2021 US Olympic Trials: All Eyes on Michael Andrew in Men’s 100 Breaststroke

See all of our U.S. Olympic Trials previews & picks here.


Men’s 100 Breast

  • World Record: Adam Peaty (GBR) – 56.88 (2019)
  • American Record: Kevin Cordes – 58.64 (2017)
  • US Open Record: Michael Andrew (USA) – 58.67 (2021)
  • World Junior Record: Nicolo Martinenghi (ITA) – 59.01 (2017)
  • 2016 Olympic Champion: Adam Peaty (GBR) – 57.13
  • 2016 US Olympic Trials Champion: Kevin Cordes – 59.18
  • Wave I Cut: 1:03.29
  • Wave II Cut: 1:01.97

The men’s 100 breaststroke has been one of the most volatile events on Team USA’s roster since three-time Olympian Brendan Hansen‘s retirement following the London 2012 Olympics.

Kevin Cordes, a former NCAA all-star and heir apparent to Hansen, won the 100 breaststroke and placed 2nd in the 200 at the 2016 Olympic Trials. Though he failed to win an individual medal in either race at the Games, he left Rio with a gold medal by way of a prelims swim on the 400 medley relay. Cordes had a big year in 2017, lowering the American Record in the 100 breast and picking up world silver in the process in Budapest, along with another gold from the medley relay. In 2018, however, Cordes was ousted as top-dog in the men’s 100 breast by younger U.S. competitors.

Enter Michael Andrew. At U.S. Nationals in 2018, Andrew lead a tight field to win the men’s 100 breaststroke and punch his ticket to the Pan Pacific Championships in Tokyo. 2018 was a breakout year for Andrew–he won 4 national titles as well as gold in the 50 free at Pan Pacs. Though Andrew did not win any individual medals at the FINA World Championships in South Korea the following summer in 2019. So far in 2021, Andrew has been on fire, lowering the U.S. Open Record in the 100 LCM breaststroke at the Indianapolis stop of the Pro Swim Series, notching a time of 58.67, just 0.03 shy of Cordes’ 2017 American Record.

Andrew is a quarter-second faster than the next-best American competitor (Wilson, 58.93) since the qualification period for Tokyo began in late 2018. Given his recent improvements in multiple disciplines, Michael Andrew is the man to beat at U.S. Olympic Trials in June.

Andrew Wilson, who finished just 0.05 behind Andrew at U.S. Nationals in 2018, also earned himself a trip to Pan Pacs and later a spot on Team USA’s roster for the 2019 FINA World Championships in Gwangju. In 2019, Wilson out-performed Andrew in the 100 breast to earn the coveted relay spot in finals where the U.S. took silver–a disappointment, though Wilson’s 58.65 split was a highlight of the relay.

Both men are looking to make their first Olympic team, and the 100 breaststroke will be the first race for each of them. Wilson will only race the 100 and 200 breaststrokes in Omaha, whereas Andrew is expected to take on a minimum of four events. In any case, they should both be fresh for the 100 breaststroke as it comes early in the schedule.

2016 Olympic medalist and YouTube star Cody Miller will also focus exclusively on breaststroke at Olympic Trials this summer. Miller was strong throughout 2019 and 2020 and has posted multiple 1:00 performances in his signature event in 2021, though at 29-years-old he will be one of the oldest in the field. In order for Miller to make a second Olympic team he is going to need to be at or near his lifetime best and former American Record time of 58.87.

In 2016, Nic Fink placed 7th in both the 100 and 200 breaststroke at Olympic Trials, though he will enter the 2021 meet as one of America’s top contenders for a top-2 finish in the 100 breaststroke. Having been a 59.52 in May at the 2021 Atlanta Classic, Fink is clearly primed and a threat, despite being at the upper end of the age spectrum among his competitors. Fink’s momentum in 2021 is complemented by the American Records he broke in the SCM pool during the 2020 ISL season, despite having to contend with a double wrist injury.

Brandon Fischer is the only 30-something in the conversation to make the U.S. Olympic Team in the men’s 100 breaststroke. Having been 59.86 in 2019 at age 30, Fischer proved his comeback is one to be taken seriously. Even so, placing top-2 will likely require a significant drop in time from Fischer–but hey, David Plummer made his first Olympic team in the 100 backstroke in 2016 at the age of 30.

(Photo by Mike Comer/NCAA Photos via Getty Images)

Hot off two NCAA titles, Max McHugh has both the front-end speed and endurance to be dangerous in long course, though his current lifetime best in the 100 breaststroke sits at a 1:00.99. McHugh is yet to have a breakout performance in long course, though he would be far from the first swimmer to “make a name for himself” among swimming’s quadrennial viewership with a couple of big swims and an Olympic berth in Omaha.

Second to McHugh in each breaststroke at NCAAs was Cal’s Reece Whitley, the 2019 U.S. National champion in the 200 breaststroke. Whitley has been on the verge of breaking the 1:00 barrier in the 100 since 2017, and after some big improvements in the yards pool, including a 1:48.53 in the 200 yard breaststroke, 2021 could finally be Whitley’s year to make a major U.S. team.

Former NCAA standouts Josh Prenot and Will Licon should also be part of the conversation for an appearance in the final of the 100 breast at Olympic Trials. Prenot and Licon placed 3rd and 8th, respectively, at Trials in 2016, with Prenot going on to win the 200 breaststroke and the silver medal in the 200 in Rio. Neither swimmer, however, has made much noise in the 100 breaststroke lately, both being 200-meter specialist. We’ll keep these two on our radar for the 100, though they will be much stronger contenders in the 200.

One more name who could make waves in either breaststroke: 2019 World Junior championships silver medalist Josh Mathenywho went 1:00.17 at that junior meet nearly two years ago. Matheny just recently swam an in-season 1:00.3 a few months ago and should be a finals contender at age 18.

Despite winning the 2019 U.S. National Championship in the 100 LCM breaststroke, Devon Nowicki hasn’t graced a heat sheet or meet results in all of 2021 (that we are aware of). Though he went 59.48 in 2018, and won Summer Nationals in 2019 in a 59.69, Nowicki’s absence from competition will keep him off our radar for now.

Projected Finish Swimmer Lifetime Best Qualifying Period Best
1 Michael Andrew 58.67 58.67
2 Nic Fink 59.40 59.52
3 Andrew Wilson 58.93 58.93
4 Cody Miller 58.87 59.24
5 Max McHugh 1:00.99 1:00.99
6 Reece Whitley 1:00.05 1:00.05
7 Kevin Cordes 58.64 1:00.04
8 Brandon Fischer 59.86 59.86

Dark Horse:
 Daniel Roy. Though a 200 specialist, Roy posted a 1:01.19 at U.S. Nationals in 2019, and has plenty of experience racing every swimmer mentioned in this article. Having lowered National Age Group Records set by Whitley and a steady improvement in both the 100 and 200, Roy has a great shot at making the final at Olympic Trials in both breaststrokes.

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Fischer Fan
1 year ago

I respect all athlete’s, however rooting for Brandon Fischer. His story is incredible and unique, and this is his 4th Olympic Trials and he has been training for over 20 years and been through a lot of hardship that many don’t know about in the process. We shall see!

1 year ago

Corded is still swimming right? I am surprised he isn’t listed in your top 8

Anything he swims
1 year ago

Uh, All eyes are on Dressel…

Reply to  Anything he swims
1 year ago

If they are, then everyone is going to miss a hell of a race in the men’s 100 breaststroke.

1 year ago

It’s gotta be the controversial USRPT kid who turned pro at 14 and the D3-bred stud who was 59 in yards in high school. That would make my day.

1 year ago

Rooting for Andrew Wilson just because the success story of barely walking onto d3 is just one of a kind. Wanna see that Olympic team berth and hopefully medley relay gold.

But it’ll be really hard. Fink and MA look real good and there’s so many others who could surprise.

1 year ago

How much do you think Max McHugh weighs? He’s an absolute unit.

Marcy Spann
1 year ago

i’m manifesting that our most charming US swimmer Cody Miller will have a great meet and sneaks up to make one of the breaststroke spots in either the 100 or 200

1 year ago

Sleeping on my guy Raunak Khosla. Went 1:01.5 with a gigantic beard at the last PSS, thinking hell be sub-59 once the taper hits.

About Reid Carlson

Reid Carlson

Reid Carlson originally hails from Clay Center, Kansas, where he began swimming at age six.  At age 14 he began swimming club year-round and later with his high school team, making state all four years.  He was fortunate enough to draw the attention of Kalamazoo College where he went on to …

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