We might be over a year out from the 2024 U.S. Olympic trials, but that didn’t stop the SwimSwam staff from making way-too-early predictions for what will go down at the meet.
For the purposes of this article, seven different SwimSwam writers (myself, Braden Keith, Robert Gibbs, Sophie Kaufman, Nicole Miller, Anya Pelshaw, and James Sutherland) listed their predictions for who would finish first, second, and third in each event at trials next June. This post will kick off a series of articles on Olympic Trials predictions where each individual writer will break down their picks.
There were a few trends I noticed within the picks.
Everyone thinks Caeleb Dressel will be competing again. Even though Dressel abruptly pulled out of the 2022 World Championships last June and hasn’t competed since, everyone on this prediction panel is confident that he will return come time for 2024. He was unanimously picked to win the 50 free and 100 fly, and everyone but Sophie (who had him in second) picked him to win the 100 free. If Dressel returns to the form that gave him five Olympic gold medals in 2021, he’s clearly the top American male in the sprint events. However, given his absence, his primary sprint coach Steven Jungbluth leaving his training base at Florida, and his apparent injuries, it’s understandable that prospects of his return could be uncertain.
Despite zero senior international team berths, Gretchen Walsh is the overwhelming favorite to become America’s next top female sprinter. Within our predictions, 4/7 writers picked Walsh to sweep the 50 and 100 free events, and everyone but Robert (who by contrast, didn’t have her making the team at all) picked Walsh to earn individual team spots in both the 50 and 100 free. So given that Walsh was only the third-ranked 50 freestyler and fifth-ranked 100 freestyler in America last year, what prompted everyone’s assurance that she’d rise to the top?
There are three potential factors: 1) Walsh’s U.S. nationals performance where an experiment with practice suits allowed her to get over a roadblock and hit best times in almost all her events, 2) The fact that this list was made during the NCAA season, where Walsh is currently undefeated in individual events, and 3) Her long course swims at age 16 (such as a 53.01 100 free relay split) combined with massive short course improvement could be a recipe for long course breakthrough. These factors give Walsh a very high ceiling, and it seems that most over here at SwimSwam believe in her potential.
Qualification is uncertain for swimmers like Michael Andrew and Regan Smith. The two swimmers listed have both been staples of American international teams for the last few years, and yet confidence that they will make it to Paris is relatively low. The predictions about Smith, who will be only 22 in 2024, were the most surprising—two writers have her missing the Olympic team in its entirety, three writers have her missing the team in her specialty backstroke events, and four writers have her missing the team in the 200 back, the event where she holds the world record but hasn’t made an international team in since 2019. Despite the relative pessimism surrounding Smith’s Olympic prospects, her career seems to be headed in a positive direction since she left Stanford to turn pro and train at Arizona State under Bob Bowman. She had a standout showing at the 2022 U.S. Open, where she went faster than her World trials time in the 200 back, swam a personal best in the 200 IM, and broke two U.S. Open meet records. That being said, with how competitive women’s backstroke is, nothing is ever a guarantee.
For Andrew, three writers have him missing the Olympic team, while three other writers have him only making the team in one event after he qualified for three events in 2021. Notably, nobody picked him to make the team in the 200 IM, the event he said he would focus on for the Paris Olympics. While Andrew is a multi-stroke talent for the U.S. men, factors such as the emergence of stars like Shaine Casas and Carson Foster, as well as recent mishaps (like failing to medal individually at short course worlds and missing the 100 breast final at long course worlds) have made the confidence of many of us waver.
There were seven different swimmers unanimously picked to win events. The swimmers that every single writer picked to win in an event include Katie Ledecky in the 200/400/800/1500 free, Caeleb Dressel in the 50 free and 100 fly, Bobby Finke in the 800/1500 free, Nic Fink in the 100 breast, Carson Foster in the 400 IM, and Kate Douglass in the 200 breast. Most of these unanimous picks are self-explanatory—they mainly consist of swimmers who have recently been dominant in their respective events. However, you could say that Douglass being the heavy favorite to win the 200 breast comes as a surprise, considering that Lilly King is the reigning Olympic silver medalist in the event and has a personal best (2:19.92) considerably faster than Douglass’s (2:21.43). That being said, Douglass is four years younger than King and less experienced in the event—a few more times swimming it and her improvement could be tremendous.
Roughly 52.5% of event winners picked were repeat winners from the 2020(1) U.S. Olympic trials. Out of the 196 event winner picks, 103 of them were selections of swimmers who had previously won the same event at the 2020(1) trials. And while it may seem easy to just select who won four (and in this case, three) years ago, repeat winners are rarer than you think—according to SwimmingStats CEO Daniel Takata, only 54 out of 326 Olympic trials event winners (roughly 17%) have won their event at multiple trials (with swimmers who have had event wins in multiple events, each event that they won is counted towards the 326 total). If there’s any meet where a newcomer will surprise us and unexpectedly make the team, it’s Olympic Trials. After all, it’s happened so many times before. However, it’s important to note that since these trials are only happening three years after the previous one instead of four years, we might get more repeat winners than usual.
Without further ado, here are our picks.
|50 free||Caeleb Dressel||Caeleb Dressel||Caeleb Dressel||Caeleb Dressel||Caeleb Dressel||Caeleb Dressel||Caeleb Dressel|
|David Curtiss||Michael Andrew||Michael Andrew||David Curtiss||David Curtiss||David Curtiss||Michael Andrew|
|Matt King||David Curtiss||David Curtiss||Michael Andrew||Brooks Curry||Brooks Curry||David Curtiss|
|100 free||Caeleb Dressel||Caeleb Dressel||Caeleb Dressel||Brooks Curry||Caeleb Dressel||Caeleb Dressel||Caeleb Dressel|
|Ryan Held||Shaine Casas||Ryan Held||Caeleb Dressel||Brooks Curry||Brooks Curry||Brooks Curry|
|Brooks Curry||Ryan Held||Brooks Curry||Shaine Casas||Ryan Held||Matt King||Matt King|
|Matt King||Kaii Winkler||Matt King||Ryan Held||Matt King||Ryan Held||Ryan Held|
|Zach Apple||Brooks Curry||Jack Alexy||Matt King||Shaine Casas||Shaine Casas||Drew Kibler|
|Shaine Casas||Matt King||Adam Chaney||Drew Kibler||Hunter Armstrong||Drew Kibler||Kieran Smith|
|200 free||Kieran Smith||Drew Kibler||Kieran Smith||Kieran Smith||Carson Foster||Luke Hobson||Kieran Smith|
|Luke Hobson||Carson Foster||Drew Kibler||Drew Kibler||Kieran Smith||Carson Foster||Drew Kibler|
|Carson Foster||Kieran Smith||Carson Foster||Carson Foster||Luke Hobson||Kieran Smith||Luke Hobson|
|Henry McFadden||Henry McFadden||Henry McFadden||Henry McFadden||Luca Urlando||Drew Kibler||Carson Foster|
|Luca Urlando||Gabriel Jett||Luke Hobson||Jake Magahey||Drew Kibler||Henry McFadden||
|Jake Magahey||Maximus Williamson||Jake Magahey||Luke Hobson||Jake Magahey||Jake Magahey||Jake Magahey|
|400 free||Kieran Smith||Kieran Smith||Kieran Smith||Kieran Smith||Jake Magahey||Carson Foster||Kieran Smith|
|Jake Mitchell||Jake Magahey||Ross Dant||Jake Magahey||Kieran Smith||Kieran Smith||Jake Magahey|
|Jake Magahey||Jake Mitchell||Jake Mitchell||Jake Mitchell||Jake Mitchell||Jake Mitchell||Luke Hobson|
|800 free||Bobby Finke||Bobby Finke||Bobby Finke||Bobby Finke||Bobby Finke||Bobby Finke||Bobby Finke|
|Will Gallant||David Johnston||Ross Dant||David Johnston||David Johnston||David Johnston||David Johnston|
|David Johnston||Charlie Clark||Charlie Clark||Charlie Clark||Charlie Clark||Will Gallant||Charlie Clark|
|1500 free||Bobby Finke||Bobby Finke||Bobby Finke||Bobby Finke||Bobby Finke||Bobby Finke||Bobby Finke|
|Alec Enyeart||Charlie Clark||David Johnston||Will Gallant||David Johnston||Will Gallant||Charlie Clark|
|David Johnston||David Johnston||Charlie Clark||David Johnston||Charlie Clark||David Johnston||David Johnston|
|100 back||Hunter Armstrong||Hunter Armstrong||Ryan Murphy||Hunter Armstrong||Hunter Armstrong||Hunter Armstrong||Ryan Murphy|
|Daniel Diehl||Shaine Casas||Daniel Diehl||Daniel Diehl||Shaine Casas||Ryan Murphy||
|Ryan Murphy||Ryan Murphy||Hunter Armstrong||Ryan Murphy||Ryan Murphy||Shaine Casas||Shaine Casas|
|200 back||Ryan Murphy||Shaine Casas||Ryan Murphy||Ryan Murphy||Ryan Murphy||Ryan Murphy||Ryan Murphy|
|Jack Aikins||Ryan Murphy||Jack Aikins||Shaine Casas||Shaine Casas||Shaine Casas||Shaine Casas|
|Daniel Diehl||Daniel Diehl||Shaine Casas||Daniel Diehl||Daniel Diehl||Jack Aikins||Daniel Diehl|
|100 breast||Nic Fink||Nic Fink||Nic Fink||Nic Fink||Nic Fink||Nic Fink||Nic Fink|
|Max McHugh||Josh Matheny||Michael Andrew||Michael Andrew||Matt Fallon||Josh Matheny||Michael Andrew|
|Josh Matheny||Michael Andrew||Max McHugh||Josh Matheny||Josh Matheny||Kevin Houseman||Josh Matheny|
|200 breast||Matt Fallon||Matt Fallon||Nic Fink||Nic Fink||Matt Fallon||Matt Fallon||Matt Fallon|
|Nic Fink||AJ Pouch||Matt Fallon||Matt Fallon||AJ Pouch||Nic Fink||Nic Fink|
|AJ Pouch||Nic Fink||Will Licon||AJ Pouch||Nic Fink||AJ Pouch||AJ Pouch|
|100 fly||Caeleb Dressel||Caeleb Dressel||Caeleb Dressel||Caeleb Dressel||Caeleb Dressel||Caeleb Dressel||Caeleb Dressel|
|Dare Rose||Thomas Heilman||Thomas Heilman||Thomas Heilman||Thomas Heilman||Shaine Casas||
|Thomas Heilman||Michael Andrew||Shaine Casas||Shaine Casas||Michael Andrew||Aiden Hayes||Luca Urlando|
|200 fly||Luca Urlando||Gabriel Jett||Luca Urlando||Thomas Heilman||Luca Urlando||Carson Foster||Luca Urlando|
|Carson Foster||Thomas Heilman||Carson Foster||Gabriel Jett||Gabriel jett||Gabriel Jett||Gabriel Jett|
|Gabriel Jett||Luca Urlando||Zach Harting||Luca Urlando||Thomas Heilman||Aaron Shackell||Aaron Shackell|
|200 IM||Carson Foster||Shaine Casas||Carson Foster||Shaine Casas||Carson Foster||Carson Foster||Carson Foster|
|Shaine Casas||Carson Foster||Chase Kalisz||Carson Foster||Shaine Casas||Shaine Casas||Shaine Casas|
|Michael Andrew||Chase Kalisz||Shaine Casas||Baylor Nelson||Michael Andrew||Baylor Nelson||Michael Andrew|
|400 IM||Carson Foster||Carson Foster||Carson Foster||Carson Foster||Carson Foster||Carson Foster||Carson Foster|
|Chase Kalisz||Baylor Nelson||Chase Kalisz||Maximus Williamson||Chase Kalisz||Bobby Finke||Chase Kalisz|
|Bobby Finke||Maximus Williamson||Jay Litherland||Bobby Finke||Bobby Finke||Chase Kalisz||Kevin Vargas|
|50 free||Gretchen Walsh||Gretchen Walsh||Abbey Weitzeil||Gretchen Walsh||Torri Huske||Gretchen Walsh||Gretchen Walsh|
|Claire Curzan||Claire Curzan||Simone Manuel||Claire Curzan||Gretchen Walsh||Claire Curzan||Claire Curzan|
|Erika Brown||Abbey Weitzeil||Claire Curzan||Abbey Weitzeil||Claire Curzan||Abbey Weitzeil||Torri Huske|
|100 free||Gretchen Walsh||Gretchen Walsh||Torri Huske||Gretchen Walsh||Gretchen Walsh||Gretchen Walsh||Torri Huske|
|Torri Huske||Kate Douglass||Claire Curzan||Torri Huske||Torri Huske||Claire Curzan||Gretchen Walsh|
|Kate Douglass||Torri Huske||Simone Manuel||Claire Curzan||Claire Curzan||Torri Huske||Claire Curzan|
|Claire Curzan||Abbey Weitzeil||Abbey Weitzeil||Abbey Weitzeil||Simone Manuel||Kate Douglass||Kate Douglass|
|Abbey Weitzeil||Claire Curzan||Erin Gemmell||Kate Douglass||Anna Moesch||Abbey Weitzeil||Abbey Weitzeil|
|Simone Manuel||Camille Spink||Erika Brown||Simone Manuel||Natalie Hinds||Natalie Hinds||Simone Manuel|
|200 free||Katie Ledecky (scratch)||Katie Ledecky (Scratch)||Katie Ledecky||Katie Ledecky||Katie Ledecky||Katie Ledecky||Katie Ledecky|
|Erin Gemmell||Bella Sims||Erin Gemmell||Bella Sims||Erin Gemmell||Bella Sims||Bella Sims|
|Bella Sims||Claire Weinstein||Bella Sims||Erin Gemmell||Bella Sims||Claire Weinstein||Claire Weinstein|
|Claire Weinstein||Leah Smith||Claire Weinstein||Claire Weinstein||Claire Weinstein||Erin Gemmell||Erin Gemmell|
|Paige Madden||Erin Gemmell||Paige Madden||Leah Smith||Katie Grimes||Kayla Wilson||Alex Walsh|
|Leah Smith||Alex Walsh||Leah Smith||Alex Walsh||Alex Walsh||Alex Walsh||Leah Smith|
|400 free||Katie Ledecky||Katie Ledecky||Katie Ledecky||Katie Ledecky||Katie Ledecky||Katie Ledecky||Katie Ledecky|
|Erin Gemmell||Bella Sims||Katie Grimes||Bella Sims||Erin Gemmell||Katie Grimes||Katie Grimes|
|Paige Madden||Katie Grimes||Leah Smith||Erin Gemmell||Bella Sims||Bella Sims||Leah Smith|
|800 free||Katie Ledecky||Katie Ledecky||Katie Ledecky||Katie Ledecky||Katie Ledecky||Katie Ledecky||Katie Ledecky|
|Katie Grimes||Bella Sims||Leah Smith||Katie Grimes||Katie Grimes||Katie Grimes||Katie Grimes|
|Leah Smith||Leah Smith||Katie Grimes||Leah Smith||Leah Smith||Bella Sims||Leah Smith|
|1500 free||Katie Ledecky||Katie Ledecky||Katie Ledecky||Katie Ledecky||Katie Ledecky||Katie Ledecky||Katie Ledecky|
|Katie Grimes||Katie Grimes||Katie Grimes||Katie Grimes||Katie Grimes||Katie Grimes||Katie Grimes|
|Erica Sullivan||Erica Sullivan||Erica Sullivan||Jillian Cox||Erica Sullivan||Mariah Denigan||Erica Sullivan|
|100 back||Katharine Berkoff||Claire Curzan||Regan Smith||Regan Smith||Regan Smith||Katharine Berkoff||Regan Smith|
|Claire Curzan||Rhyan White||Rhyan White||Claire Curzan||Claire Curzan||Claire Curzan||Claire Curzan|
|Regan Smith||Katharine Berkoff||Katharine Berkoff||Katharine Berkoff||Gretchen Walsh||Gretchen Walsh||
|200 back||Phoebe Bacon||Phoebe Bacon||Phoebe Bacon||Phoebe Bacon||Phoebe Bacon||Phoebe Bacon||Regan Smith|
|Claire Curzan||Rhyan White||Regan Smith||Rhyan White||Regan Smith||Bella Sims||Phoebe Bacon|
|Regan Smith||Regan Smith||Rhyan White||Regan Smith||Rhyan White||Regan Smith||Rhyan White|
|100 breast||Lilly King||Lilly King||Lydia Jacoby||Lilly King||Lilly King||Lydia Jacoby||Lilly King|
|Lydia Jacoby||Kaitlyn Dobler||Lilly King||Kaitlyn Dobler||Lydia Jacoby||Lilly King||Lydia Jacoby|
|Kaitlyn Dobler||Lydia Jacoby||Lucy Thomas||Lydia Jacoby||Kaitlyn Dobler||Kaitlyn Dobler||Kaitlyn Dobler|
|200 breast||Kate Douglass||Kate Douglass||Kate Douglass||Kate Douglass||Kate Douglass||Kate Douglass||Kate Douglass|
|Lilly King||Lilly King||Lilly King||Lilly King||Lilly King||Annie Lazor||Lilly King|
|Lydia Jacoby||Annie Lazor||Ella Nelson||Annie Lazor||Annie Lazor||Lilly King||Annie Lazor|
|100 fly||Torri Huske||Torri Huske||Torri Huske||Torri Huske||Torri Huske||Claire Curzan||Torri Huske|
|Gretchen Walsh||Claire Curzan||Claire Curzan||Claire Curzan||Gretchen Walsh||Torri Huske||Claire Curzan|
|Kelly Pash||Gretchen Walsh||Gabi Albiero||Gretchen Walsh||Claire Curzan||Gabi Albiero||Gretchen Walsh|
|200 fly||Dakota Luther||Hali Flickinger||Regan Smith||Regan Smith||Regan Smith||Hali Flickinger||Hali Flickinger|
|Hali Flickinger||Regan Smith||Dakota Luther||Kelly Pash||Alex Shackell||Kelly Pash||Regan Smith|
|Regan Smith||Kelly Pash||Lindsay Looney||Hali Flickinger||Kelly Pash||Regan Smith||Tess Howley|
|200 IM||Kate Douglass||Alex Walsh||Kate Douglass||Alex Walsh||Alex Walsh||Alex Walsh||Alex Walsh|
|Alex Walsh||Leah Hayes||Alex Walsh||Leah Hayes||Leah Hayes||Leah Hayes||Kate Douglass|
|Leah Hayes||Kate Douglass||Leah Hayes||Kate Douglass||Kate Douglass||Beata Nelson||Leah Hayes|
|400 IM||Katie Grimes||Katie Grimes||Katie Grimes||Katie Grimes||Katie Grimes||Katie Grimes||Katie Grimes|
|Leah Hayes||Leah Hayes||Alex Walsh||Hali Flickinger||Leah Hayes||Emma Weyant||Hali Flickinger|
|Emma Weyant||Alex Walsh||Hali Flickinger||Emma Weyant||Emma Weyant||Leah Hayes||Emma Weyant|
I want to say Grimes in the 200fly, and that I’m somewhat disappointed that she’s not in anybody’s top 3 for the event. It seems to me a very shrewd thing that her coach is doing right now, keeping her grounded for as long as possible, just getting her comfortably through to 2024. The 200fly could be here best event some day, 17 months is lots of time, and I’m betting that they’re not targeting the 800free for medal opportunities in Paris.
Dumb question, I’m sure there’s been an article published but I can’t find it.
Will there be 3 individual swimmers per event in 2024 instead of the usual 2? Excluding 100/200 frees of course
Still only two spots.
Hot take, AJ Pouch wins the 200 Breast you heard it here first
Why is everyone overlooking Clark in LC?
No one picked MA for #2 100 fly?? Sleeeeeeeeper pick for sure
Robert’s the only one who’s realistic about Gretchen Walsh.
Probably too far in the opposite direction.
One of the tough things with these picks is that we know that Trials champions rarely repeat (although 3 years is less than 4), but that doesn’t tell us who will beat them. So even if you’d bet the field, the reigning champ might still be the *most likely* winner.
Props for putting yourselves on the line here!
I don’t think Dressel is coming back. MA will make the team in one event- the 50 free. Ledecky makes the team in the 200, but she’s second. Two swimmers under the WR in the men’s 400 IM at trials.
Chase and Carson