Breakout Watch: Whose Star Will Rise US Olympic Trials?

2024 U.S. Olympic Trials 

Nothing is ever guaranteed, that’s why we continue to watch sports year after year. Rooting for the perennial champs is easy, but there is nothing quite like an upset—having a dark horse come out of nowhere and do something no one expected.

Coming into US Trials, there are a number of swimmers on watch who are poised to breakout and get a real shot at representing the US in Paris.


 Jillian Cox – (Free)

Being seeded second in an event heading into Trials as a National Team member may not be the biggest underdog story, but Jillian Cox is only 18. She is going in second in the 800 Free and will face a fierce field competing with other young standouts Claire Weinstein and Katie Grimes as well as more seasoned veterans Leah Smith and Paige Madden.

Still, the 800 may not be her only chance at the team as she is positioned well to compete for a spot in the 400 and 1500 as well.

Kennedy Noble (Back / IM)

Going in Top-6 in 2 events, Kennedy Noble is on watch in both of the backstroke events. After winning the 200 back at the ACC Championships and Pan American Games in 2023, the NC State Sophomore is ready for a big breakthrough swim.

Josephine Fuller (Back)

The 2023 Pan American 100 back champion is entered in 4 events right now and seeded in strong positions to make semi finals in both backstokes and the 100 butterfly. If she can put together a few good races, she could be in a place to challenge for a spot on the team.

Kelly Pash (Fly)

After her first International trip last summer for the Pan American Games, Pash is seeded 6th and 7th in the 100 and 200 fly respectively. Both of these events have tight fields and could be anyone’s race to get their ticket punched for Paris.

Olivia Bray (Back/Fly)

The NCAA champion in the 200 fly is noticeably absent from the 200 fly at Trials but is still in good standing in the 200 back and 100 fly in which she placed 3rd at last summer’s Pan American Games.

Lilla Bognar (IM/Back/Fly)

Since competing in the recent World Championships in Doha, Bognar is set to compete in 4 events with strong positionings in the IMs, especially the 400. This Florida commit could be ready to take that next step and have a breakout meet.

Isabel Ivey (Free/IM)

The SEC Champion in the 200 free, Ivey could be poised to make that transition into LCM with a strong 200 free earning her a spot on the relay team for Paris. She is also seeded well in the 200 IM, though that field is less open outside the top 3.

Junior Standouts:

Along with these names, there is always the possibility that a young swimmer at their first Trials can have the meet of their life and end up making the team. Some other young rising stars to watch are:

Piper Enge (100/200 breast), Raya Mellott (100/200 breast), and Rylee Erisman (50, 100, 200 free & 100, 200 back)


Noah Nichols / John Kelly (Breast)

Both Nichols and Kelly are seeded well enough to make semi finals in both breaststrokes, but in events that have seen some great turnover in recent Trials, truly anything can happen. Nichols goes into a loaded 100 breast field seeded third with a best time of 59.40 ahead of names like Michael Andrew and Cody Miller.

Aaron Shackell (Free/Fly)

Another of the Shackell siblings is seeded well in several events with the 200, 400 freestyle and the 200 butterfly all being within reach. After returning to Carmel for an Olympic Redshirt, the #1 recruit in the 2023 class has spent all of 2024 training with the focus to make the team.

Baylor Nelson (Free/IM)

Nelson comes into Trials as the SEC Champion in both IMs three years running. In some stacked fields, Nelson will fight for one of the IM spots as well as making a run at the relay team in the 200 freestyle. 

Luke Whitlock (Free)

With a very open race in the 800 and uncertainty in the 400 and 1500 frees, Whitlock is a name to watch as things shake out in the mid-distance freestyle events. With trip to Paris on the line, the 800 free is set to be one of the most exciting races for second behind reigning Olympic Champion Bobby Finke.

Maximus Williamson (Free/IM)

The Virginia commit is the #1 recruit in the class of 2025 and is sitting pretty heading into Trials. Seeded in the top-16 in both the 100 and 200 free where more spots are on the line for the Olympic Team, as well as 4th in the 200 IM, Williamson is one to watch as young stars take the stage.

Daniel Diehl / Jack Aikins (Backstroke)

As Ryan Murphy sets his sights on a third sweep of the backstroke events this week in Indy, a number of names are all waiting for their moment to earn a spot to their first Olympics. Among them are Diehl and Aikins who have been steadily improving year over year and are strong contenders in the 100 and 200 backstrokes. 

The 200 back is also set to be a close one with Keaton Jones, Ian Grum, and Hunter Tapp all with a shot to surprise everyone and make the team.

Rex Maurer

With all eyes on the 400 freestyle to see if the US can get two men under the A-cut in the final, Rex Maurer is a name to watch. Maurer has made some steady improvements over the past few years and is ready for a big breakout that could come night 1 in Indy.

Junior Standouts:

Some potential young breakout stars on the men’s side are:

Luka Mijatovic (200, 400, 800, 1500 Free), Gregg Enoch (400 Free, 200 Fly, 200, 400 IM), Sean Green (400, 800, 1500 Free, 200 Back, 400 IM), and Luke Ellis (400, 800, 1500 Free, 200 Back, 400 IM)

There will be a lot of exciting racing this week in Indy and the only thing that is certain is uncertainty. Follow along with all the storylines as they unfold here.

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1 month ago

Here’s a question…. Does anyone know how much it costs to install the two Myrtha pools at the Lucas Oil Stadium? I’m guessing $4million dollars?, maybe more…. Have the pools been sold for use after the trials? Usually I think they have been sold to a team or recreation department somewhere in the USA. Let me know if anyone knows the answer.

Just Sayin’
1 month ago

Where’s Klink?! 🤫

Sko Cats
1 month ago

Don’t sleep on Dylan Felt

1 month ago

Not sure some of those listed should be considered breakout!

1 month ago

I really like Rylee Erisman to at least make the Junior Pan Pacs team, and be on the cusp of finaling in the 50/100 free. Seems to get faster every time she hits the pool. First Trials is always an intense experience but it’s certainly a possibility!

Reply to  NCSwimFan
1 month ago

She’s a sleeper pick for the 4×1 relay

1 month ago

I would love to see Kaii Winkler bounce back into the conversation.

Last edited 1 month ago by SwimCoach
Genevieve Nnaji
1 month ago

No mention of Alex Shackell?

Last edited 1 month ago by Genevieve Nnaji
Reply to  Genevieve Nnaji
1 month ago

already made worlds last year

Reply to  theswimflationguru
1 month ago

So did Cox. Guess Cox didn’t medal while Shackell did, but still a bit odd.

I miss the ISL (go dawgs)
1 month ago

I have a lot of confidence in Lilla Bognar to surprise some people. Not make the team, but be in the race in multiple events.

Reply to  I miss the ISL (go dawgs)
1 month ago

Lilla Bognar does her job if she takes the entire Stanford Cardinal women’s swimming contingent in the W 400 IM.

Last edited 1 month ago by Weinstein-Smith-Ledecky-Sims
Reply to  Weinstein-Smith-Ledecky-Sims
1 month ago

You are single-handedly putting the hate in USA swimming. Shame on SwimSwam for continuing to allow your ilk to be published. All these women and men are just truly amazing and I applaud all of them.

About Aidan Burns

Aidan Burns

Aidan Burns was born Sept. 17 1997 in Saratoga, Calif. to mother Anne Griswold. The freestyle and medley specialist chose to swim for the University of Georgia where he is currently a sophomore majoring in Biochemistry. Back in California, he swims under head coach John Bitter for the Santa Clara Swim …

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