2024 U.S. Olympic Trials: Day 5 Prelims Live Recap

2024 U.S. OLYMPIC TRIALS

It’s a light prelims session this morning, with only three events on the docket. We’ll see 200s of the three non-freestyle strokes in reverse IM order.

First up is the women’s 200 breaststroke, highlighted by Lilly King and Kate Douglass. King already booked her ticket to Paris in the 100 breaststroke, while we haven’t seen much of Douglass this meet. The American record holder should advance safely to semis and will need to take on a double tonight in the 100 free final. 3rd seed Lydia Jacoby announced via Instagram she would be scratching the event after missing the team in the 100 breaststroke, but she still appears on the heat sheet.

The sole men’s event of the morning, the 200 backstroke, has a lot of converging story lines. Ryan Murphy is the favorite, but the second spot is up for grabs. Destin Lasco and Keaton Jones will look to make it a 1-2 for the Cal Bears again, while Jack Aikins is looking for redemption after two years of 3rd-place finishes at selection meets.

The session wraps up with the women’s 200 butterfly. After becoming the #5 performer in history in the 100 fly and retaking the 100 back world record, Regan Smith is the overwhelming favorite to claim a second Olympic appearance in this event. She leads a herd of Longhorn women looking to stake their claim, including Dakota Luther, Emma Sticklen, and Kelly Pash.

WOMEN’S 200 BREASTSTROKE — PRELIMS

  • World Record: 2:17.55 — Evgeniia Chikunova (RUS), 2023
  • American Record: 2:19.30 — Kate Douglass, 2024
  • U.S. Open Record: 2:19.30 — Kate Douglass (USA), 2024
  • World Junior Record: 2:19.64 – Viktoriya Zeynep Gunes (TUR), 2015
  • 2021 U.S. Olympic Trials Champion: 2:21.07 — Annie Lazor
  • 2024 Olympic Qualifying Time: 2:23.91

Semifinals Qualifiers:

  1. Kate Douglass (NYAC) – 2:19.66 Meet Record
  2. Lilly King (ISC) – 2:25.61
  3. Ella Nelson (NAC) – 2:25.86
  4. Alex Walsh (NAC) – 2:26.96
  5. Kaelyn Gridley (DUKE) – 2:27.14
  6. Emma Weber (CA) – 2:28.82
  7. Alexis Yager (TNAQ) – 2:29.04
  8. Raya Mellott (CROW) – 2:29.11
  9. Maddy Huggins (CS) – 2:29.17
  10. Addie Robillard (RAYS) – 2:29.21
  11. Kaitlyn Dobler (TDPS) – 2:29.34
  12. Zoie Hartman (ABSC) – 2:29.73
  13. Anna Keating (CA) – 2:29.79
  14. Gabrielle Rose (ALPH) – 2:30.13
  15. Isabelle Odgers (TROJ) – 2:30.44
  16. Abigail Herscu (CAL) – 2:30.52

Gabrielle Rose, the oldest competitor at these Trials, was back in action in heat 1 of the women’s 200 breaststroke. She showed impressive closing speed in the final 50, torching her entry time by over 1.5-seconds (2:30.13) and winning the heat.

Maddie Huggins of Club Seminole was dominant in heat 2, clocking 2:29.17 for a new personal best. That was her first sub-2:30 swim.

To wrap up the early heats, UVA-commit Katie Christopherson jumped out to an early lead. The field caught up to her though, as Abigail Herscu (2:30.52) and Brynn Curtis (2:31.68) managed to pass Christopherson (2:31.96) by the touch.

SwimSwam previously reported Lydia Jacoby‘s scratch in this event, but she hadn’t made it official. Lane 4 was a no-show in the first circle-seeded heat. In her absence, the win went to Duke athlete Kaelyn Gridley who looks poised to make another run at a championship final as she took over the top time of the morning (2:27.14).

The penultimate heat got a crowd response as Lilly King stepped up to the blocks. She opened in 1:09.84, as Virginia’s Alex Walsh tried to hang close. It looked like Walsh might find a second wind after she barely out-split King on the second 50, but it was all King coming home as she clocked 2:25.61 to lead the times so far. Walsh’s 2:26.96 is second with one heat left to swim.

American record holder Kate Douglass already had half a body-length lead by the 25 meter mark, and she only continued to send it. She was only four hundredths over world record pace at the 100. Douglass absolutely destroyed her heat, setting a new championship record in the process and easily overtaking King for the top morning time (2:19.66).

Behind her, a pair of Cavaliers touched 2nd (Ella Nelson, 2:25.86) and 3rd (Emma Weber, 2:28.82).

MEN’S 200 BACKSTROKE — PRELIMS

  • World Record: 1:51.92 — Aaron Piersol (USA), 2009
  • American Record: 1:51.92 — Aaron Piersol (USA), 2009
  • U.S. Open Record: 1:53.08 — Aaron Piersol (USA), 2009
  • World Junior Record: 1:55.14– Kliment Kolesnikov (RUS), 2017
  • 2021 U.S. Olympic Trials Champion: 1:54.20 — Ryan Murphy
  • 2024 Olympic Qualifying Time: 1:57.50

Semifinals Qualifiers:

  1. Jack Aikins (SA) – 1:56.24
  2. Keaton Jones (CAL) – 1:57.52
  3. Ryan Murphy (CAL) – 1:57.78
  4. Tommy Hagar (BAMA) – 1:57.80
  5. David King (CA)/Daniel Diehl (WOLF) – 1:57.90
  6. Hunter Tapp (WOLF) – 1:57.93
  7. Caleb Maldari (FLOR) – 1:58.16
  8. Martin Perecinsky (LIAC) – 1:58.24
  9. Ian Grum (DYNA) – 1:58.47
  10. Tommy Janton (ND) – 1:58.52
  11. Ben Irwin (NAVY) – 1:58.96
  12. Jay Litherland (TXLA) – 1:58.98
  13. Josh Zuchowski (FAST) – 1:59.31
  14. Hunter Gubeno (CAC) – 1:59.34
  15. Chris Thames (MAAC) – 1:59.46

Heat 1 went to Navy’s Ben Irwin, who swam under 2:00 for the first time in his career (1:58.96). That represented almost a three second drop from his entry time. The next heat was won by Gabe Machado (2:00.10), who also dropped over a second from entry.

The bar was immediately raised in heat 3, as Tommy Hagar lowered the top morning time by over a second from lane 8 (1:57.80). David King also joined him under 1:58, exactly one-tenth back (1:57.90). Heats 4 and 5 relaxed a little bit, as they were won by Martin Perecinsky (1:58.24) and Hunter Gubeno (1:59.34).

Colby Mefford was a no-show in lane 1 of the last non-circle seeded heat. Rex Maurer won the heat in 1:59.77, touching just three hundredths over his entry time.

Going into the circle-seeded heats, seven men are already under 2:00.

The first circle-seeded heat went to Jack Aikins, who touched just shy of his season best (1:56.24). Hunter Tapp (1:57.93) and Jay Litherland (1:58.98) rounded out the top three. Kieran Smith was a no-show.

#2 seed Destin Lasco was a no-show in the penultimate heat. Notre Dame’s Tommy Janton capitalized on the opportunity, jumping out to an early lead at the 100. Caleb Maldari and Ian Grum started to close on him, and ultimately finished 1st (1:58.16) and 2nd (1:58.47) ahead of Janton (1:58.52).

The final heat went to a Golden Bear, but it wasn’t Ryan Murphy. Keaton Jones, who just wrapped up his first-year at Cal, got the win over a veteran with an extremely long finish (1:57.52). Murphy was close behind (1:57.78), followed by Daniel Diehl (1:57.90).

WOMEN’S 200 BUTTERFLY — PRELIMS

  • 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
  • World Junior Record: 2:04.06 – Summer McIntosh (CAN), 2023
  • 2021 U.S. Olympic Trials Champion: 2:05.85 — Hali Flickinger
  • 2024 Olympic Qualifying Time: 2:08.43

Semifinals Qualifiers:

  1. Alex Shackell (CSC) – 2:06.71
  2. Regan Smith (TXLA) – 2:07.24
  3. Lindsay Looney (TXLA) – 2:08.24
  4. Emma Sticklen (TXLA) – 2:08.55
  5. Dakota Luther (TXLA) – 2:08.69
  6. Lucy Bell (ALTO) – 2:09.07
  7. Tess Howley (LIAC) – 2:09.10
  8. Caroline Bricker (ALTO) – 2:09.12
  9. Kelly Pash (TXLA) – 2:09.43
  10. Charlotte Hook (ALTO) – 2:09.80
  11. Rachel Klinker (CAL) – 2:10.16
  12. Megan van Berkom (UOFM) – 2:10.25
  13. Audrey Derivaux (JW) – 2:10.77
  14. Katie Crom (MICH) – 2:11.69
  15. Sara Stotler (TENN) – 2:11.63
  16. Greta Pelzek (GAME) – 2:11.70

We’re already on the last event of the morning. The first heat went to Campbell Stoll (2:13.23), the first of many Longhorns we’ll see in these heats. Stoll shaved exactly four-tenths off her entry time.

Two more 2:13-points came out of heat 2, led by Alyce Lehman (2:13.26). Mackenzie McConagha followed close behind (2:13.32). Claire Weinstein was a no-show.

Kelsey Zhang lowered her entry time and the top time of the morning in heat 3, clocking 2:11.95 for the win. Olivia Theall swam the second-fastest time of the morning thus far (2:12.54).

Wrapping up the final non-circle seeded heat, Katie Crom outside-smoked the field, cutting about half a second off her entry time and clocking a new top time (2:11.69).

Tess Howley led the first circle-seeded heat at the 100, with Rachel Klinker hot on her heels. Bricker started to close on the pair of them in the final 50, but Howley still got her hand to the wall first (2:09.10), leading a sub-2:10 charge ahead of Stanford teammates Bricker (2:09.12) and Charlotte Hook (2:09.80). Klinker settled for 4th in the heat (2:10.16).

It was a Longhorn show in the penultimate heat, as Emma Sticklen, Dakota Luther, and Lindsay Looney dove in side-by-side in the center of the pool. The trio easily recorded the top three times of the morning. Looney touched first (2:08.24), followed by Sticklen (2:08.55) and Luther (2:08.69). Age group phenom Audrey Derivaux finished 4th in that heat (2:10.77) behind Megan van Berkom (2:10.25).

In the final heat, Alex Shackell pushed Regan Smith in the first 100, ultimately overtaking the American record holder at the 150. The Carmel swimmer didn’t look back, surging ahead to lower her best time to 2:06.71. That time ties Shackell for the 9th-fastest performer in American history, and makes her the second fastest American junior swimmer only behind Smith.

Smith recorded a 2:07.24 and looked considerably more relaxed than Shackell, who had a noticeably higher turnover. We know that Smith is in excellent form from her performances earlier this meet, so it will be interesting to compare how she and Shackell manage the rounds.

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swimster
28 days ago

#regansmittens

Swimz
28 days ago

They will only take 5..considering how versatile this field is..they could use (hobson/kibler/Smith/curry along with other relay swimmers if they want additions

jeff
Reply to  Swimz
28 days ago

With the way the numbers are playing out, it looks like it could be tight for one of the 6th place freestylers on the men’s side

AJC in BOS
28 days ago

Roster question, what happens if there is a tie for the 6th spot in the 100fr, assuming limits have not been reached? Do they take both swimmers? Is there a swimoff?

P K
Reply to  AJC in BOS
28 days ago

Swimoff.

Yikes
Reply to  AJC in BOS
27 days ago

Whoa you called it

Weinstein-Smith-Ledecky-Sims
28 days ago

Looking ahead to tonight, the women’s 100 meter freestyle has to have the most intrigue since any one of the top four female swimmers could win it.

jim
28 days ago

Let’s have a round of applause for someone not mentioned, Leah Gingrich…I know Gabbie Rose got all the attention this trials being 46, but Leah is 34, and swimming 200 fly against 16 and 17 yr olds (girls half her age)…actually seeded inside the top 16, finished 17th just missing semi finals by .09 seconds. This very well may have concluded a swim career that spanned close to 30 years.

I know NBC is about the big names, but I hope Swimswam takes a minute and talks to some of the older swimmers at this trials who may be hanging up their suits if they don’t make it to paris, and gets a nice inside scoop on what drove them… Read more »

Last edited 28 days ago by jim
cynthia curran
Reply to  jim
28 days ago

Very good for her. I think she should be recognized as much as Rose since 200 fly is hard event at any age. I mean Leah Gingrich.

Yikes
28 days ago

It’s really a bummer that whatever Bella is dealing with had the worst timing. But props to her for sticking around and finishing the meet.

swimmom
Reply to  Yikes
28 days ago

who knows and it could be one of many things, but some of her times have not been off. It took Regan some years to get back on track and it’s not unheard of. Trials is a very stressful cutthroat event where only the top 2 qualify. Mollie was showing the stress when she swam faster than the WR, but was second

Last edited 28 days ago by swimmom
jim
Reply to  Yikes
28 days ago

Big fan of Bella. She seemed to have a pretty decent freshman year at Florida…by all accounts…I’d imagine swimming with the likes of Ledecky, Dressel, and other big names on a regular basis would’ve helped her build confidence into this trials. It was I believe her 1st big meet without her Sandpiper coach, Ron Aitken. But it’s not like she wasn’t in the hands of a great coach in Nesty.

Just something doesn’t seem to be adding up…hope she’ll recover physically, mentally, emotionally and build confidence into her next chapter!

1500m Free Semifinals
Reply to  Yikes
28 days ago

Agree. As she’s not getting extra swims with her events thus far, she’s at least showing up, flipping the page on a new day, and trying again.

Yikes
Reply to  1500m Free Semifinals
28 days ago

I remember an interview with Gretchen Walsh about 2021 trials and she was so disappointed after not making it out of prelims in the 100 free. She said her coach told her they came here to do the whole meet so she needed to keep putting one foot in front of the other. It’s a good lesson in resilience.

Neil47-54
Reply to  Yikes
28 days ago

Agree. Says a lot about her. Has to be a NIGHTMARE of a week. It’s one thing to miss a taper. That may or may not be what’s going on with Claire Curzan, for example who was about a full second off in 100 fly and 100 back. (Just speculating, of course). But in Bella’s case, to be 9 or 10 seconds off in a 400 and 4 seconds or so off in your 200s is just sooooo unexpected and out of the ordinary. Just 3 months ago she was NCAA champ in 200 free and (I believe) 500 free. So, was swimming well. Feel terrible for her but maybe we’ll get some insight in coming days or weeks.

onlinesniper7
28 days ago

I really hope that Regan will swim like this (not going all out in heats/semis, nicely progressing round to round timewise) at Olympics.

Weinstein-Smith-Ledecky-Sims
Reply to  onlinesniper7
28 days ago

Don’t count on it when it comes the 200 BK. It’s called unfinished business.

Ian
28 days ago

Doesn’t Mary T Meagher’s 2:05 count as a junior swim?

Unknown Swammer
Reply to  Ian
28 days ago

For our purposes, sure – for official record keeping, they didn’t distinguish juniors as a separate category back then, so no.

PineappleNoMore
Reply to  Unknown Swammer
28 days ago

I will never understand why they can’t retroactively use those times. We may not have perfect records going all the way back, but when we do have data and choose not to use it I’m left scratching my head.

Trials Countdown
Reply to  PineappleNoMore
28 days ago

Because they didn’t verify ages. Can’t assume with records.

PineappleNoMore
Reply to  Trials Countdown
26 days ago

ah didn’t know that!

CavaDore
Reply to  Ian
28 days ago

Also, Mary T was 15-16 and I think the announcer at the meet said Alex was the second fastest ever after Reagan for 17-18. But overall I guess she would be third for 15-18.