USA Swimming Has 12 Relay-Only Swimmer Limit on Olympic Team, Now There Are 13

2021 U.S. OLYMPIC SWIMMING TRIALS

There are 13 swimmers who have only qualified for the 2020 U.S. Olympic team in only relay events,  as of Saturday morning. The problem is, USA Swimming is limited to a maximum of 12 relay-only swimmers on their Olympic team.

If after the U.S. Olympic Trials ends and there are more than 12 relay-only swimmers, USA Swimming uses a ranking process based on Modified World Rankings. This means compiling all the finals times from the 2021 U.S. Olympic Trials, adding those to the World Rankings (March 1, 2019 – June 7th, 2021), and comparing the swimmers’ Olympic Trials finals time to them.

There are a total of 13 relay-only swimmers on Team USA’s Olympic roster with only two days of competition left:

  1. Katie McLaughlin
  2. Bella Sims
  3. Brooke Forde
  4. Olivia Smoliga
  5. Natalie Hinds
  6. Catie DeLoof
  7. Drew Kibler
  8. Andrew Seliskar
  9. Blake Pieroni
  10. Brooks Curry
  11. Bowe Becker
  12. Patrick Callan
  13. Ryan Held

Note that if any one of these swimmers qualifies in an individual event they are no longer a relay-only swimmer. The only individual events left are the men and women’s 50 free, men’s 1500, men’s 100 fly, women’s 200 back, and the women’s 800 freestyle.

The best chances of someone making an individual event are in the 50 free. Ryan Held is ranked 3rd in that event and he dropped a 22.66 50 free split in the 100 free final Thursday. 

On the women’s side, Olivia Smoliga is ranked 10th and Natalie Hinds is ranked 17thin in the 50 free. Both Smoliga and Hinds had solid first 50’s in their 100 free final on Friday; Hinds went out 25.62 and Smoliga posted a 26.06.

Bella Sims also has a significant chance to make an individual event. She is entered in the 800 free, ranked 5th.

One relay-only swimmer, Drew Kibler, no-showed the 50 free this morning. This was his last individual event of the meet and he was ranked 19th. Blake Pieroni was also entered in the 50 free, ranked 9th, but he scratched.

Full Relay-Only Swimmer Rules:

 1.3.6 Selection of Relay-Only Swimmers. USA Swimming is limited to a total of 12 (combined between men and women) Relay-Only Swimmers on the Team (see Attachment A for the language of this rule). If, after applying the procedures set forth in Sections 1.3.4 and 1.3.5 above, there are more than 12 RelayOnly Swimmers who stand to be Nominated to the Team, then USA Swimming will use the process set forth in this Section 1.3.6 to determine who will be Nominated to the Team:

 (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. RelayOnly 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. 

[Note: Per FINA rules, Swimmers who qualify for an individual Event and as a Relay-Only Swimmer are not considered Relay-Only swimmers.] 

Modified World Ranking

“Modified World Ranking” means the World Ranking list as modified by integrating all times from the Finals of the Qualifying Competition. An athlete’s Modified World Ranking shall be determined by his/her time from the Finals of the Qualifying Competition. The results of the semifinals and preliminary heats of the Qualifying Competition will be used to determine finish order immediately lower than those in the Finals (i.e., ninth place and below)

Full U.S. Olympic Roster After Night 6:

Women:

Men:

  • Chase Kalisz: 400 IM, 200 IM
  • Kieran Smith: 400 free, 200 free, 4×200 free relay
  • Michael Andrew: 100 breast, 200 IM
  • Townley Haas: 200 free, 4×200 free relay
  • Drew Kibler: 4×200 free relay
  • Andrew Seliskar: 4×200 free relay
  • Ryan Murphy: 100 back, 200 back
  • Zach Harting: 200 fly
  • Bobby Finke, 800 free
  • Nic Fink, 200 breast
  • Caeleb Dressel, 100 free, 4×100 free relay
  • Zach Apple: 4×200 free relay, 100 free, 4×100 free relay
  • Blake Pieroni: 4×100 free relay
  • Brooks Curry: 4×100 free relay
  • Jay Litherland: 400 IM
  • Jake Mitchell: 400 free
  • Andrew Wilson: 100 breast, 200 breast
  • Hunter Armstrong: 100 back
  • Gunnar Bentz: 200 fly
  • Michael Brinegar: 800 free
  • Bryce Mefford: 200 back
  • Bowe Becker, 4×100 free relay
  • Patrick Callan4×200 free relay
  • Ryan Held: 4×100 free relay

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Swammerstein
2 months ago

Just saying this because hes the picture on the article, but you have to keep held on. i think hes got more in the tank. obviously missed his taper this meets as hes been 47/39 in the 100, he may even take a final spot

PK Doesn't Like His Long Name
Reply to  Swammerstein
2 months ago

There isn’t discretion here though. He’s the lowest by MWR as far as we can tell so he’s the one who would be bumped.

Swimlikefishdrinklikefish
Reply to  PK Doesn't Like His Long Name
2 months ago

Can’t they change rules?

Svird
Reply to  Swimlikefishdrinklikefish
2 months ago

You can’t just change the rules after trials to favor a certain swimmer.

I do think they should have just made the decision discretionary for edge cases like this. But USA swimming has always stayed away from any discretionary picking. Which I think is overall good to keep bias out, but just sucks that it will likely exclude a valuable relay piece.

But rules are rules and ryan should have swam faster if he didn’t want to get bumped. I hope he finishes 2nd in the 50.

ACC
Reply to  Swimlikefishdrinklikefish
2 months ago

The point of the rules is that it’s objective and they can’t be accused of favoritism. Changing the rules to bring someone would fly directly in the face of that.

Swimmer
Reply to  ACC
2 months ago

I get that but shouldn’t we try to make the best 4×100 free relay we can. The Russians are dangerously fast this year.

Walter
Reply to  Swimlikefishdrinklikefish
2 months ago

You’ve been drinking too much.

Beachmouse
Reply to  Swimlikefishdrinklikefish
2 months ago

Also, each sports federation has to file their Olympic selection criteria with the USOC by a specific date and then follow it from that point onward. You can write it so that selection is effectively almost entirely discretionary like gymnastics and figure skating but once it’s published it pretty much takes a pandemic in order to allow changes to the process and even then I doubt a change is allowed while a final selection event is going on.

Coach
Reply to  Beachmouse
2 months ago

It takes a pandemic, you say?

Joe
Reply to  Swammerstein
2 months ago

It doesn’t sound discretionary. It sounds like he’s going to have to finish top 2 in the 50 or he’s not making the team.

96Swim
Reply to  Joe
2 months ago

Unless Bella Sims makes the team in the 800. That’s his other shot.

Ole 99
Reply to  Swammerstein
2 months ago

I’ll preface this by stating I really want Ryan to be a part of this team, but swimming is a sport / trials where it’s all about results. It doesn’t matter what you’ve done before. It matters what you do here. He’s been up/down this last cycle. You can’t take what anyone swam in ‘19 as a given.

Khachaturian
Reply to  Ole 99
2 months ago

Because of this, and that Brooks Curry is on the relay I am worried. The russians have all proven to throw down fast flat starts and splits for a relay. What has Curry split in the relay?

Rafael
Reply to  Khachaturian
2 months ago

Something Spicy or a 3 pt throw

Comet
Reply to  Khachaturian
2 months ago

brooks dropped 3/10 in the 100 and 6/10 in the 50. he is already at 48 flat start so he certainly could be mid 47 with a flying start in a relay

The White Whale
Reply to  Ole 99
2 months ago

That’s the way it’s been done in the U.S. forever and I like it. No favoritism involved. Get it done in Trials or you’re out. It’s harsh, but no one said swimming was easy.

You Don’t Say
Reply to  Swammerstein
2 months ago

But he cried a lot at the last Olympics so…;-)

Coach M
2 months ago

Bella Sims is third going into the 800 final, and she doesn’t even get a mention as someone that has a great chance to make an individual event. Terrible reporting and a dis to distance swimmers and fans. Shows how much the writer pays attention to distance swimming. Please tell me more about who’s seeded 17th in the 50

50free
Reply to  Coach M
2 months ago

I’m going to be real with you dog. It’s boring.

coachymccoachface
Reply to  50free
2 months ago

It really isn’t though. Maybe to non swimmer. But a swimmer saying a good distance race isn’t exciting is an embarrassment to the sport.

Johnny Bravo
Reply to  coachymccoachface
2 months ago

They should’ve added 50s for every stroke instead

T S
Reply to  Coach M
2 months ago

shes 2nd, but everything else is correct

Ole 99
Reply to  Coach M
2 months ago

“Your ideas are intriguing to me, and I wish to subscribe to your newsletter”

frug
Reply to  Coach M
2 months ago

Bella Sims also has a significant chance to make an individual event. She is entered in the 800 free, ranked 5th

Unless the article has been updated in the 13 minutes since your post, you must have missed that.

Dan
Reply to  frug
2 months ago

One problem, she is in lane 5 – so she is seeded 2nd, not 5th but otherwise, it is correct that it was mentioned in the article (hence the article is providing the wrong information).

Ecoach
2 months ago

The men are going to run up against the 26 max rule as well. Only 2 spots left to take everyone and we have the 50, 1500 and 100 Fly left. Dressel will qualify in 50 and 100 without taking up any more spots. Finke could win the 1500. If Brinnegar gets 2nd then there would be just enough spots. Best case scenario Held, Becker or Curry gets 2nd in the 50 and solves both problems.

Klorn8d
Reply to  Ecoach
2 months ago

Or Andrew in the 50

PK Doesn't Like His Long Name
Reply to  Klorn8d
2 months ago

That only solves one of the problems.

HJones
Reply to  Klorn8d
2 months ago

That only helps with the 26-man roster cap, but not letting a relay-only swimmer on the team.

Wahooswimfan
Reply to  Klorn8d
2 months ago

or Zach Harding getting 2nd in the 100 fly.

Caeleb’s left suit string
Reply to  Ecoach
2 months ago

It’s absurd here that there’s no change to the roster max, even with the addition of 2 more events, (800/1500), the IOC consistently has their hand up their butt

Last edited 2 months ago by Caeleb’s left suit string
Landen
Reply to  Ecoach
2 months ago

I want Adrian to make the 50

ACC fan
2 months ago

Can someone explain why the 6th place in both 4×1 and 4×2 relays wouldn’t all be equally likely to get bumped?

Miss M
Reply to  ACC fan
2 months ago

Alison Schmidt finished 6th in the women’s 100, but is already on the team for the 200 free, so 6th in the women’s 4×100 can’t be bumped.

It’s Forde, Callan or Held that can be bumped.

50free
Reply to  ACC fan
2 months ago

Some times are faster relative to world rankings than the others. Or maybe it’s percentage away from world record.

PK Doesn't Like His Long Name
Reply to  ACC fan
2 months ago

From the article above:
(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. RelayOnly 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.”

The numbers were ran in another thread to figure out the rankings of the 6th place… Read more »

Willswim
Reply to  PK Doesn't Like His Long Name
2 months ago

Interesting. Are we sure Held’s 4th place ranking would be disregarded? Is that what the “modified” part of the world ranking means? If not, I don’t see where it says the time has to be from trials. Different, but it wasn’t going to matter in the Jake Mitchell situation.

Also, will we have to wait until after Canadian trials and other meets have finished to look at the final ranking, or do they just go with rankings as of the end of US trials?

PK Doesn't Like His Long Name
Reply to  Willswim
2 months ago

I believe they go with the rankings at the *start* of the US trials, with additions as needed to place the athletes results from trials into the list properly.

As for the time needing to be from trials, from the article above and bolded for effect:

Modified World Ranking
“Modified World Ranking” means the World Ranking list as modified by integrating all times from the Finals of the Qualifying Competition. An athlete’s Modified World Ranking shall be determined by his/her time from the Finals of the Qualifying Competition. The results of the semifinals and preliminary heats of the Qualifying Competition will be used to determine finish order immediately lower than those in the Finals (i.e., ninth place and below)

Willswim
Reply to  PK Doesn't Like His Long Name
2 months ago

Gotcha, thanks.

Willswim
Reply to  PK Doesn't Like His Long Name
2 months ago

Sorry, one more question. If the men’s and women’s teams are capped at 26 each (is that a FINA rule or a self imposed US rule?), why are the relay only swimmers capped at 12 total instead of 6 men and 6 women? It seems weird to do that. Aren’t men’s and women’s swimming considered two separate sports? Why would one’s roster be affected by the other?

Rafael
Reply to  Willswim
2 months ago

RO only rules just define that 1 relay equals 2RO with the limit of 12, does not define gender.

Admin
Reply to  Willswim
2 months ago

It is a little incongruous. But….it’s how the rules are written.

PK Doesn't Like His Long Name
Reply to  Willswim
2 months ago

FINA rules for relay swimmers are cross-gendered due to the mixed relays. You get 2 relay only swimmers per relay up to a maximum of 12 swimmers, even if you have 7 relays qualified like the US does.

Dan
Reply to  Willswim
2 months ago

Both are FINA rules

P K
Reply to  Willswim
2 months ago

The selection criteria state that the times used are the USA Swimming world rankings from March 1, 2019 through June 7, 2021, as run on June 12, 2021, and then as modified and integrated with Olympic Trials results. Thus we should know the answer by then. (https://www.usaswimming.org/docs/default-source/national-teamdocuments/swi-2020-oly-athlete-pool-amended-6-8-2021—final-clean-version—signed.pdf)

Miss M
2 months ago

When your list from a comment gets picked up and run as an article …

shimswam
2 months ago

I see i’m late to this party

Last edited 2 months ago by shimswam
Notanyswimmer
2 months ago

Would rather leave out Callan than Held. Held has more in the tank.

Wave 1.5 Qualifier
Reply to  Notanyswimmer
2 months ago

How about 5th in the Women’s 100 Free instead?

iceman
Reply to  Wave 1.5 Qualifier
2 months ago

I think 5th place finishers are priority 3 and 6th are priority 4, so it’s not possible to leave a 5th finisher place and give a spot to a 6th.

Last edited 2 months ago by iceman
Wave 1.5 Qualifier
Reply to  iceman
2 months ago

Agree. I was just being a smart aleck.

Svird
Reply to  Notanyswimmer
2 months ago

Well he should have emptied that tank during the final then lol

EasySpeed
2 months ago

Have we ever had this problem before?

Mnswim
Reply to  EasySpeed
2 months ago

That’s what I was wondering as well!

Swim3057
Reply to  Mnswim
2 months ago

No, but the 800 men/1500 women and mixed medley relay were added for these Olympics with the understanding delegation sizes of 26 per gender max would be not increased. The only way the IOC agreed to add Olympic events were if it didn’t add any additional athlete #s.

Stinky
Reply to  Swim3057
2 months ago

Exactly. IOC prefers to manage the big picture (how many athletes, how much bribe money, etc) and let the ISFs handle the details of their own sports. Otherwise they would have to spend valuable money counting time on actual sport.