What Would Ryan Lochte Do in the 50 Meter Stroke Races?

With USA Swimming selecting swimmers for the 2013 World Championships in the non-Olympic events for the first time ever (stroke 50’s, off-distance events), there is more focus than ever on who is entered in those races at this meet.

See the selection procedures here.

Specifically, the winners of the non-Olympic events will be qualified (almost surely they’ll make the team, given that they have -priority ahead of all relay alternates.) The second spot in non-Olympic events will be based on the winners of the closest-ranked Olympic event

Unlike what you’ll see in the European countries, many of America’s top sprinters have played it conservative and chosen not to add a bunch of stroke 50’s. In a more spread-out meet, we might have gotten more of that, but for now, it’s going to be pretty predictable. Below, see a quick breakdown of the stroke 50’s, with our picks for top contenders.

Men’s 50 Fly

Traditional favorites: Tyler McGill, Tom Shields, Tim Phillips, Eugene Godsoe, Giles Smith, Maclin Davis
Surprise entrants: Ryan Lochte, Cullen Jones, Andrew Seliskar, Matt Grevers

Tyler McGill, Euegene Godsoe, Tim Phillips, and Tom Shields should be the favorites in this race. Lochte’s butterfly speed has certainly improved enough to land among the top 3 in this event, but I don’t know if he’ll actually swim it given that it comes at the end of a day 2 where he’ll already swim the 200 free and the 200 back, with a 400 IM/100 fly double back-to-back, with a possible 50 back, on day 3.

We also saw Matt Grevers swim a 100 fly last weekend to make sure he’s qualified for this race, so he’ll be motivated. Maclin Davis is the sleeper here; he’s one of the fastest junior butterfliers in history, and is purely a speedster.

Cullen Jones swam this race in Shanghai, but didn’t do very well, and afterward said it wasn’t that important of an event to him.

Quick Picks:
1. McGill
2. Shields
3. Davis

Women’s 50 Fly

Traditional favorites: Dana Vollmer, Claire Donahue, Kelsey Floyd, Caroline McElhany, Christine Magnuson, Olivia Scott, Kelsi Worrell, Kendyl Stewart, Michelle Cefal, Katie McLaughlin, Cassidy Bayer etc.
Surprise entrants: Rachel Bootsma

Not a whole lot of just “sprinters” in this race. Dana Vollmer is the 100 fly World Record holder, and her first 50 is faster than anybody’s we’ve ever seen, so she has to be the favorite; Donahue is about the only person who keeps up with her on the front half of the 100. Kelsi Worrell and Rachel Bootsma are really fast in general and have made great improvements in their butterfly races in the last year.

Christine Magnuson could be the sleeper. The one-time Olympian in the 100 fly has been focusing on the 50 free for the last two years, and this race is a perfect intersection of the two.

If 13-year old Cassidy Bayer qualifies for the final, she’ll be the crowd favorite. She’s already broken several Vollmer National Age Group Records (and Vollmer was about as good as it gets at that age).

Quick Picks:
1. Vollmer
2. Magnuson
3. Donahue

Men’s 50 Back

Traditional favorites: Matt Grevers, David Plummer, Eugene Godsoe, Ryan Murphy, Ryan Lochte, Drew teDuits, Jacob Pebley, Randall Bal, Adam Mania
Surpris entrants: None, really

This one is all about the true backstrokers. Grevers, the Olympic Champion and second in history, Godsoe, the speed guy, Plummer, the cagey veteran, Murphy, the ripped youngster, Lochte, if he survives that long.

And then there’s the timeless Randall Bal, who is the American Record holder in this race. I’ll admit, I thought he was retired. The 32-year old hasn’t raced since last year’s Olympic Trials, and only swam two meets in the season prior to that. It would be one of the stories of the meet if he ripped off a big 50 back and won it. Highly unlikely, but for just a 50 back (he’s also entered in the 100), he could stay in shape even without racing much.

Quick Picks:
1. Godsoe
2. Grevers
3. Plummer

Women’s 50 Back

Traditional favorites: Missy franklin, Rachel Bootsma, Olivia Smoliga, Megan romano, Bonnie Brandon, Kylie Stewart, Kathleen Baker, Kendyl Stewart
Surprise entrants: none, really

This one doesn’t feel quite as wide open as some of the rest of the races. Liz Pelton, who could steal a spot in the 100 back, won’t swim this event. Neither will Natalie Coughlin, even though she’s got a big gap in between the 100 free on Tuesday and the 50 free on Saturday.

Franklin, Bootmsa, and Smoliga are the big favorites. Franklin will get a lot of buzz because of her 100 Olympic title, and because she’s Missy Franklin. Realistically, though, Bootsma and Smoliga are better on their starts (Missy swims her races back-half) and one of those two will probably win, and also will probably break the American Record in the process.

Quick Picks:
1. Smoliga
2. Bootsma
3. Franklin

Men’s 50 Breaststroke

Traditional favorites: Mark Gangloff, Mike Alexandrov, Scott Weltz, Kevin Cordes, Clark Burckle, Cody Miller, Nic Fink, BJ Johnson, Nelson Westby, Kevin Steel
Surprise entrants: Ryan Lochte

Will Lochte swim this race? I highly doubt it; he’s entered in every single individual event on the third day of this five day meet, and his chances at qualifying are explonentially better in any of the other four events.

Mark Gangloff, though dividing his attentions with coaching at Mizzou, comes in with the top seed in both the 50 and the 100, and the only swimmer to break a minute in textile. Have to like his chances in this race, with it probably being a battle between him, Alexandrov, and Cordes. Cordes swam a straight 50 breaststroke at the U.S. Open last year, and was 28.3, which compared to what he had gun before coming to Arizona wasn’t a great time. He’s probably the winner, and comes close at least to the U.S. Open Record.

Quick Picks:
1. Cordes
2. Gangloff
3. Alexandrov

Women’s 50 Breaststroke

Traditional favorites: Breeja Larson, Jessica Hardy, Ellyn Baumgardner, Ashley Wanland, Molly Hannis, Laura Sogar, Emma Schoettmer, Sarah Haase, Megan Jendrick, Kasey Carlson
Surprise entrants: none, really

The first thing that jumps out is that Megan Jendrick, now a mother, the 2000 Olympic Champion in the 100 breaststroke, is entered in this meet. She’ll swim both the 50 and 100 breaststrokes at 29 years old.

At the top of the seedings sits Breeja Larson, who’s only going to need about 10 strokes to finish this race (exaggeration, maybe.) Jessica Hardy is the best ever over 50 meters, and Molly Hannis from Tennessee gave Larson everything she could handle in yards at NCAA’s.

Quick Picks:
1. Hardy
2. Hannis
3. Larson

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bobo gigi

I don’t like so much these races so I don’t make picks. But about the women’s 50 back, don’t forget Missy was 3rd in Shanghai 2 years ago and she has much improved since then. She has one of the worst starts in history but at the same time she’s the fastest girl between the walls in history.


What? 50s of stroke are so fun. 50 short course back has got to be the most fun race to watch, except mabye 100 IM. Crazy turnover, fast starts, great underwaters it’s fun, wish I was better at them

bobo gigi

I don’t know why but I can’t be passionate with the 50’s except the 50 free. Perhaps because they are not olympic events. Perhaps also because it’s almost all about the starts, the underwaters and the power. Missy shows you can also shine with only the natural talent. But she’s an exception.


Grevers will definitely be top 3 in the fly, and I’d guess he’ll even win it. If Phillips swims well, he should get top 2 as well. Shields is not a LCM swimmer. McGill is not a pure sprinter.


So great to see Megan Jendrick back! She was always one of my favorites.

About Braden Keith

Braden Keith

Braden Keith is the Editor-in-Chief and a co-founder of SwimSwam.com. He first got his feet wet by building The Swimmers' Circle beginning in January 2010, and now comes to SwimSwam to use that experience and help build a new leader in the sport of swimming. Aside from his life on the InterWet, …

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