2021 U.S. Olympic Trials Wave II: Day 6 Finals Live Recap


Day six. Finals. U.S. Olympic Trials. *Pressure intensifies*

As we come down the back nine here in Omaha, almost all swimmers, minus the men tackling the 100 fly/50 free double and the women in the 100 free final tonight and 50 free starting tomorrow, are onto their last event of the meet. And for those in contention for Olympic qualification, but haven’t yet done so, it’s now or never.

We’ve got four more finals on tonight’s schedule, led off by the women’s 200 breaststroke, where Lilly King and Annie Lazor, training partners in Bloomington, come in favored to go 1-2, with Emily Escobedo projected to be a major factor as well.

King is the only swimmer in the field already qualified for the Olympic team, and Micah Sumrall, a 2012 Olympian in this event, is the only other swimmer that has ever qualified for the Games.

We’ll then have the men’s 200 back, where Ryan Murphy is a near lock to win, and the second spot is largely up for grabs. Murphy will be the elder statesman of the field at 25, with the rest of the heat aged 22 and under.

The third final of the night comes in the men’s 200 IM, which is expected to be Ryan Lochte‘s last race on U.S. soil. Lochte will need his best swim of the meet by far to qualify for a fifth straight Olympic team, with Michael Andrew head and shoulders ahead of the field in the semis after dropping a sizzling 1:55.26.

Chase Kalisz, the winner of the 400 IM on opening night, will be favored by many to snag the second spot. Carson Foster was painfully close to qualifying in the 400 IM, so this will be his last chance, and Andrew Seliskar scratched out of the 100 fly to put all his eggs in the medley basket (Andrew and Lochte also dropped the 100 fly).

Kieran Smith will also be dangerous, coming in with no pressure and nothing to lose after winning the 200 and 400 freestyle earlier.

The women’s 100 freestyle will be the last final of the night, with the top five seeds from the semis having yet to qualify for Tokyo. Olivia Smoliga and Natalie Hinds tied for the top time last night in 53.55, and Abbey Weitzeil, the 2016 Trials winner, was close behind in 53.66.

Allison Schmitt (200 free) and Kate Douglass (200 IM) are the only two swimmers in the field already qualified for the Games, with Catie DeloofLinnea Mack and Erika Brown joining Hinds in the hunt to become a first-time Olympian.

With Simone Manuel failing to advance from the semis, this event has become completely wide open.

We’ll also see semi-final heats in the women’s 200 back and men’s 100 fly, where reigning world champions and world record holders Regan Smith and Caeleb Dressel headlining their respective fields.

Dressel has a shot to go sub-50 tonight after setting a U.S. Open Record of 50.17 in the prelims.

Every event on tonight’s schedule will include a current individual long course world record holder, other than the women’s 100 free.

Trenton Julian deserves a mention for taking on the Phelps double, as he’ll race the 200 IM final and 100 fly semi within 16 minutes of one another.


  • 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. Annie Lazor (MVN), 2:21.07
  2. Lilly King (ISC), 2:21.75
  3. Emily Escobedo (COND), 2:22.64

In undoubtedly the most emotionally-charged finish of the meet, training partners Annie Lazor and Lilly King went 1-2 in the women’s 200 breaststroke to officially punch Lazor’s ticket to Tokyo, with the 26-year-old claiming the win in a time of 2:21.07.

That showing falls just three-tenths shy of Lazor’s best time, set in 2019, and propels her into third in the world this season.

King took it out early, grabbing the lead with a 31.66 opening 50, but Lazor, Emily Escobedo and Bethany Galat stalked her down the second lap, and at the 100 turn, it was a four-way scrap.

Lazor blew by everyone on the third 50, splitting 35.97, and then extended the gap coming home for the victory.

King made a big push on the last length, pulling away from Escobedo and Galat to snag second in 2:21.75 and add a second event to her Tokyo schedule. This is King’s first “loss” in an Olympic Trials final, having gone 3/3 up until this point (I don’t think she minds).

King added a few tenths to her best of 2:21.39, set in May of 2019.

Escobedo and Galat, both 25, split the race almost identically, with Escobedo edging her on the last 50 to take third in 2:22.64, just off her PB of 2:22.00 set at the 2019 U.S. Open. Galat, who was a best of 2:21.77 in 2017, took fourth in 2:22.81.

The fourth-place time this year would’ve won the 2016 final by more than a second.


  • 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), 1:54.20
  2. Bryce Mefford (SMST), 1:54.79
  3. Austin Katz (TXLA), 1:55.86

Ryan Murphy took control of the men’s 200 back final from the get-go and the win was never in doubt, as the defending Olympic champion touched first in a time of 1:54.20.

Murphy moves into second in the world rankings this season, and posts his fastest swim since the 2019 World Championships. It’s his seventh-fastest ever, having been sub-1:54 three occasions.

One of Murphy’s training partners at Cal, Bryce Mefford, moved into second, passing Austin Katz, on the third 50, and then charged down the last 50—even making up ground on Murphy.

Mefford came back in 29.46, the fastest in the field, to take second in 1:54.79, a massive best time and also the second consecutive 1-2 finish at Trials for Cal swimmers in this event. Mefford entered the meet with a 2019 best of 1:57.39, and then brought that down to 1:56.57 in the semis before this showing.

The 22-year-old is now the eighth-fastest American of all-time.

Katz took third in 1:55.86, adding a few tenths to his best time of 1:55.57, and NC State’s Hunter Tapp moved up from sixth at the 150 to snag fourth in 1:56.76, taking eight tenths off his PB set in the semis.


  • World Record: Regan Smith (USA) – 2:03.35 (2019)
  • American Record: Regan Smith – 2:03.35 (2019)
  • US Open Record: Missy Franklin (USA) – 2:05.68 (2013)
  • World Junior Record: Regan Smith (USA) – 2:03.35 (2019)
  • 2016 Olympic Champion: Maya DiRado (USA) – 2:05.99
  • 2016 US Olympic Trials Champion: Maya DiRado – 2:06.90
  • Wave I Cut: 2:14.69
  • Wave II Cut: 2:12.94
  • FINA ‘A’ Cut: 2:10.39
  1. Regan Smith (RIPT), 2:07.23
  2. Phoebe Bacon (WA), 2:07.46
  3. Rhyan White (BAMA), 2:08.39
  4. Kathleen Baker (TE), 2:08.58
  5. Jo Jo Ramey (FASTIN), 2:08.90
  6. Lisa Bratton (AGS), 2:09.09
  7. Isabelle Stadden (CAL), 2:09.20
  8. Hali Flickinger (SUN), 2:09.61

Regan Smith and Phoebe Bacon won their respective semi-finals in the women’s 200 backstroke quite comfortably, producing near-identical splits en route to qualifying first and second overall for the final.

Smith was locked in a tight battle with Rhyan WhiteKatharine Berkoff and Kathleen Baker through the 150 in the second semi, but turned on the jets coming home to touch first by over a second in 2:07.23. That’s just over three-tenths slower than Smith’s season-best of 2:06.90.

White took second in the heat in 2:08.39, qualifying her third for the final, while Baker had a huge swim with her back against the wall, advancing in the fourth position in 2:08.58. Berkoff faded on the last 50 and ended up ninth in 2:09.76.

Bacon clocked 2:07.46 from the first semi, her second-fastest swim ever, and 16-year-old Jo Jo Ramey lowered her best time down to 2:08.90 in second, moving up from 11th to sixth in the 15-16 age group.

Also qualifying for the final was workhorse Hali Flickinger, who has already qualified in the 200 fly and 400 IM, clocking 2:09.61 for eighth.


  • 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), 1:55.44
  2. Chase Kalisz (ABSC), 1:56.97
  3. Kieran Smith (FLOR), 1:57.23

Michael Andrew delivered almost the exact same swim we saw from him last night, except this time it was done with the pressure on.

Andrew blitzed the field on the first 50, out in 23.77, and had subsequent splits of 29.29 and 32.29 on back and breast, putting him five one-hundredths shy of his 150 pace compared to last night.

The 22-year-old was way ahead of the field at that point, more than two and a half seconds, and despite laboring over the final few strokes, he won by over a second and a half in 1:55.44, just off his PB of 1:55.26 from last night.

That adds a second individual event for Andrew in Tokyo, having won the 100 breast early in the meet, and he’ll look to add a third in the 50 free.

Chase Kalisz moved up from fifth at the 100 to second with 50 meters to go, joining Andrew sub-33 on breast in 32.77, as he locks in a second event of his won at the Games with a runner-up finish in 1:56.97.

Florida’s Kieran Smith sneaked up on Kalisz a little on the free, closing in 28.43 to take a close third in 1:57.23, lowering his best time of 1:57.61 from the semis. Carson Foster took fourth in 1:57.99, adding a bit from the semis, as he has three near-misses her in Omaha.

Back in seventh was Ryan Lochte, the world record holder in the event, who, at 36, may have just raced competitively at the highest level for the last time. Lochte was never in serious contention in this race, ultimately clocking 1:59.67.


  • 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. Abbey Weitzeil (CAL), 53.53
  2. Erika Brown (TNAQ), 53.59
  3. Olivia Smoliga (ABSC), 53.63
  4. Natalie Hinds (ABSC), 53.84
  5. Catie Deloof (CA-Y), 53.87
  6. Allison Schmitt (SUN), 54.12

The wide-open women’s 100 freestyle came down to the wire, with speedster Abbey Weitzeil and Tennessee’s Erika Brown jumping on the lead early.

Brown, who squeaked into the final by two one-hundredths, provided some true outside smoke from Lane 8, blasting down the back-half as she looked like she was leading the pack.

Olivia SmoligaNatalie Hinds and Catie Deloof began to make up some ground down the stretch, but ultimately Weitzeil and Brown held on, going 1-2 with respective times of 53.53 and 53.59.

The victory for Weitzeil is her second straight in the event at Trials, having won in 2016, and was just off her season-best of 53.52 set in the prelims.

Brown, who was a bit off early in the meet, failing to advance out of the heats in the 200 free and 100 fly, stepped up big when it mattered, producing the third-fastest swim of her career—just shy of her best time of 53.42 set at the 2019 U.S. Open.

Smoliga (53.63), Hinds (53.84) and Deloof (53.87) all had slight adds from the semis, all qualifying for the team for the first time (though Deloof’s spot is not yet confirmed).

Allison Schmitt, who qualified individually in the 200 free, took sixth in 54.12 to round out the relay slots, edging Kate Douglass (54.17) and Linnea Mack (54.32).


  • World Record: Caeleb Dressel (USA) – 49.50 (2019)
  • American Record: Caeleb Dressel – 49.50 (2019)
  • US Open Record: Caeleb Dressel – 50.17 (2021)
  • World Junior Record: Kristof Milak (HUN) – 50.62 (2017)
  • 2016 Olympic Champion: Joseph Schooling (SGP) – 50.39
  • 2016 US Olympic Trials Champion: Michael Phelps – 51.00
  • Wave I Cut: 54.19
  • Wave II Cut: 53.37
  • FINA ‘A’ Cut: 51.96
  1. Caeleb Dressel (GSC), 49.76 US
  2. Tom Shields (CAL), 51.20
  3. Coleman Stewart (WOLF), 51.54
  4. Danny Kovac (UMIZ), 51.61
  5. Trenton Julian (SMSC), 51.70
  6. Luca Urlando (DART), 51.77
  7. Zach Harting (CARD), 51.99
  8. Tyler Sesvold (BAMA), 52.06

Caeleb Dressel torched his hours-old U.S. Open Record in the men’s 100 butterfly, blasting a time of 49.76 in the second semi-final to lower his prelim mark of 50.17.

Dressel’s performance is his fourth under 50 seconds, something that has only been done twice before in history, when Michael Phelps and Milorad Cavic had their epic duel in the 2009 World Championship final.

Dressel, the two-time reigning world champion in this event, also now owns seven of the 10-fastest swims in history.

All-Time Performances, Men’s 100 Butterfly (LCM)

  1. Caeleb Dressel (USA), 49.50 – 2019
  2. Caeleb Dressel (USA), 49.66 – 2019
  3. Caeleb Dressel (USA), 49.76 – 2021
  4. Michael Phelps (USA), 49.82 – 2009
  5. Caeleb Dressel (USA), 49.86 – 2017
  6. Milorad Cavic (SRB), 49.95 – 2009
  7. Milorad Cavic (SRB), 50.01 – 2009
  8. Caeleb Dressel (USA), 50.07 – 2017
  9. Caeleb Dressel (USA), 50.08 – 2017
  10. Caeleb Dressel (USA), 50.17 – 2021

Dressel led that second semi-final over Tom Shields (51.20) and Coleman Stewart (51.54), both of whom had phenomenal showings based on their personal bests.

Shields’ swim is his fastest since the 2016 Olympic Trials (where he also went 51.20, qualifying for the Olympic team behind Phelps), while Stewart’s lops almost six-tenths off his lifetime best of 52.11 set at the 2019 World University Games.

Missouri’s Danny Kovac (51.61) held off Trenton Julian (51.70) and Luca Urlando (51.77) to win the first semi, lowering his prelim best by over a tenth (51.73). Kovac came into the day with a best of 52.22. He now ranks in a tie for 17th all-time among Americans.

Julian, who also hits a PB, impressively came back from an eighth-place 200 IM showing to qualify fifth overall here, while Urlando also reset his lifetime best as he’ll look to bounce back after a close third place finish in the 200 fly earlier.

Dressel and Zach Harting (51.99 for seventh tonight) will be the only two swimmers qualified for the team in tomorrow’s final.

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Bobo Gigi
2 years ago

Quick day 6 thoughts

Nothing to say. The 2 favorites finish 1st and 2nd. Lazor can target a medal in Tokyo. It will not be easy but it’s feasible. I don’t see King on the podium.

😥 for Mr Lasco. But he will be back! With 3 more years of training he will be the man to beat in 2024.
Murphy is a medal contender but the gold seems unlikely.

Probably a 2-girl fight between Phoebe Bacon and Ryan White for the second spot behind Regan Smith.

Second win of the week for MA. Once again after his 100 breast… Read more »

Reply to  Bobo Gigi
2 years ago

It’s interesting how the men have been great in the sprints while the women have been so-so. On the other hand, the woman have been great in distance freestyle and the men have done poorly.

Reply to  Bobo Gigi
2 years ago

Kolesnikov a bad example – he had 10 minutes of rest in between events. And the second event was the 100 back, where you need fresh legs.

2 years ago

I just noticed this part of the schedule in Tokyo:

Women’s 50m Freestyle Semifinals
Mixed 4 x 100m Medley Relay Final

Why would they have these events back to back like this when they know it’s typically the same women anchoring the mixed medley relay?

Little Mermaid
Reply to  Troyy
2 years ago

We can handle it! Pipe down Spanky!

2 years ago

Shields smashed his pb in the 50 fly in the opening 50. The second spot is his.

2 years ago

Interesting to read the comments under the following article again today …

2 years ago

Yes. They used to say you were overtrained. I had it in college. Rapid heart rate, tired for no reason, mood swings, sleeping too much. More susceptible to mono.. The heart rate thing was scary.Was tested for an electrolyte problem, was normal. Told me I was overtrained. Here is a scientific abstract on it.

Little Mermaid
Reply to  Cate
2 years ago

Mono? I got it once when I was swimming in college back in 39, only once

2 years ago

I think the issue may be you rather than the system.

2 years ago

When will you delete this?

2 years ago

Ouch the WR holder second 50 isn’t as fast as the GOAT. The humanity!

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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