2021 U.S. OLYMPIC SWIMMING TRIALS
- Wave I Dates: June 4-7, 2021
- Wave II Dates: June 13-20, 2021
- Prelims: 10am CDT | Finals: 7pm CDT
- Where: CHI Health Center / Omaha, Nebraska
- Wave I & II Event Order
- LCM (50m)
- Wave II Psych Sheet
- Live Stream Links
- Wave II Live Results
- Day 1 Prelims Heat Sheets
In a 100 breaststroke prelim swim at the 2021 US Olympic Trials Michael Andrew established a new American record of 58.19, shaving nearly half a second off Kevin Cordes‘ 2017 mark of 58.64. The time gives Andrew a decent lead over the field heading into the semi-finals with Andrew Wilson sitting in #2 with a 58.80.
An American record during the prelims of the event is quite a statement from Andrew as he still has 2 swims at Trials and up to 3 swims at the Olympic Games to crack the coveted 58-second barrier; a feat that only Adam Peaty and Arno Kamminga have pulled off to date.
While the swim bodes well for Andrew’s individual performance at Trials and the Olympics, it will likely have implications for US’ medley relay efforts as well.
The United States will be attempting to defend its 2016 Olympic gold medal in the men’s medley relay this summer and until now the lack of a 58-low 100 breaststroker was calling the likelihood of that repeat victory into question. The relatively weak 100 breaststroke field in the US was a contributing factor to the States’ relation to silver at the 2019 World Championships where they took silver to Great Britain.
2019 World Championships Men’s 4×100 Medley Relay Podium
Luke Greenbank (53.95)
Adam Peaty (57.20)
James Guy (50.81)
Duncan Scott (46.14)
Total Time: 3:28.10
Ryan Murphy (52.92)
Andrew Wilson (58.65)
Caeleb Dressel (49.28)
Nathan Adrian (47.60)
Total Time: 3:28.45
Evgeny Rylov (52.57)
Kirill Prigoda (58.68)
Andrey Minakov (50.54)
Vladimir Morozov (47.02)
Total Time: 3:28.81
Looking at the Great Britain v. USA battle for gold in the men’s 4×100 medley relay, the situation for the Americans got slightly more precarious when British backstroker Luke Greenbank swam a 53.34 at the recent 2021 European Championships. That’s more than half a second faster than he was in Gwangju both on the backstroke leg of the relay (53.95) and in his individual 100 backstroke (53.75).
Michael Andrew doesn’t have a high number of relay swims to his name on the international stage to indicate how much faster we can expect him to be when he adds a relay take over. One example, however, is the medley relay that he was a part of at the 2019 FINA Champions Swim Series in 2019 that he swam along with Sarah Sjostrom, Nicholas Santos, and Cate Campbell. Andrew delivered a 1:01.08 breaststroke leg which was a decent amount quicker than his 1:02.78 in the individual version of the race at that same meet.
Later that year at the 2019 World Swimming Championships he was also a bit faster on the relay, hitting a 59.75 as a part of the prelim relay team compared to the 1:00.04 he swam individually.
In order to see the full effect of Andrew’s improvements in the breaststroke, he will need to be sharp on the relay takeover. Not known for his relay takeovers, Andrew recorded one of the slowest takeovers among those racing on the medley relay during the heats at 2019 Worlds with his 0.33. He was beaten there by Russia’s Chupkov (0.20), Japan’s Koseki (0.04), Great Britain’s Wilby (0.18), and Australia’s Wilson (0.21).
Another significant factor that could shake things up for the American medley relay in Tokyo is the possibility of a faster freestyle leg. In 2019 Nathan Adrian swam a 47.60 to close out the relay which was more than a second slower than Duncan Scott‘s closing time of 46.14 for the British. While 100 free American record holder Caeleb Dressel will likely be taking care of the butterfly leg, both Adrian and Ryan Held have been faster than that 47.60 in the event and many more men who have been close will be vying for a spot on the team later this week.
It is important to emphasize that this analysis is a look only at the brewing battle between Great Britain and the USA and it is not to say that countries such as Russia which took bronze in 2019, Australia which took bronze in 2016, or any number of countries such as the Netherlands, Japan, and China can be counted out of contention.