2024 U.S. Olympic Trials: Day 9 Finals Live Recap

2024 U.S. OLYMPIC TRIALS

Friends, this is it: the final session of the 2024 U.S. Olympic Trials. After a week of incredible racing, there are just two more finals left to race — the women’s 50 freestyle and the men’s 1500 freestyle.

Gretchen Walsh and Torri Huske threw down the gauntlet in last night’s 50 freestyle semifinals, ripping lifetime bests of 24.06 and 24.09 respectively. Not only did that move them up to 4th and 6th on the list of the fastest Americans in history, but it puts them clear of the rest of the field by approximately four-tenths — a huge margin. But Abbey Weitzeil and Simone Manuel have been the top two in this event for the last two Olympic Trials. They’re the 3rd and 4th qualifiers for the final and are both aiming to lock up an individual event for the Paris Games.

Bobby Finke should take control of the men’s 1500 freestyle. He’s going for the sweep of the men’s distance events in Indianapolis, having won the 800 freestyle earlier this week. It would be a huge upset if anyone were to dethrone Finke, the American record holder and 3rd fastest all-time, as he looks to win this event for the second straight Trials. The race for second is heating up behind him as Luke Whitlock eyes locking up another Olympic event. But as the only man in the final besides Finke who’s been under the OQT (15:00.99) it’s Charlie Clark who may hold an advantage over Whitlock and the other likely contenders David Johnston and Daniel Matheson.

WOMEN’S 50 FREESTYLE — Final 

Final: 

  1. Simone Manuel (SUN), 24.13
  2. Gretchen Walsh (NAC), 24.15
  3. Abbey Weitzeil (CAL), 24.26
  4. Torri Huske (AAC), 24.33
  5. Rylee Erisman (LAKR), 24.62
  6. Erika Connolly (TNAQ), 24.63
  7. Catie DeLoof (NYAC), 24.69
  8. Maxine Parker (CA-Y), 24.90

On the final night of Trials, Simone Manuel took her swimming comeback to a new level by adding an individual event to her Olympic schedule in Paris. She was already qualified for Team USA in the 4×100 freestyle relay but her win here in the 50 freestyle gives her a chance to contest the 50 freestyle for the third straight Olympics.

In 2021, Manuel punched her ticket to Paris in this event — her last opportunity. Tonight, Manuel grabbed her last opportunity for an individual event with both hands, swimming her fastest time since the 2019 World Championships and taking the win in 24.13. The time takes .21 seconds off her season best and slots her into 8th in the world this season.

Both Gretchen Walsh and Torri Huske added from their semifinals times, which would have gotten first and second in this final. Despite adding .09 seconds, Walsh was still able to get her hand on the wall in 2nd place with a 24.15, adding to her Paris program. She was .02 seconds off Manuel’s time and the swim is the second fastest of her career.

Abbey Weitzeil had a strong swim, taking 3rd in 24.26, knocking .01 seconds off her season-best and finishing ahead of Huske’s 24.33.

15 year old Rylee Erisman finished 5th in 24.62, taking another .04 seconds off her personal best. In semifinals, she moved up to 2nd in the 15-16 age group per USA Swimming with a 24.66. She improves her hold on 2nd in the age group with this swim, behind only Claire Curzan‘s 24.17.

MEN’S 1500 FREESTYLE — Final

  • World Record: Sun Yang (CHN) – 14:31.02 (2012)
  • American Record: Bobby Finke – 14:31.59 (2023)
  • U.S. Open Record: Bobby Finke (USA) – 14:42.81 (2023)
  • World Junior Record: Franko Grgic (CRO) – 14:46.09 (2019)
  • 2021 U.S. Olympic Trials Champion: Bobby Finke – 14:46.06
  • 2024 Olympic Qualifying Time: 15:00.99

Final: 

  1. Bobby Finke (SPA), 14:40.28 U.S. Open Record
  2. David Johnston (TST), 14:52.74
  3. Luke Whitlock (FAST), 14:53.00
  4. Daniel Matheson (SUN), 14:59.51
  5. Luke Ellis (SAND), 15:06.71
  6. Charlie Clark (OSU), 15:12.60
  7. William Mulgrew (SAC), 15:17.62
  8. Carson Hick (KYA), 15:17.92

As expected, Bobby Finke ran away with the men’s 1500 freestyle, sweeping the men’s distance races for the second straight Olympic Trials. Finke powered away to win the event in 14:40.28, erasing his own U.S. Open Record. He set that mark at 14:42.81 during 2023 U.S. Nationals; later that summer in Fukuoka, he became the 3rd fastest performer in history (14:31.59), winning Worlds silver after an incredible race with Ahmed Hafnaoui.

His time here tonight moves him into 2nd in the world this season after Daniel Wiffen‘s gold medal performance at the Doha Worlds in February.

2023-2024 LCM Men 1500 Free

Daniel IRL
Wiffen
02/18
14:34.07
2Robert
FINKE
USA14:40.3806/23
3Gregorio
PALTRINIERI
ITA14:41.3811/28
4Kuzey
Tuncelli
TURWJR 14:41.8907/04
5Florian
WELLBROCK
GER14:42.2804/28
View Top 31»

There was a great race for second and the final men’s Olympic roster spot. Through the early part of the race, it was Daniel Matheson out in lane 1 who had the grip on second place, which he turned over to Luke Whitlock at the 250-meter mark. David Johnston was hanging around as well, and he passed Matheson by the 450 meter turn to move into 3rd.

Matheson began to lose touch with Whitlock and Johnston during the second 500 meters. Whitlock and Johnston were racing right next to each other and kept a close eye on each other. Johnston took over second place at 1100 meters and began to grow his lead on Whitlock from there, consistently splitting 29-mids to Whitlock’s 29-highs.

Johnston held a 1.75 second lead over Whitlock heading into the final 100 meters. But like the 800 freestyle, Whitlock had a killer close to his race. He kicked into gear and erased nearly all of Johnston’s lead on him. The 18 year old split 57.19 on the final 100 (with a field-best 27.74 final 50) but ran out of room to catch Johnston, touching .26 seconds behind Johnston for 3rd.

Johnston held off Whitlock for second place, clocking a huge lifetime best of 14:52.74. It’s a 9.68 second drop for Johnston, sailing under the OQT and earning him his first Olympic berth after he finished 3rd in the 400 free and 4th in the 800 free earlier this week.

Coming into the final, only Finke and Clark had broken 15 minutes before. Johnston, Whitlock (14:53.00), and Matheson (14:59.51) all cleared that barrier for the first time tonight. Whitlock dropped a whopping 14.36 seconds for his 3rd place finish and Matheson cleared his old personal best by 2.44 seconds, taking 4th in 14:59.51.

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Susan Marcos-Chavela
26 days ago

I am voting for all Eight Contenders of the Women’s 50 FREE..TO ATTEND AND COMPETE IN PARIS..TOO CLOSE TO CALL..ALL WORLD CLASS ATHLETES..

usaswimerror
26 days ago

Wait a minute. Claire Curzan swam a 24.17 50 free as a 16 year old? Why in the world are we trying to make her a 200 backstroker?

Sharkspeed
26 days ago

Simone definitely knows how to deliver!
She delivered in 2021 after a very tough cycle, and she delivers again.
A Queen!

Guimaraes Cayley
26 days ago

Finke to break the WR in Paris.

Boomer
26 days ago

Simone is certified clutch

Great racing
26 days ago

Matheson had as good a meet as anyone — other than those who officially made the team.

400 Free 7th 3:48.63(prelims PB 3:48.57) 5 of the 6 in front of him are on the team (only Magahey not)
800 Free 3rd 7:49.34 PB Obviously, both of swimmers in front of him are on team.
1500 free 4th 14:59.51 PB All three of those in front of him are on team.

He was under the Olympic Qualifying Standard in both the 800 (7:51.65) and 1500 (15:00.99), after coming into meet with neither.

Finke, Johnston, Whitlock and Matheson all came into this 1500 race having already swum at least 3900 meters of Olympic Trials stress. For Finke to set a… Read more »

John26
26 days ago

It seems like Campbell-cowbell comments will place most amount of pressure on the Smith-McKeown rival. The reality is no matter how you split the other golds, it actually comes pretty close to 7-9 each. If either McKeown or Smith sweep the backstokes, it’s likely to settle the race in gold tally.

Comments like this almost places most pressure on the prominent swimmers and Australia’s other prominent multi-event stars (Titmus, OCallaghan) have less to worry about from an American rival in their main events. A case can also be made for Short as well. If someone came back and told me McKeown wins 3 individuals golds, I’d be rather confident Australia wins the gold tally. If someone told me she won… Read more »

cynthia curran
Reply to  John26
26 days ago

I thought the cowbell remark was kind of funny.

Sad talk
Reply to  cynthia curran
26 days ago

Has anyone raised the ironic fact that Cowbell Cate Campbell did not make the Australian team?

Sub13
Reply to  John26
26 days ago

I agree with the conclusion in your second paragraph (McKeown winning 3 or 0 golds would very likely determine the table) but I don’t see how the cowbell comments are relevant at all

Genevieve Nnaji
Reply to  Sub13
26 days ago

At this point, cowbells living rent-free inside Americans heads.

Sad talk
Reply to  Genevieve Nnaji
26 days ago

The cowbells rent-free space is in Melbourne.

Daniel Dcuey
Reply to  Genevieve Nnaji
25 days ago

More Cowbell: Blue Olyster Cult and Saturday Night Live. (Christopher Walken)

Robbos
Reply to  John26
26 days ago

If the cowbells helps the US swimmers, great, I know it means absolutely nothing to the Aussies, it was a nothing comment.

Genevieve Nnaji
Reply to  Robbos
26 days ago

Funny how weeklong Phelps was kept trashing cowbells and Australia is like meh.

Patrick
Reply to  Genevieve Nnaji
26 days ago

That’s Phelps being (too) super-competitive. It’s that Michael Jordan-esque “I find a slight in everything said about me” attitude, and it’s a turn-off. Other than that, I think MP is great. Just wish everyone would realize you have to have rivalries, and the petty annoyances on either side are often just that, petty, nothingburgers, and many times said in jest (see: Rowdy). US/AUS is great for swimming as a whole, even though on the world stage it’s not really just a two-dog fight anymore.

Caleb
Reply to  Patrick
26 days ago

I seriously doubt that Phelps gives a whoop about it. but NBC decided this is a storyline, the scripts get written, etc. etc.

Weinstein-Smith-Ledecky-Sims
Reply to  Patrick
26 days ago

It’s bulletin board material for USA Swimming.

If one of the players from the New England Patriots said anything in public to rile up an opponent, former head coach Bill Belichick would have raked that player over the coals behind closed doors.

Genevieve Nnaji
26 days ago

As predicted by some people yesterday, both w50 free will be slower than semis

Awsi Dooger
Reply to  Genevieve Nnaji
26 days ago

Yeah that’s the trend. Lots of worn out swimmers. Noticeably less explosive at the 10 meter mark. It plays toward Sjostrom this time with the limited schedule.

But she’ll have the spotlight, the assumptions and therefore the pressure.

Patrick
Reply to  Genevieve Nnaji
26 days ago

Other than the 100, and a lone individual M/F in distance, what in the Michael Phelps man-bun is going on in freestyle in America?

Hank
Reply to  Patrick
26 days ago

Nothing. USA is deep, but there are just faster and more talented middle distance freestylers abroad.

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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