2021 U.S. Olympic Trials Wave II: Day 5 Finals Live Recap


We’ve got a busy eight-event session on our hands for Day 5 finals at the 2021 U.S. Olympic Trials, as we’re right in the thick of things with four Olympic-qualifying finals and an additional quartet of semi-final rounds on the docket.

Important programming note: finals will be aired live on NBCSN at 8 p.m. ET, rather than NBC, where it’s been the last four nights. Finals will then be tape-delayed at 10 p.m. ET on NBC.

Tonight’s finals session marks Caeleb Dressel‘s first opportunity to qualify for the Olympic team, with the 24-year-old leading a loaded field into the men’s 100 free final. Dressel (47.77) and Zach Apple (47.78) were the only two swimmers sub-48 in the semis.

Hali Flickinger and Regan Smith are seeded 1-2 in the women’s 200 fly final, where both aim to add a second individual event to their Olympic schedules, and 18-year-old Matt Fallon comes into the men’s 200 breast final ranked first after surprising himself with a massive National Age Group Record of 2:08.91 in the semi-finals.

The other final of the night, the men’s 800 free, will lead things off, with Mission Viejo’s Will Gallant leading the field in the heats in a time of 7:53.76, followed by Bobby Finke (7:54.02) and Ross Dant (7:54.98).

The 800 is the only one of tonight’s finals where none of the swimmers in the field have qualified for the Olympic team (pending roster numbers, as usual).

Additional semi-finals will be featured in the women’s 100 free and 200 breast, and the men’s 200 back and 200 IM. Simone Manuel and Ryan Lochte will both compete during an evening session for the first time tonight in the women’s 100 free and men’s 200 IM, respectively.


  • World Record: Zhang Lin (CHN) – 7:32.12 (2009)
  • American Record: Michael McBroom – 7:43.60 (2013)
  • US Open Record: Zane Grothe (USA) – 7:44.57 (2018)
  • World Junior Record: Mack Horton (AUS) – 7:45.67 (2013)
  • 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: 8:12.99
  • Wave II Cut: 8:08.95
  • FINA ‘A’ Cut: 7:54.31
  1. Bobby Finke (SPA), 7:48.22
  2. Michael Brinegar (MVN), 7:49.94
  3. Ross Dant (NCS), 7:50.66

It was a four-man race early, and it looked like a head-to-head duel late, but the final of the men’s 800 free turned into yet another three-way battle coming down to the finish—though a little more separation than we’ve seen in other events.

21-year-old Bobby Finke, the American Record holder in the 1650-yard freestyle, stayed at the front of the race the entire way and really made his move over the final 200, winning by almost two seconds in a time of 7:48.22.

Finke, representing Saint Petersburg, narrowly misses his best time (7:47.58) as he qualifies for his first Olympic team, and also moves up into seventh in this season’s world rankings.

Ross Dant of NC State stuck with Finke early on, and with 150 to go, appeared to be well on his way to a top-two finish. But it Michael Brinegar, a U.S. National Open Water team member and Indiana University distance swimmer, who made a huge move over the last 50, closing in a scintillating 27.35 to run down Dant and snag second in 7:49.94. Dant was third in 7:50.66.

Brinegar lowers his previous best of 7:54.56, set in 2019, and likely punches his ticket to the Olympics next month, following in the footsteps of his mother who was an Olympian in the 1970s. Dant re-lowers his PB that he set in the heats (7:54.98).

The two men now ranks 10th and 12th all-time among Americans, respectively.

Jordan Wilimovsky, who has already qualified for the Olympic team in the 10k open water event, was fourth in 7:53.07, setting him up for what she be a strong 1500 on the weekend.


  • 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. Nic Fink (ABSC), 2:07.55
  2. Andrew Wilson (ABSC), 2:08.32
  3. Will Licon (TXLA), 2:08.50

Any potential drama in the men’s 200 breaststroke was put to a stop by the finishing flourish of Nic Fink, as the University of Georgia alum turned a tight four-way battle with 50 meters to go into a dominant victory in a time of 2:07.55.

Fink, who dealt with a wrist injury towards the end of 2020, split about a perfect a race as you could do in the 200 breast, out in 28.9 before 32.5/33.0 on the middle 100 and then a 32.98 coming home, demolishing his previous best time of 2:08.16 to become the fourth-fastest American of all-time.

This is also the first Olympic berth for the 27-year-old, who was a close third in the 100 breast on Monday night.

With Fink taking off on the last length, the battle for second came down to Andrew Wilson and Will Licon, reminiscent of the fight Licon was in five years ago at the Trials with Kevin Cordes.

Wilson held the slight advantage at the turn, and managed to nail the finish better than Licon, touching in 2:08.32 to add a second event to his program in Tokyo after also finishing as the runner-up in the 100. Wilson’s PB stands at 2:07.77, set in August 2019.

It’s a second consecutive painfully-close third-place finish for Licon at the Olympic Trials, as the former Texas Longhorn finished in 2:08.50. The 26-year-old has now missed the Olympic team in this event by a combined 32 one-hundredths of a second at the last two Trials.

Cordes, the runner-up in 2016, was fourth in 2:10.06, and AJ Pouch of Virginia Tech set a best time of 2:10.35 for fifth.

Matt Fallon, the top seed after going 2:08.91 in the semis, was way back at the start as expected, but never made up ground on the field and was a distant eighth in 2:12.25.

Daniel Roy was the fourth member of that early four-way battle, leading at the 100 and 150 walls, but he tired on the last length, splitting 37.5 en route to seventh in 2:11.87.


  • World Record: Sarah Sjostrom (SWE) – 51.71 (2017)
  • American Record: Simone Manuel – 52.04 (2019)
  • US Open Record: Simone Manuel (USA) – 52.54 (2018)
  • World Junior Record: Penny Oleksiak (CAN) – 52.70 (2016)
  • 2016 Olympic Champion: Simone Manuel (USA) / Penny Oleksiak (CAN) – 52.70
  • 2016 US Olympic Trials Champion: Abbey Weitzeil – 53.28
  • Wave I Cut: 56.29
  • Wave II Cut: 55.56
  • FINA ‘A’ Cut: 54.38
  1. Olivia Smoliga (ABSC) / Natalie Hinds (ABSC), 53.55
  2. Abbey Weitzeil (CAL), 53.66
  3. Catie Deloof (CA-Y), 53.77
  4. Linnea Mack (TE), 54.03
  5. Allison Schmitt (SUN), 54.08
  6. Kate Douglass (UVA), 54.14
  7. Erika Brown (TNAQ), 54.15

It was good vibes all around for the Georgia swimmers following Fink and Wilson’s 1-2 finish in the 200 breast, as good friends Olivia Smoliga and Natalie Hinds kept the good times rolling but tying for the victory in the first semi of the women’s 100 freestyle, both hitting a PB of 53.55.

Smoliga is coming off a third-place finish in the 100 back, still looking to make her second Olympic team, while Hinds has positioned herself to potentially qualify for the first time tomorrow.

Smoliga’s best time, set in the heats, was a 54.00, while Hinds had previously been 54.29.

Those two ended up qualifying tied for first overall, but the big surprise was the finish for Simone Manuel.

Manuel, the defending Olympic champion and two-time reigning world champion in the event, had been out of the water for three weeks in April, we learned during the broadcast, and subsequently placed fourth in the first semi in 54.17. That ultimately earned her ninth place, .02 outside of tomorrow’s final.

Manuel missing the Olympic team in this event, let alone missing the final, is the biggest surprise of these Trials so far.

Cal’s Abbey Weitzeil, the 2016 Trials winner, led the second semi in 53.66, qualifying third overall. Cavalier Aquatics’ Catie Deloof busted through the 54-second barrier for the first time in second, clocking 53.77 to advance fourth into the final.

Linnea Mack (54.03) and Erika Brown (54.15) also had solid swims to make the final, both still looking to qualify for the team, while two swimmers already on the team, Allison Schmitt (54.08) and Kate Douglass (54.14), round out the field.

Brown in particular hasn’t performed well this week, so getting into the final is a huge turnaround.

With Manuel out, this event is all of a sudden wide open, which is music to the ears of someone like Smoliga, who may have thought her hopes of competing individually in Tokyo were over after the 100 back.

Also notably missing the final was Claire Curzan, who went 53.55 earlier this season, along with Mallory Comerford and Kelsi Dahlia, who have featured prominently on the American 400 free relay throughout the quad.


  • World Record: Aaron Peirsol (USA) – 1:51.92 (2009)
  • American Record: Aaron Peirsol – 1:51.92 (2009)
  • US Open Record: Aaron Peirsol (USA) – 1:53.08 (2009)
  • World Junior Record: Kliment Kolesnikov (RUS) – 1:55.14 (2017)
  • 2016 Olympic Champion: Ryan Murphy (USA) – 1:53.62
  • 2016 US Olympic Trials Champion: Ryan Murphy – 1:53.95
  • Wave I Cut: 2:02.99
  • Wave II Cut: 2:00.81
  • FINA ‘A’ Cut: 1:57.50
  1. Ryan Murphy (CAL), 1:55.60
  2. Austin Katz (TXLA), 1:56.26
  3. Bryce Mefford (SMST), 1:56.57
  4. Destin Lasco (CAL), 1:56.81
  5. Jack Aikins (SA), 1:57.50
  6. Hunter Tapp (NCS), 1:57.55
  7. Daniel Carr (CAL), 1:57.73
  8. Shaine Casas (TAMU), 1:58.48

There was a bear invasion in the semi-finals of the men’s 200 back, as four current or former Cal swimmers advanced to the final of the event, led by defending Olympic champion Ryan Murphy.

Racing in the second semi alongside Cal’s freshman stud from this past season Destin Lasco, and SwimAtlanta’s age group standout Jack Aikins, Murphy cruised the first 150 meters before turning on the jets coming home, splitting 28.53 to easily claim the top time of the night in 1:55.60.

Lasco moved past Aikins with a strong closing split of his own, 29.48, to touch second in 1:56.81, dipping under his best time from the prelims and qualifying fourth for the final. Aikins, who moved into a tie for seventh in the 17-18 age group with his swim this morning, breaks his tie with Jacob Pebley and now owns sole possession of seventh with his 1:57.50.

In the first semi, Austin Katz (1:56.26) out-touched Bryce Mefford (1:56.57) for the win, as they advanced second and third overall. Mefford’s swim was his first sub-1:57.

The fourth Cal swimmer to get in was Daniel Carr, seventh in 1:57.73. NC State’s Hunter Tapp had a best time of his own in 1:57.55 for sixth, and reigning NCAA champ Shaine Casas squeaked into the final in eighth (1:58.48).


  • 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), 2:05.85 US
  2. Regan Smith (RIPT), 2:06.99
  3. Charlotte Hook (TAC), 2:07.92

As we’ve seen numerous times over the past few years, Hali Flickinger and Regan Smith locked horns once again in the women’s 200 fly final, with Smith, as usual, jumping on the early lead.

Flickinger didn’t let her get away, however, and the two turned almost dead-even at the 100, just under 1:00. Flickinger pulled away on the last 50, out-splitting Smith by almost a full second in 33.12, as she earns the right to represent the U.S. in this event at a second straight Olympics.

Flickinger took one back for the veterans, in a sense, as we’ve seen the youngsters come out on top in a lot of the events recently, especially on the women’s side.

Oh, and Flickinger’s time was pretty good too.

Her 2:05.85 improves on her personal best by .02, set in 2018, lowering her own U.S. Open Record. The UGA grad notably changed training bases, joining Bob Bowman at ASU, after winning silver at the 2019 Worlds in this event.

Smith held on for second in 2:06.99, six-tenths off her PB, to add a second event in Tokyo.

17-year-old TAC Titan Charlotte Hook made a valiant charge late in the race, ultimately taking third in 2:07.92. Hook was a PB of 2:07.87 in 2019.


  • 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), 47.39 =US
  2. Zach Apple (MVN), 47.72
  3. Blake Pieroni (SAND), 48.16
  4. Brooks Curry (LSU), 48.19
  5. Bowe Becker (SAND), 48.22
  6. Ryan Held (NYAC), 48.46

Caeleb Dressel officially books his ticket to the Olympic Games after slamming down a big victory in the men’s 100 freestyle, finishing in a time of 47.39 to tie the U.S. Open Record set by Ryan Held in 2019.

Dressel, who now ranks second in the world this season, trailing only Russia’s Kliment Kolesnikov (47.31), took it out first at the 50 in 22.46, with Brooks Curry (22.56) and Held (22.66) hot on his heels.

Down the second 50 it was Zach Apple who out-split everyone, closing in 24.70 to overtake everyone but Dressel, taking the second individual spot in a time of 47.72. Apple locks in his Olympic spot after finishing in position to make the 800 free relay earlier. He narrowly misses his best of 47.69 from 2019.

For Dressel, his time is his eighth-fastest ever, and notably his fastest outside of either the 2017 or 2019 World Championships.

Blake Pieroni reeled off his third consecutive 48.1 to take third and make his second Olympic team, touching in 48.16 to edge out Curry (48.19) as they join Dressel and Apple in officially qualifying for the team in this race. Pieroni was sixth in this event in 2016, and was the second individual swimmer in this event for the U.S. at the 2019 World Championships, placing fourth (joining Dressel).

The swim for Curry was a new best time, lowering his 48.23 from the prelims to move past Ryan Lochte and Townley Haas and become the 14th-fastest American of all-time.

Bowe Becker hit a huge best time to take fifth in 48.22, likely making his first Olympic team, while Held, one of the favorites to earn an individual spot, fell to sixth in 48.46, over a second slower than he was in the summer of 2019. Still, that should qualify him for a second straight Olympic team after placing third in 2016.

26-year-old Brett Pinfold, who had briefly retired at one point, misses a potential relay spot by a single hundredth, taking seventh in 48.47, while Coleman Stewart was just a few ticks back of him in 48.51. Pinfold’s swim was a new PB, with his previous mark standing at 48.73.

The top-five finishers this year were faster than the runner-up time from 2016 (Dressel’s 48.23), while sixth place was about three-tenths quicker this time around.


  • World Record: Rikke Moller Pedersen (DEN) – 2:19.11 (2013)
  • American Record: Rebecca Soni – 2:19.59 (2012)
  • US Open Record: Rebecca Soni (USA) – 2:20.38 (2009)
  • World Junior Record: Viktoriya Zeynep Gunes (TUR) – 2:19.64 (2015)
  • 2016 Olympic Champion: Rie Kaneto (JPN) – 2:20.30
  • 2016 US Olympic Trials Champion: Lilly King – 2:24.08
  • Wave I Cut: 2:33.29
  • Wave II Cut: 2:30.49
  • FINA ‘A’ Cut: 2:25.52
  1. Lilly King (ISC), 2:22.73
  2. Annie Lazor (MVN), 2:22.80
  3. Emily Escobedo (COND), 2:23.87
  4. Ella Nelson (NAC), 2:24.80
  5. Bethany Galat (AGS), 2:24.83
  6. Allie Raab (NAC), 2:26.68
  7. Micah Sumrall (GAME), 2:27.22
  8. Rachel Bernhardt (GAME), 2:27.36

Indiana training partners Lilly King and Annie Lazor duked it out in the second semi of the women’s 200 breast, both swimming drastically different versions of the event, but finishing with nearly the same result.

King pounced on the first 50, opening up a big early lead, and then Lazor slowly reeled her in, bringing them close to even at the 150, and then King attacked the last 50 before Lazor came back again. King ultimately touched first in 2:22.73, followed closely by Lazor in 2:22.80, as they advance first and second into the final.

King sits fifth in the world rankings, having been 2:21.82 in May, while Lazor ranks eighth with her 2:22.23 from March.

25-year-old Emily Escobedo pulled away from Ella Nelson late to win the first semi in 2:23.87, easily qualifying third overall, and Nelson sits fourth after a new personal best of 2:24.80. Escobedo is the third-fastest American this year, trailing only King and Lazor with her 2:22.81 from last month.

Bethany Galat, who had a very strong showing in the 100 breast, qualified fifth in 2:24.83, and owns a best time of 2:21.77 from 2017.

Allie Raab joins Nelson in the final as swimmers from the Nashville Aquatic Club, while a pair of Gamecock Aquatics swimmers, Micah Sumrall and Rachel Bernhardt, round out the top eight.


  • World Record: Ryan Lochte (USA) – 1:54.00 (2011)
  • American Record: Ryan Lochte – 1:54.00 (2011)
  • US Open Record: Ryan Lochte (USA) – 1:54.56 (2009)
  • World Junior Record: Hubert Kos (HUN) – 1:56.99 (2021)
  • 2016 Olympic Champion: Michael Phelps (USA) – 1:54.66
  • 2016 US Olympic Trials Champion: Michael Phelps – 1:55.91
  • Wave I Cut: 2:04.09
  • Wave II Cut: 2:03.02
  • FINA ‘A’ Cut: 1:59.67
  1. Michael Andrew (RPC), 1:55.26
  2. Chase Kalisz (ABSC), 1:57.19
  3. Kieran Smith (FLOR), 1:57.61
  4. Carson Foster (RAYS), 1:57.77
  5. Sam Stewart (YHF), 1:58.37
  6. Ryan Lochte (GSC), 1:58.65
  7. Andrew Seliskar (CAL), 1:58.92
  8. Trenton Julian (ROSE), 1:59.21

As we’ve become accustomed to, Michael Andrew absolutely torched the first 150 in the second semi-final of the men’s 200 IM, but we’ve never seen him out quite so fast.

Andrew was out in an unbelievably fast 23.90 at the 50, with no one else in the field even under 25 seconds. He extended that lead with a 29.19 back leg, and then blew everyone away again with a blazing 32.21 breast split. That put him at 1:25.30 at the 150, 1.21 seconds under Ryan Lochte‘s world record pace.

Andrew went from being the fastest in the field on each of the first three 50s to the slowest on freestyle, closing in 29.96, but ultimately it was a moot point tonight as he qualified first for the final by almost two seconds in 1:55.26.

Not only does that erase a second from his previous PB set in the prelims (1:56.25), but it also makes him the fifth-fastest man in history, and the fastest in the world this season.

All-Time Performers, Men’s 200 IM

  1. Ryan Lochte (USA), 1:54.00 – 2011
  2. Michael Phelps (USA), 1:54.16 – 2011
  3. Kosuke Hagino (JPN), 1:55.07 – 2016
  4. Laszlo Cseh (HUN), 1:55.18 – 2009
  5. Michael Andrew (USA), 1:55.26 – 2021

2020-2021 LCM Men 200 IM

View Top 26»

Carson Foster touched second in Andrew’s heat in a time of 1:57.77, just off his 2019 best of 1:57.59, to qualify fourth for the final.

2017 200 IM world champion Chase Kalisz used a strong 33.32 breast split to top Kieran Smith in the first semi, as they finished in respective times of 1:57.19 and 1:57.61 to advance second and third overall. Smith’s swim was a massive best time, chopping 1.7 seconds off his prelim showing of 1:59.31.

Lochte, who has represented the U.S. in this event at four straight Olympics, qualified sixth overall in 1:58.65, and it’s clear he wasn’t leaving much in the tank. We’ll see if he can come back and challenge for a top-two spot tomorrow, where he’ll probably need to be at least two seconds faster.

Abrahm DeVine, who represented the U.S. in this event at the 2017 World Championships alongside Kalisz, finished just ahead of Lochte in that first semi, but was ultimately disqualified.

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NOT Steve Nolan
2 years ago

It’s crazy Curry didn’t even have the wave 2 cut a year ago!

Scotty P
2 years ago

MA my dude……..plllleeeeaaase hold it together for finals. Plllleeeeeaaaasseee.

fly fly
Reply to  Scotty P
2 years ago

I guess that many of his fans are feeling like you 🙂

Reply to  Scotty P
2 years ago

He could add 1.5 and make the team

Awsi Dooger
2 years ago

Lochte would need at least a two foot lead over Kalisz entering the final stroke

Awsi Dooger
2 years ago

Sorry. I just posted the same thing upthread, before seeing your comment. That did stand out to me after the race, that Mallory was within three tenths yet neither made it. I thought Manuel would beat Comerford by 2 seconds

Deo Karan
2 years ago

All the best USA team,surely USA will win

Bobo Gigi
2 years ago


Will one American make the olympic final? I’m not sure.

Will one American make the olympic final? I’m not sure.
Looks like Fallon has felt pressure of the final. He’s young. I wish him to be back in 2024 and qualify for Paris.

I’m shocked. But not so much.
Yesterday I wrote that I hoped that I was worried for nothing about Simone Manuel.
No. I was right to be worried.
She has raced so few races this year. She was clearly not there mentally this season. The past year has not affected people in the same way.… Read more »

Pacific Whirl
Reply to  Bobo Gigi
2 years ago

Swimmers need to swim many rounds so as to prepare for major meets especially THE Olympics. They don’t want to lose strength like Sjöström in 2016. She failed to qualify for the 50 free final.

Little Mermaid
Reply to  Pacific Whirl
2 years ago

Not MA!!!! Many rounds!

Texas Tap Water
Reply to  Bobo Gigi
2 years ago


Reply to  Bobo Gigi
2 years ago

One thing is that without Simone the medley relay of USA is not so favorite anymore as Mckewon/Mckon and Smith/Huske seems pretty ballanced, and tha advantage King could do is pretty much gone with C1 vs US 100 free swimmer without Manual. It will come to a hand touch this race

Reply to  Bobo Gigi
2 years ago
2 years ago

I believe that this is the weakest team of USA Swimming going to any Olympics.

W 100m Freestyle – Lost
W 200m Freestyle – Lost
W 400m Freestyle – Lost
W All Relays – Lost
W 100m/200m Backstroke – Doubtful

This year i believe Australia, Russia will eat up all of USA medals.

What do you guys feel about my analysis?

Do you guys agree?

2 years ago

I mentioned last night something seemed “off” with Dressel. I think he still has something left in that 100Fr, but good on him for dropping that 47.3. It was much better, and I’ll eat my crow for being wrong there.

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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