2023 U.S. Trials: Day 4 Prelims Live Recap


Day 4 Prelims Heat Sheet

There’s just three events on tap for this prelims session on Day 4 of U.S. Trials: the 400 freestyle, 100 breaststroke, and 100 backstroke. Given how fast this meet has been though, that doesn’t mean that there won’t be any surprises. All of these heats should set up for some intriguing races in finals as well.

Two of the women’s events have a clear favorite: Katie Ledecky in the 400 free, and Regan Smith in the 100 back. Behind them though, there’s tight races shaping up for second. Veteran Leah Smith looks to make the team in the 400 free for the second straight year. She’ll have to fend off a quartet of teenagers: Erin Gemmell, Bella Sims, Katie Grimes, and Claire Weinsteinthe latter of whom ran down Ledecky in the 200 free.

The women’s 100 backstroke will see Claire Curzan try to set herself up to punch her ticket to Worlds in finals. Katharine Berkoff, Isabelle Stadden, and Rhyan White (just to name a few) are also aiming for that spot.

In the third women’s race, Lilly King and Lydia Jacoby will get ready to go head-to-head in finals.

On the men’s side, Carson Foster is on the heat sheet for the 400 free, adding some intrigue to the race. Foster has been swimming very well so far in Indianapolis–if he swims the race, he could be in a position to dethrone more established names in that event like Kieran Smith or Jake Mitchell.

Nic Fink headlines the 100 breast, while there are plenty of rising stars aiming to get under a minute for the first time. One who has is Josh Matheny, who’s aiming to double up in the breaststroke events.

Finally, Hunter Armstrong is still looking to secure a spot on the Worlds roster. He’s best remaining chance is the 100 backstroke, which he won last year. Ryan Murphy is a perennial strong contender there, and Destin Lasco has shown his excellent form already.


Women’s 400 Freestyle — Heats

  • World Record: 3:56.08, Summer McIntosh (CAN) — 2023
  • American Record: 3:56.46, Katie Ledecky — 2016
  • U.S. Open Record: 3:57.94, Katie Ledecky (USA) — 2018
  • Championship Record: 3:58.44, Katie Ledecky (USA) — 2017
  • World Aquatics ‘A’ Cut: 4:10.57
  • 2022 U.S. Trials Top 2 Time: 4:03.15
  • 2022 Worlds Medal Time: 4:02.08

Top 8:

  1. Katie Ledecky (GSC) — 4:01.88
  2. Claire Weinstein (SAND) — 4:06.79
  3. Leah Smith (TXLA)– 4:07.31
  4. Erin Gemmell (NCAP)/Bella Sims (SAND) — 4:07.96
  5. (tie)
  6. Cavan Gormsen (LIAC) — 4:09.14
  7. Kensey McMahon (BAMA) — 4:09.30
  8. Paige Madden (NYAC) — 4:09.72

Times wise, it was a relatively quiet morning in the women’s 400 freestyle. The top eight, with the exception of Paige Madden, all added from their seed times. Claire Weinstein was the closest, finishing second in 4:06.79, just .55 seconds off her seed. This is Madden’s first ‘A’ final of the meet, after she was 11th in prelims of the 200 free.

As expected, Katie Ledecky took control in the last heat of the event, cruising to a 4:01.88 to lead the field by almost five seconds. The main question heading into finals is who’s going to be joining her in this event in Fukuoka as Weinstein, Leah SmithBella Sims, and Erin Gemmell are separated by just over a second.

Smith won heat six in 4:07.31, ahead of Sims. Sims clocked 4:07.96, which ties her with Gemmell for fourth seed heading into the final tonight.

The biggest surprise is who isn’t in the ‘A’ final. Katie Grimes, one of the favorites in this event heading into the meet, added five seconds from her seed time to finish 10th in 4:10.25, qualifying for the ‘B’ final behind Jillian Cox (4:09.81).

Men’s 400 Freestyle — Heats

  • World Record: 3:40.07, Paul Biedermann (GER) — 2009
  • American Record: 3:42.78, Larsen Jensen — 2008
  • U.S. Open Record: 3:43.53, Larsen Jensen (USA) — 2008
  • Championship Record: 3:43.53, Larsen Jensen (USA) — 2008
  • World Aquatics ‘A’ Cut: 3:48.15
  • 2022 U.S. Trials Top 2 Time: 3:46.93
  • 2022 Worlds Medal Time: 3:43.31

Top 8:

  1. Ross Dant (WOLF) — 3:48.50
  2. Kieran Smith (RAC) — 3:48.81
  3. Rex Maurer (ROSE) — 3:48.97
  4. David Johnston (TXLA) — 3:49.07
  5. Aaron Shackell (CSC) — 3:49.19
  6. Luke Hobson (TXLA)/Jake Mitchell (FLOR) — 3:49.25
  7. (tie)
  8. James Plage (WOLF) — 3:49.87

Last year, it took 3:52.98 to make it back to the championship final in the men’s 400 free. Now, it takes 3:49.87. The final has two representatives from NC State, two from Texas, two from Florida, and two club swimmers.

Ross Dant leads the field, posting 3:48.50 as the top time of the morning. Dant was third in this event last year (3:47.11) and has put himself in a solid position to make his first Worlds team. His teammate James Plage will be in lane 8, sneaking into the final by breaking 3:50 for the first time in his career.

The two Gators–also the two Tokyo Olympians in this event–Kieran Smith and Jake Mitchell, are holding down second and sixth overall. Smith won the penultimate heat, holding off Mitchell, David Johnston, and Luke Hobson. The two Longhorns, Johnston and Hobson, both logged personal best times here in the heats. Johnston clocked 3:49.07 and Hobson’s tied with Mitchell at 3:49.25. That knocks over half a second off both their bests.

The two juniors, Rex Maurer and Aaron Shackell both had big swims. Maurer moved up ninth by our count in the American boys’ 17-18 rankings. He’s running third in 3:48.97, dropping about a second from his best. Shackell took over 3 seconds off his seed time to break 3:50 for the first time.

In the earlier heats, Luka Mijatovic lowered his own 13-14 NAG for the third time this season, hitting 3:55.74.

There were two notable no shows in the final heat. Both Carson Foster and Jake Magahey did not swim.

Women’s 100 Breaststroke — Heats

  • World Record: 1:04.13, Lilly King (USA) — 2016
  • American Record: 1:04.13, Lilly King — 2016
  • U.S. Open Record: 1:04.45, Jessica Hardy (USA) — 2009
  • Championship Record: 1:04.72, Lilly King (USA) — 2021
  • World Aquatics ‘A’ Cut: 1:07.35
  • 2022 U.S. Trials Top 2 Time: 1:06.12
  • 2022 Worlds Medal Time: 1:06.02

Top 8:

  1. Kaitlyn Dobler (TROJ) — 1:05.86
  2. Lilly King (ISC) — 1:05.95
  3. Lydia Jacoby (STSC) — 1:06.69
  4. Rachel Bernhardt (TEAM) — 1:07.38
  5. Annie Lazor (ISC) — 1:07.70
  6. Emma Weber (CA-Y) — 1:07.72
  7. Hannah Bach (OSU)/Skyler Smith (NCAC) — 1:08.20
  8. (tie)

Kaitlyn Dobler out-touched world record holder Lilly King in the final heat of the women’s 100 breast to claim the top time of the morning. The USC Trojan clocked 1:05.86, which marks her first time sub-1:06 and makes her the 12th fastest American all-time in the event. It’s also good for fourth in the world this season.

King sits second in 1:05.95, putting her in a solid position to go after the breaststroke sweep in finals. Lydia Jacoby will have something to say about that though. The Tokyo gold medalist is still looking for a spot on the Worlds team and she qualified third overall in a 1:06.69.

The rest of the field is a bit further back from the top three, but Annie Lazor is lurking in fifth (1:07.70) and Rachel Bernhardt swam a lifetime best 1:07.38 for fourth.

Kate Douglass was a no show for heat five.

Men’s 100 Breaststroke — Heats

  • World Record: 56.88, Adam Peaty (GBR) — 2019
  • American Record: 58.14, Michael Andrew — 2021
  • U.S. Open Record: 58.14, Michael Andrew (USA) — 2021
  • Championship Record: 58.14, Michael Andrew (USA) — 2021
  • World Aquatics ‘A’ Cut: 59.75
  • 2022 U.S. Trials Top 2 Time: 58.51
  • 2022 Worlds Medal Time: 58.65

Top 8:

  1. Nic Fink (MAAC) — 59.94
  2. Jake Foster (RAYS) — 1:00.07
  3. Josh Matheny (ISC) — 1:00.15
  4. Matt Fallon (ABSC) — 1:00.22
  5. Noah Nichols (CA-Y) — 1:00.29
  6. Cody Miller (SAND) — 1:00.57
  7. Charlie Swanson (NOVA) — 1:00.64
  8. Mitch Mason (LSU) — 1:00.71

With the only sub-1:00 time of the session, Nic Fink is the top qualifier in the men’s 100 breaststroke. Fink, who won the 50 breast yesterday, clocked 59.94.

The World Aquatics ‘A’ cut may come into play during finals. The cut stands at 59.75, and the only two in the championship final who have been under the minute mark before today are Fink, Josh Matheny, and Cody MillerMichael Andrew has been under the cut before as well, but missed the ‘A’ final and finished 17th in 1:01.50.

The qualification window opened on March 1, 2022. Since that time, only Fink and Matheny have been under the ‘A’ cut.

There’s many young stars here who are closing in on the minute mark. Second place qualifier Jake Foster just missed the mark in prelims, clocking a personal best 1:00.07. He’ll get another chance in finals, as will Matt Fallon, Noah Nicholsand Mitch Mason, who all posted personal bests en route to a lane in the championship final.

Women’s 100 Backstroke — Heats

  • World Record: 57.45, Kaylee McKeown (AUS) — 2021
  • American Record: 57.57, Regan Smith — 2019
  • U.S. Open Record: 57.76, Regan Smith (USA) — 2022
  • Championship Record: 57.76, Regan Smith (USA) — 2022
  • World Aquatics ‘A’ Cut: 1:00.59
  • 2022 U.S. Trials Top 2 Time: 58.39
  • 2022 Worlds Medal Time: 58.67

Top 8:

  1. Regan Smith (SUN) — 58.04
  2. Katharine Berkoff (WOLF) — 58.39
  3. Kennedy Noble (WOLF) — 59.11
  4. Claire Curzan (ALTO) — 59.24
  5. Isabelle Stadden (CAL) — 59.43
  6. Phoebe Bacon (WISC) — 59.61
  7. Rhyan White (WOLF) — 59.66
  8. Olivia Smoliga (SUN) — 59.79

As expected, Regan Smith is the top qualifier in the women’s 100 backstroke and also as expected, there’s a tight race for second shaping up behind her. 58.04 is faster than the 58.29 Smith posted in prelims last year and based on the way she’s swimming, she could take a crack at her U.S. Open record tonight.

In the final, Smith will be flanked by a pair from the Wolfpack. Katharine Berkoff and Kennedy Noble both swam lifetime bests in the prelims to take second and third heading into the final. Berkoff improves her lifetime best to 58.39 from 58.61 in April 2022.

Noble had a big drop in the 200 backstroke earlier in the meet, and continued to showcase her improvements here in the 100. She swam 59.11, blowing past the 1:00 barrier for the first time and nearly going sub-59. Her previous best was a 1:00.83 from earlier this month.

Claire Curzan and Isabelle Stadden are sitting fourth and fifth in 59.24 and 59.43. Interestingly, Berkoff’s time of 58.39 is Curzan’s best time, which means that she will likely need to post a PB to make the Worlds team in this event.

Men’s 100 Backstroke — Heats

  • World Record: 51.60, Thomas Ceccon (ITA) — 2022
  • American Record: 51.85, Ryan Murphy — 2016
  • U.S. Open Record: 51.94, Aaron Piersol (USA) — 2009
  • Championship Record: 51.94, Aaron Piersol (USA) — 2009
  • World Aquatics ‘A’ Cut: 54.03
  • 2022 U.S. Trials Top 2 Time: 52.46
  • 2022 Worlds Medal Time: 51.98

Top 8:

  1. Ryan Murphy (CAL) — 52.79
  2. Destin Lasco (CAL) — 52.93
  3. Hunter Armstrong (NYAC) — 53.11
  4. Justin Ress (MVN) — 53.21
  5. Christopher O’Connor (TXLA) — 53.73
  6. Jack Aikins (SA) — 53.75
  7. Wyatt Davis (MICH) — 53.93
  8. Adam Chaney (FLOR) — 53.98

In the final heat of the men’s 100 backstroke, Ryan Murphy accelerated in the closing meters to touch first ahead of Justin Ress. He posted a 52.79, which is good for the top time overall. He’s closely followed by his Cal teammate Destin Lasco, who swam a lifetime best 52.93. Lasco has been on fire all week, and now he’ll aim to double up in the backstroke events after finishing second in the 200 earlier this week. He’s also the 12th American man to break the 53 second barrier.

Last year’s Trials winner Hunter Armstrong is running third with a 53.11. He was sub-53 at all four Pro Series stops this season.

Justin Ress sits just behind in fourth (53.21). Texas’ Christopher O’Connor dropped over a second from his previous best 54.85 from Olympic Trials to make the championship final with a 53.73. Wyatt Davis also got under 54 seconds for the first time, swimming 53.93. Davis’ previous best was a 54.14 from 2019 World Juniors. In the 50 back yesterday, he bettered his lifetime best which had been from that meet as well.

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4 months ago


4 months ago

Imagine what KBerkoff would have gone if she hadn’t scraped her right shoulder on the lane line the whole first lap?

4 months ago

I’m predicting Jacoby and Dobler over King tonight in the final. Could you expect the live meltdown from Rowdy??

Reply to  RMS
4 months ago

I predict Jacoby and King
I’m not convinced Dobler can make another big drop in the final to qualify this year.

Reply to  Wow
4 months ago

I’m not betting against Lilly King after the two prior races at the 2023 Phillips 66 National Championships.

Steve Nolan
Reply to  Weinstein-Smith-Ledecky-Sims
4 months ago

But you did already pencil Jacoby in on the team.


Feeling a bit nervous about that yet??? The relay name guy jinx is real

Reply to  Wow
4 months ago

King in 1st, Dobler 2nd. I can’t think of an elite swimmer competing today who hates to lose more than King.

Reply to  RMS
4 months ago

I’m not King’s biggest fan but I don’t see her missing the team in this. She’s mentally tough and has the hometown advantage.

Reply to  RMS
4 months ago

The greatest female breaststroker in USA Swimming history?

Reply to  RMS
4 months ago

I give Lilly King credit, she hit her taper this year.

Reply to  Weinstein-Smith-Ledecky-Sims
4 months ago

Yes, Lilly King is definitely the greatest American woman breaststroker in history. Olympics champion in the 100, world record in the 50 and 100, world champion in the 50, 100, and 200. She’s been the best American woman breaststroker for 7 years straight. What more can I say?

Reply to  RMS
4 months ago

So King won both 50 and 200 but from some reason you are predicting she will run out of steam during 100?

4 months ago

I see the world swimming schedule that on the first day there is men’s 50 fly one women’s event then men’s 100 breast. The 100 fly is on same day as the 50 free. I think he doesn’t want to pull double swims at worlds again.

Rotisserie chicken
4 months ago

michael andrew’s career is over.

Reply to  Rotisserie chicken
4 months ago

Back to Costa Rica as a beachcomber.

Reply to  Rotisserie chicken
4 months ago

With only 3 years between last olympics and this upcoming one, it’s hard to say how people handled it…we hear about Simone and Caeleb taking time off, and still needing time off. We hear someone like Abby Weitzel doing kind of the same thing, but coming out of it on fire. Andrew seems to not really have taken a TON of time off, but instead in favor of maintaining mostly steady training and traveling around to go to meets.

For most of these swimmers, Worlds in 2023 is NOT the goal….Paris 2024 is the goal. Some of these swimmers are just out there doing whatever they have to do right now to time their peak next year around this… Read more »

Reply to  jim
4 months ago

Casas isn’t off physically, he Is mentallly. Kid just can’t cope with the pressure. Hopefully he figures it out

Reply to  Mike
4 months ago

I think he would benefit from training with Nesty. Not just because I’m a Gator homer from birth, but because having a proven coach who has ACTUALLY won at the highest levels could help him tremendously with his mental game.

Reply to  jim
4 months ago

Its a “what have you done for me lately” sport. MA i think has a kind of casual attitude towards the sport right now it hard to rally around him. He showed up to the sc worlds and took a roster spot and wasn’t really ready to perform anywhere near his peak form it turns people off. He showed up here and is making a statement and quadruple down on being a 50 guy. He is really driving this home so he is gone full send on the 50free and really nothing else. At some point if starts dropping 21 lows people will rally back to him its the nature of the swim fans to do this.

Reply to  Taa
4 months ago

I seriously doubt he is going to start dropping 21 lows

Former swimmer.
Reply to  Rotisserie chicken
4 months ago

Always have been an MA supporter until recently. He’s on the golf course. He’s surfing. He’s f*cking around when his contemporaries are focusing on their sport and tapering. Get rid of dad and mom. Go to a real coach and see if you hit your potential. Otherwise, move on.

Steve Nolan
Reply to  Rotisserie chicken
4 months ago

lol y’all are hysterical.

I’m giving talent the credit here, I think it’s more likely he wins the 100 breast in Paris than he misses the US team completely next year.

Reply to  Steve Nolan
4 months ago

Talent yes, commitment no.

Steve Nolan
Reply to  hambone
4 months ago

It’s not a 30 year commitment, he’d just need to “buckle down” for another year after this.

Which hey, not guaranteed! But I’m just saying, if he does, he’s got the talent to absolutely come back better than he’s ever been.

That people are confident saying an absurdly talented 24yo swimmer’s career is over is a big lol to me.

Mr Piano
Reply to  Steve Nolan
4 months ago

I don’t know why everyone is downvoting you, I don’t know if he has the passion for it anymore but if he did, he could totally get back to like 58 mid by next year

Reply to  Rotisserie chicken
4 months ago

If he doesn’t make the team in the 50free, then he is seriously on the ropes

4 months ago

What are Thomas Heilman’s theoretical future lineup? the 100/200free and 200IM seem to be his other focus events (am I missing any?)

However, it seems like the 100free and 200fly always conflict at Olympics and WC, and the 200IM conflicts with the 100fly at the Olympics. It seems like he can go for the ‘Milak-dream schedule” of 200free, 200fly, 100fly + relays but I don’t see his pathway to anymore more than that unless his really expands to other strokes.

Also, there is significant talent in each of these events already.

4 kick pullout
Reply to  john26
4 months ago

Look at all the single – eventers that are veterans. Why can’t we just be happy for a 16 yo getting 2 ind swims? Phelps didn’t even do that at 16 in 2001..

The rest will come. Next step is a free relay. From there id rather see working towards golds in the flys then a bunch of 4th places in 3-5 events (ily MA but itis what itis)

Reply to  4 kick pullout
4 months ago

Phelps was still 15 for champs in 01 right? That’s when he got his first WR. But I totally agree, 1 or 2 individual events should be considered awesome

Last edited 4 months ago by JimSwim22
Lap Counter
Reply to  john26
4 months ago

They are changing 2024 lineup…does it still conflict?

Reply to  Lap Counter
4 months ago


4 months ago

Kennedy Noble had a great reaction after that 59.11 PB. She’s having a great meet.

Reply to  Breezeway
4 months ago

She’s swimming legit times, will be a force at Pan Ams (barring her stealing a 100 back Worlds spot tonight)

Not-so-Silent Observer
Reply to  Breezeway
4 months ago

I fully have her penciled in for a 200 bk Olympic spot next year

4 months ago

assuming Fink is 1st (A cut today or before doesn’t really matter), but 2nd (non-Matheny) doesn’t have the A cut in qualification window

do they go with (1) time trial to see if 2nd gets A (Mitchell in 2021), (2) send Matheny, (3) no one gets the spot?

they don’t even have bringing the 2nd place finisher for relay purposes in their selection criteria

Reply to  CY~
4 months ago

The team might have too many people for them to qualify another new individual so it might default to matheny?

Reply to  Swim2win
4 months ago

Yeah strict rules probably matheny would get the swim, based on his selection for the 200 (if they get there)

Reply to  CY~
4 months ago

I assume it’s (2) and I think the problem with the 400 free in 2021 was that no one else on the team even had the A cut in it yet. I think though that MA would get the second 100 breast spot if he makes it onto the team through another event because his seed time is faster

Last edited 4 months ago by jeff

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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