Just 30% of Day 1 Swimmers Went Faster Than Their Trials Seeds in Omaha


After the first day of competition in Omaha for the Wave II 2021 U.S. Olympic Trials, Chase Kalisz, Jay Litherland, Kieran Smith, Emma Weyant, and Hali Flickinger all punched their tickets to Tokyo. At the same time, three new American records were solidified over the course of 12 hours: Michael Andrew‘s double men’s 100 breast American records (58.19/58.14) and Torri Huske‘s 55.78 women’s 100 fly American record.

Right off the bat, the 2021 Trials meet already had more American records set than the 2012 and 2016 Trials meets. Back in 2012, 17-year-old Missy Franklin broke the women’s 100 back record at 58.85 while Allison Schmitt swam her way to the women’s 200 free record at 1:54.40. Four years later, an eager Josh Prenot stormed the men’s 200 breast American record at 2:07.17. A reminder that two American records went down at the 2021 Trials meet, after a single day of competition.

So, we know that yesterday was fast, but was everyone else just as fast? Taking a look at how many swimmers bested their meet seed in prelims on the left table, roughly 30% of swimmers saw improvements, including Andrew’s 58.19 breast. Of note, only 7 women out-swam their 400 IM meet seeds while nearly half of the 49 men’s 100 breast seeds saw morning drops.

Later on in the evening, at least one more swimmer in each event improved their meet seeds, including four women’s 400 IM finalists. In the women’s 100 fly, four more swimmers got under their meet seed, including newly-minted American record-holder Huske and No. 4 seed Kate Douglass (57.07). With this, an additional 5% of qualified swimmers improved during semifinals/finals on Sunday evening.

At the Wave I meet, only 18% of swimmers improved upon their meet entry times.

Stats Gathered by Barry Revzin.

Day 1 Seeds V. Prelims Day 1 Seeds V. Prelims/SF/Final
Men’s 400 IM 9/38 23.70% Men’s 400 IM 11/38 28.90%
Women’s 100 Fly 14/59 23.70% Women’s 100 Fly 18/59 30.50%
Men’s 400 Free 19/48 39.60% Men’s 400 Free 20/48 41.70%
Women’s 400 IM 7/43 16.30% Women’s 400 IM 11/43 25.60%
Men’s 100 Breast 24/49 49.00% Men’s 100 Breast 25/49 51.00%
TOTAL WOMEN 21/102 20.60% TOTAL WOMEN 29/102 28.40%
TOTAL MEN 52/135 38.50% TOTAL MEN 56/135 41.50%
OVERALL TOTAL 73/237 30.80% OVERALL TOTAL 85/237 35.90%


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3 months ago

If the most elite swimmers in the country can just unexpectedly “miss their taper” then maybe we have to reconsider traditional swim training. I promise you USRPT swimmers knew how fast they would go coming into this meet. Why beat your body up for 2 years when there is a 65% chance your taper won’t work when it comes?

Last edited 3 months ago by BillyBob
Joe Bailey
Reply to  BillyBob
3 months ago

People can train however they want. If they want to do USRPT there is plenty of opportunity for them to do it.

Reply to  Joe Bailey
3 months ago

Agreed. And it works for some people. I guess I’m just a bitter swimmer who missed his taper too many times in college. 😂

Curious swimmer
Reply to  BillyBob
3 months ago

I feel that lol

cynthia curran
Reply to  BillyBob
3 months ago

I don’t know the taper seem to helped fly better than breaststroke for me as a kid.

3 months ago

A little risky to say after day 1 that Jay and Hali made the team (they probably will) because there are 36 selection positions but only 26 spots. But if there are not enough doubles I think it is the 6th place finishers in the 100 & 200 free that are the first swimmers out.
If Dressel makes it in the 50 & 100 free and the 100 fly he occupies 3 out of the 36 positions but only 1 out of the 26 spots.

Reply to  Dan
3 months ago

After that 400IM, Kalisz in the 200IM feels safer. Kieran is looking great – 200 (maybe 800 too). But this is just after day 1. I’m not too worried

Reply to  Dan
3 months ago

ledecky should help on the womens side right?

Some Guy
3 months ago

How does this compare to previous trials? I think most people expected a lot of variability due to the past year, just curious if this is an extreme outlier. Obviously we won’t have a complete picture until Wave 2 is complete and then you get the joy of combining both waves to get the full picture of how this trials stacks up to previous ones. Certainly going to be interesting

Reply to  Some Guy
3 months ago

Typically it is closer to what wave 1 did. You have to understand that virtually all of these swimmers achieved their entry time in a finals situation likely in contention to win the race they were in. Now they are being measured in a prelims swim in a high tension environment. If everyone got a second swim the best time percentage would go up dramatically.

About Nick Pecoraro

Nick Pecoraro

Nick Pecoraro started swimming at age 11, instantly becoming drawn to the sport. He was a breaststroker and IMer when competing. After joining SwimSwam, the site has become an outlet for him to research and learn about competitive swimming and experience the sport through a new lenses. He graduated in …

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