2024 U.S. Olympic Trials Day 6 Overreaction: Michael Andrew Is Making Math Hard


The following article is my opinion and does not necessarily represent the views of SwimSwam as a whole.

To be honest, the vibe inside the stadium (it still feels weird, to say that) was a little subdued this morning. Maybe it was because I’ve been pulling double duty and spending my morning covering French Trials, maybe because I failed in my best James Sutherland impersonation last night and panic wrote the live recap last night, or sadly, maybe the allure of the meet had started to fade as my cold cynical New Englandness has re-emerged. (Although, let’s be honest, in this heat, nothing remains cold for long)

Math is Hard, Roster Math is Harder

On our daily walks to the pool in the morning, the SwimSwam staff have had a variety of topics, and when Sophie Kaufman and I can be dragged away from our Tour de France discussion, we started discussing the roster math. As it currently stands, the women have 18 swimmers who have theoretically qualified for the Olympic team (that is, having finished top 6 in the 100 and 200 free and top two in all the remaining events). On the men’s side, that number stands at 23.

With each roster limited to just 26 swimmers, the men are in desperate need of some doubles. We use the term double to refer to a swimmer qualifying in more than one event, i.e., doubling up on a roster spot. If a swimmer qualifies in three events, for the purposes of the article, it would be considered two doubles. As it stands now, these are the current doubles.

Katie Ledecky – 400 Free, 200 Free, 1500 Free Kieran Smith – 400 Free, 4×200 Free Relay
Paige Madden – 400 Free, 4×200 Free Relay Hunter Armstrong – 4×100 Free Relay, 100 Back
Gretchen Walsh – 100 Fly, 4×100 Free Chris Guiliano – 100 Free, 200 Free
Katie Grimes – 400 IM, 1500 Free
Torri Huske – 100 free, 100 fly

The Magic Numbers:

  • 6 doubles on either the men’s or women’s side mean all priority 2 athletes (2nd-place finishers) can be added for that gender
  • 8 doubles on either the men’s or women’s side mean all priority 3 athletes (5th-place in 100/200 free) can be added for that gender
  • 10 doubles on either the men’s or women’s side mean all priority 4 athletes (6th-place in 100/200 free) can be added for that gender

So why am I bringing this up now? Because the men didn’t seem to want to cooperate with roster math. I don’t blame them; you should give it your all (and I hope the best for all those left to swim) but it certainly makes our lives harder

While there were just two events on the docket for the men, and they both had semifinals to cut the field down, our hopes of easy math were dashed.

Michael Andrew, after having a rough 100 breast, rebounded nicely to tie as the top seed in the 50 with Ryan Held at 21.70. August Lamb and Quintin McCarty also took top 8 seeds into tonight’s final. In the 200 IM, top seed Shaine Casas safely made the semifinals as the 6th seed, and seeds 2, 4, and 7 are also not yet named to the team. So, too, is the #8 seed Destin Lasco, who may be on a bit of a revenge tour after he scratched out of the 200 back and finished a disappointing 7th in the 100 free.

While there are still plenty of finals to occur, and the US may find itself being able to take all their swimmers, there is certainly a potential that some athletes that have qualified will be left at home.

The way we see it, there are five men’s finals left, meaning that there are 10 potential roster spots. If they all fall to new swimmers, the roster will need to be cut down, but if we wind up with seven more doubles, the 6th-place finishers in the 100 and 200 free, Matt King and Blake Pieroni, should be able to go to Paris.

Held, in 2021, was left off the roster not due to roster limits, but because the 12 swimmer relay only limit was reached. Fortunately, the US will not run into the same issues as Gretchen Walsh, Paige Madden, Kieran Smith and Hunter Armstrong, all qualified to swim relays, but also added or already had another event.

Swim-offs Baby

I’ve mentioned my love of swim-offs before, especially in these overreaction pieces, which I have turned into more of a rambling post of thoughts. Thankfully, my fellow SwimSwam writer, Laura Rosado, has surpassed my abilities in wit so much that I can start taking credit for her work.

Erika Connolly (nee Brown) might not have the same love of Swim-0ffs as I do. I am sure she would much rather have qualified into the final without needing to face-off with Anna Moesch and having to swim it again this morning to maybe have the shot of making the team if the roster numbers work out. But then again, perhaps she really needed the swim-offs to help her reach her best potential.

Erika Connolly‘s 100 Frees

  1. Prelims: 15th – 54.72
  2. Semifinals: T-8th – 54.09
  3. Swim-off for Finals: 1st – 53.92
  4. Finals: T-6th – 53.86
  5. Swim-off for sole 6th place: 1st – 53.76

Every time she needed to step up to the plate and get things done, she did.

Connolly’s swim-off wasn’t the only one on tap this morning, as Tommy Palmer and Dillon Downing, who tied for 17th place this morning, dueled each other out in a 50 free. Palmer out-touched Downing by .01 and gained the first alternate spot but both Palmer and Downing were able to dig deep and improve their times.

As a coach, your first instinct would be to say if you could go that faster time then it would have been better to do that in the first place. But, in my 10+ years of coaching (yes I’m old), letting swimmers learned what they can do by themselves, underpressure, is one of the most rewarding lessons anyone can learn.

Swimming the 50 at 50

(Okay, no one mentioned in this article is 50, but I am a slave to the sub-headings)We can draw parallels between French trials and those here in Indy, and we can compare what Leon Marchand swam in the 400 IM(4:10.62) to Carson Foster (4:07.64) and Chase Kalisz (4:09.39); I still think Marchand will win in Paris, but I’m going to paint with broad strokes and draw some looser more ethereal connections: why do we swim past a certain age?

At 33, Florent Manaudou just recently set a new personal best in the 100 free, stopping the clock in 47.90, undercutting his PB by .08 from ten years ago. In the 50 free, Manaudou swam 21.52 in the prelims, his fastest time since the 2016 Rio Olympics and faster than his silver medal-winning performance in Tokyo.

Matt Grevers, 39, made a return to the pool in the 50 free this morning. Grevers was competing in his seventh, his seventh, Olympic Trials. He finished tied for 47th in a time of 22.82 with Josh Howat, who was born 22 years after Grevers was. Grevers had already competed at both the 2000 and 2004 Olympic Trials.

Another name, that carries much less recognition is Payton Sorenson. Sorenson had a good NCAA career for BYU, winning the 50 and 100 free multiple times at the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation Championships, back in 2016 and 2017. Sorenson made a splash at the Wave II Trials in 2021, finishing 12th in 22.23, however since then Sorenson disappeared fromm the swimmng world, and only swam at one meet from 2021 til now.

This morning, Sorenson, who was born in 1993, posted the 12th fastest time this morning, clocking 22.19, and earned a lane in tonight’s semifinal. Not to mention Gabrielle Rose, who at 46 made the semi-finals of the 100 breast, finishing 11th in a new personal best.

Now I am, 32 years old, I never competed in college and my claims to fame in the swimming community include winning four silver medals at the Bay-State Games and being a Masters All-American. But in other contexts, those feats can be viewed as four last places & DQ and my All-American relay was the only one who contested the event in the 99 and under age categories, so tomato, tomato.

In all honesty, though, I still swim it no longer for the end results (at least intrinsically) but for the journey (can you say cliche). Seeing a bald eagle dive into the water while open-water swimming, getting ribbed by my teammates for my pathological need to pull on the lane lines (maybe that’s why I haven’t yet, been given access to the Trials pool) or serenading my swim coach with Carly Simon‘s “You’re So Vain” because we kept on being shown his NCAA winning relays on Youtube (Shoot Out Mike Ross and the JCC Worcester Wahoos).

I can’t say why Manaudou, Grevers, Sorenson, and Rose still swim, but certainly, their goals are not all-time based, and while Manaudou certainly has the chance to medal in Paris, he cannot only be in the water for the shot at the medals.



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28 days ago

Did the math this afternoon and I think the men are getting close. Pretty sure that 2nd place finishers are now all going. I count 21 as qualified as of this minute with only four more slots up for grabs in individual events. So even if we have four new (2 in 50 FR, 2 in 1500) that only makes 25. So one of the four relay swimmers on the bubble would get in.

I believe that if Finke and Whitlock go 1-2 in the mile and Dressel (or Heilman) finishes 1 or 2 in the 1 Fly then everybody goes. Same if Heilman and Dressell go 1-2, and either Finke or Whitlock finishes 1 or 2. I think the… Read more »

Last edited 28 days ago by Barbotus
29 days ago

Opeb Water does not count towards those numbers, I assume…?

Reply to  FST
29 days ago

Correct. Separate rosters.

Follow my bubbles
1 month ago

It was inconsequential, but worth pointing out, that Erika Connolly also tied for 15th in prelims. This is why she swam in the 16-seed position in the semi-finals. She tied in each of her three 100 free swims, while also winning 2 swim-offs. A pretty cool story for her!

1 month ago

It’s going to be the Pogacar show.

Sun Yang's Mom
Reply to  50free
29 days ago

Glad to see some tdf fans

1 month ago

Carson Foster can swim on 4×200 free relay so they only need to bring 5 200 free swimmers

Johnny Twobad
1 month ago

The Washington Post has a slightly different take on the Swim Off in the Women’s 100 free, where teammates Erika Connolly and Catie DeLoof were 4/100s apart. (.04).

Reply to  Johnny Twobad
1 month ago

That’s a great article. You really feel for their coach!

That one led me to this one: https://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/2024/06/20/olympic-trials-swimming-dog-therapy-izzo/ and how does that change the selection math?

Bing chilling
1 month ago

You said held was 6th, Matt king was 6th held was 5th

1 month ago

The real question is if Primoz Roglic get win the yellow jersey with Ving and Pog both on their back foot?

Reply to  John
1 month ago

I wasn’t overly impressed with either Roglic or Remco at the Dauphine, I’ll take Pog even with him coming off the Giro. I know there wasn’t a ton of competition for him there but he looked so good. Visma’s roster looks killer though and I hope Jorgenson has a good Tour

Fair for all
Reply to  John
1 month ago

No he won’t