With 2 Weeks Left, America Hones in on 2nd Qualifiers for Worlds Stroke 50s

Back in September, SwimSwam’s Jared Anderson laid out the criteria for selecting American swimmers to race the stroke 50s at the 2019 World Championships. You can read more about that here, but in short:


  1. The first entry in the 50s of fly, back and breast will go to the winner of that event at U.S. Nationals.
  2. The second entry in the 50s of fly, back and breast will be offered to the winner of the 100 of that stroke.


Later in the selection procedures, a process is laid out for filling a vacant entry spot in non-Olympic events:

  1. The vacant spot will be filled by the swimmer already on the roster with the fastest time in that event between March 1, 2018 and June 1, 2019.

While some of the 50 stroke events were awarded by USA Swimming upon their original roster announcement (4 out of 6 possible men’s slots, and 4 out of 6 possible women’s slots), several were left open.


The first entries are all locked in already: that’s event winners Michael Andrew (50 fly, 50 breast), Ryan Murphy (50 back), Olivia Smoliga (50 back), Lilly King (50 breast) and Kelsi Dahlia (50 fly).

The second entries are locked in in the two events where the same swimmer didn’t win the 50 and 100 of that stroke. Claiming second entries in those events are Kathleen Baker (100 back champ, second entrant in 50 back) and Caeleb Dressel (100 fly champ, second entrant in 50 fly).

Men’s 50 fly Michael Andrew Caeleb Dressel
Men’s 50 back Ryan Murphy Michael Andrew (Probable)
Men’s 50 breast Michael Andrew Andrew Wilson (Probable)
Women’s 50 fly Kelsi Dahlia No Swimmers Available
Women’s 50 back Olivia Smoliga Kathleen Baker
Women’s 50 breast Lilly King No Swimmers Available

For the remaining four events, we’ll go through the swimmers who currently hold the top time over the qualifying period – selection criteria don’t specifically say that the event has to stay vacant until June 1. USA Swimming told SwimSwam in September that decision would be made between now and June.


  • Athletes with an “A” cut are listed in bold. Events without a bold entry will need an athlete to hit an A cut this season in order to enter a second swimmer.
  • Athletes not already selected to the World Championships team are crossed out. They won’t be eligible for selection at this point.
  • We’ve listed all American swimmers with “A” cuts below.
  • This weekend’s Pro Swim Series stop in Bloomington, next weekend’s Speedo Grand Challenge meet in California, ad the FINA Champions Swim Series in Indianapolis the week after, are the last 3 FINA-approved meets on US soil between now and June 1st.

Women’s 50 Breast

  1. Molly Hannis – 29.73
  2. Breeja Larson – 30.42
  3. Lindsey Kozelsky – 30.55
  4. Katie Meili – 30.72
  5. Jorie Caneta – 30.81
  6. Emily Weiss – 30.87
  7. Annie Lazor – 30.96
  8. Delaney Duncan – 31.12

In short, the Americans don’t currently have a 2nd option to join Lilly King in this event at Worlds, because King is the only swimmer currently on the roster that has a FINA “A” cut during the qualifying period (and in order to send 2 swimmers in an event, both swimmers must have the “A” cut). That leaves the Americans with 2 options: either add a swimmer to the roster, or hope that Melanie Margalis goes wild in the 50 breast at an approved FINA meet in the next 2 weeks. She’s been 32.14, and the FINA “A” cut is 31.22.

This could very-much become a “cut off their nose in spite of their face” scenario for the Americans: Hannis’ 29.73 would have won bronze at Worlds in 2017. This is a scenario where the Olympic hyper-focus by the selection procedures could cost Team USA a probable, or even likely, medal at Worlds.

Current Name: N/A

Women’s 50 Fly

  1. Kendyl Stewart – 25.83
  2. Amanda Kendall – 26.33

This is another scenario where the Americans don’t technically have a viable 2nd option. The closest to hitting that is Mallory Comerford, who swam a 26.50 tapered at the Brazil Trophy in April, where the “A” cut is 26.34. It took a 25.73 to make the final and a 25.39 to medal in this race at Worlds in 2017.

Comerford is swimming the race in Bloomington this weekend. A potential darkhorse to qualify for this event, 16-year old Regan Smith will race it in Bloomington as well. She’s already on the roster, so would be eligible if she hit 26.34.

Current Name: N/A

Men’s 50 Back

  1. Justin Ress – 24.31
  2. Michael Andrew – 24.49
  3. Matt Grevers – 24.53
  4. Ryan Held – 24.59
  5. Daniel Carr – 24.81
  6. Chris Staka – 25.13

The US National runner-up Justin Ress didn’t qualify for the team in anything else, so he’l lbe going to the World University Games instead, where he’ll probably get to swim more races anyway the 2nd spot here is opened up for bids.

This spot is, in effect, down to Michael Andrew and Matt Grevers. With Grevers not participating at this week’s Pro Swim Series meet in Bloomington (where Michael Andrew is entered to race), his options to drop those last 4-hundredths of a second and take the 2nd spot here are thinning.

Both stories would be intriguing. The 34-year old Grevers has won medals in the 50 back at each of the last 3 editions of the long course World Championships (bronze in 2017, silvers in 2015 and 2013). Meanwhile, the 20-year old Andrew already has entries in the 50 free, 50 fly, and 50 breast, and has stated a goal of being the best at all four 50 meter events in the world, which would be a pretty incredible feat. If he added this entry, he’d at least have a shot at achieving that at Worlds. That would also give Andrew a 5th individual entry at Worlds, which would bump him ahead of a tie with Katie Ledecky, Kathleen Baker, and Caeleb Dressel for the most individual entries on Team USA.

It seems possible, given relative proximity, that we see Grevers race at the FINA-approved Speedo Grand Challenge next week in southern California. So, this one is not set in stone yet.

Current Name: Michael Andrew

Men’s 50 Breast

  1. Ian Finnerty – 26.96
  2. Kevin Cordes – 27.06
  3. Devon Nowicki – 27.10
  4. Andrew Wilson – 27.15
  5. Nic Fink – 27.18
  6. Max McHugh – 27.27
  7. Connor Hoppe – 27.30
  8. Jacob Montague – 27.36

The aforementioned Michael Andrew has the top spot in this race by way of his national title. Like the rest of the four scenarios, this one is unlikely to change this weekend in Bloomington, given that Wilson is the only swimmer on the team who has an “A” cut currently. The only other breaststroker on the roster is Josh Prenot, and he’s not racing in Bloomington this weekend (and doesn’t have a 50 breast in the qualifying period). Caeleb Dressel maybe could have stolen a spot on a perfect swim, but at this point, that too seems unlikely. Wilson will have to have a big swim, though, to make waves in this event at Worlds: it took 26.96 to final in 2017, and the men’s 50 breaststroke is evolving at a rapid pace. There’s a chance that he would decline the spot, even if earned, to focus on the 100 and 200.

Current Name: Andrew Wilson

In This Story

Leave a Reply

2 Comment threads
3 Thread replies
Most reacted comment
Hottest comment thread
5 Comment authors
newest oldest most voted

Do you have to be on the current roster to make it in one of these events?


I think it’s be “cut off their nose to spite their face” not “in spite of”


Hahaha. Yep

Ol' Longhorn

I like “in spite of their face” better.

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, …

Read More »

Want to take your swimfandom to the next level?

Subscribe to SwimSwam Magazine!