It’s a bittersweet week. While the world, and by extension the sport of swimming, is starting to emerge from weeks of pandemic-related shutdown, we also face the absence of the season that would-have-been. With U.S. Olympic Trials originally scheduled for this week, we’re taking a day-by-day trip into the hypothetical, analyzing the events that would have happened each day, along with our predictions of how the Olympic roster would have formed, had the season not been halted in the pandemic.
These won’t be full-length previews, and won’t be exhaustive in naming every top contender for the U.S. Olympic team. Our picks will be what we expected to happen in June of 2020, had the season not been shut down at all amid the pandemic. Our 2021 predictions will almost certainly be different when we get closer to the Trials themselves. Feel free to add your own predictions – for both the 2020 Trials and the rescheduled Trials in 2021 – in the comments.
Women’s 200 breast final
After a lifetime-best in the 100 breast, Annie Lazor torches the field to win the 200 breast and add a second event to her first Olympic appearance. As it often is in these 200-meter races, the final itself is a little more strategic and cautious, and we don’t see a ton of best times. Lazor is 2:21, though, beating her season-best from Des Moines.
A Trials Third last time around in this race, Texas A&M grad Bethany Galat finally crosses that Olympic threshold, going 2:23 to beat Lilly King for second.
Men’s 200 back final
Ryan Murphy breaks 1:54 for the first time since Pan Pacs in 2018. He’s a 1:53-high to easily pace the backstroke field, and looks like he’s still got plenty more in the tank for his Olympic gold defense next month.
A big swim behind him: SEC champ Shaine Casas goes 1:54 to beat out Austin Katz and Jacob Pebley for the second spot.
Men’s 200 IM final
It’s a photo finish in the 200 IM. Chase Kalisz surges back on freestyle, erasing a big Michael Andrew lead, and both men hit 1:56-mids. Kalisz wins by a tenth, but it’s a big statement for Andrew, who makes his first Olympic team in a 200-meter event. This breaks the SwimSwam comment section entirely.
Women’s 100 free final
Simone Manuel has consistently saved her best swims for the world stage. (She was 52.0 in the 2019 Worlds final and 52.2 in the 2017 Worlds final, with her best non-Worlds swim at 52.5 from 2018). So when she crushes a 51.9 to win Olympic Trials, the buzz among swimming fans is immediate: just how fast can Manuel go in Tokyo?
The swim moves her to #2 all-time, passing Australia’s Cate Campbell. It’s a new American and U.S. Open record.
Mallory Comerford earns the second individual spot, hitting a 52.9 for the third consecutive season. She barely touches out the final two relay members: NCAA standout Abbey Weitzeil makes a return trip to the Olympics in third, and 17-year-old Gretchen Walsh qualifies in fourth with another new NAG record of 53.1.
Other events today:
- Women’s 200 back semifinal – Regan Smith just can’t be stopped. The 18-year-old goes 2:05 in semis and now owns 3 of the 10 fastest swims of all-time in this race. It’s a great showing for the nation’s youth. Isabelle Stadden and Phoebe Bacon both move into the top 5 all-time in the 17-18 age group, joining Smith, Missy Franklin and Elizabeth Beisel.
- Men’s 100 fly semifinal – Caeleb Dressel swims maybe the easiest 50.7 you’ve ever seen in semis. Luca Urlando has a nice speed breakthrough, and sits a few tenths off of Michael Phelps’ 17-18 NAG record of 51.1.
Olympic Team As Of Tonight:
- Melanie Margalis (400 IM, 200 IM)
- Kelsi Dahlia (100 FL)
- Katie Ledecky (400 FR, 200 FR, 1500 FR 4×200 FRR)
- Regan Smith (100 BK, 200 FL)
- Lilly King (100 BR)
- Simone Manuel (200 FR 100 FR, 4×200 FRR, 4×100 FRR)
- Katie McLaughlin (4×200 FRR)
- Paige Madden (4×200 FRR)
- Hali Flickinger (200 FL)
- Mallory Comerford (100 FR, 4×100 FRR)
- Abbey Weitzeil (4×00 FRR)
- Gretchen Walsh (4×100 FRR)
- Brooke Forde (400 IM)
- Torri Huske (100 FL)
- Leah Smith (400 FR, 4×200 FRR)
- Kathleen Baker (100 BK)
- Annie Lazor (100 BR, 200 BR)
- Alex Walsh (200 IM)
- Erica Sullivan (1500 FR)
- Bethany Galat (200 BR)
- Gabby DeLoof (4×200 FRR)
- Erika Brown (4×100 FRR)
- Margo Geer (4×100 FRR)
- Chase Kalisz (400 IM, 200 IM)
- Zane Grothe (400 FR, 800 FR)
- Andrew Wilson (100 BR, 200 BR)
- Blake Pieroni (200 FR, 4×200 FRR, 4×100 FRR)
- Andrew Seliskar (200 FR, 4×200 FRR)
- Zach Apple (4×200 FRR, 4×100 FRR)
- Townley Haas (4×200 FRR)
- Ryan Murphy (100 BK, 200 BK)
- Luca Urlando (200 FL)
- Caeleb Dressel (100 FR, 4×100 FRR, 4×200 FRR)
- Ryan Held (100 FR, 4×100 FRR)
- Jay Litherland (400 IM)
- Kieran Smith (400 FR, 4×200 FRR)
- Cody Miller (100 BR)
- Matt Grevers (100 BK)
- Nicolas Albiero (200 FL)
- Bobby Finke (800 FR)
- Will Licon (200 BR)
- Shaine Casas (200 BK)
- Michael Andrew (200 IM)
- Nathan Adrian (4×100 FRR)
- Dean Farris (4×100 FRR)