Reported by James Sutherland.
Now that the U.S. World Championship Trials have wrapped up, it’s time to take a look at their roster for Budapest and give it a little analysis.
Take a look at the full roster below:
- Nathan Adrian, 50 free, 100 free
- Zach Apple, 4×100 free relay
- Michael Chadwick, 4×100 free relay
- Pace Clark, 200 fly
- Jack Conger, 200 fly
- Kevin Cordes, 50 breast, 100 breast, 200 breast
- Abrahm DeVine, 200 IM
- Caeleb Dressel, 50 free, 50 fly, 100 fly, 100 free, 4×200 free relay
- Conor Dwyer, 4×200 free relay
- Nic Fink, 200 breast
- Robert Finke, 1500 free
- Matt Grevers, 50 back, 100 back
- Zane Grothe, 400 free, 800 free, 4×200 free relay
- Townley Haas, 200 free, 4×100 Free Relay
- Chase Kalisz, 200 IM, 400 IM
- Jay Litherland, 400 IM
- Cody Miller, 50 breast, 100 breast
- Ryan Murphy, 100 back, 200 back
- Jacob Pebley, 200 back
- Tim Phillips, 100 fly, 50 fly
- Blake Pieroni, 200 free, 4×100 free relay
- Justin Ress, 50 back
- Clark Smith, 400 free, 800 free, 4×200 free relay
- True Sweetser, 1500 free
- Kathleen Baker, 50 back, 100 back, 200 back
- Elizabeth Beisel, 400 IM
- Mallory Comerford, 100 free, 4×200 free relay
- Madisyn Cox, 200 IM
- Hali Flickinger, 200 fly
- Bethany Galat, 200 breast
- Sarah Gibson, 100 fly, 50 fly
- Lilly King, 50 breast, 100 breast, 200 breast
- Katie Ledecky, 200 free, 400 free, 800 free, 1500 free, 4×100 free relay
- Dakota Luther, 200 fly
- Simone Manuel, 50 free, 100 free, 4×200 free relay
- Melanie Margalis, 4×200 free relay, 200 IM
- Katie Meili, 50 breast, 100 breast
- Lia Neal, 4×100 free relay
- Cierra Runge, 4×200 free relay
- Leah Smith, 200 free, 400 free, 800 free, 1500 free, 400 IM
- Regan Smith, 200 back
- Olivia Smoliga, 100 back, 4×100 free relay
- Hannah Stevens, 50 back
- Kelsi Worrell, 50 fly, 100 fly, 4×100 free relay
- Abbey Weitzeil, 50 free
In terms of experience, the women’s team has a higher percentage of 2016 Olympians, yet both rosters have an equal amount of inexperience. A third of each roster is entering their first Olympics or LC World Championships.
THE WOMEN’S TEAM
In total, the women’s team has 21 swimmers, with 14 of them 2016 Olympians. In addition, six of those 14 were individual medalists, and an additional six won medals in relays. With two thirds of the roster swimming in Rio last year and one third entering their first major international competition, the team has a nice blend of youth and experience.
In terms of where their strengths and weaknesses are, it’s easy to look at freestyle as their biggest strength. Katie Ledecky has won back-to-back World and Olympic titles in the 200 through 800 free, and also won the 1500 in Kazan. With the improvements of Leah Smith, the U.S. could easily have two women on the podium in the majority of those events, with the 200 likely being the biggest challenge.
On top of their prowess in the 200 and up, Simone Manuel was the co-Olympic champion last year in the 100 free, and was beaten out in Indianapolis by rising star Mallory Comerford. So the U.S. is looking good there.
The sprint back, breast and fly have at least one potential medalist in each, led by Kathleen Baker, Lilly Kingand Kelsi Worrell. Olivia Smoliga and Katie Meili are also right on the doorstep and could snag a minor medal, like Meili did last year in Rio. The 200 IM is also looking strong, with a legit 1-2 punch in Melanie Margalis and Madisyn Cox.
They are maybe weakest in the 200 fly, where Hali Flickinger is a potential medalist if she has a big swim but is still only ranked 10th in the world this year. Last year the women’s 200 breast was the weakest event overall, with no finalists, but King and Bethany Galat seem to have that now under control ranked 2nd and 4th in the world.
There really isn’t one major glaring weakness on the women’s team. The 50 free, 50 fly, 100 fly and 400 IM are a few events where they could struggle to have two women in the final, but even there they have strong medal chances from their other entrant.
They should have continued success in the relays as well. The defending Olympic champ Aussies may be trouble in the 4×100 free, but the loss of Cate Campbell this year certainly hurts them. The medley relay shouldn’t be a problem, and no one boasts their depth in the 4×200 free.
THE MEN’S TEAM
The men’s team is a bit bigger with 24 on the roster, but they do have the same number of Olympians (14). 13 of them competed in Rio, as we know Matt Grevers has made a triumphant return to the team. Along with the 14 Olympians, there are 8 entering their first Worlds or Olympics. There are two others, Tim Phillips and Nic Fink, who have previously been on the World Championship team but never on the Olympic team. Their roster includes five men who medaled individually last summer, and an additional six who won relay medals.
Their most obvious weakness is the men’s 1500, where we saw many big names sit out. True Sweetser and Robert Finke, ranked 9th and 10th in the world, will need to have best times just to make the final, but either way will be gaining valuable experience for the future.
Though Clark Smith and Zane Grothe are a bit more established in the U.S., they’ll both be swimming their first individual events at a major international meet, as Smith only swam on the 4×200 prelim relay in Rio. Both could potentially medal in say, the 400, but they will have to be dialed in for the prelims. The men’s distance events are always fast in the morning, and it usually results in a big name or two missing the final because they didn’t execute.
The distance free events are probably where they’ll have the most difficulty medalling, with strong contenders leading the charge in the other events. Caeleb Dressel will contend for individual medals in the sprint free and fly events, and he’ll be joined by the ever reliable Nathan Adrian in the free. Tim Phillips also posted some quick times at Nationals and looks like a good to bet to final in the 50 and 100 fly.
They’re well covered in backstroke with Ryan Murphy, Grevers, Jacob Pebley and Justin Ress all legitimate medal hopes. Kevin Cordes and Cody Miller lead the breaststroke lineup, and Chase Kalisz will contend for gold in the 400 IM.
The 200 IM may be one where there’s a bit of a question mark, but there’s sort of a question mark around the world in this event. With no Michael Phelps or Ryan Lochte this year, this one is really anyone’s game. And though Kalisz and Abrahm DeVine probably wouldn’t be anyone’s first pick to medal in the event, in Indianapolis Kalisz was faster than the silver medal winning time in Rio, and DeVine was faster than the bronze medal winning time.
The 400 free relay looks to be back on top of the world, with two guys sub-48 and two 48.2 at Trials they’re looking like the favorites for gold. The medley relay will only be an issue if the British can shore up their opening leg, and though the 4×200 might not be as dominant as it once was, they’re still the favorites for gold with three men ranked inside the world’s top-8.
With the mixed relays really anything could happen, but the U.S. is certainly capable of contending for gold in both the 4×100 free and 4×100 medley.