Overreacting: Lochte Misses 200 Free Semi, Baker Hindered by Injury

2021 U.S. OLYMPIC SWIMMING TRIALS


Day two of wave II of the 2021 US Olympic Trials did not fail to provide us with many surprises, the biggest one being Ryan Lochte missing the semi-finals in the 200 freestyle. 

Lochte, a 4-time Olympian, has represented the United States in the 4×200 freestyle relay at every Olympic Games he’s contested, winning 4 Olympic gold medals from the event. In 2016, Lochte swam a time of 1:46.62 to finish 4th overall in finals. Today, he was almost 3 seconds off of that time, posting a 1:49.23 to place 25th out of prelims, missing the semi-finals by over a second. 

For Lochte, his performance in the 200 freestyle is a possible foreshadowing of his 200 IM later in the meet. In 2016, Lochte placed 2nd with a time of 1:56.22. However, during the Olympic Trials qualification period, he has only been 1:57.76 in the event. 

Lochte later missed his heat in the 100 backstroke, opting for a declared false start. 

Baker’s Injury Impacts

As predicted, the field for the women’s 100 backstroke was extremely tight through prelims. However, what few people could have predicted was the fact that former world record holder Kathleen Baker was only 11th out of prelims, failing to break a minute in the event. 

Baker, who has been dealing with a foot injury, had a low start and appeared to lose her kick during the closing meters of the race. Her time of 1:00.46 from this morning was almost exactly a second off of her season best of 59.45. In order to make the final, Baker will most likely have to match her season best, as 7 out of the top 8 finishers in prelims were under a minute. 

Farris’ Event Selection 

NCAA Champion Dean Farris scratched the 200 freestyle event this morning to focus upon the 100 backstroke. The move was surprising for some, especially considering he is the American Record holder in the short course version of the 200 freestyle. 

Although Farris had traditionally focused more on the 100 freestyle, the move has raised some concerns. Farris was only 14th overall this morning in the 100 backstroke with a time of 54.27. Plus, the top 6 finishers in the 200 freestyle make the team as opposed to the top 2 in the 100 backstroke. 

King’s Prelims Performance

World record holder Lilly King did not appear too content with her performance in the 100 breaststroke prelims, even appearing to mouth some choice words after her finish. 

Despite this, King was still almost a second faster in prelims this morning that she was during prelims in 2016. At the 2016 meet, King touched in a time of 1:06.45, qualifying first overall for semi-finals, before eventually going a time of 1:05.20 in finals. Today, King touched in a time of 1:05.67, appearing fairly controlled throughout the race, to still take first overall out of prelims. 

Madden Shaking Up the 400 Free

Paige Madden had a statement swim in the 400 freestyle. After claiming 3 NCAA titles this year, Madden was expected to have a big performance at Trials. However, her swim this morning revealed she may even have more up-her-sleeve than originally anticipated. 

During prelims, Madden stayed right on Katie Ledecky’s toes, finishing in 4:05.92 to move to #13 all-time in US History. Madden’s time was a massive improvement upon her previous best of 4:09.19, and she may challenge Leah Smith for the second roster spot tonight. 

Other Notable Misses

Notable Declared False Starts/No Shows

  • Jay Litherland did not swim the 200 freestyle after qualifying for Tokyo in the 400 IM last night. Litherland was a member of the 4×200 freestyle relay at the 2017 World Championships.
  • Nikol Popov did not swim the 100 breaststroke, where she was seeded 19th overall.
  • As previously mentioned, Lochte was a no show for his heat in the 100 backstroke after swimming the 200 freestyle prelims. 

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Cate
11 months ago

Lochte missing the 200 free semis isn’t a surprise. Him making the team at all would be more of a surprise. He’s 36 years old and doesn’t seem to have a post swimming career plan (as does Cody Miller). He’s also been pretty open about his financial problems.

Mikeh
11 months ago

Lochte’s coaches probably bear some responsibility for his poor showing. People in their mid-30s need more rest.

Cate
Reply to  Mikeh
11 months ago

Coaches don’t have a fountain of youth.

Anything he swims
11 months ago

Jeahhhh!!

A C
Reply to  Anything he swims
11 months ago

Come back to us after the 200IM.

NCSwimFan
11 months ago

A 36-year-old swimming a season-best and by far his smartest 200 free of the season, certainly disappointing given who it is but not really a surprise IMO. Lochte should be pretty pleased with the time and the race at the end of the day. His life is fine.

A C
Reply to  NCSwimFan
11 months ago

Yes and no. He is a very high profile professional swimmer. Making the team means millions to him.

Cate
Reply to  A C
11 months ago

Not really.

Robert
Reply to  A C
11 months ago

I’d be shocked if it meant millions to him at this stage in his career. Especially after the Rio saga. It definitely means a lot of money, but I think his days of bringing in millions are over.

BearlyBreathing
11 months ago

>Plus, the top 6 finishers in the 200 freestyle make the team as opposed to the top 2 in the 100 backstroke. 
I thought the 5th and 6th place finishers in the 100/200 free weren’t necessarily guaranteed a spot on the team?

Robert Gibbs
Reply to  BearlyBreathing
11 months ago

They’re not guaranteed, but I don’t know if there’s ever been under a instance under currently selection criteria where it hasn’t happened. Granted, not sure we’ve ever failed to have two swimmers hit an A cut, either…

Reply to  BearlyBreathing
11 months ago

In theory, yes. The 2nd-place finishers in each event are also not guaranteed a spot on the Olympic team. But if enough swimmers qualify in multiple events, the 2nd placers and 5th/6th placers get officially added. Usually, the U.S. has plenty of multi-event swimmers, so the overall roster cap of 26 men and 26 women isn’t a factor. We wouldn’t expect it to be this year, either.

The Original Tim
11 months ago

Digging into the data for some fun with numbers:

Lochte’s 200 free prelim split comparisons from 2008, 2012, 2016, and today:

2008: 25.7, 27.6, 27.1, 26.2 = 1:46.8
2012: 25.4, 27.6, 28.1, 26.5 = 1:48.1
2016: 25.4, 27.6, 27.4, 27.3 = 1:47.7
2021: 25.8, 27.8, 27.5, 27.9 = 1:49.2

Looks like his 2nd and 4th 50s were the difference makers.

On an interesting note, those times placed him 2nd, 1st, 4th, and 25th, respectively. The 25th place times for 2008-2016 were 1:49.6, 1:50.3, and 1:49.4, respectively. His time today would have placed him 21st, 11th, and 21st, respectively. Not sure why the field was comparatively so much slower in 2012, but I digress…

I hope… Read more »

Last edited 11 months ago by The Original Tim
There's no doubt that he's tightening up
Reply to  The Original Tim
11 months ago

2012 being slower than 2008 can be attributed to the LZR supersuit.

Also a peak Lochte 200 free prelim would be him screwing around for the first 150, doing a monster final underwater, turning on the jets, then cruising the last 10 metres with a 4 metre glide into the finish. That is not what happened today 🙁

Don
Reply to  The Original Tim
11 months ago

Maybe first year without super suits?

A C
Reply to  The Original Tim
11 months ago

Thx! This is really useful. His 4th 50 today really stands out as being slower, and that spells trouble for his 200IM.

bignowhere
Reply to  A C
11 months ago

It is interesting that his 4th 50 was so much slower, as he *looked* as though he was pulling away from the field at that point. I guess that is what happens in a slower heat.

bignowhere
Reply to  bignowhere
11 months ago

It is also interesting that his first 50 wasn’t so different from all his other OT prelim races. When I first saw the splits, it really stood out to me how much slower his first 50 was than the top qualifiers. So I figured he screwed up his pacing. But it looks like that’s how he has always taken out a prelim 200 free.

A C
Reply to  bignowhere
11 months ago

Yup. I had the same reaction.

A C
Reply to  The Original Tim
11 months ago

As compared to 2016 he lost small fractions of a second in each 50: .4, .2, .1, .6

A C
Reply to  The Original Tim
11 months ago

Lochte’s fastest first 100 was 53.0. Typically the other top guys have gone out a second or more faster, and Lochte has gained ground on the second 100. Today, Lochte only stayed even on the second 100.

Irish Ringer
Reply to  The Original Tim
11 months ago

Shoot, maybe he didn’t under swim that first 100 and just couldn’t bring it home.

A C
Reply to  Irish Ringer
11 months ago

Yup, that’s what his historical time splits indicate.

Kitajima Fan
11 months ago

I dunno what it is this time around but Lilly King is really getting on my nerves. This brash, in-your-face side of her has been accommodated for too long

Distance Per Stroke
Reply to  Kitajima Fan
11 months ago

She also waited forever to get on the block If I remember correctly.

Murphy is my dad
Reply to  Distance Per Stroke
11 months ago

She’s the world record holder, the officials will wait for the greatest swimmer in the history of the event

Shane Potsdam
Reply to  Kitajima Fan
11 months ago

Spot on

RoamingPanda
Reply to  Kitajima Fan
11 months ago

Probably the fact that people were much more forgiving due to her age and just the fact that she hadn’t been around very long.

I’ve never really liked her from the get-go and she always gave off that rough and loud “I’m the greatest” American stereotype.

Jeremy Schultheiss
Reply to  RoamingPanda
11 months ago

Interesting take on King…. however, I’d like to assert that if she were a man then people would not say these things. If she were a man, rather than saying “brash, in your face” we would say “he is a fighter, a real winner, he kicks you know what”.Think GHJ. Think playing air guitar on deck at Sydney Olympics.

Just my 3 cents.

M d e
Reply to  Jeremy Schultheiss
11 months ago

Everyone hated GHJ though and clowned on him when the Australians beat him.

If Lily King keeps winning most people will say that stuff. And that’s what they have been saying. If she starts losing things will get negative quickly. It’s the nature of conducting yourself in that way, you have to back it up every single time.

BillyBob
Reply to  Jeremy Schultheiss
11 months ago

I immediately thought of GHJ and not liking him for the same reasons.

Pvdh
Reply to  Kitajima Fan
11 months ago

And you’ll have accommodate it for longer. Don’t get your undies in a twist princess.

Kitajima Fan
Reply to  Pvdh
11 months ago

The retired specter of Kitajima looks down on you with stern disapproval

Philip Johnson
Reply to  Kitajima Fan
11 months ago

“Shut up and swim”?

Landen
Reply to  Kitajima Fan
11 months ago

I love swimmers like hat. Sport needs it

A C
Reply to  Kitajima Fan
11 months ago

The world is filled with all kinds of people. Maybe best to appreciate our differences.

Jotolo
Reply to  A C
11 months ago

Amen!

SCCOACH
11 months ago

Are people really surprised by Dean? When was the last time he put up some top tier times?

Ol' Longhorn
Reply to  SCCOACH
11 months ago

I blame Madyson Cox for the decline.

Dudeman
Reply to  SCCOACH
11 months ago

Maybe the fans just didn’t meme him hard enough!?

About Nicole Miller

Nicole Miller

Nicole has been with SwimSwam since April 2020, as both a reporter and social media contributor. Prior to joining the SwimSwam platform, Nicole also managed a successful Instagram platform, amassing over 20,000 followers. Currently, Nicole is pursuing her B.S. in Biomedical Engineering at Worcester Polytechnic Institute, where she is an active …

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