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


Three of USA Swimming’s brightest stars – all reigning world record-holders and World champions – will lead this morning’s heats. That means every single event swum this morning will feature both the world record-holder and the 2019 World champion in that event.

It starts with the 800 free, where Katie Ledecky is looking for a clean 4-for-4 sweep in her events this week. Ledecky is already qualified to the Olympic team in the 200, 400, and 1500 frees. She’s the world record-holder in this 800, and has won the past two Olympic golds and past four World Championships golds in the event.

Behind her, 1500 free runner-up Erica Sullivan looks like a strong contender to add another Olympic event. In her circle-seeded heat, she’ll take on Leah Smiththe six-time World Champs medalist who just missed the Olympic team in the 200 free (by two spots) and 400 free (by one spot). Also in that heat: Olympic open water entrant Haley Andersonwho has a pair of top-5 finishes in the 400 and 1500 frees this week, and 400 free runner-up and new Olympian Paige Madden.

Ledecky’s heat features likely 4×200 free relay Olympic qualifier Bella Simsthe 16-year-old who stormed into the 200 free final. Sims is another outstanding open water swimmer, and she and 1500 free fourth-placer Ally McHugh.

In the 100 fly, Caeleb Dressel looks to build on his 100 free win (and U.S. Open record) from last night. The world record-holder leads the final heat along with NCAA backstroke star Shaine Casas and 4×200 free relay Olympic qualifier Andrew SeliskarIn the other heats, it’s veterans looking to bounce back: Maxime Rooney leads heat 8 after missing the 100 free final; Jack Conger and Tom Shields lead heat 7 as they try to make repeat Olympic appearances for Team USA.

The session concludes with the 200 back, where world record-holder Regan Smith is looking for her third Olympic event. Smith, 19, leads the final heat, swimming right next to her likely Olympic 100 back partner Rhyan WhiteBut this event is thick with talent. 18-year-old Phoebe Bacon heads the first circle-seeded heat next to veteran 200 back specialist Lisa BrattonAfter that, 2016 Olympian Kathleen Baker gets her final shot to make the Olympic team through a foot injury, while 18-year-old Isabelle Stadden aims for her first Olympic Games after a strong 100 back.

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

Women’s 800 free

Top 8 Qualifiers:

  1. Katie Ledecky (NCAP) – 8:16.61
  2. Bella Sims (SAND) – 8:27.45
  3. Erica Sullivan (SAND) – 8:28.67
  4. Ally McHugh (WA) – 8:29.00
  5. Haley Anderson (MVN) – 8:29.24
  6. Kaersten Meitz (BA) – 8:29.54
  7. Sierra Schmidt (UN-AZ) – 8:29.93
  8. Katie Grimes (SAND) – 8:31.73

Katie Ledecky dominated this morning’s heats, going 8:16.61 for the top spot. That’s just outside of the top 25 performances of all-time – of which, Ledecky owns 24. The only non-Ledecky swim still in that mix is the former world record of 8:14.10 from Becky Adlington in 2008. Adlington sits #24 all-time, so Ledecky could theoretically take over the entire top 25 in history if she can crack 8:14 tomorrow night, and then again at the Olympics.

16-year-old Bella Sims of the Sandpipers of Nevada continued her outstanding meet, qualifying second in 8:27.45. Sims is likely on the Olympic team as a relay swimmer for the 4×200 free relay, but she’ll now have a shot to add an individual event. Sims was four-tenths off her career-best time, which ranks #5 all-time in the 15-16 age group. Keep an eye on her in the final – she could move to #3 all-time behind Ledecky and Janet Evans if she can go 8:22.45 or faster in the final.

1500 free runner-up Erica Sullivan should also be in a great spot for another Olympic berth. Sullivan should make the team in that 1500, and she won her heat this morning in 8:28.67.

Wisonsin Aquatics (and Penn State alum) Ally McHugh has been in the hunt several times already this week, and she gets to chase an Olympic berth as the four-seed heading into tomorrow’s final. It’s a Big Ten-heavy field with Purdue alum Kaersten Meitz and Michigan alum Sierra Schmidt all in the top 8.

Open water Olympian Haley Anderson sits fifth, between McHugh and Meitz.

15-year-old Katie Grimes of the Sandpipers of Nevada crushed an early heat in 8:31.73 – that was a 5.7-second drop and moved her up to #18 all-time in USA Swimming’s 15-16 age group. Grimes snuck into the final in 8th place and will get another swim tomorrow night. Out of that same heat, 16-year-old Cavan Gormsen went 8:39.03 to drop a second and move to #58 all-time in the age group.

Men’s 100 fly

  • World Record: Caeleb Dressel (USA) – 49.50 (2019)
  • American Record: Caeleb Dressel – 49.50 (2019)
  • US Open Record: Michael Phelps (USA) – 50.22 (2009)
  • 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

Top 16 Qualifiers:

  1. Caeleb Dressel (GSC) – 50.17 US Open Record
  2. Trenton Julian (ROSE) / Tom Shields (CAL) – 51.71
  3. Danny Kovac (UMIZ) – 51.73
  4. Tyler Sesvold (BAMA) – 51.83
  5. Zach Harting (CARD) – 51.86
  6. Coleman Stewart (WOLF) – 52.12
  7. Luca Urlando (DART) – 52.19
  8. Jack Conger (PRVT) / Blake Manoff (VT) – 52.23
  9. Maxime Rooney (PLS) – 52.30
  10. Miles Smachlo (CW) – 52.39
  11. Matthew Josa (AIA) – 52.52
  12. Nicolas Albiero (UOFL) – 52.54
  13. Cody Bybee (SUN) – 52.62
  14. John Shebat (NCAP) – 52.63

Caeleb Dressel‘s butterfly always seems to be a little ahead of his freestyle in-season, and with Dressel likely saving his full taper for the Olympics, we saw a similar story play out this morning. Dressel cracked the U.S. Open record set by Michael Phelps back in 2019, going 50.17 this morning. That’s the #1 time in the world this season, just shaving .01 under Kristof Milak‘s time from the European Championships last month.

Beyond Dressel, though, the field looks completely wide open for the second Olympic spot. There was more than a second and a half this morning between Dressel and the rest of the field. That also suggests that if Dressel wins the 100 fly and 100 free, he’ll probably wind up the butterflyer on the U.S. medley relay, as the dropoff here is steep compared to the dropoff from Dressel to Zach Apple in the 100 free.

Trenton Julian and Tom Shields – two Cal Golden Bears – tied for second in 51.71. Shields was the second Olympic entrant behind Phelps in this race in 2016 and just might be in a spot to do the same thing this time around behind Dressel.

Julian is more known as a 200 flyer, but has been having a nice meet so far with lifetime-bests in the 200 free, 200 fly and 200 IM. He was 5th in the 200 fly final, but his semifinal swim would have been .01 away from second in the final. This morning’s swim was a massive drop, from a 53.3 to a 51.7 out of one of the early heats.

It’s a few NCAA standouts after that: Missouri’s Danny Kovac and Alabama’s Tyler Sesvold.

200 fly winner Zach Harting is also in, along with 200 fly third-placer Luca Urlando and fourth-placer Nicolas Albiero.

At one point, Maxime Rooney looked like the clear-cut #2 U.S. swimmer behind Dressel in this event. Rooney went 50.68 back in 2019. He’s easily into the semifinals, but sits 11th and will need a big swim to move on to the final.

A few big names were clipped for the semifinal spots. #1 overall recruit in the high school senior class Aiden Hayes had a lifetime-best 52.67, but ended up 17th – though he could scratch in. Jack Saunderson, the #6 seed coming into the meet, finished 24th.

Among the very notable no-shows: Olympic star Ryan Lochte (who is likely gearing up for the 200 IM final tonight), backstroke world record-holder Ryan Murphy, 4×200 free relay Olympian Andrew Seliskar and NCAA backstroke champ Shaine CasasLochte and Seliskar will both swim in the 200 IM final tonight, while Murphy and Casas have the 200 back final tonight.

Women’s 200 back

  • 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

Top 16 Qualifiers:

  1. Regan Smith (RIPT) – 2:07.81
  2. Phoebe Bacon (WA) – 2:08.71
  3. Rhyan White (BAMA) – 2:08.92
  4. Lisa Bratton (CAL) – 2:09.64
  5. Katharine Berkoff (NCS) – 2:10.09
  6. Jo Jo Ramey (FAST) – 2:10.55
  7. Sophie Sorenson (KYA) – 2:10.93
  8. Isabelle Stadden (CAL) – 2:11.01
  9. Kennedy Noble (YWSF) – 2:11.51
  10. Ali Deloof (TNAQ) – 2:11.71
  11. Kathleen Baker (TE) – 2:11.78
  12. Sophie Lindnder (UNC) – 2:11.82
  13. Mara Newman (WA) – 2:11.91
  14. Summer Smith (ABF) – 2:12.01
  15. Hali Flickinger (SUN) – 2:12.02
  16. Beata Nelson (WA) – 2:12.11

World record-holder Regan Smith made it 3-for-3 with the favorites holding onto their #1 seeds this morning. Smith was 2:07.81, one of just four women under 2:10 in heats.

In 2016, just two women broke 2:10 in heats, and Smith was almost two full seconds faster than the #1 time that year, a 2:09.69 from Missy Franklin.

The 19-year-old Smith trains with her Riptide club in Minnesota. Just across the border in Wisconsin is the training base of 18-year-old Phoebe Baconwho qualified second in 2:08.71. EArlier this year, Bacon hit the #3 spot in USA Swimming’s all-time 17-18 ranks behind Smith and Franklin. Both Smith’s and Franklin’s 17-18 times were the world record when swum.

#4 in that 17-18 age group history is Isabelle Staddenwho also made the next round in 8th. Bacon and Stadden will chase the top two in age group history in tonight’s semifinals.

Lisa Bratton of Texas A&M was the other swimmer under 2:10 this morning, though NC State’s Katharine Berkoff was close.

16-year-old Jo Jo Ramey is easily into semifinals in 6th. She was a tick off her best time of 2:09.72, which ranks #11 all-time in the 15-16 age group.

Early on, 17-year-old Kennedy Noble dropped a second and a half, going 2:11.51 to move to #33 all-time in the USA Swimming 17-18 ranks. In the same heat, 18-year-old Madelyn Christman moved to #49 all-time with a 2:12.46.

2016 Olympian Kathleen Baker made the semifinals like she did in the 100 back and 200 IM, but she’ll again be sitting in the 9th-16th range and needing a big swim to move on through tonight’s semifinals. Baker was 11th in semifinals of both the 200 IM and 100 back, and qualified 11th this morning.

200 fly winner and two-event Olympian Hali Flickinger moved on in 15th, and former Wisconsin NCAA standout Beata Nelson just snuck into the 16th spot.

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ivan de smedt
1 year ago

in the 1500 m men free.the fastest qualifyer for the final,is some 5 seconds slower(!!) than brian goodells’ winning time at the 1976 olympics, 45 years ago.it were only heats,but it give muche to think on the low level of male distance swimming

Texas Tap Water
1 year ago

S-L-O-W women’s 100m free.

Australian girls will smoke both free relays.

1 year ago

I know this isn’t related but why is breakdancing in the Olympics???? And squash etc isn’t? JOKE

1 year ago

Where are the time trials results?

1 year ago

Rafael did you just delete all of your David posts lmao

1 year ago

Does Rhyan White not get the time of day to even get mentioned in the 200 back discussion. She was vastly over looked in the 100 back and now 200 back.

Bobo Gigi
1 year ago

3 girls of Sandpipers qualify in the women’s 800 free final!
Bella Sims qualifying for the 4X200 free relay
Erica Sullivan making the team in the 1500 free. In the same race Katie Grimes finishes 3rd with a monster new PB in 15.52.
Probably a battle between Sullivan and Sims in the 800 free to take the second spot.
I think SwimSwam needs to do an article about the coaches and the training there.
They do an amazing job.

Suzie Lynn
Reply to  Bobo Gigi
1 year ago

I’d watch out for Anderson & McHugh too .

Phil McDade
Reply to  Bobo Gigi
1 year ago

Bobo — consensus of some club coaches and others watching is that Sandpipers may be the best performing non-college-centered club at the meet. Their swimmers have been terrific.

Reply to  Bobo Gigi
1 year ago

I swam for sandpipers from 96-early 2000’s. They’ve come a long way. You love to see it.

1 year ago

Titmus swam a 8:15.57 at trials and has done a 8:15.7, so I think ledeckys swim is a bit further back

Reply to  Swimmertriguy
1 year ago

Titmus neg split her 800m. Clearly she wasn’t pushing it early in that race.
I’d be a little shocked it Titmus goes any faster than 8.12

Last edited 1 year ago by Stephen
Reply to  Stephen
1 year ago

Titmus will be hard pressed to post a time of 8:14.63 in the women’s 800 meter freestyle. It’s alot harder when a swimmer is actually required to swim the heats of the women’s 800 meter freestyle at the Summer Olympics unlike the Aussie trials.

Reply to  Swimmertriguy
1 year ago

Katie Ledecky has posted a faster time in calendar year 2021. Furthermore, I doubt Katie Ledecky is even tapered for the Olympic Team Trials. Even if Katie Ledecky is tapered for the Olympic Team Trials, it’s between 5% to 20%. The lack of domestic competition allows Katie Ledecky the luxury.

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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