U.S. Olympic Roster: It’s Looking Good to Take All Eligible Swimmers

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:

  1. Top finishers in every event, plus 2nd-4th place finishers in the 100/200 freestyles.
  2. The 2nd place finishers in the rest of the individual events.
  3. The 5th place finishers in the 100/200 freestyles.
  4. 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.

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5 years ago

Sure, it’s “likely” that the U.S. “could” take all eligible swimmers, but should they? That’s taking a big risk in the 400 free relay (men at least) when the U.S. will likely need to swim a pretty fast time to guarantee a spot in the finals, and the relay-only swimmer(s) will have to go at least once…

Robert Gibbs
Reply to  E-Dub
5 years ago

Not sure if this is what you’re driving at or not, but as far as I can tell, the coaching staff has no discretion on selecting the team. As long as everyone has hit the necessary FINA cuts and there’s enough room on the roster, everyone will go.

5 years ago


Walter White
5 years ago

If the limit is exceeded by 1, how would they determine which 6th place finisher would be left behind?

Reply to  Walter White
5 years ago

Walter White – based on the highest “Modified World Rankings.”

(a) Ranking Process. In the event that more Relay-Only Swimmers stand to be
Nominated to the Team than allowed under FINA rules, the Relay-Only
Swimmers will be ranked within their priority according to the Modified World
Ranking list. Relay-Only Swimmers with the best Modified World Ranking will be
eligible for Nomination to the Team in order of priority. Relay-Only Swimmers will
be added to the list of those to be Nominated to the Team in order of priority until
the maximum number of Relay-Only Swimmers (under the FINA rule) is obtained
or the Team is full, whichever comes first.

More here: http://www.usaswimming.org/_Rainbow/Documents/0c80ee5b-01da-410d-817a-6b564a307f46/16_Ath%20Select%20Pro_Pool.pdf

5 years ago

Great picture between Ervin and Dressel

5 years ago

Wow, this Olympic team is all white. Aside from Ervin (half black), Adrian (half Asian), and Litherland (half Asian), not a minority in sight. It’s 2016. How is this possible??

Reply to  BDL SWIM
5 years ago

Are you serious?

Reply to  BDL SWIM
5 years ago

I guess we should cheer for Cullen Jones then

Reply to  BDL SWIM
5 years ago

Manuel and/or Neal should be making it tonight.

Reply to  BDL SWIM
5 years ago

Go look at the US Men’s basketball team and then come back to this discussion.

Wow Idiot Poster
Reply to  BDL SWIM
5 years ago

You do realize that the swimmer qualifies based on his time, not race. They can’t say no you cant go you’re white we need someone of ethnicity. It’s not the teams fault that the fastest people in this meet are white…

Reply to  BDL SWIM
5 years ago

And the USA basketball team for the Olympics? I’m absolutely in favor of opening swimming up for all people who wish to participate to have access and opportunity to do so (and that is something that can be addressed at the local swim club and community level)…but at the end of the day the Olympic trials works to select the fastest 2 swimmers at the meet without regard to anything other than speed.

Reply to  BDL SWIM
5 years ago

Its possible because in 2016 there is still along way to go in diversifying USA swimming and swimming in general. So in the meantime (all the time actually), the fastest get to go. Doesn’t happen over night, but doesn’t mean we can’t call it out.

Reply to  swammer81
5 years ago

Oh spare me,

Stay Human
Reply to  Tabitha
5 years ago

I was on the fence and considering supporting swammer81’s argument, but your articulate counterargument was so impressive you won me over!

Reply to  swammer81
5 years ago

Call what out? That Caucasians in general are better built for swimming and that blacks are better built for track and b-ball? Not a hell of a lot you can do about long torso/shorter legs vs short torso/longer legs.

Reply to  BDL SWIM
5 years ago

This isnt deciding who to admit to a college. Its based on time only.

Reply to  BDL SWIM
5 years ago

I wish everything in life was an objective as swimming. Then it would all be easy to judge.

Reply to  BDL SWIM
5 years ago

We don’t need political correctness in olympic selections! You may rightly regret that youngsters from the inner cities don’t have access to pools and sports programs as their better off counterparts and thus have little prospect to make the olympics eventually, but this is a matter to be dealt with government authorities, local, state and federal. The great strength of our olympic swimming selection system is that it is objective and transparent: the fastest ones make it.

Ada F
Reply to  BDL SWIM
5 years ago

Obviously the fastest should go. Questioning the diversity of the team is not an indictment of the Olympic Trials process, but rather questioning how we can promote diversity from the age group stage and all the way into the elite levels. So hopefully in the future we don’t have as white a team. That’s a valid concern we should keep talking about.

Reply to  Ada F
5 years ago

Agreed. The selection criteria should remain as is, so the fastest 2 in each event get to compete at the Olympics, regardless of race. But I think there are still structural issues in USA Swimming that need to be addressed. Whatever efforts USA Swimming is making to diversify the membership pool clearly needs a lot more progress.

As of the 2010 Census, the American population was 64% non-Hispanic white. For a national Olympic team to be more than 95% white is pretty remarkable in this day and age.

Reply to  BDL SWIM
5 years ago

What’s so remarkable about genetic propensity?

Reply to  BDL SWIM
5 years ago

Are you kidding us? There is no bias. Can’t be. Fastest swimmers go. Period. Go troll somewhere else.

Go Away Posers
5 years ago

LEAVE FEIGEN AND PIERONI AT HOME!!!!!!!! We all know we want to see at least Phelps and Conger on this relay. And I’d bet most would rather see Lochte or even Haas on this relay over Feigen or Pieroni.

Imma start a damn petition

Reply to  Go Away Posers
5 years ago

Feigen is just fine with me. He’s good and consistent when well trained, and it seems like his training has been good for the past year.

I think Conger would probably be a faster choice, yes, but he’s never gone faster than 49.0. Feigen has gone 1.2s faster than that, and swam that fast or faster three times this meet. Hard to make your argument.

Reply to  Go Away Posers
5 years ago

And I’d certainly want him on the relay ahead of Haas or Lochte.

Reply to  Go Away Posers
5 years ago

It is so hard to make the team, dropping these two would be tragic. Anyway Phelps Lochte and Conger could have forced their way onto the relay if they wanted to, or if they were fit enough to swim doubles.

Reply to  Go Away Posers
5 years ago

Feigen and Pieroni earned their way on the team according to the selection procedures, which are completely objective, unbiased and based solely on place and time. It’s not left up to anyone’s discretion. The selection criteria are black and white. If there are enough spots on the team, they will — and should — go. They EARNED it.

What have you done with your life, keyboard warrior?

5 years ago

This meet is already so lethal when it comes to making top 2 individually. Although it’s never happened, the idea of someone qualifying 2nd and not being taken because relay spots need to be filled seems ludicrous! Then Lindsay Mintenko is explaining it away on the live feed by saying the athletes need to do more doubles??

Emma Rose
Reply to  SwimFan
5 years ago

By giving priority to top four qualifiers in relay events, the US is ensuring that they have internationally competitive relays. I don’t see how this is ludicrous. You would rather take top two qualifiers in all events and possibly have to fill a relay spot with someone who doesn’t really swim the event well?

Bill Simpson
5 years ago

Why does the Olympic Committee allow only 2 swimmers per country in every event? In track, the only sport with a similar trials system, a country can have 3 athletes in every event, and possibly 4, since the defending champ gets an automatic entry. Does swimming just want to prevent a country (USA or Australia being the main possibilities) from going 1-2-3?

Reply to  Bill Simpson
5 years ago

I saw that covered on the Lane 9 show last night. The 1976 US swimming team is having a reunion and John Naber was on the show and spoke about the 3 vs. 2 change. During the 1976 Olympics the US men had 4 clean sweeps, won all but 1 gold, won all but 3 silver and still won 5 bronze. The East German woman also had a clean sweep, so FINA changed the rules.

Reply to  Scott
5 years ago

But Track gets sweeps a lot too, how come they’re still allowed to take 3? It’s literally unfair. Especially now when swimming is a lot bigger than it used to be and it’s not so much about a few clear favorites blowing everyone else out of the water. It’s a lot closer now in terms of competition.

Jim C
Reply to  Bill Simpson
5 years ago

The change was made at the boycotted Olympics for political reasons to help the USSR vs. the US.