Even in the best of circumstances, the Olympic Games marks a turning point in the story of swimming. It is when we see most of swimming’s retirements happen, and even more swimmers take a break from the sport to recover and load up for another Games.
In 2022, in the strangest period of life for most of the Tokyo 2020 Olympians, there are many other pressures related to the pandemic, the extra year for Tokyo, geopolitical conflict, and an uncertain season calendar that has brought an even higher level of turnover. Of the 49 U.S. Olympic pool swimmers at the Tokyo Games, only 22 managed to qualify for the 2022 World Aquatics Championships.
Here’s a look at all 27 Tokyo 2020 Olympians who missed the cut at International Team Trials last week in Greensboro, North Carolina:
Swam and didn’t qualify
After taking home two gold medals from Tokyo in the 4×100 freestyle relay and 4×100 medley relay, Apple placed eighth in the 100 free with a 48.52 on Tuesday. His time was nearly two seconds behind his 46.69 anchor that sealed the Americans’ 4×100 free relay victory last summer. Caeleb Dressel, Brooks Curry, Ryan Held, Drew Kibler, Hunter Armstrong, and Justin Ress nabbed the six qualifying spots ahead of him in the event this time around.
Another member of the gold medal-winning 100 free relay team, Becker missed out on the international team roster by finishing in 19th place with a 49.69 in the 100 free on Tuesday. Becker was one of the best stories of the last Olympics, going from retired and waiting tables to atop the podium in less than a year. He swam the third leg of the 100 free relay in Tokyo, reclaiming the lead before Apple’s anchor.
“Wasn’t quite the meet I was looking for,” Becker wrote on Instagram. “Now it’s just time to take some time off and evaluate what I did these past 9 months and think about what I need to do differently. I will keep everybody updated on my next move.”
The Michigan senior placed 14th in the 200 free heats on Wednesday and 13th in Friday’s 400 free heats. A fifth-place finisher on the 4×200 free relay team in Tokyo, Callan shared a short message on Instagram after the meet: “I’ll be back.”
A 200 fly specialist, Harting won the event at the 2020 Olympic trials (1:55.06) and broke the 1:55 mark for the first time in Tokyo, but he narrowly missed out on qualifying for the Worlds team by finishing third behind Luca Urlando (1:54.10) and Trenton Julian (1:54.22) on Tuesday. The 24-year-old Louisville graduate touched the wall in 1:55.09, missing the cut by .87 seconds.
Perhaps nobody came closer to a Worlds selection than the 18-year-old Alaskan phenom, who finished just .09 seconds from qualifying for the 100 breast. Jacoby, who surprised last summer with a gold medal victory in the event, swam a 1:06.21, just barely being out-touched by Kaitlyn Dobler (1:06.19) and Annie Lazor (1:06.12). Rio 2016 Olympic gold medalist and current world record holder Lily King won the 100 breast in 1:05.67.
“I told her good job,” King said of Jacoby. “That’s tough. It is definitely a setback, but she has a bright future ahead of her.
“I know, especially from personal experience, that the year after the Olympics, it’s really hard. And I can’t imagine going back to high school the year after the Olympics.”
Jacoby also posted personal bests in the 50 breast (30.35) and 200 breast (2:26.60), but finished in third place and fifth place, respectively – two spots away from qualifying. She is set to enroll at Texas in the fall.
The 26-year-old Georgia grad and DC Tridents swimmer placed sixth in the 400 IM with a 4:14.44. Carson Foster (4:09.33) and Chase Kalisz (4:10.50) will swim the event at Worlds. Litherland, two-time Olympian, won a silver medal in Tokyo in the 400 IM.
Madden, a Tokyo silver medalist in the 4×200 free relay, placed 11th in 100 free prelims on Tuesday and ninth in the 200 free prelims on Wednesday. An Olympian in the 400 free last summer, the 23-year-old withdrew from the event on Friday to focus on her mental and physical health. Madden revealed on Instagram her struggle with Hashimoto’s disease, which she suffered from for over a decade but hadn’t seriously affected her swimming career until this season.
The two-time Olympic gold medalist placed 15th in the 50 fly and 32nd in the 100 fly after battling through some health issues through the past year. Shields, who won gold in the 4×100 medley relay in Tokyo, shared frustrations with his respiratory health on Instagram after his races.
A two-time Olympian, Smoliga barely missed the Worlds cut with a third-place showing in the 50 back. The 27-year-old swam a 27.33 in the event, tying her own American record, but Katharine Berkoff (27.12) and Regan Smith (27.25) both finished under that mark. Smoliga also placed eighth in the 100 free on Tuesday and sixth in the 100 back on Friday while scratching from the 200 free and 200 back.
- Abbey Weitzeil
The two-time Olympian placed sixth in the 50 free on Saturday and seventh in the 100 free on Tuesday. The 25-year-old Weitzeil took home a silver medal in the 4×100 medley relay and a bronze in the 4×100 free relay from Tokyo last summer. Weitzeil finished 5th in prelims of the 100 free at Trials, but added two tenths to finish 7th in finals. Later in the meet, she finished 6th in the 50 free.
- Haley Anderson
A three-time Olympian and silver medalist in the 10k swim at the London 2012 Olympics, Anderson announced her retirement from competitive swimming in March.
Coming out of a busy NCAA season at Indiana, Brinegar was absent from the World Championship Trials. A 17th-place finisher in both the 800 and 1500 free races in Tokyo, he announced via Instagram a few weeks ago that he is forgoing his final year of collegiate eligibility to focus on the Paris 2024 Olympics. Brinegar will represent Team USA at the FINA Marathon Swim World Series in Portugal later this month.
A two-time Olympian and gold medalist in the 200 free relay at the 2016 Rio Olympics, Haas retired from competitive swimming in February. The 25-year-old finished fourth in the 4×200 relay in Tokyo and 12th in the 200 free.
The fifth-year senior from Stanford retired from swimming after the NCAA Championships in March, opting to join the Peace Corps in rural Peru in the fall. Forde earned a silver medal from Tokyo last summer as a 22-year-old in the 4×200 free relay.
The 31-year-old raced at her fourth Olympics in Tokyo, where she took home a silver medal in the 4×200 free relay and a bronze in the 4×100 free relay. She has not raced since, but has also not formally announced her retirement.
- Simone Manuel, 4×100 free relay (bronze), 50 free (12th)
- Bryce Mefford, 200 back (fourth)
- Jake Mitchell
At 19 years and seven months, Mitchell became the youngest American man to swim at an Olympics since 2004 when he finished eighth in the 400 free last summer in Tokyo. He was on pace to compete at International Team Trials until a mono diagnosis during the NCAA Championships derailed those plans. The 20-year-old is transferring from Michigan to Florida in the fall.
A two-time Olympian and three-time gold medalist, Pieroni is recovering from a recent knee surgery in March. The 26-year-old Indiana grad won gold in the 4×100 free relay and 4×100 medley relay last summer in Tokyo.
A fourth-place finisher in the 4×200 free relay in Tokyo, Seliskar announced his retirement from competitive swimming in March.
The Tokyo Olympic silver medalist in the 1500 free cited a shoulder injury as her reason for missing last week’s trials.
- Ashley (Twichell) Wall
After making her Olympic debut last summer with a seven-place finish in the 10k, the 32-year-old announced last November that she and her husband, Derek, were expecting their first child.
- Jordan Wilimovsky, 10k (10th)
- Andrew Wilson
A Tokyo Olympic gold medalist in the 4×100 medley relay, the 28-year-old retired from competitive swimming two weeks ago.