Luke Whitlock

View Current photo via Jack Spitser

Luke Whitlock is an American distance freestyler. After his meteoric rise through the 2022-23 season, Whitlock represented the USA at Worl Juniors. At the 2024 Olympic Trials, he led the prelims of the 400 and 800 free. After falling to 5th in the 400 free final, Whitlock was able to follow through in the 800 free final, placing 2nd to Bobby Finke.

Junior Swimming

2022 US Open Water Junior National Championships (Sarasota, Florida)

While Whitlock was a good pool swimmer, he first made his name known when he took 5th in the 7.5k at Open Water Junior Nationals.  

2022 Summer Junior Nationals (Irvine, California)

Whitlock had some impressive PBs at the 2022 Summer Juniors. He placed 11th in the 400 free with a 3:58.79 but only got better with more distance, taking 8th in the 800 free with a 8:14.60 and 4th in the 1500 free with a 15:38.15. That 1500 earned him an invitation to USA Swimming’s 2022 Boys National Select Camp.

2022 Winter Juniors–East (Greensboro, North Carolina)

Whitlock continued his improvement in the SC pool. In the 500 free, he had a massive drop in prelims, moving from a 4:31.43 to a 4:23.60. Whitlock was even faster in finals with a 4:23.42 for 11th. He had another big drop in the 1650, dropping 12.13 seconds with a 15:11.42 for 8th. He also dropped 6.88 seconds in his 400 IM with a solid 3:57.30.

2023 Indiana Senior State Championship (Elkhart, Indiana)

If his time drops at Winter Juniors were not enough, Whitlock took more massive chunks off his PBs at his LSC Championships. In the 500, he lowered his PB all the way down to a 4:20.05. His 1650 was similarly impressive, with him shaving 10 seconds off with a 15:01.79. That was the top time in the high school class of 2024 at the time. The 1000 split of 9:05.34 from that race was also a PB. He also went 3:53.48 in his 400 IM. Whitlock also showed some speed with a 1:39.30 200 free leading off a relay. 

2023 Indy Sectionals (Indianapolis, Indiana)

Whitlock continued to roll at his sectional meet in late March. His best swim came on day 1 in the 1500 free at 15:28.15. That was exactly a 10-second drop and a new Olympic Trials cut. The 800 free would have been a good race but the winner, Aaron Shackell, posted his 8:08.96 from an early heat. Whitlock still put together an excellent race, matching the Olympic Trials cut with an 8:09.69. He also went PBs of 3:56.01 and 4:32.02 in the 400 free and IM respectively. 

US Open Water  and Junior National Championships (Sarasota, Florida)

Whitlock competed in the Men’s 10k even though he was still a junior swimmer. There, he placed 14th overall and 10th among Americans with a 1:53:28.05. In the junior 7.5k, Whitlock found more success, placing 2nd in 1:26:29.88, 18 seconds back of winner Ryan Erisman. 

2023 Summer Junior Nationals (Irvine, California)

The best times continued to roll in for Whitlock. He just edged out his 400 free PB to place 2nd with a 3:51.77. He also took 2nd in the 1500 with a 15:22.22, another small PB. He showed off his versatility in the 400 IM, popping a 4:24.91 in prelims before adding to 4:27.41 for 15th in the final. He also made the 200 free “C” final and set a PB of 1:52.53 there. 

2023 FAST Monster Splash Closed Invite (Fishers, Indiana)

Swimming at his home pool, Whitlock broke 15:00 in  his 1650 for the first time at an early October meet. His 14:55.52 further distanced himself from the rest of the milers in the class of 2024. His 1000 split of 8:59.50 was also a PB. 

2023 Winter Juniors–East (Columbus, Ohio)

After another big drop in the 1500 LCM at the US Open Championship, Whitlock shaved 5 more seconds off his 1650 PB with a 14:50.37 to win by 9 seconds. His 1000 split of 8:56.16 was also a PB. The 500 free prelims were super speedy as 4 boys were under 4:20. Whitlock was one of those boys, leading the field with a 4:16.93 PB. He closed in an incredible 24.13 in prelims. In the final, Whitlock pushed the middle of his race far more than prelims, and while he did not have the same closing speed, that did not matter as he clocked another PB of 4:15.76 for 2nd. Whitlock also took 7th in the 400 IM with a 3:48.10. 

College Swimming

After his big swims in the summer of 2022, Whitlock committed to the University of Louisville. After his big drops in 2022 and early 2023, Whitlock moved up to #20 in our junior year re-rank of the class of 2024. In August 2023, Whitlock flipped his commitment to the University of Florida, after Louisville distance coach Aaron Bell departed for the University of Michigan. In our final re-rank, Whitlock moved up to #9. 

National/International Swimming

2023 US International Team Trials (Indianapolis, Indiana)

In all three of his events, Whitlock set PBs. Whitlock placed as high as 9th in the 800 free with an 8:00.79, an 8.9-second improvement. He also dropped 5.46 seconds in his 1500 free with a 15:22.69 for 14th. Those were both in timed finals but Whitlock also advanced out of the 400 free prelims in 15th with a massive 3:51.85. He added 2.05 seconds with a 3:53.90 to maintain seed in the final. His 800 and 400 free swims qualified him to represent the US at World Juniors. 

2023 World Aquatics Junior Championships (Netanya, Israel)

On day 1, Whitlock just made it back in the 400 free, placing 8th in prelims with a 3:52.33. In the final Whitlock sat in last through the 200 but made a move past 3 swimmers over the back half to palace 5th in 3:50.46, a PB. He matched that placement in the 800, dipping under 8:00 for the first time with a 7:55.00. 

2023 US Open Championships (Greensboro, North Carolina)

The seemingly unstoppable march of PBs continued for Whitlock. In the 1500 he dropped 14.13 seconds to place 3rd in a 15:08.09. He also added the 200 free to his list of Olympic Trials cuts with a 1:49.88. 

2024 Pro Swim Series–Westmont

Whitlock posted impressively fast in-season times at the PSS Westmont. He placed 5h in the 400 free (3:53.59), 3rd in the 800 free (7:58.20) and 2nd in the 1500 free (15:12.46).

2024 Indy May Cup (Indianapolis, Indiana)

In the same city where Olympic trials would be hosted a month later, albeit in a different pool, Whitlock put his name in contention to make an Olympic Team with some impressive best times. On the first night of the meet, Whitlock earned the win in the 1500 freestyle, swimming to a personal best time of 15:07.94. That was 0.15 seconds faster than his old best. 

In the 400 free, he duked it out with Ilia Sibirtsev. The two pushed each other to PBs. Whitlock posted a 3:49.10. He dropped 5 seconds off his 800 free PB on the last day of the meet, winning in 7:50.20. That was the #2 time form an American to that point in the 2023-24 season. Whitlock flexed his versatility with a 2:00.44, his 5th Olympic Trials cut. 

2024 US Olympic Team Trials (Indianapolis, Indiana)

Before trials, we put Whitlock on breakout watch, and break out he did. In the 400 on day 1, Whitlock stunned the final heat with a big-time swim of 3:46.42, which absolutely obliterated his previous lifetime standard of 3:49.10. That made him the top seed into the final and made him #2 all-time in the 17-18 NAG rankings behind Larsen Jensen’s 3:46.08 from 2004. In the final that night, Whitlock essentially recreated his splits from prelims with a 3:46.55 but that was just over 1 second off of qualifying and placed him 5th.

Whitlock 400 free prelims Whitlock 400 free finals
26.14  26.15
28.15 (54.29) 28.21 (54.36)
28.41 (1:22.70) 28.58 (1:22.92)
28.86 (1:51.56) 28.96 (1:51.90)
28.81 (2:20.37) 28.85 (2:20.75)
29.02 (2:49.39) 29.04 (2:49.79)
28.72 (3:18.11) 28.81 (3:18.60)
28.31 (3:46.42)  27.95 (3:46.55)

In the 800 free prelims, Whitlock led qualifying again with a 7:51.22, his 2nd-fastest swim. In the final, Whitlock crushed a massive 5-second PB. At the 50, sat 2nd to Olympic Champion Bobby Finke. He and Finke created major separation from the rest of the field through the rest of the race. Finke was just a little faster than or about dead even with him on every 50 split but created a 1.62-second lead by the 750. Whitlock surged down the final 50 with a 28.50, his only split significantly faster than Finke’s but not enough to touch first. Instead, he placed 2nd, .97 seconds back in a 7:45.19 to likely qualify for his first Olympics at just 18. That also destroyed the NAG record of 7:48.09 set by Larsen Jensen way back at the 2003 World Championships. Once he’s named to the team, Whitlock will be the youngest American man to make the U.S. Olympic swimming roster since 2000, when Michael Phelps earned his berth for the Sydney Games at 15 years old.

–This biography was originally developed by Lucas Caswell

Best Times

Course Event Time Date Meet
lcm 400 Free 3:46.42 06/15/24 2024 US Olympic Team Trials
Indianapolis, Indiana
lcm 800 Free 7:45.19 06/18/24 2024 US Olympic Team Trials
Indianapolis, Indiana
lcm 1500 Free 15:07.94 05/15/24 2024 Indy May Cup
Indianapolis, Indiana
scy 500 Free 4:15.76 12/07/23 2023 Winter Juniors–East
Columbus, Ohio
scy 1000 Free 8:56.15 12/09/23 2023 Winter Juniors–East
Columbus, Ohio
scy 1650 Free 14:50.37 12/09/23 2023 Winter Juniors–East
Columbus, Ohio