It’s Going to Be a Messy 2 Days for the US Men’s Olympic Roster (1500 Free + Roster Limit)

2024 U.S. OLYMPIC TRIALS

With five races to go at the 2024 U.S. Olympic Swimming Trials, there are 10 slots left to be decided for Team USA, and two big dramas waiting to unfold, both for the men’s teams.

One revolves around the roster limit, with Blake Pieroni still not in, and the other revolves around the 1500 free, where the second-place finisher might not necessarily be the second qualifier for the Olympic Games.

Roster Limit

Mark Wild and Robert Gibbs have been working hard on roster updates throughout the meet, but the TLDR of it is that in the remaining two men’s finals, there needs to be at least three duplicates in the four remaining spots, or else the 6th place finisher in the 200 free Blake Pieroni is off the team.

In the men’s 100 flyCaeleb Dressel looks like a good bet to make the team, which is one. In the men’s 1500 freeBobby Finke looks like a sure bet to make the team, which is two.

After that, things get messy.

The rest of the final in the men’s 100 fly, in seed order, is Dare RoseZach HartingRyan MurphyAiden HayesLuke MillerThomas Heilman, and Kaii Winkler.

Of those, only Murphy (#4 seed) and Heilman (#7 seed) are already on the team. If it were Murphy, I suspect he would cede the spot – while he’s free-and-clear of his primary backstroke races at this meet, at the Olympics he would run into mixed medley and men’s medley conflicts, so I think it’s unlikely he would race the 100 fly (though he hasn’t said that for sure). It is a tight field, and nobody really blew away the crowd in the semis, so Heilman’s career best of 51.19 could get a spot, but right now it feels like Rose is the odds-on-favorite here.

So then we turn to the 1500 free. Bobby Finke, who swam 14:59.04, will almost surely get a spot in this race. I think I’d say he will almost surely win, but he will almost surely get a spot. After that, the field, in seed order, is David JohnstonCharlie ClarkLuke WhitlockWilliam MulgrewLuke EllisDaniel Matheson, and Carson Hick.

This time, #4 seed Whitlock, who has been having a wonderful meet and made the team in the 800 free, is the only swimmer already on the roster.

Whitlock is clearly the hope between the two events for Pieroni, who is currently odd man out if 27 Americans qualify. He went 15:07.36 in prelims, and had a best time coming into the meet of 15:07.94.

In the 800, which is his best event, he improved by five seconds pre-meet to finals, including a prelims swim that wasn’t a best. That means he’s been confident enough to “just get in” from prelims and then drop big in finals.

But things could get even weirder in that 1500 free…

15:00.99

On Sunday evening, 15:00.99 is the number to keep track of. That’s the Olympic Qualifying Time from World Aquatics, and in order for the US to send two swimmers to the Olympics in this race, both need to be under that time.

They don’t both have to be under that time at this meet, however.

If we look into the crystal ball and pencil Finke in for the win, and the runner-up of the race is not under 15:00.99, USA Swimming selection procedures say that the next-highest finisher who has an Olympic “A” time from a qualifying meet gets the second spot. In this case, there are only three Americans who fit that criteria: Finke, Charlie Clark, and Michael Brinegar, who we now know isn’t going to have a shot (barring some kind of wild last-minute Hail Mary appeal).

So that means that if nobody other than Finke breaks 15:00.99 in the final, Clark goes essentially no matter where he finishes (unclear if he DQs in the final what happens, but that’s not really going to happen).

On My Soap Box

I think it’s worth reminding everyone that the roster is capped at 26 men, no matter who those men are. It’s a zero-sum game. It seems like everyone has kind of getting caught up in the race for 26 and begun rooting for the doubles just because it feels like there’s this goal of 26 swimmers. If Blake Pieroni makes it, it feels like “everyone who could have possibly qualified did” and there’s no “someone got left home” ala Ryan Held in 2021. That ‘whole’ feeling is a tempting one and one that feels like it aligns with the culture of swimming.

And while Blake Pieroni‘s story is a really good one, and it would be cool if he made the team, him making the team means somebody else doesn’t.

While I encourage Blake Pieroni fans to root for him to be that 26th guy, and the same for Charlie Clark fans or Dare Rose fans, because I love people being fans of certain teams or athletes, I think it’s just worth taking a breath and considering which swimmer you’re rooting for making the team, as compared to just rooting for the number 26.

Or, if the aforementioned sense of fairness or completeness is what makes you happy, do you boo.

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Caleb
27 days ago

GOOD ARTICLE

Andy
28 days ago

Devil’s advocate – any top 2 finisher deserves an Olympic spot WAY more than the 6th place 100/200 relay swimmer

We shouldn’t root for Murphy to get a spot over Dare just so Pieroni gets a medal for being a heats swimmer

Neil47-54
28 days ago

Problem solved. Thomas Heilman!

Jonathan
28 days ago

Hielman wow! Peroni owes him a really nice gift.

Jonathan
28 days ago

I want Murphy to get second just to see what he decides to do.

Crazycucumber93
28 days ago

Thank you for the last part of this article. I’ve been a little confused by people wanting so badly for as many doubles as possible to ensure that Blake makes the team. Id rather see Rose or other first time Olympians make the team over Blake, who has already been to two Olympics.

JimSwim22
28 days ago

Keep roster limit at 26 but allow 3rd swimmer. A+ cut = 3rd place average from previous 2 Olympics.
Who would get on besides Regan in 1Fl?

How much can CD bench???
28 days ago

Agreed, my heart goes out for Blake but someone finishing top two late in the meet to make their first Olympics is by no means “stealing” a roster spot from anyone. Also, if we don’t want to have Hobson and Guiliano swims prelims we have plenty of options… foster, shackle, etc. Also, sending 4 breaststrokers and potentially 4 distance only non-relay guys certainly makes it tough to fill out the rest of the roster in under 18.

Swimz
Reply to  How much can CD bench???
27 days ago

Yes for the relay they have bunch of swimmers..Curry , kibler, Smith are there..they can use, foster/ Armstrong ; who are know to be proven relay swimmers..even shackel was a finalist..final line up most probably would be Hobson, Foster, Guliano and Smith bringing them home..

About Braden Keith

Braden Keith

Braden Keith is the Editor-in-Chief and a co-founder/co-owner of SwimSwam.com. He first got his feet wet by building The Swimmers' Circle beginning in January 2010, and now comes to SwimSwam to use that experience and help build a new leader in the sport of swimming. Aside from his life on the InterWet, …

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