SwimSwam Pulse: 61.7% Pick Men’s 100 Free As Most Competitive Relay Event At U.S. Trials

SwimSwam Pulse is a recurring feature tracking and analyzing the results of our periodic A3 Performance Polls. You can cast your vote in our newest poll on the SwimSwam homepage, about halfway down the page on the right side.

Our most recent poll asked SwimSwam readers which event with relay spots on the line would be the most hotly contested at the U.S. Olympic Trials:

Question: Which relay selection event will be the most competitive at the U.S. Olympic Trials?


  • Men’s 100 free – 61.7%
  • Women’s 100 free – 22.2%
  • Women’s 200 free – 8.9%
  • Men’s 200 free – 7.2%

There is always a little extra something in the air in the 100 and 200 freestyle events at the U.S. Olympic Trials, particularly in the semi-finals. Once we get to the final, three-quarters of the swimmers who take to the blocks will be in position to be named to the Olympic team.

The top four finishers are locked into the Olympic roster, and then the fifth and sixth-place swimmers will be named depending on roster numbers.

That amount of opportunity makes the prelims and semis of the 100 and 200 free events particularly competitive, as no one wants to take a chance at being knocked out when the margin between the 11th or 12th place swimmer is usually not too far behind the fifth or sixth.

When polling SwimSwam readers on which relay selection event they think will be most “competitive” at the U.S. Trials, that is, where the Olympic roster spots will be the most tightly contested, the men’s 100 free came out ahead by a wide margin.

The American men have consistently produced top-tier 100 freestylers—it hasn’t always led to victories during the Olympic cycle, but at the Games, they’ve won three of the last four gold medals in the 400 free relay, with their only loss being a silver to France in 2012 in a race they led most of the way.

They project to be gold medal challengers again with several contenders for relay spots throwing their names into the hat over the last 12 months, leading 61.7% of our readers to vote for the men’s 100 free as the most competitive relay selection event at Trials.

With reigning 100 free Olympic champion Caeleb Dressel working his way back into form, Jack Alexy and Chris Guiliano grabbed the two individual spots for the 2023 World Championships last summer at U.S. Nationals, with Ryan HeldDestin Lasco and Matt King joining them to make it five swimmers sub-48 at the meet.

Alexy went on to win silver at Worlds in 47.31, and so far this season, Guiliano is the lone American sub-48 at a sizzling 47.49.

Those six aforementioned names, including Dressel, make up most of the leading candidates to comprise the relay in Paris, though Brooks Curry is also in the hunt after he anchored the 2022 World Championship-winning relay in 47.20 while placing 5th in the individual event (he was also a prelim relay member in Tokyo).

Youngster Maximus Williamson, Arizona State’s Jonny Kulow, and Tokyo Olympians Drew Kibler and Blake Pieroni are also within range of cracking the top six.

2023-24 U.S. Rankings, Men’s 100 Freestyle (LCM)

  1. Chris Guiliano, 47.49
  2. Matt King, 48.02
  3. Jack Alexy, 48.20
  4. Ryan Held / Caeleb Dressel, 48.30
  5. Maximus Williamson / Brooks Curry / Jonny Kulow, 48.38
  6. Drew Kibler, 48.71
  7. Blake Pieroni, 48.74

Without getting too deep into the weeds of any of these events, leaving the analysis to our event previews, the women’s 100 free placed second in the poll with 22.2% of votes.

That race features some of the best swimmers in the country, including Kate DouglassGretchen Walsh and Torri Huske, plus sprint free specialists and veterans Abbey Weitzeil and Simone Manuel. There’s also a rising group of young guns who will contend, including Rylee ErismanAlex Shackell and Anna Moesch.

The 200 free events didn’t get nearly as many votes as the 100, with the women’s 200 (8.9%) edging out the men’s (7.2%).

Katie Ledecky is the clear favorite in the women’s 200 free, though Claire Weinstein upset her last year so nothing is certain. Bella Sims is probably the other swimmer who looks like a lock to finish in a relay position at Trials, with Anna PeplowskiPaige Madden and Manuel the top performers so far this year behind Ledecky to put them in the mix.

The men’s 200 free trailed in the poll likely because the top spots looked fairly locked in with Luke HobsonKieran SmithDrew Kibler and Carson Foster (if he swims the final), but there still promises to be an exciting battle for the last few relay spots.

Below, vote in our new A3 Performance Pollwhich asks: Will any world records fall at the Aussie or U.S. Trials? If so, which is most likely?

Will any world records fall between the AUS and US Olympic Trials? If so, which is most likely:

View Results

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A3 Performance is an independently-owned, performance swimwear company built on a passion for swimming, athletes, and athletic performance. We encourage swimmers to swim better and faster at all ages and levels, from beginners to Olympians.  Driven by a genuine leader and devoted staff that are passionate about swimming and service, A3 Performance strives to inspire and enrich the sport of swimming with innovative and impactful products that motivate swimmers to be their very best – an A3 Performer.

The A3 Performance Poll is courtesy of A3 Performance, a SwimSwam partner.

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1 day ago

Please update the article, Armstrong is the second fastest in this season with 47.83 from leading off the mixed free relay in Doha..
Guliano, alexy, Armstrong, Caleab, King and Macduff are my pics

1 day ago

If we count 9/15/23 as the season ending cutoff, Maximus Williamson’s SB is just :49.83 from Knoxville.

TX Swammer
Reply to  congrats
1 day ago

He’s been talking to Desorbo, no way he achieves

2 days ago

On the one hand, it seems wide open. But realistically, its hard to see anyone other than Dressel/Alexy/Guiliano/King (in that order) with Held and Armstrong as 5-6.

People are throwing names out like Pieroni, Winkler, and Ress but lets be real. Sure, i agree that everyone mentioned below by “WV Swimmer” is elite in the 100 free, but do we really see Brooks Curry or Kieran Smith beating Baeleb, Jalexy, Guiliano, King, or Heldilox? In my opinion Armstrong is the only one that isn’t a lock.

WV Swammer
Reply to  saltie
1 day ago

Did anyone think Guiliano was finishing 2nd last year? Or that Curry would beat out Held for a spot in 21?

No one is certain, at all. The 100 free time and time again produces at least one surprise, this year will be no different.

Reply to  WV Swammer
1 day ago

All it takes is one bad swam and a male swimmer, in this scenario, can miss out in the final or the top 6. Ahem! Ryan Held swimming the lead-off leg in the final of the M 4 x 100 FR-R at the 2023 World Aquatics Championships.

Last edited 1 day ago by Weinstein-Smith-Ledecky-Sims
Reply to  saltie
1 day ago

That’s the exciting part of trials tho, surprises can happen. Obviously everyone you named are going to be the expected favorites, but you do have to remember that Curry and King have basically the same PB. I mean yes I know King has the upswing on Curry because of his recent comparative success, but the point is that there’s a ton of guys sitting right around the same time, and we’ve seen crazy time drops before, so it’s not out of the question for someone in the 48.3 range to drop a 47.8 and knock out a favorite from the relay. I mean, Guiliano dropped from 47.9 to 47.4 in 5 months, so it’s not as if what I suggested… Read more »

2 days ago

Women are most likely between the backstrokes and the 100 fly!

Reply to  Swimmerj
1 day ago

Based strictly on the calendar year 2024 performances, the top five female swimmers are locked in the 4 x 100 FR-R with the sixth as a wild card.

2 days ago

There is a chance someone goes 47 and doesnt make the team. Crazy

Reply to  mclovin
2 days ago

No way a 47 doesn’t make the team this summer.

useless arguments
Reply to  Jonathan
1 day ago


2 days ago

Predicting men’s 400 free relay Olympic final quartet to be Dressel, Kulow, Guiliano, and Alexy, in any order. King and Williamson also in the top 6 swimming in prelims. #7 and #8 at trials will be Held and Armstrong.

2 days ago

I honestly think if any records fall between US or AUS trials, then it will be the 100 or 200 backstroke between the usual suspects.

WV Swammer
2 days ago

It’s not even close. M 100 free there is legitimately 20+ guys who have a shot to make the top 6. There will be a LOT of guys left out that would be of great use for the relay.

Prelims is going to be a bloodbath, for sure the most anticipated race on the men’s side for all 3 rounds.

WV Swammer
Reply to  WV Swammer
2 days ago

Just for fun, and my own confirmation, these guys IMO all have a shot:

Dressel, King, Alexy, Guiliano, Lasco, Armstrong, Kibler, Kulow, Held, Curry, Casas, Williamson, Winkler, Pieroni, MacDuff, Hobson, Ress, Smith, Chaney, Foster.

20 right there, and could be missing a few just shooting off the top of my head. Plus not accounting for trials magic a la Guiliano last season.

Reply to  WV Swammer
2 days ago

The more Cal Bears that qualify, the more steam that pours out of Andrew’s ears.

Reply to  WV Swammer
1 day ago

Pretty good memory there, but if we look at the top 20 within the Olympic Qualifying Window (3/1/23 to now) Patrick Sammon’s :48.46 is #14 and faster than Kibler, Casas, Winkler, Pieroni, Hobson, Smith, Chaney and Foster.

Don’t sleep on Pinfold(2021 Trials finalist), McFadden, Branzell. Also, Matt Jensen(last Pac-12 Champ), Owen McDonald.

Oh, my. Will the racing be fun!!!

About James Sutherland

James Sutherland

James swam five years at Laurentian University in Sudbury, Ontario, specializing in the 200 free, back and IM. He finished up his collegiate swimming career in 2018, graduating with a bachelor's degree in economics. In 2019 he completed his graduate degree in sports journalism. Prior to going to Laurentian, James swam …

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