Looking Back at Day 3 of the 2012 and 2016 U.S. Olympic Trials

It’s June 23rd, and today was originally supposed to be Day 3 of the 2020 US Olympic Trials. Although the Tokyo Olympics have been postponed to 2021, we still want to honor the would-have-been Day 3 of the 2020 Olympic Trials, by reliving Day 3 of the 2012 and 2016 Olympic Trials. So without further ado, let’s go back and remember what was going on during the 3rd day of the Olympic Trials back in 2012 and 2016.

2016

LOCHTE MISSES 200 FREE, BUT MAKES 800 RELAY

Ryan Lochte‘s 2016 Trials didn’t get off to the start he was hoping for. After struggling with a groin issue, and coming in the 3rd in the 400 IM, Lochte again missed qualifying in an individual event in the men’s 200 free on Day 3. Lochte swam a 1:46.62, coming in 4th, behind Townley Haas, Conor Dwyer, and Jack Conger. Although he hadn’t made it individually yet, Lochte did punch his ticket to Rio as part of the 800 free relay with the swim, qualifying for his 4th consecutive Olympic Team.

LILLY KING POSTS TOP 100 BREAST IN THE WORLD

Translating her stellar freshman NCAA season into LCM success, Lilly King took down Rebecca Soni‘s U.S. Nationals Record to win the women’s 100 breast on Day 3. With the swim, King qualified for her first Olympic team. Her time of 1:05.20 made her the fastest swimmer in the world that year by about half a second. Katie Meili was a safe 2nd place, swimming a 1:06.07, which was the 6th fastest time in the world that year.

2012 Olympic Trials Champion Breeja Larson came in 4th, swimming a 1:07.53.

NEITHER 2012 OLYMPIC 100 BACK CHAMPION WILL DEFEND THEIR TITLE IN RIO

American swimmers won the Gold medal in both the men’s and women’s 100 back at the 2012 Olympics, with Matt Grevers taking the men’s title, and Missy Franklin taking the women’s title. Unfortunately for the pair, finals of the men’s and women’s 100 backstrokes were on Day 3, and neither swimmer qualified for the 2016 Olympic Team in the event.

Matt Grevers swam a solid 52.76, which would have earned 2nd back at the 2012 Trials, but ended up 3rd behind Ryan Murphy and David Plummer. Murphy used his strong back half to beat out Plummer, who took the race out quick. Ryan Murphy clocked a 52.26, with Plummer coming in at 52.28, qualifying for his first Olympic Team at 30 years old.

It hadn’t looked great for 2012 Olympic Champ Missy Franklin through the heats and semi-finals of the women’s 100 back, and although she swam her fastest 100 back of the meet in finals, she ended up 7th. Franklin swam a 1:00.24, .95 seconds out from punching a ticket to Rio. Additionally, Natalie Coughlin, the Olympic Gold medlaist in the women’s 100 back in both 2004 and 2008, finished 8th in the final with a 1:00.48.

Olivia Smoliga continued to impress, swimming a 59.02 to win the event, qualifying for her first Olympics. Kathleen Baker was next in at 59.29, and Amy Bilquist came in a close 3rd at 59.37.

LEDECKY IS NOT COASTING THROUGH THE 200 FREE SEMIS

Despite the all the racing Katie Ledecky had to do at these Trials, we at SwimSwam were impressed by the way she kept racing hard, even when she didn’t really have to. A prime example: the semi-finals of the women’s 200 free. Ledecky was the top seed coming into the meet, and was the fastest prelims swimmer (1:55.60) by a full second. Even though she only needed to secure a top 8 spot to make it through to finals, Ledecky put the pedal to the metal again, and swam a 1:55.10 in the 2nd of the semi-finals heats, taking the heat by 2.35 seconds. Her 1:55.10 led the entire semi-finals field by 1.63 seconds. Ledecky was proving to us that she will show up to race every time she dives in the water.

2016 OLYMPIC TEAM QUALIFIERS DAY 3

2012

MISSY FRANKLIN BREAKS 100 BACK AMERICAN RECORD

Fresh off her junior year in high school, rising superstar Missy Franklin punched her ticket to London. Her finals swim looked like it was off to a rocky start after she flipped 4th at the first 50 (29.11), over half a second behind both Rachel Bootsma and Natalie Coughlin. Franklin was electrifying on the final 50, however, blasting home in 29.74, a full 1.2 seconds faster than the next-fastest split in the field. Finishing in 58.85, 17-year-old Missy Franklin broke the American Record, U.S. Open Record, and U.S. Nationals Record. She also heads to London as a clear medal contender.

Rachel Bootsma held on for 2nd, swimming a 59.49 to punch her ticket to London. Natalie Coughlin, after flipping first at the 50, faded down the stretch, and ended up 3rd with a 1:00.06.

PHELPS AND LOCHTE SWIM STROKE-FOR-STROKE IN 200 FREE

Usually it’s the IM’s where we get to see fierce battles between Michael Phelps and Ryan Lochte, however, they gave us possibly their closest race ever in the 200 free at the 2012 Olympic Trials. The iconic duo swam stroke-for-stroke the whole way through the race, never separating by more than .08 seconds through the whole 200 meters. To cap it off, they both split 26.59 on the final 50. Phelps won the race with a 1:45.70, with lochte right behind in 1:45.75. Here is a breakdown of their splits.

Michael Phelps Ryan Lochte
24.89 24.89 24.97 24.97
26.85 51.74 26.83 51.80
27.37 1:19.11 27.36 1:19.16
26.59 1:45.70 26.59 1:45.75

It took sub-1:47 to make the top 6, with Ricky Berens, Conor Dwyer, Matt McLean, and Charlie Houchin rounding out the top 6.

BREEJA LARSON MAKES FIRST OLYMPIC TEAM

Texas A&M superstar Breeja Larson had shown us her historically greatness in yards racing, but there were still questions surrounding whether she could reach the same heights in an LCM pool. The short answer? Yes, Breeja Larson can also be a world class LCM breaststroker. Larson was on fire in Omaha, especially in finals of the women’s 100 breast. She took the race out 2nd fastest with a 31.04, just behind Jessica Hardy, who was a speedy 30.88 on the first 50. Larson picked up the pace coming home, putting together a beautiful breaststroke rhythm to split 34.88 coming home. She touched the wall first in a new best 1:05.92, and veteran Rebecca Soni put together a good 2nd 50 to come in 2nd with a 1:05.99. US Swimming fans were excited to have to sub-1:06 breaststrokers heading to London.

MATT GREVERS SCARES AARON PEIRSOL 100 BACK WORLD RECORD

Matt Grevers 100 back was named SwimSwam’s Swim of the Day back on Day 3 of the 2012 Trials, and for good reason. Grevers was fast from start to finish, staying on the World Record line the whole time. At the 50 mark, Grever split 25.37, just .02 seconds off Aaron Peirsol’s WR split of 25.35. He then came home in 26.71, the only sub-27 split in the field. Peirsol’s WR split on the 2nd 50 was 26.59. Grevers swam the 2nd-fastest-time ever with a 52.08, and Nick Thoman also punched his ticket to London with a 52.86 2nd place finish. We noted that things were looking good for Grevers heading into the rest of the meet, especially since Michael Phelps had scratched out of the 100 free.

SLOW PRELIMS

Back at the 2012 Trials, SwimSwam noted in their reporting that many swimmers were racing slower than their seed times in prelims. After investigating it further, we noted that 77% of swimmers were off their seed times at the Day 3 heats. Additionally, 42% of swimmer in the Day 3 heats swam slower than the Trials cut in their race. The most glaring example of this came in prelims of the women’s 200 free, where out of 99 swimmers, only 13 swam faster than their seed time, and 47 swam slower than the Trials cut.

2012 OLYMPIC TEAM QUALIFIERS DAY 3

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Nswim
4 months ago

The women’s 100 back has come a long way, over 1:00 probably won’t even final this year

Horninco
4 months ago

I think it’s interesting that Phelps chose the 4IM over the 2Free. I realize it was probably a scheduling issue, but I also have to think he doubted he could win the 200 Free. But does that mean he thought he had a better show of winning the IM?

M L
Reply to  Horninco
4 months ago

I think it was scheduling, as you say. The 400 IM was as close to a “freebie” addition as you can get (except for being, you know, the 400 IM). Dropping three 200s Free into the middle of the meet would’ve been a much taller order.

Also, Bowman has talked a lot about how training for the 400IM made Phelps better at everything else. So having that on the schedule was part of the setup.

M L
Reply to  M L
4 months ago

I think the main thing Phelps and Bowman miscalculated is how fast he would need to go to make the London final in the 400IM. Phelps had been able to go like 4:17 in the prelims in Omaha. Then he gets to London and is surprised by how fast the earlier heats went. (I’ve heard him say seeing Hagino’s prelim time made him realize he might have trouble on his hands.) As it was, Phelps *barely* made the London final with a 4:13, and only because he took the trouble to out-touch Cseh on the last lap of their heat. That extra 4 seconds no doubt took a lot out of him physically and psychologically. Then he wound up in… Read more »