Comparing Olympic Trials’ Top 3 Seeds From 2012 To 2016: Men’s Edition


Some of the men’s names remain the same across the top 3 seeds of each event when comparing the recently released 2016 U.S. Olympic Trials psych sheets to those of 2012, but the placement and time differences reflect performance breakthroughs, youngsters on-fire and careers coming to a close.

Of the 13 individual men’s events, just 4 saw their top seed times fare a tad slower in 2016 compared to 2012. The 400 IM saw Ryan Lochte top the field headed into 2012 Trials in his time of 4:07.13, while this time around veteran SwimMAC Elite superstar Tyler Clary is the hunted with this entry mark of 4:09.03.

Similar scenarios exist in the 200m freestyle, 200m backstroke and 200m IM events, although Lochte’s 2012 seed time in the latter still stands as the current World Record. As for the 200m backstroke, Lochte topped the entrants with his incoming time of 1:52.96 back in 2012, but Clary holds the top seed in Omaha this year with a 1:54.73.

In the 200 freestyle 4 years ago, Lochte’s 1:44.44 sat above the rest. Although he’s still the top seed, the 31-year-old’s seed time is almost a second slower at 1:45.36. In fact, all 3 of the 2016 top seeds’ times are noticeably over what it took to top the psych sheets in 2012.

There are 3 men’s events where the 3rd seed from the 2016 psych sheets is faster than the top seed was back in 2012. In the men’s 100m backstroke, Nick Thoman‘s 53.01 was the quickest time headed into Omaha, whereas the top three this year are all well above that. David Plummer scored the top seed in 52.51, with Matt Grevers and Ryan Murphy just behind in marks of 52.54 and 52.57, respectively.

The 100m and 200m breaststroke landscape changed in the same way, with Kevin Cordes, Josh Prenot and Nick Fink all seeded in times comfortably ahead of Eric Shanteau’s 200 breast top seed of 2:09.28 from 2012. In the sprint breaststroke, the top 4 swimmers competing in Omaha in just a few days all exceed the top seed from 2012, Brendan Hansen’s 1:00.08.

Below is the complete comparison of the top 3 seeds from 2012 psych sheets versus the 2016 psych sheets for the men’s events. A separate post will include the women’s comparison.

2012 Top Seed 2012 2nd Seed 2012 3rd Seed EVENT 2016 Top Seed 2016 2nd Seed 2016 3rd Seed
Lochte, 4:07.13 Clary, 4:09.20 Phelps, 4:12.51 400 IM Clary, 4:09.03 Kalisz, 4:09.62 J.Litherland, 4:12.43
Vanderkaay, 3:44.83 McLean, 3:47.33 Houchin, 3:47.98 400 Free Jaeger, 3:44.81 Grothe, 3:45.98 Dwyer, 3:46.09
Hansen, 1:00.08 Gangloff, 1:00.19 Alexandrov, 1:00.26 100 Breast Miller, 59.51 Fink, 59.52 Wilson, 59.65
Lochte, 1:44.44 Phelps, 1:44.79 Vanderkaay,1:46.45 200 Free Lochte, 1:45.36 Dwyer, 1:45.41 Rooney, 1:47.10
Thoman, 53.01 Plummer, 53.04 Grevers, 53.05 100 Back Plummer, 52.51 Grevers, 52.54 Murphy, 52.57
Phelps, 1:53.34 Clary, 1:55.72 Bollier, 1:56.06 200 Fly Phelps, 1:52.94 Conger, 1:54.54 Shields, 1:55.09
Adrian, 48.05 Phelps, 48.08 Lezak, 48.47 100 Free Adrian, 48.00 Phelps, 48.45 Ervin, 48.71
Shanteau, 2:09.28 Hansen, 2:09.64 Burckle, 2:09.72 200 Breast Cordes, 2:07.86 Prenot, 2:08.58 Fink, 2:08.89
Lochte, 1:52.96 Clary, 1:54.69 Phelps, 1:56.98 200 Back Clary, 1:54.73 Murphy, 1:54.94 Pebley, 1:56.29
Lochte, 1:54.00 Phelps, 1:54.16 Clary, 1:57.61 200 IM Phelps, 1:54.75 Lochte, 1:55.81 Dwyer, 1:57.41
Adrian, 21.55 Jones,21.97 Feigen, 22.03 50 Free Adrian, 21.37 Dressel, 21.53 Ervin, 21.80
Phelps, 50.65 McGill, 51.26 Phillips, 51.69 100 Fly Phelps, 50.45 Shields, 51.03 Conger, 51.33
La Tourette, 14:52.36 Vanderkaay, 14:54.99 Gemmell, 15:01.31 1500 Free Jaeger, 14:41.20 Wilimovsky, 14:53.12 McBroom, 14:56.17

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Danny Boy
4 years ago

Interesting to see if Jones can drop the same amount off his seed time as he did 4 years ago. I dont think so but it sure would be a surprise

Reply to  Danny Boy
4 years ago

It wouldn’t be that big of a surprise. He seems to always fly wayyyyy below the radar and then somehow bust out great swims when it counts most.

Steve Nolan
Reply to  Daromo
4 years ago

Seconded 10,000%.

I didn’t think he’d make finals in anything at trials in 2012. I was very, very wrong.

Fly errrrrr
4 years ago

Hi! It looks like phelps is top seed in 3 events, not just 2 as the picture heading states. Thx

Lazy Observer
4 years ago

Interesting how breast has gotten faster at 100 and 200 levels, but back us splut, with gains in 100 and losses in 200.

Also striking how no one in the younger. generations dominates across events as Lochte and Phelps did and still somewhat do. Of course I knew that, but the chart makes the continued presence if the old guard stand out.

Lazy Observer
Reply to  Lazy Observer
4 years ago

*back is split…

About Retta Race

Retta Race

After 16 years at a Fortune 1000 financial company, long-time swimmer Retta Race decided to change lanes and pursue her sporting passion. She currently is Coach for the Northern KY Swordfish Masters, a team she started up in December 2013, while also offering private coaching. Retta is also an MBA …

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