Oldest Swimmers to Qualify for the 2024 U.S. Olympic Trials


Gabrielle Rose will be the oldest swimmer since at least 2004 — and possibly all of modern history — to compete at the U.S. Olympic Trials when the 46-year-old breaststroke specialist enters the water in Indianapolis next week.

The two-time Olympian is seeded 27th in the 100 breast (1:09.13) and 46th in the 200 breast (2:31.68). Rose qualified last November during a long course time trial representing Alpha Aquatics, where she also coaches. She has been training six days a week in Southern California with coaches Scott Hubbard and Erika Hansen-Stebbins (1988 and 1992 Olympian) while also working with Dave Salo, who guided Rose to a 7th-place finish in the 200 IM back at the 2000 Olympics. She represented the U.S. in 2000 after representing Brazil in 1996.

Before Rose, Dara Torres held the honor of oldest Olympic Trials qualifier in modern history, placing 4th in the 50 free at the 2012 U.S. Olympic Trials at 45 years old. USA Swimming’s records don’t have any older swimmers, but the organization is reportedly not 100% sure of its archives prior to 2004.

The oldest Olympic Trials qualifier in 2021 was 40-year-old Anthony Ervin, the oldest Olympic champion swimmer in history at age 35.

Rose is the only swimmer from the 1970s who qualified, while five swimmers from the 1980s made the cut. Four-time Olympic champion Matt Grevers is the next-oldest qualifier behind Rose at 39 years old. His 22.50 50 free last month earned him the No. 35 seed in the event, marking his fastest time since December of 2015.

The third-oldest qualifier is 37-year-old Brooke Boak, a former captain at Stanford (where she swam as Brooke Bishop) and mother of three. Her Olympic Trials journey began last year after swimming a 25-yard free in 10 seconds at her kids’ summer league meet. Then in March, she blasted a 25.24 50 free during her first time swimming the event since the 2008 Olympic Trials, seeding her 24th next week. Boak is also seeded 54th in the 100 free with a time of 55.72.

“It’s been really fun having a goal, I think that’s what I struggled with before, but once I committed myself to making trials, it’s been really fun,” said Boak, a Pac-10 champion in the 50 free back in 2006.

The fourth-oldest qualifier is Brandon Fischer, mechanical technologist at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, is aiming for his first Olympic berth at his 5th Olympic Trials. A former University of Wyoming standout (2009-12) who now trains with Tri Valley Aquatics, Fischer takes a cerebral approach to the sport that has earned him the No. 23 seed in the 100 breast (1:01.19) and the No.16 seed in the 200 breast (2:12.52).

Distance specialist Ashley Twichell is seeking a trip to her second Olympics, this time in the pool after placing 7th in the 10km open water race a few years ago in Tokyo. At 32 years old, the TAC Titans veteran was the oldest American swimmer to qualify for their first Olympics in more than a century since 1908. Now 34 and a mother since May of 2022, Twichell is seeded 37th in the 400 free (4:14.46), 19th in the 800 free (8:36.97), and 14th in the 1500 free (16:22.69). She’ll celebrate her 35th birthday on the second day of Olympic Trials next Sunday.

Kaitlyn Johnson took an interesting path to her second Olympic Trials. After retiring from swimming in 2016 following Olympic Trials that summer, the former Division II standout (Clarion University, 2007-11) discovered crossfit training in 2021 and began racing again in 2022. Now 34 years old, Johnson is seeded 41st in the 50 free with a 25.44 from the 2022 U.S. Open. She owns a season best of 25.52 from the Pro Swim Series stop in San Antonio this April.

“I mostly train as a crossfitter and only spend one day a week in the pool, so I feel that is a true testament of the hard work I put in,” Johnson said.

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Stan Crump
10 days ago

That is awesome!

B+ Masters Swimmer
10 days ago

Leah Gingrich is 34. She made semis in 2fly in 2021. I believe her first trials was in 2004. Impressive!

Reply to  B+ Masters Swimmer
10 days ago

Seems they are not very good at their research. They may want to try again.

Aragon Son of Arathorne
11 days ago

my brain is still trying to process this. 46 years old going under 1:10? I don’t even know how that is possible. As a 46 yo myself, the body doesn’t even come close to recovering from workouts like i did even in my mid 30’s (which was still much harder than in college)

Reply to  Aragon Son of Arathorne
10 days ago

I guess people who succeed at that age have one thing in common: they adapt their training to the abilities of their bodies really well instead of trying to do the same things they were doing 25 years ago. I mean, a healthy 46 yo body can still be strong af, mobile and technically skilled. And as a result swim pretty fast, at least a 50m. The only thing that can prevent you from being fast is ignoring the fact that you’re not 20 any more and trying to do more volume than you can recover from. This ends with frustration, injuries and giving up on competitive sport. 46 year olds don’t need much to get great training stimulus. Low… Read more »

11 days ago

Remember when Mark Spitz tried a comeback at age xx? 40 was it? He got crushed off the blocks by Tom Jager I think it was right off the blocks, but surely it was a Trials cut?

Honest Observer
Reply to  Austinpoolboy
11 days ago

Spitz made his come back in 1990, at age 40, and as part of that comeback raced both Biondi and Jager separately for a 50 fly. As best I recall, his best 100 LCM fly was right around a 59.0, and the WR at the time was 52.8 by Pablo Morales, so I doubt his time would have qualified him for Trials in 1992.

Reply to  Honest Observer
11 days ago

his lifetime best was 54.2 but I don’t recall what he did in his Masters / comeback attempt.

B+ Masters Swimmer
11 days ago

I watched Gabby race 200 BR at USMS nats in Irvine last year. I was a heat or two after her in the next age group down so I had the best seat in the house right behind the blocks. She is such a humble, gracious athlete. Always smiling and just as cute as can be. The masters community is so proud of you, Gabby!

11 days ago

I think the oldest male competitor is Steve West, who swam both breaststrokes in 2012 at age 40. Jeff Comings also swam the 100 breaststroke at the 2012 Trials not far behind at age 38.

11 days ago

I wonder what Brandon is gonna throw down LC he had some really fast swims at winter sectionals in Huntington Beach.

11 days ago

I couldn’t remember how old Janet Evans was when she tried a comeback. I had thought it was for Rio but it was for London. At 40 years old she finished 80th (out of 113) in the 400 Free and 53rd (out of 65) in the 800. So even if it had been for Rio she would have only been 44, so still younger than Torres and Rose. I just remember it because I’m 3 years younger than her so have very strong memories of her dominate performances when she was at her peak.

Not all the relevant but figured others might have had similar thoughts. Definitely seems like comebacks and older swimmers have had more success int the sprint… Read more »

About Riley Overend

Riley is an associate editor interested in the stories taking place outside of the pool just as much as the drama between the lane lines. A 2019 graduate of Boston College, he arrived at SwimSwam in April of 2022 after three years as a sports reporter and sports editor at newspapers …

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