Call Answered in Women’s 100 Free Prelims at U.S. Olympic Trials


There’s been a lot of concern over the state of sprinting in this country, and while through two rounds the men have left things a little fuzzy, the women have so far answered the call in prelims.

At this time in 2012, Dana Vollmer led the way after the morning heats with a 54.35, and only the top ten swimmers made it in under 55. Two months later in London, the women (Missy Franklin, Jessica Hardy, Lia Neal, and Allison Schmitt)  finished with a bronze medal 3:34.24.

This year, the top time posted in the women’s 100 free prelims is nearly three quarters of a second faster than this time last cycle; Abbey Weitzeil posted 53.58 today, which certainly foreshadows strong swims to come. Her time this morning (in prelims!) puts the 19-year-old at the 6th-fastest American in history.

However, the shadow of the Australian greats looms over the aquatic center here in Omaha. Dynamic sister act Cate Campbell and Bronte Campbell hold the two fastest times in the world this year with 52.38 and 52.58 from the Australian Olympic Trials. As if that’s not scary enough for the Americans, the Aussies add in Emma McKeon, the fourth fastest woman in the world this year, who posted 52.80 at their Trials. Likely fourth-woman Brittany Elmslie ties for eighth in the world with 53.54.

But, the Americans are answering the call. To prove the success of the our sprinters, go back to this morning’s results. Today, behind Weitzeil, Amanda Weir (53.76), Dana Vollmer (53.80), and Simone Manuel (53.84) all came in under 54. In the finals of this event in 2012, only Jessica Hardy finished under 54, and just barely, with 53.96.

Furthermore, represented in the semifinals tonight, we will see nine of the top ten American 100 freestylers in history. Weir, Manuel, Vollmer, Franklin (9th this morning, 54.41), Natalie Coughlin (11th, 54.73), Katie Ledecky (6th, 54.04), Weitzeil, and Shannon Vreeland (tied for 12th, 54.87), represent nine of the top ten Americans in history, less only Dara Torres, the eighth-fastest American in history. Though many of us (myself included) spent months leading up to this event shaking with anticipation of the women’s 200 freestyle, the 100 free could end up being the more competitive final.

The Australians may prove unbeatable (although we certainly learned our lesson about calling any 4×100 relay invincible back in 2008), but it’s high time swimming fans stop writing the American women’s sprinting program’s obituary.

See the full results of the women’s 100 free prelims here.

In This Story


  1. Attila the Hunt says:

    I too so wish obsessive swimming fans stop writing the American women’s sprinting program’s obituary!

  2. Captain Awesome says:

    It’s an improvement but at least a second behind the Campbell’s doesn’t sound to me like “answering the call”. Just says that the 2012 trials were especially weak for the women’s 100 free.

    • iLikePsych says:

      I agree both with this and Attila’s post.

    • meeee says:

      its just the prelims Your Awesomeness

    • Michael says:

      Exactly my thoughts. And if I remember correctly, the Aussie trials had both Cambell’s and another individual (can’t remember the name at the moment) going sub 53 in the 100 free…We’re still a far cry from matching the foursome that the Aussies are going to be putting up…but still, it is just prelims. And if history continues, the Aussie usually swim at best what they swim at trials the majority of the time so there might be some ray of hope here.

      • robbos says:

        You wishes this happens this time!!!! I can assure you if you want to beat the Campbell sisters, the American girls will have to go low 52s & if you want to beat McEvoy, you need to go very low 47s. They will not come back to field like Magnassun.

  3. Steve Nolan says:

    Taking a page from the Lyanna Mormont school of headline writing:

  4. xenon says:

    If we could get 2 52 highs and a couple 53 mids at this meet that would be awesome. It’s possible. Manuel is probably fatigued from the 200 last night. Hopefully she can get enough good rest before the final. She should be able to get a pr after taking a whole year off to train for this meet. Weitzeil can get to 52 high as well. She said in an interview that she knows she is capable of it. If it doesn’t happen now, we will get there eventually. But in order to get there, there will be certain top US coaches that will not be involved in that process.

  5. TAA says:

    My headline would be: “No superstar has emerged yet for US team in 100 free” I’m still waiting patiently

    • Dan says:

      The US women would certainly win the 8×100 freestyle relay. To win the 4×100, someone (or 2) needs to step up who can get into the low 52s.

      In 2012, I did think the Aussie men were heavy favorites, and they did not medal. There is a reason you swim the meet, and going in with the 2nd best team on paper isn’t a bad spot to be.

  6. Justin Pollard says:

    Shoulda learned the lesson that no relay is unbeatable in 2000 … But that 2008 relay comeback by Lezak brings tears to my eyes!

    • Rafael says:

      Justin, this 2008 story is a myth with no basis that everbody talked.. US top 4 times befoe OG were faster than Feance..

      Also, this situation is a whole new level… Australia is probably 2 seconds or more faster than US.. the 4th Australian Girl as a 53 flat swimmer.. the top 3 are 52 swimmers.. and Cate can even break a 52 on a perfect race to come..

      • bobthebuilderrocks says:

        I agree, even Phelps mentioned in his book that the U.S had the most swimmers under 48 before the Olympic Games began. Jason Lezak, Garrett Weber-Gale, and himself.

  7. dude says:

    Until there are some women that consistently drop 52s, then we will remain average at best. Doesn’t make sense that with the population base we draw from that we can’t do better than 53 mid – high. Maybe when more coaches stop worrying about ‘developing an aerobic base’ (whatever that means), we can be in the conversation with Australia

  8. bobo gigi says:

    Too early to tell. Nothing has changed so far. We’ll know more after the semis.
    The current problem of US women’s sprint is that, apart from Abbey and Simone who are pure sprinters and will carry US sprint at least until Tokyo 2020, the other contenders are:
    – a veteran Weir who will probably retire after this summer
    – a veteran Vollmer, butterflyer, who will probably retire after this summer
    – Worrell, a butterflyer who swims 2 rounds of 200 fly the day before and has the 200 fly final tonight
    – KL, a mid-distance/distance swimmer
    – Missy Franklin who has never been a sprinter
    There’s simply a lack of young super talents sprint specialists. Nothing new. It’s like that for a while now. The problem is structural. It is no coincidence that USA can’t produce an olympic champion in that event since 1984 and a world champion since 1998 while you are so dominant in so many events. Same remark about the 200 fly.
    USA needs a sprint star on the women’s side. Like Adrian on the men’s side. Someone who inspires the next generations.
    And if we talk about the US relay in Rio, remember that the final is on the first day, the same day as the 100 fly prelims and final so adding Vollmer or Worrell is probably not the best idea.
    USA doesn’t more 53-second girls. USA needs 52-second girls. Especially if they want to win the silver in the 4X100 free relay against the Canadians and the Dutch. And if they want to beat Australia in the medley relay.
    By the way Hannah you can’t compare to 2012 trials results. The world has changed since then. To be competitive and be a medal contender you have to swim AT LEAST 52 high.
    Australian girls, Sjöström and very soon Oleksiak swim 53 mid not tapered. That’s the difference.
    Hopefully Abbey or Simone will join the club. Or both. Maybe not this week with the pressure. Anyway the right moment to do it is in Rio.
    Simone has inexplicably swum the 200 free the last 2 days and she will start her best event tired. Silly decision. You must be fresh for sprint. And it looks like she has more worked her endurance than her speed in the last few months. I doubt she will swim a 52 this week but I will be happy if she makes me wrong. I’d like to see Simone less cerebral too. 🙂 With the same state of mind she has in the 200 free. The question is: does she have the easy speed right now to do it?
    I have a different feeling about Abbey. I predict for a long time something great from her in Omaha. She has no fear and will attack the race. Will she hang on? That’s the question. But at least she tries. And I like that.

    • M Palota says:

      Confirm. I agree with everything Bobo has said. A bunch of 53’s is not “answering the call”. There’s lots of American women under 55 but nobody – so far – under 53. Tonnes of depth but no real superstar. And unfortunately for the Yanks, it’s the 4×100 not the 10×100.

    • Attila the Hunt says:

      Well well who’s turned to write another obituary on the American’s womens sprinting.

      Bobo, since you keep mentioning that only Weitzeil and Manuel are pure sprinters, let’s have a look at those other countries you keep comparing to, shall we?

      Australia: only two pure sprinters – the Campbell sprinters. McKeon is more like Vollmer in her peak days, a mainly flyer and 200 freestyler that just happens to be very fast in 100 too (her 50 is nothing special)
      The Netherlands: Only Kromowidjojo is pure sprinter. Heemskerk has always been 100-200 freestyler.
      Canada: Only Chantal van Landeghem. Oleksiak is not a pure sprinter in the kind of Campbell sisters and Manuel/Weitzel. Oleksiak is more like Sarah Sjostrom a freestyler-butterflyer hybrid, something like Vollmer is too. So, if Vollmer is not a pure sprinter, then neither is Oleksiak
      Sweden: If you don’t think Vollmer is a pure sprinter, then neither is Sarah Sjostrom. Michelle Coleman is 100-200 freestyler.
      GBR: Only Halsall is a pure sprinter.

      Basically USA has more pure sprinters than any other countries. USA may not have the Campbell sisters-level sprinters yet. Which other country has them? none. Talents like Campbell sisters just do not turned up every year in every country.
      Which other country has great distance swimmer like Ledecky? Why can’t Australia with great swimming support produce a Ledecky-level freestyler? yeah, you can answer it, but you won’t.
      However, right now USA has such a great sprinting depth with many young swimmers coming up.

      Why do you keep saying sprinters must be fresh to swim fast? Can you please define the meaning of “fresh”? What is the optimum threshold of freshness for sprinters to swim fast 50/100?
      Emma mcKeon swam 52.80 at the Aus trials after she swam 3 rounds of 100 fly, 3 rounds of 200 free, and 2 rounds of 100 free.
      Sarah Sjostrom swam 52.70 in Kazan after she swam 3 rounds of 100 fly, 2 rounds of 4×100, 2 rounds of 4×200 and 2 rounds of 100 free.
      Or do you think mcKeon and Sjostrom would have swum 52.00 had she not swum all those races?
      Interestingly, based on past results, when they swam less races beforehand, they actually swam SLOWER 100.

      • ERVINFORTHEWIN says:

        Good Call Attilla

        • ERVINFORTHEWIN says:

          BOBO has been nalied here – his knowledge is not the one of a real Swwimmer but by studying facts and watching races .

          • Attila the Hunt says:

            The problem is, Bobo’s conjectures are often not based on the full picture with accurate data. He would take some data here some number there, basically he only takes them only if they support his argument and discard the rest. Worse, he stubbornly cling to his opinions and repeatedly write it as if it’s the truth when others have shown him that it’s just baloney.

            For example:
            In the above, he said that USA needs an equivalent female star sprinters like Adrian (or maybe Dressel in the next few years) and claimed that the lack of female start sprinter is due to “structural problem” which he never define and describe what that is.
            So here it is, this “structural problem” fails to produce female star sprinters, and yet it produces Adrian, Dressel, and swimmers from other countries who were developed here into great sprinters: Chantal Van Landeghem, Arianna Vanderpool Wallace, Bousquet, Cielo, Targett, Condorelli, Morozov, Cavic, Farida Osman, Chirigienni etc.

          • G.I.N.A. says:

            It is worth mentioning that Sarah Cate Bronte & until recently Emma have been with the same coach since they were kids.

      • robbos says:

        Attila, I think you too have nailed it, people talk as if 52s is easy, it’s not, it’s just that Australia happens to have 3 of them at present, likewise with distance swimming, Australia does have very good distance swimmer in Jessica Ashwood, it’s just that like the Campbell swimmers, Ledecky has taken this event even further (even Leah Smith).

        • Attila the Hunt says:

          Yea, the analogy with Australia distance swimmers is pretty good. Australia has produced great male distance swimmers almost non-stop, but the last of Australian great female distance swimmer is Hayley Lewis (and even then she was nowhere near Janet Evans). So the last true Australian female distance greats are actually Tracey Wickham and Michelle Ford from late 70s early 80s.
          You know, if something nearly as bad as this happened in USA, Bobo Gigi would have called it “disaster”, “structural problem” and he would call for congressional hearing.

          Talent like Cate and Katie L and Sarah is just once in a generation phenomenon. Cate was already a superstar at the age of 15-16 (50 free Olympics bronze medalist), same with Sarah (world champion at 15) and Katie L (Olympics champion). Even Bronte is not on the same talent level as Cate. Australia also does not seem to have young female sprinters lining up next who could be as fast as Cate.

          As for now, USA has the deepest 100 free talent (meaning the most swimmers with 53+ in their resumes). So talk about “structural problem” is baloney. USA just doesn’t have a talent like Cate chose to swim yet.

  9. Peggy Mulligan says:

    Go girls ….you’re looking strong and fix!

  10. John haas says:

    Abbey looks smooth and ready. I believe she is going to go 53 low 52 high.

  11. Scott Morgan says:

    Hello again, Amanda Weir!

    • Hswimmer says:

      She looked so thrilled after her race, I hope she continues this form in the semis and possibly finals:)

  12. SUNY Cal says:

    Poor Natalie, doesn’t look good for her making team. Thinking retirement???

  13. The Albino Dolphin says:

    The men’s 100 free has been “fuzzy”? The men have been more impressive than the woman so far- Adrian posts the 2nd fastest time in the world this year in a VERY easy looking semi final swim, six men swim sub 49 and Ryan Held emerges as a serious relay contender at 48 low-mid.

    • The Albino Dolphin says:

      Seven men actually if you count Michael Chadwick’s time trial, and Lochte + Phelps would also likely have been sub 49 which brings the total to 9 men.

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About Hannah Hecht

Hannah Hecht

Hannah Hecht grew up in Kansas and spent most of her childhood trying to convince coaches to let her swim backstroke in freestyle sets. She took her passion to Morningside College in Sioux City, Iowa and swam at NAIA Nationals all four years. After graduating in 2015, she moved to …

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