2021 U.S. Olympic Trials Wave II: Day 7 Finals Live Recap


The penultimate night of finals from Omaha is upon us, with five events on the docket, including three Olympic-qualifying finals. All five races will feature the reigning world champion.

Tonight will mark the lone session in which Caeleb Dressel will have a double this week, as the two-time Olympic gold medalist takes on the men’s 100 fly final and the 50 free semi.

Dressel could take a serious run at his world record in the 100 fly, finishing 26 one-hundredths off of his 2019 mark last night in a new U.S. Open Record of 49.76.

The race for the second Olympic spot in that event is very much up for grabs, with 2016 Olympic finalist Tom Shields coming in ranked second in 51.20.

In the 50 free, Dressel popped off the #1 time in the world this morning in 21.29, with Michael Andrew (21.72), Nathan Adrian (21.85) and Bowe Becker (21.94) joining him under 22 seconds.

The biggest star on the women’s side, Katie Ledecky, comes into tonight favored to win her fourth event of the meet in the 800 free, the event in which she is the two-time defending Olympic champion.

The race for second in the 800 could be a great one, with swimmers seeded second through seventh separated by just two and a half seconds in the heats. Sandpipers of Nevada teammates Bella Sims and Erica Sullivan, both unofficially already on the Olympic team, come in ranked second and third, respectively.

2019 world champion and world record holder Regan Smith leads the field into the women’s 200 back final, where the 19-year-old aims to add a third event to her individual program in Tokyo.

2021 NCAA champion Phoebe Bacon and 2018 Pan Pac champion Kathleen Baker, along with Alabama’s Rhyan White, are among those in the mix for the second spot. Smith and White will be the only two swimmers in the field already on the Olympic team.

Hali Flickinger has scratched the final after qualifying in eighth, moving Katharine Berkoff into the final.

The last event on the schedule will be the women’s 50 free semis, where all eyes will be on Simone Manuel as she hopes to qualify for her first final here in Omaha. Manuel looked much better in this morning’s heats than she did in the 100 free, qualifying second overall in 24.56, and should qualify for the final easily if she can match that time.

100 free winner Abbey Weitzeil paced the prelims in 24.50, and 100 fly champion Torri Huske was next up behind Manuel in 24.61.


  • World Record: Caeleb Dressel (USA) – 49.50 (2019)
  • American Record: Caeleb Dressel – 49.50 (2019)
  • US Open Record: Caeleb Dressel – 49.76 (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), 49.87
  2. Tom Shields (CAL), 51.19
  3. Luca Urlando (DART), 51.64

Caeleb Dressel scorched another sub-50 swim en route to winning the men’s 100 fly, clocking 49.87 to add just over a tenth to his U.S. Open mark of 49.76 set in the semis. The two-time reigning world champion’s time tonight is the sixth-fastest ever.

Dressel was a bit more aggressive opening up tonight, turning in 23.16 compared to 23.31 in the semis, but was about a quarter-second slower coming home (26.71).

The 22-year-old now owns eight of the 11-fastest swims in history, and five of the seven under 50 seconds.

  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. Caeleb Dressel (USA), 49.87 – 2021
  7. Milorad Cavic (SRB), 49.95 – 2009
  8. Milorad Cavic (SRB), 50.01 – 2009
  9. Caeleb Dressel (USA), 50.07 – 2017
  10. Caeleb Dressel (USA), 50.08 – 2017
  11. Caeleb Dressel (USA), 50.17 – 2021

Tom Shields, a 2016 Olympic finalist in this event, came through with a big performance to take second and qualify for his second straight Games, blasting out in 23.60 at the 50 before holding strong coming back for a final time of 51.19. Shields, 29, goes .01 faster than he did last night, marking his fastest swim in five years.

19-year-old Luca Urlando hit a lifetime best of 51.64 to take third, the same position he finished in the 200 fly, while Trenton Julian and Coleman Stewart both had slight adds to their best times from the semis to tie for fourth in 51.78.

With Dressel’s victory, all men that have finished second this week have officially qualified for the Olympics.


  • 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. Rhyan White (BAMA), 2:05.73
  2. Phoebe Bacon (WA), 2:06.46
  3. Regan Smith (RIPT), 2:06.79

In doubtedly the biggest upset of the meet, Rhyan White is the Olympic Trials winner in the women’s 200 backstroke and reigning world champion and world record holder Regan Smith won’t swim the event in Tokyo.

The top-four swimmers were tight through the first 150—Smith led the way, with White, Phoebe Bacon and Isabelle Stadden trailing close behind.

After Smith flipped first by two tenths at the final turn, White took off down the final 50. White pulled into the lead, and then all of a sudden, Bacon began moving past Smith down the stretch.

White, who trains at Alabama, ended up winning by a decisive 73 one-hundredths of a second, clocking 2:05.73 to demolish her previous best of 2:07.07 and become the third-fastest American woman of all-time. The 21-year-old also moves into third in the world this season.

White was by far the fastest closer in 31.96, and Bacon ended up being the only other swimmer in the field sub-33, as the rising Wisconsin sophomore came back in 32.67—more than half a second faster than Smith—to snag second in 2:06.46 and qualify for the Olympic team.

Bacon’s previous best time was a 2:06.84, set at Pro Swim Series meet in Indianapolis in May, where she notably out-touched Smith by a few one-hundredths.

Smith tied up coming home and finishes a shocking third in 2:06.79, more than three seconds off her world record set in 2019 (2:03.35). The 19-year-old will still have the 100 back and 200 fly to race in Tokyo.

Cal’s Stadden fell off the pace on the last 50 as well, ultimately taking fourth in 2:07.86, having set a PB of 2:07.28 last month.

Kathleen Baker misses out in her final opportunity to make the Olympic team, taking fifth in 2:08.78.


  • World Record: Katie Ledecky (USA) – 8:04.79 (2016)
  • American Record: Katie Ledecky – 8:04.79 (2016)
  • US Open Record: Katie Ledecky (USA) – 8:06.68 (2016)
  • World Junior Record: Katie Ledecky (USA) – 8:11.00 (2014)
  • 2016 Olympic Champion: Katie Ledecky (USA) – 8:04.79
  • 2016 US Olympic Trials Champion: Katie Ledecky – 8:10.32
  • Wave I Cut: 8:48.09
  • Wave II Cut: 8:44.01
  • FINA ‘A’ Cut: 8:33.36
  1. Katie Ledecky (NCAP), 8:14.62
  2. Katie Grimes (SAND), 8:20.36
  3. Haley Anderson (MVN), 8:20.51

It was a tale of two races in the women’s 800 free: Katie Ledecky versus the clock, and then the rest of the field battling for second.

Ledecky asserted herself early, taking off from the gun and running away with her fourth victory of the week in a time of 8:14.62, just under a second off her season-best of 8:13.64 set in March. The time for Ledecky, 24, falls just shy of the top-25 swims in history.

In an exciting race for the second spot, Bella SimsErica Sullivan and Haley Anderson all held the position at one point over the first 400 meters. Thing slowly began to separate, on the back-half, with 15-year-old Katie Grimes gradually moving through the field, turning third behind Ledecky and Anderson at the 700.

Grimes, swimming way out in Lane 8, was just a tenth back of Anderson with 50 to go, and made a huge charge down the last length, ultimately touching second in a time of 8:20.36 to Anderson’s 8:20.51. Anderson is almost double Grimes’ age (29 to 15).

Grimes becomes the third Sandpipers of Nevada female swimmer to qualify for the team this week, joining Sims (800 free relay) and Sullivan (1500 free). Grimes also smashed her previous best of 8:31.73 set in the prelims, and now ranks third all-time among 15-16s, trailing only Ledecky and Janet Evans.

Ally McHugh was sixth at the 500 but moved her way up to fourth at the end, edging out Sims (8:23.55) in 8:23.51. Sims, 16, lowers her best time down from 8:27.01 and is now ranks fourth among 15-16s.

Sullivan fell down to sixth in 8:24.02, but still chopped two seconds off her lifetime best.


  • World Record: Cesar Cielo (BRA) – 20.91 (2009)
  • American Record: Caeleb Dressel – 21.04 (2019)
  • US Open Record: Cesar Cielo (BRA) – 21.14 (2009)
  • World Junior Record: Michael Andrew (USA) – 21.75 (2017)
  • 2016 Olympic Champion: Anthony Ervin (USA) – 21.40
  • 2016 US Olympic Trials Champion: Nathan Adrian – 21.51
  • Wave I Cut: 23.19
  • Wave II Cut: 22.71
  • FINA ‘A’ Cut: 22.01
  1. Caeleb Dressel (RPC), 21.51
  2. Michael Andrew (RPC), 21.55
  3. Nathan Adrian (CAL), 21.78
  4. Bowe Becker (SAND), 21.83
  5. Justin Ress (WOLF), 21.91
  6. Adam Chaney (FLOR), 22.00
  7. Michael Chadwick (NCAC), 22.01
  8. David Curtiss (HACY), 22.07

Despite being just over half an hour out of his 100 fly victory, Caeleb Dressel had no problem in grabbing the top time of the night in the men’s 50 free semis, putting up a respectable 21.51 to edge out Michael Andrew‘s 21.55 from the previous heat.

Dressel, who blasted a 21.29 in the prelims, used his patented start to develop an instant lead on the field. Coming down the final few meters, Nathan Adrian appeared to be making up a bit of ground, with the veteran touching second in 21.78 to safely qualify third overall.

The swim for Andrew is the third-fastest of his career, and his fastest since 2018. Andrew won the Pan Pacific Championship title that year in what remains his PB of 21.46.

Adrian, who missed the final of the 100 free, swims his fastest time since 2016, a good sign heading to the final.

Bowe Becker broke 22 seconds for the first time this morning in 21.94, and goes even lower tonight, clocking 21.83 to qualify fourth and become the 18th-fastest American ever.

Joining Becker with his first sub-22 swim today was Wolfpack Elite’s Justin Ress, who hit 21.91 to dust his 22.15 from the semis and advance in fifth.

Adam Chaney also hit a best of 22.15 in the heats, and brings that down to 22.00 here to make the final in sixth, and two man who have been under 22 before, Michael Chadwick and David Curtiss round out the field.

Missing the final in a tie for 12th was Ryan Held, who came into the meet as the fastest American this season after hitting a lifetime best 21.62 in April. As a result, Held may miss qualifying for the Olympic team despite taking sixth in the 100 free, where the top-six swimmers are normally selected.

However, the U.S. cap on relay-only swimmers at the Games is 12, and with 13 currently in line to be added, Held is the odd swimmer out based on his 100 time being the lowest in the world rankings.

So the only way for Held to make the team would be if either Becker or Catie Deloof qualified in the 50 free tomorrow, making them no longer relay-only swimmers.


  • World Record: Sarah Sjostrom (SWE) – 23.67 (2017)
  • American Record: Simone Manuel – 23.97 (2017)
  • US Open Record: Simone Manuel (USA) – 24.10 (2018)
  • World Junior Record: Claire Curzan (USA) – 24.17 (2021)
  • 2016 Olympic Champion: Pernille Blume (DEN) – 24.07
  • 2016 US Olympic Trials Champion: Abbey Weitzeil – 24.28
  • Wave I Cut: 25.99
  • Wave II Cut: 25.65
  • FINA ‘A’ Cut: 24.77
  1. Abbey Weitzeil (CAL), 24.27
  2. Torri Huske (AAC), 24.45
  3. Simone Manuel (ALTO), 24.50
  4. Linnea Mack (TE), 24.54
  5. Erika Brown (TNAQ), 24.57
  6. Gretchen Walsh (NAC), 24.64
  7. Kate Douglass (UVA), 24.67
  8. Catie Deloof (CA-Y), 24.68

Five of the top-seven women in the 50 free semis came out of the second heat, led by Cal’s Abbey Weitzeil in a blazing-fast 24.27.

That time marks a new lifetime best for Weitzeil, as she chips .01 off her 24.28 that was used to win the 2016 Olympic Trials in this event.

The 24-year-old, who owns the American Record in both the short course yards and short course meters version of this event, had only been sub-24.5 once since 2016, going 24.47 at the 2019 World Championships. Weitzeil moves into a tie for eighth in the world this season.

Following Weitzeil in that heat was 100 fly winner Torri Huske, who was a single hundredth off her PB in 24.45. Next up was Linnea Mack, who was initially DQed for a false start in the prelims but had that result overturned. That slotted the 25-year-old into the semis, and she didn’t waste the opportunity as she steps up and drops three-tenths from her lifetime best in 24.54 to qualify fourth overall.

Winning the first semi was reigning world champion Simone Manuel, who clocks in at 24.50 for her fastest showing since 2019. Manuel took second to Weitzeil in this event at the 2016 Trials, and will need another top-two finish to get on her second Olympic team after missing the 100 free final.

Factoring in Weitzeil and Mack, five of the finalists hit a lifetime best in the semis. Erika Brown matched hers in 24.57, Gretchen Walsh dropped .01 in 24.64, and Catie Deloof dropped 12 one-hundredths in 24.68.

The eighth woman qualifying for the final is Kate Douglass, who is very much in the mix for a top finish tomorrow with her best time sitting at 24.54, set just last month. Already on the team in the 200 IM, Douglass went 24.67 to qualify seventh overall.

The fastest American this season, 16-year-old Claire Curzan, ends up finishing ninth in 24.76. Curzan swam a 15-16 National Age Group Record just over a month ago.

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3 years ago

anyone got a link that is free?

3 years ago

Does anyone know who the announcer was in person at trials commentating the prelims, semifinals and finals heats??? I can’t find it anywhere.

3 years ago

Predictions for tonight

Finke wins easily going 14:55, Brinegar goes 15:00 just out touching Jordan

Mens 50
Caeleb goes between 21.05 and 21.15, wins easily. Adrian and Mandrew are within .05 of each other between 21.3 and 21.5, I think Adrian out touches him at the end

Womens 50
Some combo of Brown/Weitzel/Huske, all under 24.3. My hope is Brown/Huske, but Abbey is not to be counted out, she’s had a phenomenal meet

Last edited 3 years ago by T S
steven Williams
3 years ago


3 years ago

If both Adrian and Manuel fail to qualify tonight, I think it can be safely said that this will have been the most shocking swimming Olympic Trials of all time.

Ol' Longhorn
3 years ago

I started getting suspicious between her gaunt look, her talking about how much she loves the 200 fly, and how overwhelmed she seemed after she won the 100 back.

Bobo Gigi
3 years ago


Mr Dressel is not a robot. Or he saves the new world record on purpose for Tokyo.
Still a monster time for him.
He’s the huge favorite for the gold.
The veteran Shields makes the team too. Great perseverance for him.

I didn’t expect to see Regan Smith miss the qualification. But is it really so surprising?
She’s clearly not in her best shape this year. For reasons we don’t know. Was she able to train as well as she wanted in the past year because of massive restrictions that affected certain US states much more than others? She looked very emotional… Read more »

Eric the Eel > Michael Phelps
3 years ago

The most overrated swimmers in the US (final version): 1) Farris 2) Casas 3) Fostah 4) Rooney 5) Urlando

Reply to  Eric the Eel > Michael Phelps
3 years ago

Give them time – especially Urlando and Foster

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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