New Poll: Which Male High School Swimmer Has the Best Shot at the US 2012 Olympic Team?

Since David Nolan’s incredible, 4-record-setting performance (100 free, 100 back, 200 IM, 200 free relay) at the Pennsylvania High School State Meet, there has been a lot of buzz and opinions over what his chances are at making the 2012 London Olympic Team.

Though he’s the biggest-name high school swimmer around right now, he’s not the only one with a shot at the Olympics in 2012. In fact, by our count there’s 6 current high school students on the men’s side with a solid shot at the Olympics (and a few others with a real outside look). Be sure to cast your vote to the right.

So which one has the best chance at making the American Olympic team? David Nolan will be the pop-pick, given the noise he’s made in recent months, and by the fact that he’s probably the best swimmer of the group. But working against him is circumstance. In his best event, the 200 IM, he sits behind probably the two best swimmers in history, Michael Phelps and Ryan Lochte, as well as Tyler Clary, who is one of the best swimmers in the world at the moment. His second-best event, the 100 back, is the American men’s deepest event, even after the retirement of Aaron Peirsol. But Nolan is extremely versatile, and his 100 fly, 100 free, and 200 free could all potentially final him at trials.

The less obvious pick is Clay Youngquist out of Michigan. Youngquist doesn’t have nearly the same chance at a roster spot in an individual event as Nolan does, but he has an outstanding 200 free time of 1:48.44 from last year’s National Championships that puts him on the short-list of candidates for a prelims spot in London.

Nolan might be the 100 back high school record-holder in short course, but Kip Darmody out of North Carolina was nearly a second better (54.90) last summer in long course. His chances might hinge heavily on whether or not Ryan Lochte adds the 100 back to his schedule. if Lochte swims the race at trials beyond just trying to earn a relay spot, then Darmody’s odds of making the squad decreases substantially.

Ryan Murphy is the youngest swimmer on the list, but that might be what makes him the most exciting pick. He’s only a sophomore in high school, but in 2010 was already the 14th ranked swimmer in the country in the 200 back with a 2:00.81. There’s a ton of huge names between him and the top two in this race, but his potential as he’s torn up the NAG record books is huge. It’s going to take about a 6-second drop in the next year to make the team, which is quite a task, but at 15 years old, it’s not undoable. If either Clary or Lochte opts out of the race (unlikely), the qualifying time moves into a much more doable 1:56-range.

University of Florida commit Nicholas Caldwell has been tearing up the middle-distance freestyles (in yards the 500, meters the 400). He might have the easiest route to the Olympics in an individual of anyone on the list, as the Americans are not the strongest in middle-distance free. His 3:50.51 from the Jr. Pan Pacs last year made him the 5th-fastest American, only 2.5 seconds off of a top-two spot that would get him to the Olympics.

And then probably the best pick, but the last one that would come to anyone’s mind: Arthur Frayler. The distance swimmer has the most big-meet experience, as a 2010 USA Pan Pac qualifier. At that meet, he placed 7th in the 1500, 8th in the 800, and 9th in the open water 10k. Chad La Tourette seems to be the strong favorite for the men’s 1500 at US Trials, but Frayler is among a group, that could include Peter Vanderkaay, who will be competing for the second spot. He also has a chance at a spot in the always-unpredictable open water discipline.

Or maybe there’s someone else who isn’t on our list who has a shot against a weak group (a breaststroker perhaps).

Be sure to vote at the right for who your favorite is, and sound off in the comments below why you voted the way you did!

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Matt Elliot? 2:14 long course with a weak group of American qualifiers


Kevin Cordes (17 yr old) Fastest 100 br time-tall, skinny, young. Seems to have no ceiling. Improving all the time. Christian Higgins, still chasing time from “the suit” but strong. Along with Elliott, the best 1-2-3 breaststrokers to come out in a long time.


My guess? None of them make it. Not that they aren’t all fantastic swimmers, but high school swimmers almost never make Olympic teams on the men’s side anymore. The last ones to do it were Phelps and Piersol in 2000. (15 and 17) Its just too hard to compete with older, stronger, more experienced college and postgrad athletes, especially when there are only two spots available. Youngquist might have a shot just because the top 6 go in the 200 free. But I bet it takes a 1:46 to make the relay, so thats still a two second drop off an already outstanding HS time. Will he beat Phelps, Lochte, Walters, Berens, Vanderkaay, Dwyer, McLean or Dax Hill? I mean… Read more »

About Braden Keith

Braden Keith

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