2023 U.S. World Trials Preview: Andrew’s Consistency Paying Dividends In 50 Fly


MEN’S 50 Butterfly — BY THE NUMBERS:

Note: Selection to Non-Olympic events (50s of stroke) is the fifth and last priority for team selection. Only the top finisher in each of these events will be added to the team (if there is space). The second spot at Worlds will be given to a swimmer already on the team who qualified in the corresponding 100 event, provided they have an A-cut in the 50.

In 2018, Michael Andrew announced that he had made the move from teen phenom to verifiable star. At the National Championships that year, Andrew soared to victory in the men’s 50 free, 50 breast, 100 breast, and 50 fly. In the fly event, he set a new championship record of 22.93, beating Caeleb Dressel head-to-head. After having claimed that spot, Andrew finished a disappointing 4th at the 2019 World Championships, with Dressel winning the title. Last year, Andrew finished 2nd to his rival by just .03 and the pair went onto Budapest where they made up two-thirds of the podium: Dressel winning the gold (22.57) and Andrew the bronze (22.79), his first individual long course medal.

If we try to base our picks off of last year’s entries and results we would be in serious trouble. The #3 seed, Tom Shields, has not swum a long course meet since and the #4 seed, Coleman Stewart, has recently been appointed to the Duke Swimming and Diving staff after announcing his retirement. The #5 seed in 2022, Luca Urlando, has only just returned from shoulder surgery, the #7 seed Maxime Rooney retired after the meet and the #8 seed, Camden Murphy, has not swum since the 2022 Summer Nationals.

Only Andrew, the #2 seed in 2022, and #6 seed Zach Harting have swum a full season in preparation for this meet and while Harting did end up placing 5th (23.81) in 2022 he did not hit the ‘A’ cut. His 2023 season best is 23.98 from Fort Lauderdale and his personal best, set in the prelims of the 2022 Trials, is 23.66. Andrew on the other hand has been a modicum of consistency. He has had four swims at or below the ‘A’ cut this season. In March, he swam 23.25 at the Fort Lauderdale PSS and has since lowered it, posting a 22.85 in the final knockout round at the Monaco leg of the Mare Nostrum Tour. A time that has him as the lone American in the World’s top 25; #2 behind only Russian Oleg Kostin‘s 22.62.

Andrew and Dressel have both fired off several 22-second times in their career, and figure to battle head-to-head here once again. Although Dressel’s form is a bit of a question mark, if his speed is anywhere near his best he’ll be in the hunt for the title.

Outside of Dressel and Andrew, there are only two other unretired Americans with times under the World Aquatics ‘A’ cut inside the qualifying period: Finn Brooks and Shaine Casas.

Brooks, an Indiana University swimmer, hit a new personal best and finished 2nd in Westmont with a time of 23.50, where he also swam a PB in the 100 fly (53.05). Casas touched ahead of him in 23.46, but since the 200 back is the event before and he is the reigning Worlds bronze medalist in that event, it’s unlikely he races the 50 fly He could very well get the nod to swim it at Worlds should he make the team and no one else on the team have the ‘A’ cut (or he wins the 100 fly).

Texas Ford Aquatics has two swimmers near the top of the American rankings: Matt King and Tyler Sesvold. King, who joined the club after temporarily stepping away from Virginia, posted a time of 23.59 earlier this month and Sesvold touched the wall in 23.77 at the Westmont PSS.

Like in the 50 back, Ryan Held is near the top of the rankings but confidence in him swimming this event is higher. While he did not swim it at last year’s meet, he has swum it at every Pro Swim Series this season. His season best of 23.76 is just .08 away from his personal best setback 6 years ago at the 2017 Summer National Championships.

More known for his backstroke, Hunter Armstrong has posted a sub-24 time, touching in 23.84 at the Mission Viejo PSS. It is an off-event for Armstrong, but he has swum it at two different Pro Swim Series this year Also dipping under 24 this year are Dare Rose and Jonny Kulow who both recently swam to new personal bests at the same meet: 23.87 for the former and 23.91 for the latter.

Surprise ‘A’ finalist from last year Dalton Lowe has not swum the 50 fly this season but holds a personal best of 23.74 in the 50 and 52.61 in the 100. The top American in the 100 fly at NCAAs (6th), NC State’s Aiden Hayes has a personal best of 23.88 from 2022. Thomas Heilman, who was picked as the top breakout candidate for 2023, posted times in the 2022 Trials consolation final of 24.19 in the 50 fly and 53.07 in the 100 fly, and he’s since dropped that 100 time down to 51.98.

Update:  The picks below have been updated as this article was written before the Pre-Scratch Psych Sheets were posted but published after they were released. Added to the list is Daniel Wilson. 

Wilson just finished up his junior year at Missouri, placing 24th at SECs in the 100 yd. fly in 48.42. He enters this meet with a season-best time in the 50 of 24,92, a split from his 100 fly (56.37) from a meet last weekend.  Owning a lifetime best of 23.52, set last summer at the Speedo Sectionals – Columbia meet, he enters as the 2nd fastest qualifier. While his results this season, yards and meters, are mixed being one of the few active Americans with a personal best under the ‘A’ cut is worthy of notice.  As for his entry being a 50-time, the meet information packet seems to have been updated recently. The text below is the first bullet in the “Important Facts About The Meet” section

Athletes entered in the competition may enter the 50m Butterfly, 50m Backstroke, and/or 50m Breaststroke provided they have the corresponding 100 qualifying standard or the 50m World Aquatics “A” standard (LCM only). These events will be seeded so the 50 LCM seed times will be in the fastest preliminary heats

SwimSwam’s Picks:

Rank Swimmer Season Best Lifetime Best
1 Michael Andrew 22.85 22.79
2 Caeleb Dressel 24.83 (split) 22.35
3 Finn Brooks 23.50 23.50
4 Ryan Held 23.76 23.68
5 Zach Harting 23.98 23.66
6 Daniel Wilson 24.92 (split) 23.52
7 Dare Rose 23.87 23.87
8 Aiden Hayes 24.66 (split) 23.88

Dark Horse: Luke Miller – Less of an unknown name and more of an unknown if he will swim it, Miller has a best time of 24.20 from the Knoxville PSS held in January. At last year’s trials, the NC State swimmer was entered in both the 200 free and 50 fly, which fell on the same day but ended up DNS-ing them. He hit personal bests in the 100m fly (52.06), in the 50 yd. free (19.31) at NCAAs and split 18.59 in the 200 free relay, so his sprinting ability is certainly there. While he still has a ways to go to the ‘A’ cut, if he swims it, he could be in for a shot at the A-final.  

See all of our selections for the 2023 U.S. Nationals with the SwimSwam Preview Index here.

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1 year ago

My prediction is MA in 22.75

1 year ago

Daniel Wilson is #2 seed with a best time of 23.52 from 2022. Why is he not in the discussion?

Reply to  jonny
1 year ago

Okay but you know he’s only the #2 seed because he’s one of two swimmers who entered with their 50 not 100 time, right?

He definitely could final tho.

Steve Nolan
Reply to  Braden Keith
1 year ago

I was wondering why some swimmers had 50 times but the vast majority had 100s.

Reply to  jonny
1 year ago

He is not ranked in the top 25 in the world.

1 year ago

Ugh. Another exercise in self-humiliation. But here goes nothing. (Can I simply copy YanYan’s picks?) Best of luck to all.

Reply to  RCP
1 year ago

Whoopie daisy. Wrong posting site. Call it another senior moment. Sorry.

1 year ago

If MA or Dressel are off this is one of those races where we could see a surprise new face.

Reply to  Snarky
1 year ago

MA has been consistently improving all year round. He is not going to suddenly swim half a second slower than at mare mostrum.

1 year ago

MA has slightly modified his fly. At Monaco his stroke looked strong, long, smooth, efficient, and he had a perfect finish. He has his stroke and race strategy down for the fly and should win.

Reply to  Anonymous
1 year ago

OK, Tina.

1 year ago

Remel ain’t losin to MA lmao

Reply to  ‘Murica
1 year ago

He already has been beaten by MA

1 year ago

It is going to be interesting to see if MA can regain his form in the 100br this cycle as well as the 100fly and throw down times close to his AR and PR in these events. Predictions on his 100br and 100fl times?

Reply to  Hank
1 year ago

If Andrew went 58.5 for his 1 Breast, I’d be happy with his form but simply don’t know where he’ll be at next week.

100 fly is a bit of a question mark as we could see up to 5 guys go under 51 seconds next week. Those 5 being D Rose, S Casas, C Dressel, M Andrew, and T Heilman in no particular order. Not sure about Julian but that 1 fly final is going to be stacked overall. Maybe MA goes 50.8 again.

Last edited 1 year ago by PFA
Reply to  Hank
1 year ago

100 breast 59.32
100 fly no idea

1 year ago

If Dressel swims it, he’s gonna win it.