2021 U.S. Olympic Trials Wave II: Day 4 Finals Live Recap


As we move through the halfway point of these 2021 U.S. Olympic Trials (this will be eighth of 15 sessions), Tokyo roster spots will be back on the line in four events tonight, including two headlined by Katie Ledecky.

Ledecky, who has already punched her ticket to a third straight Olympics after winning the women’s 400 freestyle on Day 2, enters the session as the top seed in both the women’s 200 free and 1500 free finals.

The 24-year-old, who is the defending Olympic champion in the 200 and a three-time world champion and current world record holder in the 1500 (a new Olympic event this year), will have approximately 68 minutes in between the two races.

We’ll also see finals of the men’s 200 fly, where Zach Harting and Luca Urlando produced matching 1:55.21s last night to lead the field out of the semi-finals, and the women’s 200 IM, where Alex Walsh holds the top seed by over a second after dropping a 2:08.87 PB in the semis.

We’ll also see semi-finals in the men’s 100 free, women’s 200 fly and men’s 200 breast. Caeleb Dressel will race for the first during an evening session in the men’s 100 free, having come out of this morning’s prelims ranked fifth in 48.25.

For a full preview of the session, click here.


  • World Record: 46.91 — Cesar Cielo (BRA), 2009
  • American Record: 46.96 — Caeleb Dressel, 2019
  • U.S. Open Record: 47.39 — Ryan Held (USA), 2019
  • World Junior Record: 47.57 — Andrei Minakov (RUS), 2020
  • 2016 Olympic Champion: Kyle Chalmers (AUS) — 47.58
  • 2016 U.S. Olympic Trials Champion: Nathan Adrian — 47.72
  • Wave I Cut: 50.49
  • Wave II Cut: 49.74
  • FINA ‘A’ Cut: 48.57
  1. Caeleb Dressel (GSC), 47.77
  2. Zach Apple (MVN), 47.78
  3. Blake Pieroni (SAND), 48.13
  4. Ryan Held (NYAC), 48.34
  5. Brooks Curry (LSU), 48.51
  6. Bowe Becker (SAND) / Coleman Stewart (WOLF), 48.62
  7. Brett Pinfold (SHAC), 48.73

Caeleb Dressel and Zach Apple took charge of the men’s 100 freestyle semi-finals from the second heat, duking it out stroke-for-stroke down the final few meters before Dressel got his hand on the wall first in a time of 47.77.

Apple took second in 47.78, making them the first two Americans to dip under the 48-second barrier in the 2020-21 season. They now rank fifth and sixth in the world, respectively.

Apple was also less than a tenth off his personal best time of 47.69, and was far and away the best closer in the field, coming back in a blazing 24.53.

Ryan Held, who paced the prelims this morning in 48.07, touched third in that heat in 48.34, advancing fourth into the final.

Blake Pieroni, fourth in this event at the 2019 World Championships, easily topped the first semi in 48.13, dipping .01 under his season-best set in the prelims.

Brooks CurryBowe BeckerColeman Stewart and Brett Pinfold round out tomorrow’s finalists—four names without much major international experience.

Most notably missing the final was three-time Olympian Nathan Adrian, who finished 13th overall in 48.92 after going 48.37 in the heats.


  • 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), 1:55.11
  2. Allison Schmitt (SUN), 1:56.79
  3. Paige Madden (UVA), 1:56.80
  4. Katie McLaughlin (CAL), 1:57.16
  5. Bella Sims (SAND), 1:57.53
  6. Brooke Forde (LAK), 1:57.86

Katie Ledecky and Allison Schmitt broke away from the field on the second 50 of the women’s 200 free final, and then on the back-half it was all Ledecky, splitting 29.18/29.85 en route to winning her second event of the meet in a time of 1:55.11.

Ledecky owns a season-best of 1:54.40, set at the Mission Viejo Pro Swim in April.

The 31-year-old Schmitt turned second at the 150 and then held on for her life coming down the stretch, with a hard-charging Paige Madden hot on her heels.

At the wall it was Schmitt getting the touch, 1:56.79 to 1:56.80, to qualify for her fourth Olympic team in an individual event, no less. Since the beginning of 2019, Schmitt has only been faster than that once: a 1:56.01 at the Knoxville PSS in January 2020.

Madden, who already qualified individually in the 400 free, takes third to seal a relay spot, as does fourth-place finisher Katie McLaughlin, making her first Olympic team in 1:57.16.

16-year-old Sandpipers of Nevada swimmer Bella Sims also looks to have punched her ticket to Tokyo by placing fifth in 1:57.53, taking almost a half-second off her personal best of 1:58.00 set in the semis. Sims moves up one spot into third all-time in the 15-16 age group.

Brooke Forde rounds out the Olympic qualifiers in 1:57.86, .04 slower than her PB from last night.


  • 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. Zach Harting (CARD), 1:55.06
  2. Gunnar Bentz (DYNA), 1:55.34
  3. Luca Urlando (DART), 1:55.43

In another crazy three-way finish, Zach Harting and Gunnar Bentz claim the two Olympic spots in the men’s 200 fly, leaving Luca Urlando, the man with the fastest best time in the field, locked out.

Just as he did in the semis, Trenton Julian took the race out hard, leading at every turn, with Urlando and Nicolas Albiero close behind at the 100. Then at the 150, you could draw a line across the top-five as Harting and Bentz pulled even with the leaders.

Down the final few meters it was Harting, Urlando and Bentz battling it out, with Harting creating a bit of separation on the final few strokes to win it in 1:55.06, just .01 off of his personal best time set at the 2018 Pan Pacs.

Bentz, a 2016 Olympic gold medalist in the 800 free relay, made up more than four tenths on Urlando on the last 50, to edge him at the wall in 1:55.34, improving on his previous best of 1:55.42 set in the semis.

Urlando, who swam a time of 1:53.84 in June of 2019 but hasn’t been at the same level since going to the University of Georgia last fall, takes third in 1:55.43, just the seventh-fastest swim of his career. The 19-year-old had also scratched the 200 free final to focus on this race.

Albiero took fourth in 1:55.85, marking his first time sub-1:56, while Julian ended up fifth in 1:56.35. Julian entered the meet as the fastest American this year in 1:55.77.


  • World Record: Liu Zige (CHN) – 2:01.81 (2009)
  • American Record: Mary Descenza – 2:04.14 (2009)
  • US Open Record: Hali Flickinger (USA) – 2:05.87 (2018)
  • World Junior Record: Suzuka Hasegawa (JPN) – 2:06.29 (2017)
  • 2016 Olympic Champion: Mireia Belmonte Garcia (ESP) – 2:04.85
  • 2016 US Olympic Trials Champion: Cammile Adams – 2:06.80
  • Wave I Cut: 2:14.59
  • Wave II Cut: 2:12.56
  • FINA ‘A’ Cut: 2:08.43
  1. Hali Flickinger (SUN), 2:06.73
  2. Regan Smith (RIPT), 2:07.89
  3. Charlotte Hook (TAC), 2:08.08
  4. Olivia Carter (MICH), 2:08.44
  5. Kelly Pash (CSC), 2:08.69
  6. Dakota Luther (ABSC), 2:08.82
  7. Rachel Klinker (CAL), 2:09.18
  8. Lindsay Looney (SUN), 2:09.56

Hali Flickinger put on a surgical performance to smoothly advance first overall for tomorrow’s 200 fly final by over a second in 2:06.73, narrowly missing her season-best of 2:06.68 that ranks her third in the world in 2020-21.

In the second semi, Flickinger charged ahead of upstart teenager Charlotte Hook on the second 50, and then after Hook pulled within four-tenths by the time they were at the 150 turn, Flickinger picked up the strokerate with the fastest closing 50 in the field (33.11) to solidify the top seed.

Hook, a 17-year-old teammate of 100 fly Olympian Claire Curzan with the TAC Titans, took second in the semi and third overall in 2:08.08, two tenths shy of her 2019 PB of 2:07.87.

Carmel Swim Club’s Kelly Pash, who swims for the University of Texas during the college season, broke 2:09 for the first time to finish third in the second semi and fifth overall in 2:08.69.

Regan Smith topped the first semi-final in 2:07.89 over Olivia Carter (2:08.44) and Dakota Luther (2:08.82), with those three qualifying second, fourth and sixth overall. Among the trio, Carter was the closest to her best time (2:08.22).


  • World Record: Anton Chupkov (RUS) – 2:06.12 (2019)
  • American Record: Josh Prenot – 2:07.17 (2016)
  • US Open Record: Josh Prenot (USA) – 2:07.17 (2016)
  • World Junior Record: Qin Haiyan (CHN) – 2:07.35 (2017)
  • 2016 Olympic Champion: Dmitriy Balandin (KAZ) – 2:07.46
  • 2016 US Olympic Trials Champion: Josh Prenot – 2:07.17
  • Wave I Cut: 2:17.89
  • Wave II Cut: 2:15.28
  • FINA ‘A’ Cut: 2:10.35
  1. Matt Fallon (GSCY), 2:08.91
  2. Nic Fink (ABSC), 2:09.13
  3. Kevin Cordes (ABSC), 2:09.31
  4. Will Licon (TXLA), 2:09.39
  5. Andrew Wilson (ABSC), 2:09.48
  6. Daniel Roy (ALTO), 2:09.57
  7. Jake Foster (RAYS), 2:10.13
  8. AJ Pouch (VT), 2:10.76

Allow me to introduce you to Matt Fallon. But seriously, what a swim from the 18-year-old.

Fallon dropped more than a second off his best time to qualify first from this morning’s prelims in 2:10.13, and then turned things up a couple notches in tonight’s semis.

Racing in the second semi, Fallon looked like he was out of it early, turning in 1:03.67 at the 100—dead last in the heat, and 15th among all semi-finalists. However, he turned on the jets big time coming home, splitting 32.66/32.58 to run down early leader Kevin Cordes and touch first in a time of 2:08.91, obliterating the 17-18 National Age Group Record of 2:09.73. That record belonged to Daniel Roy, set in 2018.

Additionally, Fallon is now the ninth-fastest American of all-time in the event, moving up from 17th where he put himself this morning.

Cordes, who arguably looked the best he has in four years for much of this race, touched second in the semi in 2:09.31, followed by Will Licon (2:09.39). Cordes and Licon had a memorable battle for the second spot at the 2016 Trials, with Cordes ultimately triumphing and finishing in the runner-up spot.

Nic Fink cruised to the Semi-final 1 win in 2:09.13, qualifying second overall, followed by Andrew Wilson (2:09.48) and Roy (2:09.57).


  • 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), 2:09.30
  2. Kate Douglass (UVA), 2:09.32
  3. Madisyn Cox (TXLA), 2:09.34

This meet has had no shortage of unbelievably close three-way finishes, and we might’ve just seen the best one yet.

Alex Walsh came in riding the momentum of hitting a personal best in the semi-finals, and used her strength, the middle 100, to move into the lead after Torri Huske had blasted the fly leg in 26.52.

Madisyn Cox made her move on the breaststroke, taking over second at the 150, and looked to be on the way to finally earning her first Olympic berth. Walsh’s UVA teammate Kate Douglass began to make her push on the freestyle, and then it was the three of them—Walsh, Cox and Douglass—neck and neck in the closing meters.

Despite her stroke tying up at the end, Walsh held on for the win, touching in 2:09.30 to qualify for her first Olympic team, over four tenths slower than the semis.

Douglass, who came back in 31.04, clocked 2:09.32, and Cox lifted her head at the finish, registering a time of 2:09.34. Douglass’ swim improves on her best of 2:09.99 set in the semi-finals. The 19-year-old is now the ninth-fastest American in history, and also the fifth-fastest woman in the world this season.

That gives the Virginia teammates Walsh and Douglass the two Olympic berths, and it marks the first time since 2000 that four different women make it in the medley events.

It’s a painfully close third-place finish for Cox, who set a best time of 2:08.51 earlier this season and placed fourth in both IM events in 2016.

Huske, who was almost eight-tenths under world record pace with her 50 fly split, ended up fourth in 2:10.38, improving on her previous best of 2:11.18 and moving up from sixth to fourth all-time in the 17-18 age group.

Meghan Small picked up fifth in 2:11.65, producing a strong 1:07.9 back-half, while Melanie Margalis, arguably the favorite coming in, was back in sixth in 2:11.77.

Margalis’ bid for a second straight Olympic berth appears all but over after missing in the 400 IM and dropping the 200 freestyle. In Rio, Margalis took fourth in the 200 IM.


  • 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
  • FINA ‘A’ Cut: 16:32.04
  1. Katie Ledecky (NCAP), 15:40.50
  2. Erica Sullivan (SAND), 15:51.18
  3. Katie Grimes (SAND), 15:52.12

Katie Ledecky is fittingly the first U.S. Olympic Trials champion in the women’s 1500 freestyle, easily dominating the field for her second win of the night in a time of 15:40.50.

That showing marks Ledecky’s 12th-fastest swim ever, and the 13th-best of all-time, dipping under her season-best from the Mission Viejo Pro Swim by .05.

The race for second looked like it was going to be all Erica Sullivan, who was just 1.36 seconds back of Ledecky at the 400 and remained well clear of the rest of the field through the 1000.

However, with 500 to go, Sullivan’s Sandpipers of Nevada teammate Katie Grimes started reeling off sub-32 50 splits, making up ground. Grimes continued to gain all the way to finish, coming home in 29.43, but it was Sullivan holding on to book an Olympic berth in a time of 15:51.18, taking more than four seconds off her best time of 15:55.25 set in 2019.

Grimes, just 15, took third in 15:52.12, taking more than 15 seconds off her best time set in the prelims (16:07.33). That launches her up from fifth to third in the U.S. 15-16 age group rankings, trailing only Ledecky (15:36.53) and the legendary Janet Evans (15:52.10).

Open water specialist Haley Anderson was the fourth woman in the field sub-16:00, her first time doing so after entering with a best of 16:04.25 from the 2018 Pan Pacs.

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1 year ago

Unfortunately, the only real way to avoid them here is just to not have cable at all.

1 year ago

Hotel Seto bout to drop a 1:49 like Schooling in a practice set

Gowdy Raines
1 year ago

RDubs looked pedestrian. How can you be so talented and so tall and get rocked so bad?

Reply to  Gowdy Raines
1 year ago

I just don’t know why he’s gotten slower

1 year ago

There were two guys named AJ in the first heat of the 200 breast final.

1 year ago

Beata Nelson was wearing nose clip for the start of 200 IM. (Don’t know if she wore it for the whole race.) Wondering just how uncommon that is.

1 year ago


Gowdy Raines
1 year ago

Def one of the feel good stories so far. Great to see her break through!

Joris Bohnson
1 year ago

Zach « the batman » Harting makes the team !!

Gowdy Raines
Reply to  Joris Bohnson
1 year ago

Always root for The Batman.

1 year ago

How about what the 4×200 relay gonna show up at tokyo?

Ledecky looked off/pedestrian time wises should gonna pull a 2016 missy franklin if she does the american women are screwed

Schmitt went 1:55.78 at 2018 nationals before going 1:58 at pan pacs. As much as I like schmitt he may be pasted her prime and going 1:55 at olympics? Gonna have to see if she got more in the tank in the individual race and that will determined how her meets going

Hali Flickinger and Regan smith, if they both make the 200 fly you cant really use them (because the 200 Fly is the same day as the 4X200 relay (you would want 4 fresh swimmers for any… Read more »

Reply to  Swimfan
1 year ago

Reality sinks in.

Best Times – Calendar Year 2021


AUS will demolish the world record in the women’s 4 x 200 meter freestyle relay.


USA will be lucky to hold off CAN and CHN.

Reply to  Swimfan
1 year ago

Let me get this straight- Katie won the final by a good length and you’re saying that SHE’S the asterisk?

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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