SwimSwam Pulse: Jay Litherland is the Biggest Olympic Trials Surprise

SwimSwam Pulse is a recurring feature tracking and analyzing the results of our periodic A3 Performance Polls. You can cast your vote in our newest poll on the SwimSwam homepage, about halfway down the page on the right side, or you can find the poll embedded at the bottom of this post.

The latest poll shows one of the strongest sentiments that SwimSwam readers have ever expressed in our SwimSwam Pulse series, presented by A3.


Who was the biggest surprise to make the U.S. Olympic Team?

  • Melanie Margalis, 9%
  • Jay Litherland, 83%,
  • Townley Haas, 8%

Litherland lit up the U.S. Olympic Trials’ first day and set a tone for a meet of newcomers when he ran down the defending Olympic Champion Ryan Lochte in the men’s 400 IM to secure the second spot for Rio behind fellow Georgia Bulldog Chase Kalisz.

Litherland wasn’t completely out of nowhere – he was 3rd at the American collegiate (NCAA) Championships, and only one of the two guys in front of him at that meet entered this event, but with Josh Prenot having a very hot hand (as he would later demonstrate with an American Record in the 200 breaststroke); two Olympic gold medalist (Ryan Lochte and Tyler Clary) entered in the event, and Chase Kalisz as a two-time Worlds medalist in the event, Litherland’s career resume just didn’t stand out.

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Go New Zealand!!!

Tea Rex

Would have been interesting to see how that race played out if Prenot, Licon, Weiss, Clary, Phelps contested it. For the record, I think Litherland would have beat them all with his insane freestyle split, but it would have been interesting – it kind of felt like the 400 im was the race none of the top dogs wanted to swim.

If we count relay swimmers, I was very shocked by Bentz, also Pieroni and Weir. And as much as my heart wanted him to qualify, I didn’t expect Ervin to do so either


I really hope this post is a joke. Prenot, Weiss, and Clary DID swim the 400 IM….


The final

tea rex

By “that race” I meant the heat that counts – the final.


Prenot, Weiss, and Clary all swam prelims and were considerably behind Litherand.


Lochte was stoked to see Jay go by him. He was dreading a couple more of those and having to train it for another month. His 4:12 was a “how can I not look like a total idiot while still getting 3rd”. He got third… Its up to you to decide about the idiot part

tea rex

Haha – I know you are being tongue-in-cheek, but it’s kind of true. The last 150 meters of that race, Lochte had an elephant sitting on a piano resting on his back. I bet he is perfectly fine not having to do that again in Rio.


Phelps swimming 400 IM?
I hope this is a joke


Not a surprise at all to those who have followed his career, recent results and been cheering him on for years! Great training both in high school and college, great teammates, great family, great personality and great discipline = great results!

About Braden Keith

Braden Keith

Braden Keith is the Editor-in-Chief and a co-founder 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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