2016 U.S. Olympic Trials Day 3 Prelims Performance Stats


Day 3 prelims saw a few stand out swims, but the field as a whole continued to perform about as expected. Michael Klueh‘s 200 fly  drop of over 3 seconds now ranks as the second biggest prelim time drop of the entire meet by percentage. The women’s 200 IM became the first event so far where no one has gone at least -1% faster than their seed time. Here’s a look at time changes from seed this year vs 2012 trials (positive is slower, negative is faster):

2016 2012
Median Time Change % Who Went Faster # Faster Median Time Change % Who Went Faster
Women 200 Free 1.2% 16% 17 1.0% 13%
Men 200 Fly 1.3% 21% 17 0.6% 33%
Women 200 IM 1.3% 16% 18 1.4% 19%

Here’s the top time drops from seed in each event by percentage:

Event Name Time Drop Seed Prelim Time
Women 200 Free Abbey Weitzeil -1.4% 2:02.22 2:00.57
Men 200 Fly Michael Klueh -2.6% 2:00.73 1:57.59
Women 200 IM Rachael Bradford-Feldman -0.9% 2:17.11 2:15.88

The above numbers are prelims to psych sheet comparisons. Trials also has semis and finals. May top swimmers conserve energy in prelims to swim faster in later rounds. Additionally top swimmers have a better chance to actually make the team, so their incentives are a lot different than someone seeded below 50th. This shows up in the time drop data. The median time change for top 8 seeds improves dramatically from prelims to semis and finals and is better than lower seeds’ time changes. Here’s a look at the median time change from seed in every event that’s completed a final (women’ 100 fly, 400 free, and 400 IM. Men’s 100 Breast, 400 Free, and 400 IM):


 Seeded Place Prelims Only All Rounds
1-8 1.3% 0.7%
9-24 0.9% 0.8%
25-48 1.3% 1.3%
49-96 0.9% 0.9%
97-141 1.2% 1.2%


 Seeded Place Prelims Only All Rounds
1-8 0.3% -0.2%
9-24 1.2% 1.2%
25-48 1.1% 1.1%
49-96 0.8% 0.8%
97-147 0.8% 0.8%

The very top end swimmers have been more consistent than the rest of the field. They mostly avoid the big time adds and time drops. Outside of the very top swimmers, psych sheet place and performance aren’t correlated at all. Here’s a look at time change from seed (best time in any round) vs psych sheet place:

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Michael Klueh was seeded #44 with a 2:00.73. The OT qualifiers list has him #20 with a 1:58.55 (2016 Canadian Olympic & Para S 04/06/16). He swam 1:57.59 in prelims for a 0.96 sec drop. I guess you are allowed to use a qualifying time other than your fastest for seeding? I think Kyle Higgins did the same thing.

Lp Man

This is way more complicated than not needs to be. I suffered a brain aneurysm because of this article


I don’t think it’s that complicated, but that’s not really the problem-it’s been three days and so far there seems to be no suggestion of any important conclusions. And I haven’t been able to draw anything meaningful from it either. Data analysis for its own sake is pointless. We aren’t learning anything new from these, so I fail to see the point in doing them anymore. And with what not_an_expert said below about seed times, having inaccurate/inconsistent data is another big issue with this procedure. While I appreciate the work that was put into this, and I personally love analyzing swimming data, it’s just not that important unless a meaningful conclusion can be found.

Just Wondering....

Anyone can already see from the graphs that a high percentage of the swimmers at this meet thus fare are going slower than either their seed time or best time depending on what entry time they used.

How’s that for a conclusion!! 🙁

Now for the real reason I posted
Coach Keeler….glad to see you still have not lost the passion for the truth…..!!


I believe that says more about you than it does the article…

Swimswam, please keep up with this kind of article. Some of us appreciate actual quantitative analysis of swimming in addition to the usual qualitative stuff. You’re all doing great work on both ends.

Lp Man

It’s great to see no one has a sense of humor. Lighten up people!

Michael Keeler

Don’t worry about the naysayers. This type of analysis is exactly what swimming needs. As the meet moves along, trends will emerge.

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