Coleman Stewart’s Puzzling Absence From The U.S. Short Course Worlds Roster

Coleman Stewart is the fastest swimmer in history in the men’s 100 backstroke in short course meters, and yet he won’t have the opportunity to vie for a World Championship title in the event.

USA Swimming announced its roster for the 2021 Short Course World Championships on Thursday, and Stewart was one of the most notable absences.

And while top names such as Caeleb Dressel and Lilly King appear to have declined the opportunity to compete, Stewart wasn’t even given the option despite being the fastest swimmer of all-time in one of the events.

The reason is due to the fact that the qualification criteria put in place by USA Swimming is selected off of the National Team roster, which is selected based off of long course times.

Stewart is on the National Team in the 100 butterfly, having dropped a LCM best of 51.54 in the event at the U.S. Olympic Trials, but he wasn’t on the roster for the 100 backstroke. Stewart clocked 53.91 in the event at Trials, and the National Team cutoff sits at the 53.18 done by Matt Grevers in Omaha.

So despite Stewart’s world record-breaking performance of 48.33, set in late August during the ISL season in Naples, he won’t be in Abu Dhabi racing for the world title.

Stewart also spoke to Brett Hawke about being left off, saying he hadn’t heard from USA Swimming and knew based on the criteria he wouldn’t be selected to race the event.

The men’s 100 backstroke will instead feature Olympian Hunter Armstrong and reigning NCAA 100 back champion Shaine Casas, who rank second and third on the National Team roster in the event. Ryan Murphy, who sits first, has opted out of the event.

While those are both great options to represent the U.S., it does beg the question whether the system put in place is outdated—using long course performances to select a short course team. With so many SCM competitions having taken place over the last two months, it seems that would be a logical starting point to build a SC World Championship roster.

Hypothetically, Stewart was the 11th man in line for a spot based on the 2021 LC rankings in the U.S. (though if all 100 back National Teamers declined, the spot would’ve been offered to a swimmer already on the team).

Men’s 100 Backstroke LCM U.S. Rankings, Jan. 1, 2021 – Aug. 31, 2021

  1. Ryan Murphy, 52.19
  2. Hunter Armstrong, 52.48
  3. Shaine Casas, 52.76
  4. Justin Ress, 52.86
  5. Bryce Mefford, 52.87
  6. Matt Grevers, 53.18
  7. Huner Tapp, 53.45
  8. Michael Andrew, 53.59
  9. Daniel Carr, 53.59
  10. Adam Chaney, 53.89
  11. Coleman Stewart, 53.91

Men’s 100 Backstroke SCM World Rankings, 2021

  1. Coleman Stewart (USA), 48.33 WR
  2. Guilherme Guido (BRA), 48.95
  3. Evgeny Rylov (RUS), 49.45
  4. Robert Glinta (ROU), 49.60
  5. Kliment Kolesnikov (RUS), 49.63
  6. Mark Nikolaev (RUS), 49.65
  7. Christian Diener (GER), 49.92
  8. Justin Ress (USA), 50.12
  9. Shane Ryan (IRL), 50.20
  10. Jacob Pebley (USA), 50.26

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1 year ago

Selection for SC based on LC makes as much sense as selecting for LC based on SC results. None. There’s more to swimming than the Olympics. Swimmers and fans love SC because it’s exciting and relatable. The NCAAs and ISL have made that universal appeal abundantly clear. Time to jettison yards. Imagine if track and field still ran the 440 and 880. How embarrassing that American swimming still does! A full embrace of SCM is long overdue.

Reply to  Fluidg
1 year ago

I think this can start in an power 5 NCAA conference or amongst some team duel meets.

They have the pools for this and it can easily be done.

1 year ago

This comes on the heels of the belated realization that there are no SCM NAGs. While SCM will never have the same status as LCM, it is a legitimate World Standard (like indoor track). Meanwhile, we continue to build pools for the irrelevant and antiquated SCY sandbox. American swimming is dominated by dinosaurs who are fixated on the past instead of the future.

Ol' Longhorn
1 year ago

USAS just called Coleman a bitch.

M d e
1 year ago

It’s not puzzling though is it.

Because the criteria was very clear.

Agree it’s stupid though.

1 year ago

What an opportunity SC worlds could be for USA Swimming to capitalize on NCAA talent and give SC stars a taste of a USA team. Beyond the obvious $$ potential for athletes like Coleman, there is a lot of opportunity for developing athletes to go on to bigger (i.e. long course) meets down the line, and I think USA Swimming has been on the wrong side of it for years. Hopefully this error is impetus for change.

1 year ago

But those LSC logos look good.

1 year ago

Maddy Banic another American record holder left off the team

1 year ago

USAS is anti stache

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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