Gemmell, Grimes Scratch Women’s 400 Free Final, Han and Smith Get Bumped Up (UPDATED)



This article has been updated following news of Grimes’ scratch.

Kayla Han and Leah Smith have been moved into the ‘A’ final of the women’s 400 freestyle, as Erin Gemmell and Katie Grimes, who finished fifth and seventh in prelims respectively, scratched out. Han initially finished ninth in prelims with a time of 4:09.96, missing finals by just 0.09 seconds. Meanwhile, Smith was tenth with a 4:10.09.

Han’s upgrade was confirmed by Carmel Swim Club’s Instagram account, whereas sources told SwimSwam that it was Gemmell and Grimes who scratched.

Here’s the updated women’s 400 free final, with seed times from Saturday morning’s prelims:

  1. Katie Ledecky — 3:59.99
  2. Paige Madden — 4:04.83
  3. Jillian Cox — 4:06.35
  4. Madi Mintenko — 4:07.53
  5. Aurora Roghair — 4:09.67
  6. Anna Peplowski — 4:09.87
  7. Kayla Han — 4:09.96
  8. Leah Smith — 4:10.09.

Han’s prelims time was a personal best, beating out the 4:10.10 she clocked at the Indianapolis Speedo Sectionals this March. Now, she has an extra opportunity to improve upon that best time.

At just 16 years old, Han is competing at her second Olympic trials, after having swum at Wave I of the meet in 2021. This season, she moved from California to Indiana to swim at the Carmel Swim Club after previously racing for the LaMirada Armada club.

Smith made the 2016 Olympic team in the 400 free, but missed the Tokyo Olympics in its entirety in 2021. Swimming the 400 free finals will give her a chance to bounce back and qualify for Paris. Notably, Smith said on Instagram that she tore her labrum in Janurary.

Gemmell was not a favorite to make the Olympic team, but she was one of the top five or six contenders in the event. She holds a best time of 4:05.07 that would have placed third at the 2021 U.S. Olympic trials, and was fifth at U.S. Nationals last year. She still has the 200 free, 100 free, 200 IM, and 50 free left to swim. In 2023, Gemmell made the World Championships team in the 4×200 free relay, and will be expected to do so again for the Paris Olympic Games.

Grimes holds a best time of 4:05.18, which also would have finished third at 2021 trials. She finished tenth in the event at 2023 U.S. Nationals. Sandpipers of Nevada head coach Ron Atiken told SwimSwam that the scratch was because Grimes was focusing on events that she was capable of medalling in, which they didn’t think was achievable in the 400 free. For reference, the third-ranked time in the world is Erika Fairweather‘s 3:59.44.

2023-2024 LCM Women 400 Free

Ariarne AUS
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Old swiss
1 month ago

Could you imagine making the team from getting scratched in.

Wonder if anything similar happened before.

Reply to  Old swiss
1 month ago

Franziska Van Almsick had her teammate scratch the 1994 world champs 200 free final and went on to win.

Reply to  LBSWIM
1 month ago

AND she broke the World Record!

1 month ago

Excited for Kayla Han! This is likely a Ledecky-Madden finish, but been rooting for Han to get her moment. She broke 4:10 for the first time, so hopefully she can go a bit faster tonight.

1 month ago

Grimes makes sense but Gemmell doesn’t really… her best 400 time would have her close. Her best shot in making it is 2 free and she probably would’ve been fine doing it tomorrow am

1 month ago

Sandpipers strugglin

Reply to  EverybodyWangChungTonight
1 month ago

How’s that 2 year training block with no rest workin?

Reply to  MikeS
1 month ago

Not bad if she chose to swim the 400 free parallel to how she will take the 800 out? Just guessing for a possible answer.

1 month ago

Show me to me rachel

Sherry Smit
1 month ago

I wonder if that was to get the nerves out for Grimes. She has a heavy schedule ahead of her, so not wasting too much energy is ideal. She looked smooth and seemed like she had a good strategy going into this morning. Im sorry, but a 35 split for Weinstein was just weird. I would’ve said it is understandable if she went a 33 or something, but 35… That’s like an injury type of piano.

Jean Marie
Reply to  Sherry Smit
1 month ago

Katie Grimes has stated that she’s always very nervous at the start of a meet. Maybe this swim was just to shake out the nerves. We’ll see how she does in the 400IM.

1 month ago


About Yanyan Li

Yanyan Li

Although Yanyan wasn't the greatest competitive swimmer, she learned more about the sport of swimming by being her high school swim team's manager for four years. She eventually ventured into the realm of writing and joined SwimSwam in January 2022, where she hopes to contribute to and learn more about …

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