2023 U.S. Trials Day 5 Prelims Scratch Report: Leah Smith Opts-Out of a Crowded 200 IM


Saturday Prelims Heat Sheet

There were multiple top-24 scratches for the Saturday prelims session of the 2023 US National Championships, the most notable of which was from 2016 Olympian Leah Smith

Smith scratched the 200 IM where she was seeded 4th in a 2:11.67. Primarily a distance freestyle, Smith has expanded into the IM events in recent years, but there’s little surprise she scratched this race. 

Earlier in the meet, she scratched the 400 IM, which is arguably the better of her two IM events. In addition, Smith is already likely qualified to swim at the World Championships in the 800 freestyle relay via her 6th place finish in the 200 freestyle on Thursday, assuming that the women don’t go over the roster limit, which they’re far from hitting at the moment. Plus, the 200 IM was probably going to be a long-shot event for Smith in the first place, with Alex Walsh, Leah Hayes, and Kate Douglass all in the mix. However, this still would’ve been Smith’s last event of the meet and her last chance to qualify individually for Worlds. 

On Friday, Smith finished 3rd in the 400 freestyle behind Katie Ledecky and Bella Sims, marking her last event of the meet. She also finished 4th in an extremely tight 800 freestyle final. 

A multitude of swimmers in the top 24 scratched from the women’s 1500 freestyle and the men’s 800 freestyle. Most notably, 2021 Olympian Michael Brinegar will not contest the men’s 800 free after coming in with the 5th seed. Brinegar has had a disappointing meet thus far, finishing 9th in the 1500 freestyle, an event that he qualified to swim at the 2021 Olympic Games. His time in the 1500 was over 6 seconds above his entry time and almost 30 seconds slower than Charlie Clark’s second place time in the event. 8-seeded Jake Magahey also scratched following his 11th place finish in the 200 freestyle. Magahey was a declared false start in Friday’s 400 freestyle, and it appears that he is now done with the meet. 

Luke Hobson was another scratch from the 800 after he entered the meet as the 11-seed. Hobson already qualified for the World Championships in both the 200 freestyle and the 800 freestyle relay via his first place finish in the event on Thursday. Given that he was a long-shot to make this event, his scratch makes sense as he begins to look towards the World Championships. Matthew Chai (15-seed) and Brice Barrieault (21-seed) also scratched the men’s 800 free. 

On the women’s side, 10-seed Hayden Miller was the highest seed to scratch from the 1500 freestyle. Miller finished 44th in Friday’s 400 freestyle prelims, adding over seconds to her seed time to touch in a 4:19.44. 15-seed Sierra Schmidt also scratched after finishing 34th in the 400 freestyle. Earlier in the week, Schmidt tweeted that she would be retiring from the sport of swimming following her 400 freestyle swim on Friday, so her scratch does not come as a surprise. Maya Geringer also scratched after entering the meet seeded 20th. 

In the 50 freestyle, there were limited scratches on both the men’s and women’s sides. Cora Dupre was the only woman to scratch the event after entering the meet with the 24-seed with a time of 25.39. Macguire McDuff was the only man to scratch the event as the 21-seed. McDuff finished a disappointing 7th place in the men’s 100 freestyle on Tuesday, missing the World Championships by .06. However, he could still represent the US at Pan Ams or the LEN U23 Championships, depending on how the rosters pan out. 


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Gail Jones
8 months ago

Oh, that is sad to get so discouraged that you don’t want to compete; all that training and practicing met nothing to behold, You have challenges and struggles but that is part of life. The motto was if you don’t succeed try try again but to cave in and quit on the last day of competition because it didn’t go as planned and you are not 🚭🚫 injured, as a spectator it’s saddened to me because other foreign athletes rarely a scratch but proceed anyway. What is a false start? That needs to be changed and challenges. Do they start after the gun is off or during the gun is process because I never heard of a false start in… Read more »

Ol' Longhorn
Reply to  Gail Jones
8 months ago

If you’re absolutely spent, as I’m sure she is, and from decades of experience (yes decades) you know you have no chance at being your best, it just becomes a brutal training exercise that’s pointless and mentally unhealthy. You wonder about burnout in all these elite swimmers? She’s snuffing it out by scratching. Good for her.

Reply to  Gail Jones
8 months ago

Foreign athletes don’t scratch?
Never heard of a false start in swimming?

You must be new to the sport.

8 months ago

I read the headline as Leah Hayes at first and my jaw dropped

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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