While it’s still not 100% guaranteed, with five men’s and five women’s finals to go, it is looking increasingly likely that the U.S. will be able to take all swimmers eligible for the Olympic team on the basis of their finishes this week.
As of this morning, there are 22 men who have either finished in the top two in an individual event, or top six in the 100 or 200 freestyle, making them potentially eligible for the team:
Nathan Adrian (100 free)
Gunnar Bentz (4×200 free relay)
Jack Conger (4×200 free relay)
Kevin Cordes (100/200 breast)
Caeleb Dressel (100 free)
Conor Dwyer (200/400 free)
Anthony Ervin (4×100 free relay)
Jimmy Feigen (4×100 free relay)
Townley Haas (200 free)
Ryan Held (4×100 free)
Connor Jaeger (400 free)
Chase Kalisz (400 IM)
Jay Litherland (400 IM)
Ryan Lochte (4×200 free relay)
Cody Miller (100 breast)
Ryan Murphy (100 back)
Michael Phelps (200 fly)
Blake Pieroni (4×100 free relay)
David Plummer (100 back)
Josh Prenot (200 breast)
Tom Shields (200 fly)
Clark Smith (4×200 free relay)
There is, however, a very good chance that each of the five remaining events will see at least one man already on the team finish in the top two.
- The top three seeds in the 50 free, Adrian, Dressel, and Ervin, all currently have guaranteed spots on the team in the 100 free/4×100 free relay, and it’d be fairly shocking if at least one of them didn’t take one of the top two spots in the splash and dash.
- Jaeger, already on the team in the 400 free, is the top seed in the 1500.
- Murphy has been looking strong, and should take one of the top two spots in the 200 back, although he’ll have to hold off Jacob Pebley and Tyler Clary to do so.
- Phelps and Shields, the top two in the 200 fly, also hold the top two seeds in the 100 fly. The #3 seed, Conger, is already on the team by virtue of a 3rd place finish in the 200 free.
- It would be incredibly shocking if Phelps and Lochte failed to finish top two in tonight’s 200 IM final. Both are already on the team.
The picture will be a little less clear on the women’s side until the 100 free final occurs tonight, but as of the moment, there are 16 women who have finished in the top two in an individual event, or top six in the 200 free:
Cammile Adams (200 fly)
Kathleen Baker (100 back)
Elizabeth Beisel (400 IM)
Maya DiRado (200/400 IM)
Hali Flickinger (200 fly)
Missy Franklin (200 free)
Katie Ledecky (200/400 free)
Lilly King (100 breast)
Katie Meili (100 breast)
Melanie Margalis (200 IM, 4×200 free relay)
Cierra Runge (4×200 free relay)
Allison Schmitt (4×200 free relay)
Leah Smith (400 free, 4×200 free relay)
Olivia Smoliga (100 back)
Dana Vollmer (100 fly)
Kelsi Worrell (100 fly)
Just like on the men’s side, it’s looking increasingly likely that all eligible swimmers will be able to make the team.
- Four of the eight women in tonight’s 100 free final are already eligible, meaning they would not cost any additional roster spots.
- Katie Ledecky is almost guaranteed to win the 800 free.
- The top three seeds in the 200 back (Franklin, DiRado, and Beisel) are either guaranteed a spot, or finished #2 in an event.
- Lilly King, who has lane four in tonight’s 200 breast final, is already on the team for sure.
- The 50 free is a bit more up in the air, but it looks like there should be enough roster room to take both swimmers in that event, if they are not eligible for the team in any other events.
Here’s a quick refresher on the selection priorities, as established by USA Swimming:
- Top finishers in every event, plus 2nd-4th place finishers in the 100/200 freestyles.
- The 2nd place finishers in the rest of the individual events.
- The 5th place finishers in the 100/200 freestyles.
- The 6th place finishers in the 100/200 freestyles.
FINA imposes a roster limit of 26 swimmers of each gender, based on the fact that teams can potentially enter two swimmers in each of 13 individual events. The U.S. is typically the only country that has enough depth to bring two swimmers in each event, and thus bump up against the roster limit. It is USA Swimming’s choice to give priority to the top four in the 100/200 freestyles, and that’s why swimmers in the last three priorities have to wait until almost the end of the week to know for sure whether or not there will be room on the roster, although we can’t find a time where anyone eligible was left home.
The wrinkle here is the new rule that all swimmers taken must be used at the meet. With swimmers like Michael Phelps, Ryan Lochte, Conor Dwyer, and Jack Conger lurking for spots (and possibly being the next-best options) in the 400 free relay, or Phelps in the 800 free relay, some of the swimmers who finished 6th in the 100 and 200 free individual races might not be confirmed because of the risks we saw last year at the World Championships: where the American 400 free relay didn’t get out of prelims – which used to feel like a guarantee. But that’s a different conversation, as all of those potential alternates are already likely roster invites anyway.