According to the University of Georgia student newspaper, The Red and Black, the Litherland triplets, Jay, Kevin, and Mick, will compete to represent two different countries on the world stage at this summer’s Olympics.
The brothers were born in Japan; their father is a New Zealand native, while their mother is Japanese. They received their American citizenship while in high school and competing for Dynamo Swim Club. The triplets’ triple citizenship puts them in a unique position where they can choose for which country’s team they will compete for a spot.
However, World University Games gold medalist Jay Litherland, who has the most extensive swimming resume of the three, is a member of USA Swimming’s National Team. Now that he has represented the U.S. nationally, he can’t represent New Zealand or Japan internationally. He will compete at U.S. Olympic Team Trials in Omaha this summer.
Kevin Litherland and Mick Litherland, according to The Red and Black, have decided to try for the New Zealand team, where the competition is much less crowded than it is in Japan. Because Swimming New Zealand will allow Olympic qualification at Canadian Olympic Trials (to allow for more convenient qualification for NCAA swimmers like the Litherlands), the duo will vie for New Zealand’s Olympic spots April 5-10 in Toronto.
Currently, Jay sits at the U.S.’s third seed in the 400 IM going into U.S. Olympic Trials with his 4:12.43 from the 2015 World University Games. Tyler Clary and Chase Kalisz are the top seeds with their times from 2014 Pan Pacs, 4:09.03 and 4:09.62, respectively. However, Jay hasn’t touched that time in the 2015-2016 season (presumably because he’s been focusing on short course for Georgia), and Ryan Lochte (who went a 4th-fastest in the world 4:12.66 in Austin), Kalisz, Josh Prenot, Clary, and Sean Grieshop are all ahead of him in the world rankings. Jay has also qualified to swim the 400 free (ranked 51st), 200 back (ranked 34th), and 200 IM (ranked 25th) in Omaha.
Meanwhile, with his times from January to December 2015, Kevin sits third in the New Zealand LCM rankings in the 200 free (1:49.96), fourth in the 400 free (3:51.14), second in the 800 free (7:59.50), second in the 1500 free (15:23.70), and fifth in the 400 IM (4:32.11). Mick is first in the 200 fly (1:57.72), fourth in the 100 fly (54.51), third in the 400 IM (4:22.34), and eighth in the 400 free (3:59.30).
In order to make New Zealand’s team in an individual event, Kevin and Mick will have to make a FINA ‘A’ cut and clock one of the top two times out of New Zealand’s swimmers at the country’s qualifying meets. Kevin less than a second off the mark in the 200 free, and Mick only needs to drop a second in the 200 fly.
Going into NCAAs this week, SEC 400 IM champion Jay is the top seed in his signature event with 3:38.68, Kevin sits 13th in the 500 free (4:15.10), and Mick is 24th in the 200 fly (1:43.35).