By The Numbers: 2021 U.S. Olympic Swimming Trials Qualifiers


With Wave I of the 2021 U.S. Olympic Swimming Trials kicking off on Friday, the eve of the opening day seems like an appropriate time to take a statistical look at both Trials meets.

Below we’ll take a look at the number of qualifiers per event, swimmers with the most Trials cuts, the most lopsided and closest events (on paper), and much more.

Shoutout to SwimSwam’s Barry Revzin, who crunched all of the data in this article.

Number of Qualifiers

A total of 1,543 swimmers have achieved at least one Wave I Trials standard inside the qualifying period, which began in November of 2018, with 651 Wave II qualifiers and 892 with only Wave I. It’s important to remember that several qualified swimmers are no longer swimming, so these numbers don’t necessarily reflect the number of competitors that will be at each meet.

Check out a visual look at the number of qualifiers by age below:

Including both waves, the men’s 50 free has the most qualifiers with 205, followed by the men’s 100 back (169) and 100 breast (165). The splash n’ dash is also the most populated event in terms of qualifiers for the women with 163.

On the flip side of things, the 1500 free has the lowest number of qualifiers for both genders, with 71 for the men and 60 for the women. The women’s 1500 is notably a new Olympic this event this year, as is the men’s 800 free, which has the gender’s third-lowest qualifier count with 81.

Olympic Trials Qualifiers, Both Waves

Male Qualifiers Event Female Qualifiers
205 50 free 163
134 100 free 120
94 200 free 105
110 400 free 104
81 800 free 70
71 1500 free 60
169 100 back 153
112 200 back 98
165 100 breast 136
111 200 breast 103
136 100 fly 131
92 200 fly 109
106 200 IM 131
80 400 IM 93

Looking exclusively at Wave II, the women’s 50 free has the most qualifiers at 54, followed by the men’s 50 free and women’s 100 back with 52.

The men’s 400 IM brings up the rear with 43 qualifiers.

Olympic Trials Qualifiers, Wave II Only

Male Qualifiers Event Female Qualifiers
52 50 free 54
46 100 free 51
50 200 free 49
45 400 free 47
50 800 free 47
44 1500 free 45
50 100 back 52
44 200 back 47
50 100 breast 50
45 200 breast 45
47 100 fly 49
49 200 fly 46
50 200 IM 46
43 400 IM 49

Number of Cuts

Hali Flickinger, the favorite in the women’s 200 butterfly, proves to be the most versatile top tier swimmer of the bunch with nine Wave II Trials cuts, followed by Madisyn Cox, Regan Smith and Michael Andrew with eight.

Flickinger has achieved the standard in the women’s 200/400/800 free, 100/200 back, 100/200 fly, and 200/400 IM.

Most Cuts, Wave II

Rank Swimmer Wave II Cuts
1 Hali Flickinger 9
T-2 Madisyn Cox 8
T-2 Regan Smith 8
T-4 Michael Andrew 7
T-4 Alex Walsh 7
T-4 Melanie Margalis 7
T-4 Caeleb Dressel 7
T-4 Kieran Smith 7
T-4 Katie Ledecky 7
T-4 Katie McLaughlin 7

Including both waves, the swimmer with the most Trials cuts is 16-year-old Bella Sims, who swims for the Sandpipers of Nevada, with 11 cuts. Four of those cuts are also under the Wave II standard, so Sims will be swimming next week in the 200, 400, 800 and 1500 free events.

Most Cuts, Overall

Rank Swimmer Cuts (Both Waves)
1 Bella Sims 11
T-2 Hali Flickinger 9
T-2 Alex Walsh 9
T-2 Justina Kozan 9
T-2 Chase Kalisz 9
T-6 Madisyn Cox 8
T-6 Regan Smith 8
T-6 Kieran Smith 8
T-6 Melanie Margalis 8
T-6 Jay Litherland 8
T-6 Andrew Seliskar 8
T-6 Andrew Abruzzo 8

Number of Top Seeds

No surprise here – Katie Ledecky leads the charge with the top seed in four events: women’s 200, 400, 800 and 1500 free.

Caeleb Dressel owns three, all the events in which he is the reigning world champion (men’s 50 free, 100 free, 100 fly), and four more swimmers own two.

Swimmer #1 Seeds
Katie Ledecky 4
Caeleb Dressel 3
Ryan Murphy 2
Simone Manuel 2
Bobby Finke 2
Regan Smith 2


Going off of percentages, the men’s 50 free is the most lopsided event on the Wave II program, with Dressel’s 21.04 entry 2.76% better than #2 Michael Andrew (21.62).

Ledecky’s 1500 free, Regan Smith‘s 200 back and Dressel’s 100 fly are next three highest.

Largest gaps from 1st seed to 2nd seed:
  • 2.76% – Caeleb Dressel (21.04) over Michael Andrew (21.62) in M 50 Free
  • 2.66% – Katie Ledecky (15:29.51) over Ashley Twithell (15:54.19) in W 1500 Free
  • 2.52% – Regan Smith (2:03.35) over Kathleen Baker (2:06.46) in W 200 Back
  • 2.38% – Dressel (49.50) over Maxime Rooney (50.68) in M 100 Fly

The four closest races are all 200s, led by the men’s 200 IM where Chase Kalisz‘s .05 lead on Andrew works out to just 0.04%.

Smallest gaps from 1st seed to 2nd seed
  • 0.04% – Chase Kalisz (1:56.78) over Michael Andrew (1:56.83) in M 200 IM
  • 0.12% – Will Licon (2:07.62) over Andrew Wilson (2:07.77) in M 200 Breast
  • 0.19% – Madisyn Cox (2:08.51) over Kathleen Baker (2:08.75) in W 200 IM
  • 0.20% – Andrew Seliskar (1:45.71) over Townley Haas (1:45.92) in M 200 Free

Qualifiers Per LSC

Looking at the qualifiers per USA Swimming LSC (Local Swimming Committees & Zones), North Carolina (NC) has the most qualified swims overall with 249, followed closely by Pacific Swimming (PC) with 243.

PC leads Wave II with 129.

LSC Qualified Swims, Overall

  1. North Carolina, 249
  2. Pacific Swimming, 243
  3. Southern California Swimming, 210
  4. Southeastern Swimming, 203
  5. Georgia Swimming, 177

LSC Qualified Swims, Wave II

  1. Pacific Swimming, 129
  2. North Carolina, 118
  3. Southeastern Swimming / Southern California Swimming, 93
  4. Georgia Swimming, 87

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2 years ago

wait- did Kayla Han qualify for the trials? in what event/s did she qualify for. she is so fast for 12!

Reply to  Emma
2 years ago

400 IM. She won the B final on Saturday in 4:51.08.

Never Was
2 years ago

Number of athletes by LSC is an interesting stat. With powerhouse D-I programs in North Carolina and Pacific Swimming, it would be interesting to see a breakdown of the athletes by their age group LSC-affiliation. Pacific, for one, would not show out this well without CAL and Stanford (and their associated post grad programs) boosting the numbers

Reply to  Never Was
2 years ago

It would be interesting…but would be a terrible task to do.

Once USA Swimming sets up their API, it might be possible depending on how robust it is by comparing to LSC affiliation of the same athlete at age 18. But for now…it would be a level of effort that would far exceed its value.

For a sport that relies on data so heavily…the sport really doesn’t make data easy :-(.

2 years ago

Also—any chance you could post the list of wave 2 qualifiers in each event?

A female who hates sexist men🤩
2 years ago

Well someone is salty that they aren’t tik tok famous or good at swimming. Might want to try a new hobby, clearly you aren’t good at it🥰

2 years ago

I thought I was on Twitter for a moment…..

2 years ago

I think USA Swimming really nailed the sweet spot with the # of Wave II participants in each event. 6-8 heats of 8 lanes each seems about perfect–hopefully not too overcrowded for the participants for warming up and down, and still deep enough that there’s sufficient competition to get into semis.

I know that it would be tougher to pinpoint these times in advance in 2024, since you have to set cuts in 2022 or something like that. But, I wouldn’t mind seeing USA Swimming try to do something like they did this year again–say, around January 2024, figure out where the 40th place qualifier is in each event, and say that you have to hit that time to… Read more »

Reply to  Joe
2 years ago

They usually swim 10 Lanes. Not sure about this year

Young Swammer
Reply to  Joe
2 years ago

I disagree. To me, one of the key things in the motivation and excitement of qualifying for Olympic Trials is the opportunity to swim in the same meet and pool as the best of the best in the sport, and to experience the atmosphere and huge crowds of the event. Granted, I haven’t seen the Wave I meet yet, so it’s hard to judge what the atmosphere and competition will be like, but from the psych sheets and the number of qualifiers choosing not to attend, it doesn’t seem like it will have the typical atmosphere associated with Trials. Also, many of the younger swimmers will not get the experience of a true Trials this year. If I had qualified… Read more »

2 years ago

uhhhh the usa women have a legit gold medal shot in almost every event so you’re definitely wrong

Gowdy Raines
2 years ago

Someone sure has an axe to grind with TikTok lolol

About James Sutherland

James Sutherland

James swam five years at Laurentian University in Sudbury, Ontario, specializing in the 200 free, back and IM. He finished up his collegiate swimming career in 2018, graduating with a bachelor's degree in economics. In 2019 he completed his graduate degree in sports journalism. Prior to going to Laurentian, James swam …

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