A Comprehensive Review Of The Top Olympic Trial Meets From April

The month of April essentially kicked off the official Olympic Trials season with multiple nations hosting Paris 2024 qualifying competitions.

For some countries, the Trials meet represented the only opportunity for swimmers to make the grade for this summer’s Olympics. In contrast, others marked just another meet within the overall World Aquatics qualification window which ends on June 23rd.

In case you missed any of the action, get caught up with our digest of key highlights from the most high-profile April championships.

Aquatics GB Championships

The 2024 Aquatics GB Championships took place at the London Aquatics Centre, the site of swimming action at the 2012 Olympic Games. This competition represented the sole qualifying opportunity for British swimmers, with the athletes having to not only place 1st in their event but also meet stiff-Aquatics GB-mandated selection standards which, in most cases, were quicker than the World Aquatics Olympic Qualification Time.

Key performances included a statement-making comeback 100m breaststroke at the hands of Olympic champion Adam Peaty. Although the 29-year-old has competed multiple times since he dropped out of the 2023 British Championships and that year’s World Championships, the world record holder hadn’t been under the 58-second barrier in the 100m breast since 2021. At these championships, he notched 57.94 to rank #2 in the world on the season.

Peaty’s head-turning swim was paired with 20-year-old Oliver Morgan‘s new 100m back national record of 52.70 to give rise to men’s medley Olympic relay gold medal contention talks. GBR’s backstroke leg has been relatively quiet since the likes of Christopher Walker-Hebborn retired but Morgan’s continued improvement now puts the nation in the podium-topping conversation to potentially rival reigning Olympic champions the United States.

As is typical of elite meets with British participants, the men’s freestyle game was frighteningly fast. Ben Proud and Matt Richards both dipped under the Olympic QT in the 50m, with Proud crushing 21.25 and Richards snagging 21.83. In the 100m sprint, 3 men got under the 48-second threshold, led by Richards who notched 47.84. His Olympic relay teammate Duncan Scott scored 47.92 2 while reigning 200m free Olympic gold medalist Tom Dean hit 47.94.

The 200m free race was one for the ages and was a fiercely fought battle from every lane. Richards once again got the wall first in 1:44.69 followed by Scott’s 1:44.75, Dean’s 1:45.09 and James Guy‘s 1:45.28 to set the nation up nicely to defend its Olympic gold.

The women’s side of the British swimming house performed well in their own right, with Olympian Kathleen Dawson continuing her comeback tour since having been plagued with a back injury. 26-year-old Dawson posted a time of 59.74 to take the 100m back, registering her first sub-minute performance in 3 years to qualify for Paris.

Freya Colbert put on a show across several events, including as the winner of the 200m free. Colbert torched a time of 1:56.22 to wind up with the gold in the 2nd-best time of her career. But Colbert also reaped the top spot in the 400m IM putting up a stellar 4:34.01 to undercut her previous PB of 4:35.28 by well over a second.

Chinese National Championships

The 2024 Chinese National Championships wrapped up last month as well, although the competition was not the only qualification meet for its swimmers to notch Paris-worthy swims. Times logged at this 9-day affair were ranked along with performances at the 2023 World Championships and 2024 World Championships to determine the 2 fastest swimmers to make the Olympic roster.

Although mega star and 200m breaststroke world record holder Qin Haiyang was a little on the quiet side, other teammates stepped up to make it happen in a big way.

For instance, Yang Junxuan fired off a new national record of 52.68 en route to qualifying for the Games while Tang Qianting hit 1:04.39 as a new Asian Record in the 100m breaststroke.

Olympic champion Wang Shun shined brightly in the 200m IM, crushing a time of 1:55.35 en route to putting up the 3rd best time of his career. He fell just .3 away from the 1:55.00 which garnered him gold at the 2020 Olympic Games.

100m free world record holder Pan Zhanle swept victories across the 50m/100m/200m/400m free events including a blistering time of 46.97 in the 100m.

You can also catch up on 5 of the top takeaways from the championships here:

Swiss Championships

The 2024 Swiss Championships were not a one-time Trials meet per se but 22-year-old Olympic medalist Noe Ponti raced as if his one and only chance at Olympic qualification was on the line.

Ponti clocked new national records in both the 50m and 100m butterfly events to put the world on notice with Paris on the horizon.

Although not an Olympic event, the 50m fly saw Ponti punch a result of 22.65 in Uster. That rendered him the #6 performer in history in the event and gave us a glimpse into his form and speed potential come his main event of the 100m fly.

In that longer sprint, Ponti crushed an outing of 50.16, destroying his own Swiss Record of 50.74 set at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games. He is now the 6th-swiftest 100m fly performer in history.

South African Olympic Trials

The South African Olympic Trials were the primary qualification competition but, if events were sans athletes hitting selection standards, then performances rendered at other World Aquatics-sanctioned events can be considered.

With these stipulations in mind, here is a list of the South African Olympic qualifiers through this publishing:

Qualifiers at 2024 South African National Championships (Olympic Trials)

Qualifiers (outside of those above) at World Aquatics-Sanctioned Meets

  • Rebecca Meder – Women’s 200m IM (2:10.95, heats of 2023 World Championships)
  • Chad Le Clos – Men’s 100m fly (51.48, 2024 World Championships)
  • Matt Sates – Men’s 100m fly (51.66, 2023 World Cup Budapest), 200m fly (1:55.25, 2023 World Cup Budapest), 200m IM (1:57.72, 2023 World Cup Budapest)

Key highlights from the South African trials included Tatjana Smith (nee Schoenmaker) ripping a big-time 2:19.92 in the women’s 200m breaststroke. Smith now owns 4 of the top 10 200m breaststroke performances ever. She ranks #1 in the world on the season, overtaking the crown from American Kate Douglass from her semi-final time in Doha.

Erin Gallagher also clocked a national record en route to qualifying in the women’s 100m butterfly. 25-year-old Gallagher touched in 57.32 to overwrite her own previous South African national standard of 57.59 logged at this year’s World Championships

Gallagher owns 9 of the top 10 all-time South African women’s 100m butterfly performances and she’s been under the 58-second threshold on 7 occasions.

Finally, University of Virginia ace Aimee Canny established a new African continental record in the 200m free. She led off her squad’s 4x200m free relay in 1:56.80 to produce the first sub-1:57 result of her career. Her time outperformed the previous South African national standard of 1:57.17 retired Karin Prinsloo put on the books nearly a decade ago in 2014 and beat the African continental record of 1:57.04 Olympic medalist Kirsty Coventry of Zimbabwe established in 2008.

Eindhoven Qualification Meet

Another step in Dutch swimmers’ qualification for Paris 2024 was the Eindhoven Qualification Meet which took place April, 11th – April 14th.

Olympian Marrit Steenbergen was the star of the show, as the 24-year-old posted a time of 2:08.86 in the 200m IM to establish a new national record. Her result lowered her Dutch standard of 2:09.16 from last year, an outing that rendered the versatile ace the Netherlands’ first woman to dip under the 2:10 threshold in the 200m IM.

During the same finals session, Steenbergen ripped a stellar 52.72 in the 100m free to hit the 4th-swiftest outing of her career.

Steenbergen opened in 25.67 and closed in 27.05 to come within half a second of the 52.26 national record she set en route to becoming the 100m free world champion this year in Doha.

Tessa Giele logged a time of 57.38 to take the women’s 100m fly en route to probable Paris qualification. Her outing hacked over half a second off her previous career-quickest result of 57.96 established at the Helsinki Swim Meet in March. She ties Magdelena Veldhuis as the Netherlands’ 3rd-best women’s 100m fly performer in history.

German Championships/Olympic Trials

The German Championships represented a last-chance opportunity for German swimmers to qualify for the Olympics with athletes vying for any open spaces once qualifiers from the 2023 and 2024 World Championships were slotted.

Right off the bat on day one we saw an amazing performance from Lukas Maertens in the men’s 400m free. 22-year-old Maertens fired off a world-leading time of 3:40.33 to check in as the 4th-best performer in history, sitting just .26 away from retired Paul Bidermann‘s seemingly untouchable world record of 3:40.07 that’s been on the books since 2009.

  • You can read more about Maertens’ head-turning performance here.

But Maertens wasn’t done, following up that performance with a monster 1:44.14 in the 200m free. That surpassed his previous personal best of 1:44.79 and rendered him 7th-quickest men’s 200m free performer in history. He now ranks#1 in the world this season, bumping 20-year-old South Korean World Championships gold medalist Hwang Sunwoo.

20-year-old Cedric Buessing put up another impressive performance in the men’s 400m IM, capturing gold in a time of 4:12.56. Buessing, who swims for UIndy in the NCAA, registered his 2nd 4:12-zone performance recently as just earlier last month he fired off a time of 4:12.33 at the Eindhoven Qualification Meet. That prior effort represented a huge personal best and qualified him for his first Olympic Games.

Additionally, 21-year-old Isabel Gose was a one-woman freestyle wreaking ball, sweeping the 200m/400m/800m/1500m free events.

Gose clocked 1:56.66, 4:02.48, 8:19.48 and 15:52.02 in the respective distances to continue her momentum from earning a trio of medals at this year’s World Championships.

Bonus – Australian Swimming Championships

Although not an Olympic selection event, the 2024 Australia Swimming Championships marked an important milestone in the lead-up to June’s actual Trials.

Kaylee McKeown was unstoppable, cranking out national records in both the 200m IM and 400m IM. McKeown’s time of 2:06.99 made her the #5 performer all-time in the event while her outing of 4:28.22 made the Aussie the #3 performer in history.

Meg Harris also found herself in the meet’s highlight reel, establishing new lifetime bests in the 50m free (24.28) and 100m free (52.59).

Mollie O’Callaghan, Elijah Winnington and William Petric also made our list of ‘5 Takeaways from the Meet’ that are significant as the Trials approach.


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2 months ago

I was under the impression that LeClos and Sates didn’t qualify. Good to see them in contention

Last edited 2 months ago by John26
2 months ago

Schoenmaker went a 2:19.01, not a 2:19.92 at trials.

2 months ago

Despite China (which wasn’t a trials), pretty much everyone only cares about US & AUS trials between here and Paris. Oh – and the ‘Summer trials’ maybe.

About Retta Race

Retta Race

Former Masters swimmer and coach Loretta (Retta) thrives on a non-stop but productive schedule. Nowadays, that includes having just earned her MBA while working full-time in IT while owning French 75 Boutique while also providing swimming insight for BBC.

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