The Most Electric Time Trial In Swimming History

2021 U.S. OLYMPIC SWIMMING TRIALS

With all eyes on him, Jake Mitchell delivered one of the most memorable Olympic qualifying swims in U.S. Trials history.

As the third night of finals from the 2021 U.S. Olympic Trials wound down on Tuesday night, up stepped Mitchell to the blocks—all on his own—to race a time trial in the men’s 400 freestyle.

The plan for a time trial popped up after winner Kieran Smith was the only one under the Olympic qualifying time of 3:46.78 in the men’s 400 free final on Sunday night. Smith touched first in 3:44.86, and Mitchell placed second in 3:48.17.

It was a situation we’ve never seen before at the U.S. Trials, so we had to dig into the selection criteria to figure out exactly who could snag that second Olympic spot.

Since Zane Grothe, who placed 11th in the 400 free prelims, had been under the ‘A’ cut inside the Olympic qualifying period, he would earn the Olympic spot if no one else who had finished ahead of him at Trials went under the standard inside the period, which ends on June 27.

As the event’s runner-up, that gave Mitchell first dibs on a potential spot—all he had to do was get under 3:46.78, and it was his (even if someone else went faster, since he finished ahead of them in the Trials final).

So, swimming all on his own, with an electric crowd on its feet, the 19-year-old Carmel Swim Club member went out with reckless abandon in the race, flipping two seconds faster at the 100 and more than three at the 200 compared to his time in the individual final.

His second 200 was split similarly, and he ultimately crushed the qualifying time by close to a second in 3:45.86, torching his 2019 best time of 3:47.95 by over two seconds.

Split Comparison

400 FR Final 400 FR TT
26.28 25.16
28.34 (54.62) 27.47 (52.63)
28.98 (1:23.60) 28.47 (1:21.10)
29.32 (1:52.92) 28.76 (1:49.86)
29.47 (2:22.39) 29.13 (2:18.99)
29.28 (2:51.67) 28.90 (2:47.89)
28.71 (3:20.38) 29.13 (3:17.02)
27.79 (3:48.17) 28.84 (3:45.86)

 

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Mitchell moves up from 24th to 11th all-time among Americans in the event, and will likely earn his first Olympic berth provided the number of roster spots don’t exceed the limit (26 per gender).

You can watch the full race via Jared Daigle on Instagram below:

 

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A post shared by Jared Daigle (@jareddaigle18)

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PVSFree
1 month ago

Is Jake Mitchell the most clutch swimmer on Team USA? Passes like three guys on the final 50 to touch second after flipping 5th at the final wall, then takes his time trial 400 out in a 1:49.8 TO THE FEET when he was 1:49.4 in the 400 free prelims, and manages to drop almost 2.5 seconds to make the Olympic team in a swim BY HIMSELF

Last edited 1 month ago by PVSFree
PVSFree
Reply to  PVSFree
1 month ago

Sorry he was 1:49.4 in the 200 FREE PRELIMS. I’m so excited I don’t even know how to type. This man is a god

Swimswammer33
Reply to  PVSFree
1 month ago

1:49 and then turning to burn another 200 sounds like hell. Amazing from this young man.

Last edited 1 month ago by Swimswammer33
Troyy
Reply to  PVSFree
1 month ago

Wouldn’t it have been more clutch to do it in the 400 final?

Jackman
Reply to  Troyy
1 month ago

Ehh – in the final coming top 2 is more clutch than going fast.

Troyy
Reply to  Jackman
1 month ago

Maybe the American definition of clutch is “performing when you’re given a second chance with more rest” rather than “performing when it matters most”.

Fly 100
Reply to  Troyy
1 month ago

Opened up a precedent for future “trials”.

PVSFree
Reply to  Troyy
1 month ago

I love nothing more than other countries questioning the state of American swimming when we won 16 golds in Rio and the second place team won 3

Joel
Reply to  Troyy
1 month ago

Yeah exactly.. He didn’t do a 400 heat this morning.

Steve
Reply to  Troyy
1 month ago

You’re what’s wrong with these comment sections. Instead of being toxic, be apart of the positive swim community, stop commenting just to start arguments, and give the man his props.

wolff
Reply to  Troyy
1 month ago

Not clutch? You do that by yourself…in a stadium setting. Only thing was nothing to lose, I guess. Still extremely clutch IMHO

Lmao
1 month ago

Zane Grothe punchin the air rn

Zane
Reply to  Lmao
1 month ago

Nah he earned it. I had my chance

Just curious
Reply to  Zane
1 month ago

If this is the actual Zane, I applaud this statement of class. I will be pulling for you in the 800/1500. Go get it. 👊🏻

Mustangswimdad
1 month ago

Video?

Zanna
Reply to  Mustangswimdad
1 month ago

It’s in the article..

The Weez
1 month ago

BOOM!

Curious swimmer
1 month ago

NBC is absolutely disgraceful. The fact that they were talking about track n field while this absolutely amazing swim was happening in the background. Outrageous.

Bevo
Reply to  Curious swimmer
1 month ago

Totally agree. nbc (no business covering) shamelessly forcing us to watch promo videos of another sport during our Trials? Are you kidding me? Let’s celebrate this guy!

Curious Swimma
Reply to  Bevo
1 month ago

what is this madness? is this not swimswam? why would a comment about the lack of coverage on a race get downvotes??

Last edited 1 month ago by Curious Swimma
Curious swimmer
Reply to  Curious Swimma
1 month ago

Lmao nice username 😂 but yeah idk why I’m getting downvotes…. I think we all are here to see great swimming whether it is newcomers making the team or veterans. Jake Mitchell put on a show and all we have is an Instagram video. He deserves more after such an amazing swim.

Swimmingly
Reply to  Curious swimmer
1 month ago

For the Olympics, dumbing swimming down for the masses, makes sense

But for trials? My sense is no one outside of the swimming world, or who knows someone at OTs, knows it’s going on

The fact that they’re unable/unwilling to show a picture in picture of times and splits, like everyone reading swim swam understands, shows their producers lack of awareness of their audience

ACC fan
Reply to  Curious swimmer
1 month ago

I hate NBC for doing that! Blah, blah, blah track and field… REALLY?!!!!

BearlyBreathing
1 month ago

Incredible swim!
I’m especially surprised since he (only) went a 4:17 at NCAAs a few months ago.

B1G Daddy
Reply to  BearlyBreathing
1 month ago

Do you have any idea what the University of Michigan swim team went through this year? The entire team was out of the water for two weeks before Big Tens. Mike Bottom and his staff are absolute wizards.

BearlyBreathing
Reply to  B1G Daddy
1 month ago

No I did not know about his particular case, just that pretty much every swimmer had their training interrupted in some way over the past year.

Go Blue.
Reply to  B1G Daddy
1 month ago

Yeah… They were not out of the water. Literally foollish to believe that….

Guerra
Reply to  BearlyBreathing
1 month ago

Fantastic swim! Congrats to Jake, U of Michigan and Carmel Swim Club!

Zanna
1 month ago

He was 2nd place in the finals so he gets priority.

DCSwim
Reply to  Zanna
1 month ago

Essentially throw ‘em at the wall and see what sticks

fanofallthingsswim
Reply to  Zanna
1 month ago

Or maybe Dant did not want to do it tonight as he has other events to swim during trials?

DrSwimPhil
Reply to  Zanna
1 month ago

Only a guess, but say Dant went 3:44.9 in the same swim. But Mitchell gets the spot (due to going under the A cut + placing higher in the actual race). I’m guessing they didn’t want to potentially run into a situation like that?

fly fly
Reply to  DrSwimPhil
1 month ago

I second this. Dant probably doesn’t want to create such a situation too.

Unknown Swimmer
1 month ago

That’s awesome! You saw the start of this over the announcers shoulders at the end of the broadcast – wish they had talked about it some!

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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