2016 US Olympic Trials: Ranking Phelps’ +1 In the Men’s 100 Fly

One of the most anticipated events of the Olympics this summer is the men’s 100 butterfly. Most expect Michael Phelps and one other to swim the race in Rio, but no one’s ticket will be punched until the race is finished at Trials.  In addition to Phelps, the USA boasts a strong roster of athletes that could post medal-worthy performances if given the opportunity to race in Rio.

_Phelps_Michael 29 Michael Phelps North Baltimore Phelps-TBX_6724-

Photo courtesy of Tim Binning, The Swim Pictures

Michael Phelps is the man to beat this summer.  His performances last summer rocked the world, despite taking place in San Antonio at US Nationals and not at the World Championships in Kazan.  Had Phelps been allowed to compete in Kazan his remarkable time of 50.45 would have won him the gold medal.  Phelps’ time at the 2015 Summer Nationals was the second-fastest textile 100 fly in history behind Ian Crocker’s 50.40 swum in 2005, and 0.76 faster than his winning time in London at the 2012 Olympics.  Phelps‘ 50.45 was also faster than his winning times in the Beijing and the Athens Olympics, and his winning times at the World Championships in 2007 and 2011.

Taking second to Phelps in San Antonio was Texas Longhorn Jack Conger,

Jack Conger (courtesy of Tim Binning, theswimpictures.com)

Jack Conger (courtesy of Tim Binning, theswimpictures.com)

who swam a 51.33, which would have been good enough for 7th in Kazan. Conger placed 3rd at the NCAA Championships in March with a yards time of 44.87, though his fastest yards time is from NCAA’s in 2014 with a 44.55, which got him a narrow second-place to teammate Joseph Schooling.  Conger is also the American Record holder in the 200 yard butterfly (1:38.06).

While Phelps and Conger swam at US Nationals last summer, Tom Shields was in Kazan where he helped Team USA win gold in the 400 medley relay and also took 4th in the 100 fly.  Shields swam a 51.03 in the semifinals to secure himself the top seed in finals, though couldn’t hang on with Chad le Clos, Laszlo Cseh, and Schooling to make the podium.  Shields split of 50.59 on the relay should be indicative of great things to come, and his performances at last December’s Duel in the Pool where he set new American Records in the short course meters 100 and 200 flies project an upward trajectory for Shields.

Tom Shields finally make an A-list USA Nationals Team, but not in 100 fly as he expected. He did it the hard way, suffering through a tough 200 fly…and a brutal final 50 meters. (courtesy of Tim Binning)

Tom Shields. Courtesy of Tim Binning/TheSwimPictures

Phelps, Shields, and Conger all have a magnificent shot of breaking 51 in Omaha–some even expect Phelps to break 50.  Giles Smith and Matthew Josa should be in the 51-mid range or faster if they continue to improve as they have the past couple summers, and Tim Phillips, though he hasn’t gone a best time since 2014, could be in the mix with them.

Matthew Josa, Division II record holder from Queens University in the 100 fly (44.89), 200 fly (1:42.96), 200 IM (1:41.94), and 200 back (1:40.74) had a huge year in 2015.  At US Nationals last August Josa posted a 51.68 in a time trial.  In the actual race Josa swam a 52.21, which could probably earn him an outside lane in the finals at Trials.

Giles Smith posted a very impressive 52.10 in March at the PNW Sectionals, barely off his best time of 51.92 which he registered last summer.  Smith has less international experience than most in the field, but in 2012 he placed 8th at US Olympic Trials in the 100 fly.

Michael Andrew, age group phenom and posterboy of USRPT, has proven time and again that he should not be underestimated.  Last summer Andrew took on a grueling trifecta of competitions, first swimming at Junior Nationals in late July where he set a new NAG record in the 100 fly (52.57).  Andrew stayed in San Antonio for US Nationals in early August, and finally wrapped up the season in Singapore at the FINA World Junior Championships at the end of August.  In Singapore Andrew won gold in the 50 back and picked up silvers in the 50 fly and 50 free.  One year more mature and swimming only a few hours away from his home base in Lawrence, Kansas, Andrew will be far more confident and mature this summer.

Michael Andrew by Mike Lewis

Michael Andrew Photo Courtesy of Mike Lewis, Ola Vista Photography

David Nolan will have his work cut out for him Friday night, when he will potentially swim the 200 IM final and the 100 fly semifinal, with only the finals of the women’s 100 free between.  Phelps will have this same double, though he has more experience swimming these two races basically back-to-back than anyone else in the field and has proven his competency many times.

Phelps, Shields, Phillips, and Smith all swam in the final of the 100 fly at Trials in 2012.  Ryan Lochte placed 3rd in that heat, though it’s doubtful he will swim it again this year.  Eugene Godsoe placed 7th in 2012, but will likely be pushed out of the final 8 by young talent like Conger, Josa, and Andrew.


Place at OT Name Best Since London Predicted Time in Omaha Training Base
1 Michael Phelps 50.45 50.2 NBAC at ASU
2 Tom Shields 51.03 50.6 California Aquatics
3 Jack Conger 51.33 50.8 University of Texas
4 Giles Smith 51.92 51.5 Phoenix Swim Club
5 Tim Phillips 51.49 51.6 SwimMAC Elite
6 Matthew Josa 51.68  (Time Trial) 51.7 SwimMAC Elite
7 Michael Andrew 52.57 52.0 Indie Swimming
8 David Nolan 52.15 52.2 NBAC at ASU

Wild Card: Caeleb Dressel, University of Florida, 52.96, 2015 FL Southern Zone Sectionals

_Dressel_ Caeleb Caeleb Dressel Florida SO-TBX_8812-

Caeleb Dressel Photo courtesy of Tim Binning, The Swim Pictures

Were it not for scheduling and the proximity of the 50 free and the 100 fly, I would predict Dressel to swim this race and make the final 8.  Unfortunately, the finals of the 50 free and the 100 fly are separated by only one event.  Granted that race is the women’s 800 freestyle, this is the Olympic Trials and those ladies are going to be in and out of the pool rather quickly.  Though Dressel and coach Gregg Troy have not officially decided what he will swim in addition to the 50 and 100 free, for now Dressel is entered in the 100 fly in Omaha.

Dressel’s 44.40 in the 100 yard fly at NCAA’s is the third-fastest yards performance ever.   Ian Crocker, owner of the fastest textile 100 long course time in history (50.40), never swam a 100 yard fly as fast as Dressel did at NCCA’s this year.


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Captain Ahab
6 years ago

Birds…the birds…He rises!!

6 years ago

No way he will make the cut to much hype about a big lad
Lot of money invested let’s see when it becomes a level playing field

But good luck to the lad

6 years ago

I’m trying to find the video where Le Clos said that I just did a time the Michael hasn’t done in years so he can be quite now. I can’t find it anywhere. It was on eurosport during Kazan. If someone can come up with a link, I would greatly appreciate it. I’m so pumped for the 100 fly in Rio. Schooling, Phelps, Le Clos, and Lazlo, at least one of those guys won’t get a medal. And all four of those guys are tough as heck. The 100 fly is going to be unreal.

6 years ago

Will Phelps shave for trials?

6 years ago

il be rooting for giles smith to stun the field and take 2nd…. just cuz i love the under dog! 51.2 for 2nd to edge shields

phelps swims 200 breast rio
6 years ago

I’m a big fan of both Phelps and Shields, but I fell like odd man out when it comes to predicting this race because my thoughts seem to change every few days. I commend y’all for being able to come up with some really solid predictions. Some days I think Phelps may swim some insanely fast time. Other days, I think of the possibility of someone currently ranked way back but having a Lezak type swim at trials. I can hardly wait for this race to happen. It should be epic.

6 years ago

Michael Andrew? don’t think so…

6 years ago

I think Shields is going to give Phelps a heck of a challenge come Trials. Fantastic stroke, super natural speed and he has spent the spring doing tough 200s to prepare for the all important last 15 meters of the 100. Rio is anybody’s guess; Cseh, LeClos, Phelps, Schooling or Shields. 50.2-50.4 will win it, ie. lots of tired athletes at the end of the Games. If I must make a pick; Shields in 50.3.

Irish Ringer
Reply to  Nordic
6 years ago

.80 of a second drop for Shields in the 100 fly? Go CAL Bears 🙂

Reply to  Nordic
6 years ago

Cseh won’t be tired. 50.00 will be needed to win in RIo. And 1.52.00 or sub in 200.

Irish Ringer
Reply to  Brownish
6 years ago

A .50 drop in the 100 and a 1.00 second drop in the 200 for Cseh, Le Clos, and Phelps. Will be tough to achieve that, but as much pressure as these 3 are under we may see some historic performances.

Reply to  Irish Ringer
6 years ago

I doubt Cseh will go under 1:53, he said he couldn’t even feel his arms. I think 1:53.19 at best, but he could get the bronze for 100 fly though.

Reply to  SwimmerFoxJet
6 years ago

He was 1;52.7 at Euros a couple of weeks ago and you can bet he wasnt pointing his training to that meet…

Reply to  Caleb
6 years ago

Oh my gosh (1:52.9). What the HECK! I did not either see, or expect that… Phelps still beats him 🙂 Not sure, but I think Chad too.

About Reid Carlson

Reid Carlson

Reid Carlson originally hails from Clay Center, Kansas, where he began swimming at age six.  At age 14 he began swimming club year-round and later with his high school team, making state all four years.  He was fortunate enough to draw the attention of Kalamazoo College where he went on to …

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