2022 US Trials Day 1 Roundup: NCAA Swimmers Performing Well So Far


With day one of the 2022 US International Team Trials completed, it’s time to take a look at some of the biggest take-aways from the day. 

NCAA Athletes Performing Well

With the US Trials meet falling relatively early in the calendar this year, there was some concern about how NCAA athletes would handle the quick turn-around between NCAAs and Trials. Well, it appears those concerns can be silenced, for the most part, as multiple NCAA athletes threw down big swims today. 

First, Stanford freshman Regan Smith threw down a fast time of 2:07.93 in the women’s 200 butterfly to claim a spot on the US roster in an event that she also contested at the 2020 Olympic Games. Then, in the men’s event, UGA swimmer Luca Urlando dropped a huge performance to claim a spot on his first senior-level US International roster, backing up his runner-up finish from NCAAs. Notably, Cal’s Trenton Julian also made his first US roster with his runner-up performance in the same race. 

The 100 freestyle also saw a slew of NCAA athletes qualify for Worlds, with Torri Huske taking an individual spot in the women’s race, Kate Douglass earning a 4×100 relay spot in the women’s race, Brooks Curry punching an individual spot in the men’s event, and Drew Kibler and Hunter Armstrong tying for 4th to earn relay spots for the men. 

Armstrong’s Ohio State teammate Charlie Clark also threw down a best time in the 1500 freestyle to claim a spot on his first US International roster. 

However, there were a few notable “misses” throughout the day’s action. IU’s Brendan Burns missed the A-final in the 200 butterfly, despite winning the NCAA title in the short course version of the event last month. In addition, UVA sprinter Gretchen Walsh missed the A-final of the 100 freestyle, an event in which she’s the reigning World Junior Champion. 

Overall, it’s fair to assume that the NCAA athletes handled transition fairly well. Though it is difficult to make assumptions this early in the meet, it’ll certainly be a storyline to follow. 

Gators Firing on All-Cylinders

The Florida Gators showed up to play. In 4 out of the 6 events contested tonight, Florida swimmers claimed spots on the World Championships Team, winning three of those races. 

After qualifying first in prelims, Natalie Hinds followed up her 100 freestyle performance with a 4th place finish in the final, punching her ticket to Worlds in the process. Florida also saw superstar Caeleb Dressel claim the top spot in the men’s race, posting the world’s fastest time this season with his 47.79. Dressel came in almost a half-second ahead of the field in the process. 

Then, in the distance races, Florida post-grads Katie Ledecky and Bobby Finke both managed to place first in their respective races. Ledecky, who is in her first season training at Florida under Anthony Nesty, posted her fastest 800 freestyle time since 2018 to win the event in a time of 8:09.27, the 6th fastest performance of all time. Finke, meanwhile, nearly downed the US Open record in the 1500 freestyle, only missing it by .2 to finish in a time of 14:45.72, which stands as the 3rd fastest time in the world this season. 

Veterans Reclaim Roster Spots

Last year’s Olympic Trials meet saw a changing of the guard in many events, where swimmers who had previously been a staple on US rosters missed the Olympic Team. This was the case for Mallory Comerford, Ryan Held, and Leah Smith, all of whom claimed their spots on the US World Championships roster today. 

Both Comerford and Held earned spots in the 100 freestyle as members of the 4×100 freestyle relay. Comerford was an essential piece of the US Women’s 4×100 freestyle relay from 2017-2019, which included a gold medal in the event at the 2017 World Championships. However, she had a poor showing at Olympic Trials last year, failing to advance out of the semi-finals of the 100 freestyle. Held, meanwhile, managed a 6th place finish in the 100 freestyle at Trials, which would have qualified for every US Olympic Team prior to 2020. However, due to roster limits, Held was cut from the Olympic roster, failing to repeat his gold medal-winning performance from 2016. 

Smith, like Comerford, struggled in her signature events at Trials. The 2016 Olympian finished 8th in the 200 freestyle, 3rd in the 400 freestyle, 10th in the 800 freestyle, and 4th in the 400 IM, ultimately missing her second Olympic Team. Since then, Smith has switched her training base to the University of Texas under Carol Capitani and Mitch Dalton, which appears to have worked for her as she finished as the runner up in the 800 freestyle, claiming a roster spot for Worlds. 

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Ol' Longhorn
7 months ago

Seems like just yesterday someone was commenting on how badly Huske died on her 100 fly in a local meet a couple weeks ago. Guess she and her coach knew what they were doing.

7 months ago

Comerford’s swims were so nice to see, however her spot is not guaranteed just yet. Just ask Ryan Held…

Reply to  Erik
7 months ago

17 events and two relays means 17 first places plus 3 and 3 swimmers to form 4×100 and 4×200 relays. That is already 23 swimmers of allowed 26. So it isn’t enough for all 15 left second places plus #5 and #6 for each freestyle relays. The only hope that there would be enough swimmers that get qualified in more than one event: Ledecky, King, Smith, Huske, Flickinger…. So 16 swimmers are in pending status and #6 for relays are the last ones in the line. Don’t see how they can make it.
I hope my arithmetic is correct.

7 months ago

Durden was criticized (or ridiculed) for a lackluster conference meet, with many placing the blame on Marsh, and it was clearly a calculated move to prep for peak performance at NCAAs and WC Trials. The Cal men swam very well today, and they weren’t the only college swimmers doing lifetime bests.

Last edited 7 months ago by coach
Reply to  coach
7 months ago

Julian, Lasco, Jett all with PBs today. Any other cal swimmers?

Reply to  coach
7 months ago

I followed Pac 12s pretty closely and I don’t remember much criticism of Durden for Cal’s performance? Maybe one or two commentators, but more responses saying they always save their best for NCs.

Ol' Longhorn
Reply to  coach
7 months ago

Durden’s always done the NCAA to trials turnaround better than anyone not named Eddie. His 2016 NCAA to OTs was sensationals.

About Nicole Miller

Nicole Miller

Nicole has been with SwimSwam since April 2020, as both a reporter and social media contributor. Prior to joining the SwimSwam platform, Nicole also managed a successful Instagram platform, amassing over 20,000 followers. Currently, Nicole is pursuing her B.S. in Biomedical Engineering at Worcester Polytechnic Institute. After competing for the swim …

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