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


Day 1 Finals Heat Sheet

After a wild first prelims session, we’re back for finals on Day 1 of U.S. Trials. The session features finals of the 200 butterfly and 100 freestyle, along with the fastest heats of the women’s 800 free and men’s 1500 free.

In the women’s 200 fly, Regan Smith looks fully in control, clocking the only sub-2:07 time (2:06.80) to lead the way through prelims. Behind her though, her Sun Devil teammate, veteran Hali Flickinger, is looking a little vulnerable sitting in sixth (2:08.64). That opens the door for swimmers like Dakota LutherAlex Shackell, and Kelly Pash to break through and make the 2023 Worlds team.

Carson Foster leads the way in the men’s 200 fly after swimming 1:54.30 in prelims. The big story is Thomas Heilman though, who dropped over a second and blazed his way to a 1:55.11 for second seed overall.

It’s going to be a bloodbath in both the women’s and men’s 100 freestyles. On the women’s side, Abbey Weitzeil continued her bounceback year, swimming a new personal best of 52.92. She wasn’t the only one sub-53 though–Kate Douglass cut about a second off her best with a 52.98. With Olivia Smoliga and Gretchen Walsh hitting lifetime bests in prelims as well, the top 4 swimmers heading into tonight all notched personal bests in prelims.

There was a lot of turnover in the men’s 100 free, as Caeleb Dressel, Brooks Curry, Hunter Armstrong, Kieran Smith, and Shaine Casas all missed out on the championship heat. Instead, there’s a crop of fast rising talent looking to qualify for their first Worlds team. That includes Jack Alexy, Destin Lascoand Matt King, who all broke 48 seconds for the first time this morning.

The distance races will feature Gator teammates and Olympic champions Katie Ledecky and Bobby Finke. Both are the strong favorites to win their respective races, but there’s close races shaping up for second behind them.



  • 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) — 2:05.79
  2. Lindsay Looney (SUN) — 2:07.35
  3. Dakota Luther (TXLA) — 2:07.86
  4. Kelly Pash (TXLA) — 2:08.13
  5. Alex Shackell (CSC) — 2:08.18
  6. Emma Sticklen (TXLA) — 2:08.28
  7. Hali Flickinger (SUN) — 2:08.32
  8. Tess Howley (LIAC) — 2:08.86

Coming into the meet, many were expecting a Sun Devil 1-2 in the women’s 200 fly in the form of Regan Smith and Hali Flickinger. We still got a Sun Devil 1-2, but it was Lindsay Looney who grabbed the second Worlds roster spot–her first senior international team. Looney was right on her personal best, hitting 2:07.35 as outside smoke in lane 1. This is one of the biggest signs we’ve had that the bleed-over of success from the ASU men to the women’s team is beginning.

Smith swam away from the field early, getting out faster than her American record pace in 59.08. She fell off her record pace, but the win was never in doubt for her as she clocked 2:05.79 for the win.

It was much more of a race for second, with Looney tearing home in 33.56 on the final 50 to pass Dakota Luther and Alex Shackell. Luther and Shackell both added from their morning swims, and finished third (2:07.86) and fifth (2:08.18). Like the Sun Devils, the Longhorns had three in this final but despite their depth they were locked out of the Worlds team.

Olympic and Worlds medalist Flickinger didn’t have her usual closing power and finished seventh in 2:08.32.


  • 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) — 1:54.32
  2. Thomas Heilman (CA-Y) — 1:54.54
  3. Zach Harting (CARD) — 1:55.12
  4. Trenton Julian (MVN) — 1:55.38
  5. Mason Laur (FLOR) — 1:55.67
  6. Jack Dahlgren (TRI) — 1:56.24
  7. Chase Kalisz (SUN) — 1:56.50
  8. Aiden Hayes (WOLF) — 1:58.29

It was a thrilling race in the men’s 200 fly. Carson Foster got out quick, along with Trenton Julian, who stuck to his typical racing style of going out fast and trying to hold on. At the 100-meter mark, Foster led in 53.30, with Julian just a hundredth behind.

At the 150, Foster had edged a bit further in front of Julian, turning in 1:23.03, but it was Thomas Heilman who was beginning to make his move behind the leaders. After a strong turn, Heilman began work reeling in Julian. The 16-year-old got even with and then passed Julian, beginning to push Foster for the lead.

The win went to Foster in 1:54.32, right on his morning swim. Heilman grabbed second and a roster spot with a blazing 1:54.54, breaking Michael Phelps’ 15-16 American boys NAG. He dropped another .57 seconds from the best he set in prelims, meaning that over the course of the day, he’s taken 1.98 seconds off his PB.

Julian faded to fourth (1:55.38), well off the 1:54.22 he swam at 2022 Trials. Olympian Zach Harting took third with a 1:55.12.


  • 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. Kate Douglass (NYAC) — 52.57
  2. Abbey Weitzeil (CAL) — 53.11
  3. Gretchen Walsh (NAC) — 53.14
  4. Olivia Smoliga (SUN) — 53.28
  5. Torri Huske (AAC) — 53.41
  6. Maxine Parker (CA-Y) — 53.51
  7. Bella Sims (SAND) — 53.73
  8. Catie DeLoof (NYAC) — 53.75

Kate Douglass was fourth at the halfway mark, but she powered home in a blistering 27.22 to secure the win in the women’s 100 freestyle in 52.57. It was a huge swim for Douglass, who now finds herself ranked fourth in the world this season after breaking 53 seconds for the first time in prelims. Prior to today, her lifetime best was a 53.99 but she clearly hasn’t skipped a beat transitioning to pro life after finishing a successful college career.

Her UVA teammates Gretchen Walsh and Maxine Parker also likely punched their tickets to Fukuoka by way of their third and sixth place finishes. It’s a huge moment for Walsh, who’ll be named to her first senior Worlds team after years of struggle. She earns her relay spot in lifetime best fashion, dropping five-tenths from the best she swam in prelims.

Olivia Smoliga also dropped more time en route to a relay spot. She finished fourth in 53.28, shaving another three-hundredths off her time.

Abbey Weitzeil added time after swimming a lifetime best 52.92 this morning, but her 53.11 was more than enough to get her back on the Worlds team after missing out last year. Finishing second also earns her the individual 100 free berth after Douglass.

Last year’s Worlds bronze medalist Torri Huske finished fifth (52.41), likely earning a spot on the 4×100 free relay.


  • 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. Jack Alexy (CAL) — 47.93
  2. Chris Guiliano (ND) — 47.98
  3. Matt King (TFA) — 47.99
  4. Destin Lasco (CAL) — 48.00
  5. Ryan Held (NYAC) — 48.08
  6. Justin Ress (MVN) — 48.18
  7. Macguire McDuff (FLOR) — 48.24
  8. Drew Kibler (CSC) — 48.42

Jack Alexy. Chris Guiliano. Matt King. Destin Lasco. That’s quite an unlikely 4×100 freestyle relay for the American men.

Alexy led the race from start to finish, flipping at the 50-meter mark in 22.61, with King following in 22.74. It was an incredibly tight race down the stretch, as the entire field was bunched together in the final meters. Alexy got his hand on the wall first with a winning time of 47.93, .18 seconds slower than his morning swim.

The real surprise was Notre Dame’s Guiliano grabbing second with a 47.89. That makes him the fifth man to dip under 48 seconds for the first time at these Trials. He entered the meet seeded 22nd with a 49.17, then moved to seventh with a 48.17 personal best. Now, he’s gone 47.98 and has secured an individual berth and a relay spot on the Worlds team.

King got under 48 seconds again, grabbing third in 47.99 just a hundredth ahead of Lasco. Lasco is primarily known for his backstroke and IM speed, but now he’s made his first Worlds team in a sprint freestyle event.

After posting the top time of the morning, Ryan Held was fifth in 48.08. Assuming he gets named to the Worlds roster for the relay later this week, he is the only swimmer from the men’s 4×100 free relay group to make it again this year.

In the ‘C’ final, Caeleb Dressel turned first at the 50, splitting 23.28. He seemed to hit a wall around 75-meters and ended up third in the heat in 49.64.


  • World Record: 8:04.79, Katie Ledecky (USA) — 2016
  • American Record: 8:04.79, Katie Ledecky — 2016
  • U.S. Open Record: 8:06.86, Katie Ledecky (USA) — 2016
  • Championship Record: 8:09.27, Katie Ledecky (USA) — 2022
  • World Aquatics ‘A’ Cut: 8:37.90
  • 2022 U.S. Trials Top 2 Time: 8:17.52
  • 2022 Worlds Medal Time: 8:19.00

Top 8:

  1. Katie Ledecky (GSC) — 8:07.07 (Championship Record)
  2. Jillian Cox (TXLA) — 8:20.28
  3. Claire Weinstein (SAND) — 8:21.00
  4. Leah Smith (TXLA) — 8:21.88
  5. Katie Grimes (SAND) — 8:23.78
  6. Kensey McMahon (BAMA) — 8:25.97
  7. Rachel Stege (ABSC) — 8:32.71
  8. Mariah Denigan (ISC) — 8:34.93

Unsurprisingly, it was all Katie Ledecky in the fastest heat of the women’s 800 freestyle. She sped away from the field for a new championship record of 8:07.07. That’s the third fastest swim of her career, her first time under 8:08 since 2018, and her fastest swim since 2016.

Behind her, Jillian Cox dropped ten second from her lifetime best, finishing second in 8:20.28. Her previous fastest time was a 8:30.38 from 2022 Junior Pan Pacs. With that swim, Cox becomes the ninth swimmer (including pending relay swimmers) to make their first senior Worlds team.

Cox held off a furious charge from 16-year-old Claire Weinstein, who swam a new best of 8:21.00 for third, beating last year’s second place finisher Leah Smith by just over eight-tenths. Katie Grimes finished further back from Weinstein and Smith in 8:23.78.

From the early heats, Rachel Stege held on for seventh overall in her new personal best of 8:32.71.


  • World Record: 14:31.02, Sun Yang (CHN) — 2012
  • American Record: 14:36.70, Bobby Finke — 2022
  • U.S. Open Record: 14:45.54, Peter Vanderkaay (USA) — 2008
  • Championship Record: 14:45.54, Peter Vanderkaay (USA) — 2008
  • World Aquatics ‘A’ Cut: 15:04.64
  • 2022 U.S. Trials Top 2 Time: 14:51.78
  • 2022 Worlds Medal Time: 14:36.94

Top 8:

  1. Bobby Finke (SPA) — 14:42.81
  2. Charlie Clark (OSU) — 14:50.84
  3. Will Gallant (WOLF) — 15:02.63
  4. David Johnston (TXLA) — 15:03.85
  5. Levi Sandidge (KYA) — 15:09.75
  6. Alec Enyeart (TST) — 15:12.71
  7. Luke Ellis (SAND) — 15:17.92
  8. Nathan Sozobota (NOVA) — 15:18.13

Like his Gator teammate Ledecky in the women’s 800 free, Bobby Finke earned a decisive win in the men’s 1500 free. He swam new U.S. Open and Championship records with his winning time of 14:42.81, which is also good for fifth in the world this season.

The U.S. is sending the same pair to 2023 Worlds that they did last year as Charlie Clark finished second. Clark swam a new personal best in 14:50.84, dropping from the 14:51.78 he clocked at 2022 Trials. There was a gap between him and Finke, and another gap between him and the next wave of swimmers. Will Gallant was third in 15:02.63, passing David Johnston who finished fourth with a 15:03.85.

After dropping 20 seconds off his personal best during the earlier distance session, Levi Sandidge earns fifth in 15:09.75. That’s a similar time drop to what he did in the 1650 freestyle this season as a freshman at Kentucky. Three swimmers from the distance session ended up in the top 8. Along with Sandidge, Luke Ellis and Nathan Sozobota finished seventh and eighth.

In the final heat, Matthew Chai was disqualified for a false start.

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5 months ago

Isn’t it crazy that Matt Biondi’s 100 free time from 1988 could STILL be a top 8 time today?! Different blocks, grab start, no cap, no dolphin kicks……what could someone like him have done in today’s conditions?

5 months ago

DQ for a false start on the 1500 ….. uuuuuugh

5 months ago

HOOS with 3/6 relay spots

5 months ago

And just to think huske was less than .1 off her time from last years trials then she went to lead off 52.9 on the relay, weitzel know to split 52.6 on 2nd leg and with with Douglass massive drop (smoligia or Walsh in finals or will huske be out) I still truly believe they can beat Australia

Reply to  Swimfan
5 months ago

They certainly have a better shot now than they did 24 hours ago. I’d definitely go with Huske and Weitzel at 1 and 2, and anchor with Douglas. 3rd spot is up for grabs

Awsi Dooger
5 months ago

There were commenters here who were insisting that Regan Smith would be favored over Summer McIntosh at 200 butterfly. As I emphasized at the time, no chance. Power ratings do not work that way. The public overreacts to recency while power ratings are foundational.

In particular there’s never going to be substantial movement against a prodigy. Wise guys would pounce all over that. I remember it happening early in Tiger Woods’ career. Late ’90s every time a recent development made Tiger appear vulnerable, the wise guys would storm in and bet the heck out of his overly favorable matchup odds. The sportsbooks quickly wised up.

Reply to  Awsi Dooger
5 months ago

Summer has already been beaten at the world stage by swimmers who at that time had better PBs than her in that particular event (by Titmus and Ledecky in the 400 free). There are no unbeaten prodigies in swimming. Her improvement in the 200 fly compared to her improvement in her other main events was minimal this year. Regan Smith dropped 1.5 seconds from her PB as a 21 year old, and her PB is about a second faster than Summer’s. These are facts. So let me reiterate as one of those commenters: there is a chance. Not saying it’s more likely than Summer winning, but still.

5 months ago

I can’t believe the prelims article got more comments lmao

5 months ago

Life is sad as a Ryan Held fan 🙁

5 months ago

can you qualify from the B final?

Reply to  rsgnsf
5 months ago

For (senior) Worlds? No. For the other three meets? Potentially.

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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