Carson Foster Enters 200 Fly, No Backstroke At U.S. Olympic Trials


One of many up-and-coming swimmers who will vie for their first Olympic berth in a few day’s time, Carson Foster has entered four events for the 2021 U.S. Olympic Trials, which are set to begin on Sunday.

Foster, fresh off his freshman year at the University of Texas, has entered the 200 and 400 individual medley, along with the 200 freestyle and 200 butterfly.

Carson Foster Olympic Trials Entries

  • 200 freestyle (#13 seed, 1:47.47)
  • 200 butterfly (#27 seed, 1:58.60)
  • 200 IM (#3 seed, 1:57.59)
  • 400 IM (#2 seed, 4:11.13)

While none of these entries are a surprise, it does, to an extent, finalize Foster’s shift out of the backstroke realm, where he had specialized and thrived earlier in his career.

The now 19-year-old was the silver medalist in the 200 back at the 2017 World Junior Championships, and further lowered his best time down to 1:57.70 at the 2018 U.S. Nationals in Irvine.

Though he did race the 200 back at NCAAs in March, Foster has since transitioned to become more of a 200 freestyler to go along with his medley prowess, and he’s certainly among the candidates to finish in the top six of the event at Trials and qualify for the 800 free relay in Tokyo.

The main deterrent that probably assured Foster’s absence in the 200 back was it’s conflict with the 200 IM, where he’s directed much of his focus over the last few years. It’s a double we’ve seen Ryan Lochte tackle at his peak, and even then it wasn’t easy.

All three rounds of the men’s 200 back and 200 IM fall in the same session at Trials, essentially forcing athletes to pick one or the other. Foster’s fastest 200 back time inside the Trials qualifying period, 1:58.26, would’ve seeded him eighth in Omaha.

The lone conflict that pops up when looking at Foster’s actual Trials schedule comes on Day 3, where the 200 free final precedes the 200 fly semis.

However, given that the 200 free final comes first, he could conceivably take on the 200 fly semis after the fact with nothing to lose—though he may opt to sit out of the 200 fly heats in preparation for the 200 free final, should he get there.

Sitting out of the 200 fly would also give the Mason Manta Ray a full day off prior to the 200 IM, where he’s slated to challenge for an Olympic spot as the #3 seed.

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Old guy swimmer
1 year ago

All the relay discussions are up in the air I would believe, because of limited rosters due to covid. It may be that teams only take 5 not the usual 6 so that more sports performance and trainers can go. Just thinking outside the box. It may all work as usual but this past 18 months is anything but usual.

College swimmer
1 year ago

I would be more confident in bakers ability to make it in the 2im than the 2bk

Reply to  College swimmer
1 year ago

Yes, but how will breaststroke be since she broke her foot or ankle?

1 year ago

Smart decision, the 200 back/IM double has got to be the most challenging double in swimming, and the fact that Lochte managed to medal in both in ’08 and ’12 is a testament to his abilities. I think Carson’s best shot still lies in the 400 IM, but if he has a great swim on day 1 it will set him up something fierce for the 200 free and IM, and who knows, the 200 fly could be a possible ticket punch too.

1 year ago

seems like a common inconvenience for these evens… Larkin, Lochte, Hagino, Casas, Shebat are all high-profile examples of people who get pretty screwed by this. Event orders are always hard but this seems like a mistake. They are two very overlappy events to have so close. You could also build evidence by just seeing how common it is on the women’s side to do both… Kathleen Baker, Alex Walsh, Hosszu, Maya Dirado, Kirsty Coventry, etc

Last edited 1 year ago by THEO
Reply to  THEO
1 year ago

I guess I would wonder where to put it instead?

Thomas Selig
Reply to  Megbert
1 year ago

Yeah I think the 200IM will almost inevitably clash with *something* TBH, and with both semis and finals it’s always going to be hard to find a free spot. Maybe on the men’s side there aren’t any high-profile clashes with breaststroke? Although they are some on the women’s side (Wood, Ye Shiwen for instance). The very nature of the event means there are very few 200IM specialists: Desplanches and maybe Kalisz probably the only real examples that comes to mind, everyone else has at least one stroke where they’re pretty top class. 400IM feels like it has more specialists (Litchfield, Litherland, Borodin, Kalisz, etc.), and of course having no semis makes it easier to avoid clashes. Just not sure that’s… Read more »

Reply to  Thomas Selig
1 year ago

I feel like there’s not as many swimmers doing 200 fly/200 IM as those doing 200 back/200 IM (on both men and women’s sides) – with the exception of Seto, Phelps.

1 year ago

Lots of intrigue around this 200 IM

Wouldn’t put much money on who makes the team, there’s about 5 I can’t rule out and probably some wildcards out of nowhere

1 year ago

Anyone know Lochte’s schedule?

Mr Piano
1 year ago

Very smart move to not go for 200 back lmao

Reply to  Mr Piano
1 year ago

M. Piano of all people probably knows what happens to the legs

1 year ago

Obvious events. Don’t think his backstroke has followed his IM as well since early HS days.

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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