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While those are both great options to represent the U.S., it does beg the question whether the system put in place is outdated—using long course performances to select a short course team.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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Wow
1 month ago

A big fuss needs to be made about this.

PFA
Reply to  Wow
1 month ago

There’s also the how USA swimming does it’s selection for Pan Pacs/worlds teams it really doesn’t make sense to me to choose a team an entire year in advance when so much can change in a year that’s another thing.

Ragnar
Reply to  PFA
1 month ago

Which means 2022 worlds trials are 2023 worlds trials. Maybe it’ll change

Outside Smoker
Reply to  PFA
1 month ago

Have to respectfully disagree here…

the Pan Pacs/Worlds selection policy a year out….is actually one of the major strengths of the US Calendar in my humble non-expert opinion. It ensures people train to improve for a year rather than repeated resting, tapering etc. Sure it means the teams in those events might NOT be the “best” in that moment…but the flip-side is the “money in the bank” all US swimmers gain above their rivals worldwide. It’s one of the cornerstones of why the USA always comes good at the Olympics…a long-term quadriennal plan (or longer) rather than just thinking season to season.

in the past, GB for example, may have had trials, then Commonwealth Games and European Champs in the… Read more »

Wow
1 month ago

Beata Nelson also got snubbed big time. American record holder in 100 IM that she broke a MONTH ago. And would challenge for medal, if not gold in the 200 Back.

Snarky
Reply to  Wow
1 month ago

Get rid of yards championship meets. Start swimming SCM at championship events. Start swimming 50’s at championship meets and select SCM teams on SCM events. It’s not rocket science folks, it’s about changing mindsets and approach.

Taa
Reply to  Snarky
1 month ago

you are going build everyone a scm pool?

Swimmer
Reply to  Taa
1 month ago

That’s not what they’re saying but USA do need to start converting to scm not straight away but slowly phase it in it’s time they join the rest of the world so their athletes don’t suffer from their broken system

FMO
Reply to  Swimmer
1 month ago

Like all the athletes from around the world that suffer in our college system?

DCSwim
Reply to  Swimmer
1 month ago

^^^ and hold NCAAs in scm like 2000 and 2004

WahooSwimFan
Reply to  Taa
1 month ago

Most Championship meets are held in pool with a movable bulkhead, so a switch would not be hard. The NCAA meet before the 2000 Olympics was held in scm and I thought it was great. And if the NCAA meet was regularly held in SCM, a lot of the world records would be faster than they are.

Fluidg
Reply to  Taa
1 month ago

A moratorium on building SCY pools would be a good start. Idiotic to keep building them. Should have switched to SCM decades ago.

oxyswim
1 month ago

USAS as a national organization continues to be an embarrassment.

Taa
1 month ago

its time to implement wild card entries into these meets. Come on FINA shows us that you are not completely worthless!!

ScottishSwimmer
Reply to  Taa
1 month ago

While FINA is pretty useless, this is a USA Swimming shortfall not FINA

Taa
Reply to  ScottishSwimmer
1 month ago

Pro golf and tennis you don’t need your country to nominate you

ScottishSwimmer
Reply to  Taa
1 month ago

You do when it’s an International competition and you’re representing your country. i.e. Davis Cup, Ryder Cup, Solheim Cup, Olympics.

Taa
Reply to  ScottishSwimmer
1 month ago

I’m talking the majors which are considered the equivalent of world championships. Those team things don’t mean much in golf and tennis

McKeown-Hodges-McKeon-Campbell
Reply to  ScottishSwimmer
1 month ago
Anonymoose
Reply to  McKeown-Hodges-McKeon-Campbell
1 month ago

I thought of exactly this too!!

Pretty sure could just let stewart and co. bypass usas stupidity *if* they really wanted to. Aka no

Ol' Longhorn
Reply to  Taa
1 month ago

Let’s go with deck entries while we’re at it.

Snarky
1 month ago

USA Swimming gives little value to SCM or yards. Its all LCM Olympic events. Anything else is valueless. That’s why we don’t prep or send our best short course swimmers to SCM worlds. I hope USAS changes it’s approach as FINA and the rest of the world starts to see SCM as critical.

Admin
Reply to  Snarky
1 month ago

On some level, I get what they’re trying to do. I get the risk that ISL could disappear and once again we have a *hey there’s no SCM times to choose from* risk. USAS probably doesn’t want to host another SCM championship meet.

But, I think it would be pretty easy to add in a “if you set a World Record in SCM in X time period, you get to trump the long course selection process.” To me, that’s an easy fix. It’s not a perfect fix, it doesn’t fully solve the problem, but it least it eliminates the glaring *Coleman Stewart* problem.

James Beam
Reply to  Braden Keith
1 month ago

100% agree with you Braden.

oxyswim
Reply to  Braden Keith
1 month ago

American Record or world number 1 would be a better way to sneak an exemption in. World Records are exceedingly rare, and someone like Beata still deserves to be on this team.

Admin
Reply to  oxyswim
1 month ago

Sure, I could agree with that.

Really just something where USA Swimming can say “okay we still want to focus on LCM/the Olympics” and all that business, but you get an override for a swimmer who could legitimately win a World SC Championship.

I don’t know if I think we need exceptions/overrides for swimmers who are going to finished 6th at SC Worlds. If USA Swimming wants to hold on to that stuff for their LCM focus fine. But…for the true SCM superstars….find a way.

Ol' Longhorn
Reply to  Braden Keith
1 month ago

Unfortunately, the Phelps (and for that matter Ledecky) mentality and success (it’s all Olympics and LCM, SCY and SCM are for pissants — at least Ledecky swam NCAAs) over two decades drove a lot of this. Now we have a Dressel and the UVa women who (like Lochte) could dominate both SCM and LCM. If Dressel threw all-in for SCM like Chalmers is, it would be interesting to see how USAS would react. For now, though, he’s mulching his yard, getting his truck and rider mower stuck in mud and getting tattoos.

matt
1 month ago

i wish they sent ncaa swimmers

Horninco
Reply to  matt
1 month ago

There’s a few

oxyswim
Reply to  matt
1 month ago

There are a bunch of current NCAA swimmers on this team?

swimgeek
Reply to  matt
1 month ago

Dude, there’s 12 of them I think.

Taa
Reply to  matt
1 month ago

The country of NCAA would finish pretty high in the medal count

James Beam
1 month ago

There are a fair amount of swimmers who are just stronger at SC swimming than LC swimming- Ryan Hoffer comes top of mind…There will never be a selection process that everyone can agree on, but maybe USA Swimming should take SCY times into consideration here….

Eagleswim
Reply to  James Beam
1 month ago

Why? Just use scm… the whole problem here is that people are being selected based on a format that isn’t being competed, why base it on another format that isn’t being competed?

Sub13
1 month ago

This seems like some very silly decision making. To be honest though, there are so many big names missing from worlds this year that it almost seems pointless to hold them. I don’t think winning an event will really be considered much of an achievement unless it’s accompanied by a WR.

Thomas
Reply to  Sub13
1 month ago

We’re coming off Olympics and a lot of athletes went straight into ISL. I’m not surprised a lot of people want to stay home, train and /or relax.

FraserThorpe
Reply to  Sub13
1 month ago

Reminds me of the 2004? SCM worlds where Brooke Hanson won like 7 individual medals. She was a talent and a workhorse, but she only got that haul because there was no one there – but great for her to get that recognition, so maybe someone else deserving will get their time in the sun here…

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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