2023 U.S. Trials: Day 1 Prelims Live Recap


Day 1 Prelims Heat Sheet 

It’s time: the 2023 U.S. National Championships have finally arrived. The meet kicks off with prelims of the 200 butterfly and the 100 freestyle, followed by the slower heats of the women’s 800 free and men’s 1500 free.

Regan Smith is riding a huge wave of momentum into Indianapolis. She starts her meet off with the 200 butterfly, which she now owns the American and U.S. Open record in after blasting 2:03.87 at the Sun Devil Open a few weeks ago. She’s favorite in the race, but this could be a very busy week for her so don’t expect fireworks in this first session. Also looking to set themselves up for finals are her Sun Devil teammates Hali Flickinger and Lindsay Looney as well as Longhorn teammates Dakota Luther and Kelly Pash.

In the men’s race, Carson Foster aims to get his busy meet started on the right note. He’ll face 200 butterfly specialists like Zach HartingTrenton Julianand Gabriel Jett.

The women’s 100 freestyle will look different with American record holder Simone Manuel skipping Trials, but there’s still plenty of women vying for a Fukuoka berth. Topping the psych sheet is Torri Huske and Abbey Weitzeil. Weitzeil is the only American woman who has broken 54 seconds this season, and she’s done it six times in 2023.

The men’s 100 freestyle will be our first look at what kind of form Caeleb Dressel brought to Indianapolis. Around him, the competition in the event is heating up, as fast rising stars look to unseat veterans for the relay slots and individual 100 free berths. With names like  Ryan Held, Brooks Curry, Hunter Armstrongand Drew Kibler in the mix, the men’s 100 free is shaping up to be a free-for-all–the kind where swimmers will have to be at their very best in the morning to even get a shot at the Worlds team tonight.


Women’s 200 Butterfly — Heats

  • World Record: 2:01.81, Liu Zige (CHN) — 2009
  • American Record: 2:03.87, Regan Smith — 2023
  • U.S. Open Record: 2:03.87, Regan Smith (USA) — 2023
  • Championship Record: 2:05.85, Hali Flickinger (USA) — 2021
  • World Aquatics ‘A’ Cut: 2:09.21
  • 2022 U.S. Trials Top 2 Time: 2:07.93
  • 2022 Worlds Medal Time: 2:06.32

Top 8:

  1. Regan Smith (SUN) — 2:06.80
  2. Dakota Luther (TXLA) — 2:07.55
  3. Alex Shackell (CSC) — 2:07.95
  4. Kelly Pash (TXLA) — 2:08.40
  5. Emma Sticklen (TXLA) — 2:08.61
  6. Hali Flickinger (SUN) — 2:08.64
  7. Lindsay Looney (SUN) — 2:08.67
  8. Tess Howley (LIAC) — 2:09.07

Regan Smith took care of business this morning, looking controlled as she posted the top time of the morning in 2:06.80. Smith was out at the 100 in 59.69, just .11 seconds off her American and U.S. Open record pace (59.58). She came back in 1:07.11, easily holding off a late charge from Emma Sticklen in the final circle seeded heat.

The Longhorn trio of Sticklen, Dakota Luther, and Kelly Pash all made it safely back for the championship final. Luther qualified second with a 2:07.55, which is just over half a second off her personal best 2:07.02 from 2022 U.S. Nationals. As expected, Pash turned on the jets on the final 50 meters, splitting 33.83 to finish two-tenths off her personal best in 2:08.40.

The penultimate heat was all Alex Shackell. The Carmel swimmer blazed a new personal best of 2:07.95. That moves her up to fifth all-time among 15-16 year old American girls, bypassing Cassidy Bayer‘s 2:07.97 from 2016. Shackell had vaulted up to sixth earlier this season, with a 2:08.68 at the Indy Spring Cup.

Olympic and Worlds medalist Hali Flickinger moved through to the final in sixth with a 2:08.64, slower than she was in both prelims and finals of the Sun Devil Open. Lindsay Looney clocked 2:08.67, qualifying seventh and becoming the third Sun Devil in the final, matching the three Longhorns.

Men’s 200 Butterfly — Heats

  • World Record: 1:50.34, Kristof Milak (HUN) — 2022
  • American Record: 1:51.51, Michael Phelps — 2009
  • U.S. Open Record: 1:52.20, Michael Phelps (USA) — 2008
  • Championship Record: 1:52.20, Michael Phelps (USA) — 2008
  • World Aquatics ‘A’ Cut: 1:56.71
  • 2022 U.S. Trials Top 2 Time: 1:54.22
  • 2022 Worlds Medal Time: 1:53.61

Top 8:

  1. Carson Foster (RAYS) — 1:54.30
  2. Thomas Heilman (CA-Y) — 1:55.11
  3. Zach Harting (CARD) — 1:55.48
  4. Jack Dahlgren (TRI) — 1:55.72
  5. Mason Laur (FLOR) — 1:55.97
  6. Trenton Julian (MVN) — 1:56.38
  7. Chase Kalisz (SUN) — 1:56.44
  8. Aiden Hayes (WOLF) — 1:56.71

Carson Foster easily posted the top time of the morning in the men’s 200 fly. He was out in 53.67 at the 100, then split 1:00.63 on the back half for a 1:54.30–the only swimmer under 1:55 this morning.

16-year-old Thomas Heilman had a massive swim in heat 4, stopping the clock at 1:55.11. He dropped 1.41 seconds from his previous best of 1:56.52 from last summer and moved up to #2 on the American boys 15-16 all-time list, passing both Luca Urlando and Andrew Seliskar. Now, only Michael Phelps has been faster at his age, with the NAG standing at 1:54.58 from 2001.

Olympian Zach Harting qualified third with a season-best 1:55.48, and last year’s Worlds semifinalist Trenton Julian is safely through in sixth (1:56.38)

NCAA swimmers Jack Dahlgren, Mason Laurand Aiden Hayes all posted lifetime bests to qualify for the championship final. Dahlgren leads the way among those three with a 1:55.72, cutting over a second from his personal best.

Women’s 100 Freestyle — Heats

  • World Record: 51.71, Sarah Sjostrom (SWE) — 2017
  • American Record: 52.04, Simone Manuel — 2019
  • U.S. Open Record: 52.54, Simone Manuel (USA) — 2018
  • Championship Record: 52.54, Simone Manuel (USA) — 2018
  • World Aquatics ‘A’ Cut: 54.25
  • 2022 U.S. Trials Top 4 Time: 53.65
  • 2022 Worlds Medal Time: 52.92

Top 8:

  1. Abbey Weitzeil (CAL) — 52.92
  2. Kate Douglass (NYAC) — 52.98
  3. Olivia Smoliga (SUN) — 53.31
  4. Gretchen Walsh (NAC) — 53.64
  5. Torri Huske (AAC) — 53.67
  6. Catie Deloof (NYAC) — 53.91
  7. Maxine Parker (CA-Y) — 54.15
  8. Bella Sims (SAND) — 54.18

Since January, it’s seemed like Abbey Weitzeil is coming back in a big way this year. She wasted no time in the women’s 100 free prelims this morning, swimming a lifetime best 52.92 for the fastest qualifying time. It’s her second time sub-53 seconds, bettering the 52.99 she swam at the Olympics.

She wasn’t the only one to get under 53 seconds this morning though. Kate Douglass had a fantastic morning swim, posting 52.98 to drop more than a second off her lifetime best. With Weitzeil and Douglass leading the way ahead of Olivia Smoliga and Gretchen Walsh, this is shaping up to be a very exciting championship race. Walsh swam a personal best of her own, hitting 53.64 to get under her previous best of 53.74.

Notably, Torri Huske was the only one from last year’s top four finishers to make it back for the ‘A’ final. Claire Curzan, Natalie Hinds, and Erika Brown, all missed out, finishing 15th, 16th, and 25th respectively. Huske won bronze in this event at Worlds last year, and she’s made it through to the final in fifth with a 53.67.

Men’s 100 Freestyle — Heats

  • World Record: 46.86, David Popovici (ROU) — 2022
  • American Record: 46.96, Caeleb Dressel — 2019
  • U.S. Open Record: 47.39, Caeleb Dressel/Ryan Held — 2021/2019
  • Championship Record: 47.39, Caeleb Dressel/Ryan Held — 2021/2019
  • World Aquatics ‘A’ Cut: 48.51
  • 2022 U.S. Trials Top 4 Time: 48.25
  • 2022 Worlds Medal Time: 47.71

Top 8:

  1. Ryan Held (NYAC) — 47.63
  2. Jack Alexy (CAL) — 47.75
  3. Destin Lasco (CAL) — 47.87
  4. Matt King (TFA) — 47.93
  5. Macguire McDuff (FLOR) — 48.08
  6. Justin Ress (MVN) — 48.14
  7. Chris Giuliano (ND) — 48.17
  8. Drew Kibler (CSC) — 48.37

Uh, okay. That was a wild finish to the session, as there’s been a sort of changing of the guard. Let’s start with who did make it back.

No one wasted anytime getting after it this morning, as it took a 48.37 to make it back for the ‘A’ final. For context, last year it was a 48.73. Ryan Held leads the way, throwing down a 47.63 in the penultimate heat. That seems to be good for fifth in the world so far this year. It’s also faster than he went at last year’s World Championships and less than three-tenths from his shared U.S. Open and Championship record.

The Cal men showed up in this event, with Jack Alexy and Destin Lasco holding down the second and third fastest times this morning–47.75 and 47.87, respectively. Both their swims were lifetime bests, and marked their first swims sub-48 seconds. Alexy held a previous best of 48.69 from Olympic Trials, and Lasco dropped from a 48.75 at 2022 U.S. Nationals.

Matt King, Macguire McDuffand Chris Giuliano also swam lifetime bests by a considerable margin. King joined the sub-48 second club for the first time as well, dropping from 48.33 to 47.93. McDuff just missed becoming the fifth man under that barrier, dropping more than a second off his previous best of 49.06.

Drew Kibler rounded out the top eight with a 48.37. He and Held are the only ones from the top four finishers in 2022 to make it back for the championship heat this evening.

So then, onto the misses. Caeleb Dressel never seemed to get going from lane four in the final heat. He was last in the heat, stopping the clock at 49.42. He finished 29th, missing finals entirely. Two other big names to miss the final are Brooks Curry and Hunter Armstrong, who were second and fourth last year. Curry finished 11th (48.63) and Armstrong was 12th (48.65).

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VA Steve
5 months ago


5 months ago

Alex Shackell for second? I really want to pick the upset special of the evening.

5 months ago

1st night of finals coming, will we see 1,500 comments?

Miss M
5 months ago

I thought I’d be ok to sleep through prelims with all of the interesting stuff happening in the finals – how wrong I was!

What a fabulous morning of swimming. The women’s 100 free was particularly impressive. We often talk about the Australian trials having similar quality and depth of a world level meet and today the US showed up big time in the same way. So keen to see how they back up in the final. I’d still back the Aussies in the 4×100 but it’s shaping up to be much closer.

Was hoping for more from Dressell, but not really totally surprised given his time out of the water. Really hope he bounces back.

Would love to see… Read more »

Ol' Longhorn
5 months ago

If you know you’re going to suck because of lack of fitness or whatever, why enter a time almost 2 seconds better than you know you’re capable of and take up the number 1 seed? Really screws the seeding and then exposes you as wearing no clothes. Kinda disrepectful to all the guys who were prepared.

Reply to  Ol' Longhorn
5 months ago

That doesn’t bother me, personally.

Steve Nolan
Reply to  Braden Keith
5 months ago

Yeah of all the weird moves people pull at swim meets, using an actual time as a seed time doesn’t seem very objectionable.

Reply to  Ol' Longhorn
5 months ago

seeding in prelims is really not that big of a deal

Reply to  Ol' Longhorn
5 months ago

What’s the problem 🤷‍♂️

5 months ago

Does the Steinway fall on Trenton Julian tonight?

Alice Wright Belknap
5 months ago

GO Zach Harting, a Cardinal that can fly over the water super fast >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

5 months ago

Thumbs down on my comment does not explain yourself. It reinforces it. Stand up and give rationale. Your responses today only explain bias not insight.

Reply to  Retiredswimcoach
5 months ago

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About Sophie Kaufman

Sophie Kaufman

Sophie grew up in Boston, Massachusetts, which means yes, she does root for the Bruins, but try not to hold that against her. At 9, she joined her local club team because her best friend convinced her it would be fun. Shoulder surgery ended her competitive swimming days long ago, …

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