Versatility Reigns Supreme For The 2024 U.S. Women’s Olympic Swim Team

Courtesy: Karen Gleason

The 2024 Paris Olympics showcase the remarkable range and versatility of the U.S. swimmers. Both the men’s and women’s teams display exceptional talent. However, the women’s team stands out, particularly in its ability to cover a wide array of events and distances.

Women’s Visual

Men’s Visual

A remarkable 10 female swimmers have qualified for multiple events, spanning all 14 Olympic disciplines. Both individual and relay qualifiers are included for the 100 and 200 freestyle. The legendary Katie Ledecky leads the charge, qualifying for four different events. First-time Olympians Gretchen Walsh and Paige Madden, along with veteran Regan Smith, each qualified in three events. Smith narrowly missed qualifying in a 4th event, with a 3rd place finish in the 100 fly.

Five women excel across two disciplines: Gretchen Walsh, Torri Huske, and Alex Shackell in freestyle and butterfly; Regan Smith in butterfly and backstroke; and Katie Grimes in freestyle and individual medley. Notably, Kate Douglass will compete in an impressive three disciplines: freestyle, breaststroke, and individual medley.

Four women qualified at multiple distances for a single stroke. Katie Ledecky and Paige Madden will cover the longer freestyle events, while Simone Manuel specializes in the sprints. In breaststroke, the exceptional Lilly King has qualified for her third Olympics, competing in both breaststroke events.

Both the 100 and 200 freestyle are essential for the relay events. The 100 free includes Douglass, Huske, Walsh, and Manuel, while the 200 free features Ledecky, Madden, and Shackell. Interestingly, there is no crossover between the 100 and 200 freestyle, with Simone Manuel narrowly missing a spot in the 200 freestyle with a seventh-place finish.

The women’s chart clearly highlights the distance prowess of Ledecky, Madden, and Grimes on the right side, with Grimes also qualifying for the longer open water race and nearly qualifying for the 200 freestyle with an eighth-place finish. On the left side, the sprint specialists—Gretchen Walsh, Huske, and Manuel—are prominently featured. In the middle are the aces of the 100 and 200 events: Douglass, Smith, King, and Shackell.

While the U.S. male Olympians also exhibit versatility, they do not quite match the breadth of the women’s team. Eight male swimmers will compete in two events, covering all but two breaststroke distances. No male swimmer has qualified in four events, though veterans Caeleb Dressel and newcomer Chris Guiliano have each qualified in three events.

Two men will compete in two strokes: Dressel in freestyle and butterfly, and Hunter Armstrong in freestyle and backstroke. The remaining six multiple qualifiers specialize in single disciplines: Carson Foster in individual medley; Guiliano, Kieran Smith, and Bobby Finke in freestyle; Thomas Heilman in butterfly; and Ryan Murphy in backstroke.

For the freestyle relay distances, Guiliano and Dressel qualified for the 100, with Guiliano also crossing over to the 200, alongside Kieran Smith and Armstrong.

Overall, the 2024 U.S. Women’s Olympic Swim Team demonstrates unparalleled versatility and depth, setting a high bar for swimming excellence on the world stage.

ABOUT KAREN GLEASON

Karen Gleason is a professor emerita and a former NCAA Division III All-American swimmer at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). She still enjoys swimming in various bodies of water, including Walden Pond.

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Diehard
23 days ago

Talk about 1992 women’s team. Only 14 women were picked. Now that is a versatile team!

Weinstein-Smith-Ledecky-Sims
Reply to  Diehard
23 days ago

Damn! I thought 20 was too light.

Nonrevhoofan
24 days ago

Alex Walsh should merit a mention in versatility. She came close in the breaststrokes but could have competed in the 200 fly and 200 free as well. And, in yards, she has displayed much NCAA success in sprint free relays as well as the fly leg of the 4×100 medley relay. And, of course, she was originally known as a backstroker.

Weinstein-Smith-Ledecky-Sims
Reply to  Nonrevhoofan
24 days ago

Alex Walsh didn’t come close in the women’s 100 meter breaststroke and should have opted for the women’s 400 meter individual medley.

Steve Nolan
Reply to  Weinstein-Smith-Ledecky-Sims
23 days ago

“people should swim things they really don’t like swimming” – outdated relay names guy

Weinstein-Smith-Ledecky-Sims
Reply to  Steve Nolan
23 days ago

Alex Walsh has swam the 400 IM three years in a row at the NCAA Division I Women’s Swimming & Diving Championships.

Fred
24 days ago

Does Katie Douglas swim the 200 free

VA Steve
Reply to  Fred
24 days ago

Everyone wants her to, except Kate.

Weinstein-Smith-Ledecky-Sims
Reply to  VA Steve
24 days ago

Kate Douglass has enough on her plate.

Weinstein-Smith-Ledecky-Sims
Reply to  Fred
24 days ago

The development of the women’s 200 meter freestyler has been a major failure amongst the NCAA Division I coaches. The two best women’s 200 meter freestylers since the 2012 Summer Olympics have been teenage prodigies, Missy Franklin and Katie Ledecky.

Max Hardie
Reply to  Fred
23 days ago

Why would she if 4×200 has to chance against Australia?

Weinstein-Smith-Ledecky-Sims
Reply to  Max Hardie
23 days ago

Kate Douglass has swam five events in total at the Olympic Team Trials (2021, 2024):

50 FR – 24.78, 2021
100 FR – 54.17, 2021
100 FL – 56.56, 2021
200 BR
200 IM – 2:09.32, 2021

The 200 FR is not on the list.

Gen D
24 days ago

Katie Grimes is swimming entirely different events at her 2nd olympics vs her first. Can anyone think of someone else to whom this has happened?

Weinstein-Smith-Ledecky-Sims
Reply to  Gen D
23 days ago

Ah, no.

Katie Grimes swam the 400 IM (4:46.15) and the 1500 FR (15:52.12) at the 2021 Olympic Team Trials.

Gen D
Reply to  Weinstein-Smith-Ledecky-Sims
23 days ago

I meant the events she ended up swimming at the Olympics, not what she swam at trials

If my memory is correct, she only swam the 800 in tokyo.

In Paris she will swim 1500, 400 im and 10 km

Boknows34
Reply to  Weinstein-Smith-Ledecky-Sims
22 days ago

at her 2nd olympics”

No mention of trials.

Swimmer
24 days ago

There must be a better way to visualize this than the two graphs shown here

Ron
Reply to  Swimmer
24 days ago

🙏 great graphs 🙏

Xyz
24 days ago

Are female swimmers more versatile globally than they’ve ever been before? Feel like there’s been a lot of traditionally non-breastrokers (e.g. McKeown, Douglass) becoming good at breaststroke than previously. Curious to know what’s cause the increase in versatility.

Weinstein-Smith-Ledecky-Sims
Reply to  Xyz
24 days ago

Kaylee McKeown is no nowhere in the realm of Kate Douglass in the breaststroke events.

KeithM
Reply to  Xyz
23 days ago

Douglass a “traditionally non-breaststroker?” She swam the breaststroke events at the 2016 Olympic Trials as a 14 year old. Up until the last two years the 200 Breast was regarded as her best prospective event…even after her IM medal in Tokyo 3 years ago.

VA Steve
Reply to  KeithM
23 days ago
YMCA Swammer
24 days ago

Paige Madden isn’t a first time Olympian

Dmswim
24 days ago

Five women qualified at multiple distances of the same stroke, not four. Gretchen Walsh qualified in the 50 free and on the 4×100 relay.

Chris
Reply to  Dmswim
24 days ago

If you’re counting like that is it not 6? King, Ledecky, Smith, Maunel, G Walsh and Madden