 IM by just 0.12 seconds to her teammate Hali Flickinger. But she’s the #3 qualifier here and a strong contender for a repeat Olympic berth.

Nelson is a former NCAA champ in this event, and she cam through with a great drop of about a second to place inside the top 8.

Meanwhile 100 fly winner Torri Huske continues to be on fire this week. She’s now qualified for semifinals of both the 200 free and 200 IM, though she may choose one or the other for tonight’s finals session.

15-year-old Leah Hayes didn’t go a lifetime-best, but as she’s new to the 15-16 age group, her 2:13.38 officially checks her in at #16 in 15-16 USA Swimming history. Hayes moves past Ella Eastin and sits just behind Kathleen Baker. Baker sits 12th into semis tonight, but the foot injury she sustained last month is clearly hampering her times thus far. Baker was the #2 seed coming into the meet, but faded to 12th this morning, more than five seconds off her best time.

Stanford’s Brooke Forde did not contest this event. She already swam the 200 free heats this morning and is sitting 7th heading into tonight’s semifinals. Other no-shows included Bethany Galat, Allie Raab

A few strong age group swims further back: 18-year-old Samantha Tadder won the opening heat in 2:15.66, a drop of a second and a half that moves her to #81 all-time in the 17-18 age group. In that same heat, 16-year-old Zoe Skirboll dropped half a second to move to #85 all-time in the 15-16 age group at 2:16.75.

Women’s 1500 free

  • World Record: Katie Ledecky (USA) – 15:20.48 (2018)
  • American Record: Katie Ledecky – 15:20.48 (2018)
  • US Open Record: Katie Ledecky (USA) – 15:20.48
  • World Junior Record: Katie Ledecky (USA) – 15:28.36 (2014)
  • 2016 Olympic Champion: N/A (New Olympic event in 2021)
  • 2016 US Olympic Trials Champion: N/A (New Olympic event in 2021)
  • Wave I Cut: 16:49.19
  • Wave II Cut: 16:44.60

Top 8 Qualifiers:

  1. Katie Ledecky (NCAP) – 15:43.10
  2. Erica Sullivan (SAND) – 15:56.24
  3. Ashley Twichell (TAC) – 16:03.39
  4. Ally McHugh (WA) – 16:04.36
  5. Haley Anderson (MVN) – 16:05.05
  6. Katie Grimes (SAND) – 16:07.33
  7. Sierra Schmidt (UN-AZ) – 16:07.44
  8. Kensey McMahon (BAMA) – 16:16.09

In the second half of her double today, Katie Ledecky easily paced the 1500 free by 13 seconds. Ledecky already owns the 10 fastest performances in history in this event – her #10 all-time swim is a 15:36.53, setting a bar for her finals swim tomorrow night. This morning, Ledecky checked in with the #19 swim of all-time, giving her 15 of the top 20 in history.

Sandpiper of Nevada Erica Sullivan qualified second, seven seconds ahead of Ashley TwichellTwichell and Sullivan have sparred plenty of times in open water over the past few years. Twichell is one of the two U.S. Olympic entrants in open water via her top-10 finish at 2019 Worlds. But Sullivan will look to make her first Olympic appearance by beating Twichell in this final.

Also in the hunt: Wisconsin Aquatics’ Ally McHugh and Mission Viejo’s Haley Anderson, the other open water Olympic entrant for Team USA.

15-year-old Katie Grimes of the Sandpipers of Nevada has surged in open water lately. But here she joined a storied USA Swimming age group history in the pool. Grimes cut 13 seconds from her career-best, going 16:07.33 to move to #5 all-time in USA Swimming’s 15-16 ranks. She sits behind only Ledecky (15:36.53), Janet Evans (15:52.10), Kim Linehan (16:04.49), and Sullivan (16:05.83) in the 15-16s with a full year left in that age group.

Out of an early heat, Northwestern’s Lola Mull dropped four and a half seconds, moving to #55 all-time in the 17-18 age group (she is 18) with a 16:31.41. Meanwhile 16-year-old Paige Kuwata, the Sandpipers teammate of both Sullivan and Grimes, went 16:27.73 to improve her best time by four-tenths of a second. Kuwata remains the #27 swimmer in 15-16 age group history in this event.

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1 year ago

Ledecky is a GOAT. I’ll be cheering for her, and she obviously has a chance to win, in whatever events she qualifies for Tokyo in. But I just watched the tapes of Titmus’ 200 and 400. I hadn’t recalled just how balanced her stroke and pacing are. She has clearly improved since Gwangju. Her stroke is a 9.95 out of 10, and maintained through the race to the touch.. Ariarne overflows grace, balance and beauty, beyond the obvious athleticism, aggressiveness and endurance shared with Ledecky.

I have never agreed with Rowdy’s ravings about how great Katie’s stroke is. Good yes, but not to the level of his praise. Again, she is obviously overall a GOAT but, the loping nature of… Read more »

Reply to  mds
1 year ago

Watching again Ledecky’s 1500, I thought she was very impressive in terms of tempo, smoothness and stroke length. She was not close to her record time, but still. It seems that she has some problems, at least now, with the faster turnover for shorter distances. And this is not a new thing; I remember some years back Phelps commenting on her seaming to drift from longer to shorter strokes at times.

If she can get her good strokes back, I think that she can beat Titmus in the 400. It will be harder in the 200.

1 year ago

Anyone know what happened to Justina Kozan this morning? After her 400IM, I was expecting her to at least make the semis in the 200FR and 200IM, but a 2:02 and 2:18 don’t seem very good after a 4:40 400IM.

Reply to  Sophie
1 year ago

I don’t know how much Brea Aquatics was able to swim as I know Mission was swimming earlier than basically any California team during the pandemic but in my opinion it was a mistake for her to leave Brea for Mission.

Wave 8 qualifier
Reply to  Riccardo
1 year ago

good thing nobody asked for your opinion

1 year ago

They should really remove semifinals for all 200s. 3 rounds of a 200 fly sounds absolutely grueling. And we would see more 1:44s and 1:43s if swimmers had one fewer round to swim.

super classy swim
1 year ago

we will see katie grimes in 2024

Bobo Gigi
1 year ago

What’s the use of swimming the 200 IM and even the 200 free for Torri Huske?
Sorry but I don’t get it.
Stay fresh for the 100 free!

Reply to  Bobo Gigi
1 year ago

She’s young! US sure could use another breakthrough 200 freestyler

Reply to  VFL
1 year ago

After seeing what the Aussie did the other need yes the American women are indeed in desperate need of a 200 freestyler of top caliber what if something wrong with ledecky(she went 4:01 in the 400 actually the entire field went slow expect madden) and I know it was just prelims but I was kinda disappointed that the top seed was only 1:57.5 by Leah smith. I was hoping for 3 or 4 under 157. I hope they all step up for the semis because like I said they need all the help they can get

Reply to  Bobo Gigi
1 year ago

Torri Huske officially qualified for the Tokyo 2021 Olympics. Torri Huske has the liberty to swim whatever she wants.

Reply to  Bobo Gigi
1 year ago

Nothing to lose at this point. She is on the Oly team, it’s all gravy now. Why not have fun and go for it!

Little Mermaid
Reply to  Bobo Gigi
1 year ago

Let her enjoy herself! Not bad for her first appearance! Sure we will see a lot more in the future!

Eric the eel > Phelps
1 year ago

The most overrated swimmers in the US: 1) Farris 2) Casas 3) Foster

Reply to  Eric the eel > Phelps
1 year ago


Reply to  Eric the eel > Phelps
1 year ago

I typed a big response but then realized you’re probably just a troll.

Reply to  BillyBob
1 year ago

Call out the foreign slag trolls! Bunch of honkers

Reply to  DanoCanuck
1 year ago

Their jealousy is sad but somehow endearing that they care so much about USA swimming

Reply to  Eric the eel > Phelps
1 year ago

Anyone who has ETE > Phelps as a screen name is true wanker who should get blistered in red. You’ve accomplished that very well. Congrats, you’ve set the 19th best score this year, well done. 🙄

Reply to  Eric the eel > Phelps
1 year ago

The most overrated poster in this comment section.

1 year ago

Katie Ledecky posted the 19th fastest all-time performance in the women’s 1500 meter freestyle.


Note: 15:34.23 double posted on the FINA website in the women’s 1500 meter freestyle.

1 year ago

Wait huske swam the 2 free and the 2 IM save those legs bruh 😰

Reply to  Virtus
1 year ago

While the buzz coming into the Olympic Team Trials was Claire Curzan, it’s Torri Huske that is stealing the show.

About Jared Anderson

Jared Anderson

Jared Anderson swam for nearly twenty years. Then, Jared Anderson stopped swimming and started writing about swimming. He's not sick of swimming yet. Swimming might be sick of him, though. Jared was a YMCA and high school swimmer in northern Minnesota, and spent his college years swimming breaststroke and occasionally pretending …

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