2021 U.S. Olympic Trials: Women’s 200 IM Final Was Closest Finish In History


Day four’s finals session of the 2021 U.S. Olympic Trials Wave II saw the closest 200 IM final in U.S. Olympic Trials history. Four-hundredths of a second separated 1st place finisher Alex Walsh and 3rd place finisher Madisyn Cox.


  1. Alex Walsh (NAC), 2:09.30
  2. Kate Douglass (UVA), 2:09.32
  3. Madisyn Cox (TXLA), 2:09.34

Race Video:

The next closest 200 IM finish was at the 1972 U.S. Olympic Trials when Lynn Vidal took 1st place (2:24.46), Carolyns Woods placed 2nd (2:24.51) and Jennifer Bartz took 3rd (2:25.11).

They went on to compete at the 1972 Munich Olympics where Vidali won bronze with a time of 2:24.06 and Bartz placed 4th close behind (2:24.55). Woods ended up placing 8th (2:27.42). Remember that countries were allowed to send three swimmers per event to the Olympic Games before 1984.

This statistic was originally uncovered by Daniel Takata:

“So, despite being a very close race, there wasn’t much drama, as Vidali, Woods and Bartz qualified for the 1972 Olympics.

“Five years ago, at the 2016 Olympic Trials, Caitlin Leverenz missed the team in the 200 IM by a very tiny margin. She finished 3rd in 2:10.16, only 0.05 behind Melanie Margalis, who earned the second spot in the event.

“And that 0.05 was a margin even larger than we have seen this time in Omaha between the 1st and the 3rd places. A truly unbelievable race.”

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1 year ago

What a race!

1 year ago

Doug didn’t breath once under flags.

1 year ago

Hasnt Walsh been 2:08? I think she’ll clean up that last 15 meters for Tokyo.

If Kate continues to improve, she’s going to get a medal.

Reply to  Chris
1 year ago

Walsh went 2:08 in semis.

ACC fan
1 year ago

Cox breathed one stroke out of the finish. That cost her the spot.

Reply to  ACC fan
1 year ago

Damn people just stop with analyzing what costed her the spot… Walsh breathed one stroke away from the wall also and she won, and I don’t see people criticizing her for that. Does that mean you can breathe as much as you want as long as you win? Doesn’t seem logical to me. At the end of the day, I know there’s always something you can improve on in a race, but a small margin like 0.04 is something that you can’t always control.

Reply to  Justhereforfun
1 year ago

Agreed. It also could have been the length of their finger nails. At that margin, a lot of things could have explained it.

Reply to  Justhereforfun
1 year ago

This is sports. This is what people do. They look back at these close finishes and say “What could have swung it the other way?” That’s part of the draw of these message boards, just like any other sport. Arm chair quarterbacking, etc. If we want the sport to be more popular, we can’t get butt hurt about stuff like this.

If you watched that race and replay and didn’t cringe on the breath into the finish, I don’t know what to tell you. She doesn’t take that last breath, she almost certainly wins. That’s just the facts. It’s part of the story of the race. It’s not a personal attack on somebody.

This sport as a whole… Read more »

Little Mermaid
Reply to  Coach
1 year ago

YEA! just like if COVID was not part of this experience, things would be different for the entire meet! Now let’s see what they can do in Tokyo! We are suppose to be sending our best swimmers! this is it! Hey Now!

Mark Torres
1 year ago

2 UVA swimmers made the team in the same event! Pretty impressive!

1 year ago

For Kate to have come back after her close third place finish in the 100fly (.13 off) makes it that much more sweet!

1 year ago

Douglas’s last 3 strokes were insane. And if cox put her head down and stopped breathing she would have won.

Reply to  Megbert
1 year ago

her ability to mount comebacks is astonishing. She’s getting better and better with each big meet.

1 year ago

Absolutely heartbroken for madisyn

Reply to  Jesse
1 year ago

Especially after her career was temporarily derailed by tainted multivitamins triggering a positive drug test.

Reply to  Jesse
1 year ago

Me too, but at that level she should know better then to breath into her finish. Kate didn’t breath from flags in and I think that is the difference!

About Annika Johnson

Annika Johnson

Annika came into the sport competitively at age eight, following in the footsteps of her twin sister and older brother. The sibling rivalry was further fueled when all three began focusing on distance freestyle, forcing the family to buy two lap counters. Annika is a three-time Futures finalist in the 200 …

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