World Champion Ahmed Hafnaoui Scratches Men’s 800 Free On Day 1 of U.S. Open


After we lost one of the biggest stars on the U.S. Open entry list a few days ago, the event may have just lost another.

Ahmed Hafnaoui, the top seed and reigning world champion in the men’s 800 freestyle, has scratched out of the event on the opening day of the U.S. Open in Greensboro, meaning we won’t get to see the highly-anticipated head-to-head clash with Olympic gold medalist Bobby Finke on Wednesday night.

Although Hafnaoui’s scratch doesn’t mean he’s out for the entire meet, it’s certainly much more likely now that he’s pulled out of one of his best events.

This comes after Leon Marchand, a three-time world champion this past summer, was confirmed to be skipping the meet as he continues to bounce back from an illness that plagued him at last weekend’s NC State Invitational.

Hafnaoui was in the midst of his freshman year at Indiana University, competing for the Hoosiers as recently as Oct. 25, but is no longer listed on the team roster.

Both Hafnaoui and Indiana declined to comment on his status.

He was confirmed to have left the team earlier this month and was training with The Swim Team (TST) in Lake Forest, California under coaches Mark Schubert and Tim Teeter.

Some of Hafnaoui’s TST training mates have also scratched out of Wednesday’s session, including Marwan el Kamash and Isaac Fleig, while others such as Will Gallant and David Johnston remain on the heat sheets.

Hafnaoui won the 2023 World Championship title in the 800 free this past summer in Fukuoka, swimming a time of 7:37.00 to rank #3 all-time in the event. The Tunisian native also won gold in the 1500 free, beating Finke by just five one-hundredths of a second in an epic battle, and is the reigning Olympic champion (and Worlds silver medalist) in the 400 free.

Other noteworthy scratches on the men’s side include James Plage, who, like Hafnaoui and el Kamash, was seeded inside the top eight, while Alec Enyeart and Levi Sandidge have both pulled out after being penciled in for the second-fastest heat as the 10th and 13th seeds, respectively.

On the women’s side, seventh seed Paige McKenna and eighth seed Chase Travis have both dropped the event, as has ninth-ranked Emma Hastings. This has moved Ella Cosgrove and Aly Breslin up into the top-seeded heat alongside Katie Ledecky after they initially were coming in ranked 10th and 11th, respectively.

The other key name scratching out is Emma Weyant, the 15th seed who has entries in five other events at the meet.


Women’s 800 Free

  • 7. Paige McKenna
  • 8. Chase Travis
  • 9. Emma Hastings
  • 12. Aurora Roghair
  • 13. Kate McCarville
  • 15. Emma Weyant
  • 17. Katrina Bellio
  • 21. Marlene Kahler
  • 27. Addison Sauickie
  • 30. Lainey Mullins
  • 32. Caroline Benda
  • 34. Ashley Wall
  • 37. Madilyn McGlothen
  • 39. Abby O’Sullivan

Men’s 800 Free

You can watch tonight’s timed final sessions on YouTube below:

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2 months ago

“Lots of great swimmers will be at the meet it will be very exciting” *everyone scratches*

Pieter H
Reply to  bubo
2 months ago

It happens a lot in US meets

2 months ago

Let’s cut the Olympic champion and World Champion some slack. Not sure what the issue is but I am sure he is not afraid of anyone.

Mark E. Schubert
Reply to  Hank
2 months ago

Ahmad severe upper respiratory infection on antibiotics
Marwan in hospital in Egypt follow their Nationals. Food poisoning.
Both had intended to swim.

2 months ago

7 and 8 top 20 scratches for women and men respectively. bad look

Long Strokes
2 months ago


Moving Mark
2 months ago

this is a joke.. If you know you arent going to swim the even. Then do not enter in it.

Coach Cwik
Reply to  Moving Mark
2 months ago

Did you ever get the flu??? Your training gets messed up for a few weeks and you are suppose to travel across the country and compete at the highest level. Not going to happen unless the meet is the OT.

IU Swammer
Reply to  Coach Cwik
2 months ago

Sure, but it’s improbable that all these athletes are sick.

Pieter H
Reply to  Coach Cwik
2 months ago

It happens *a lot* in US meets

Have a look at yearly pro Swims meets

2 months ago

He’s not even at the meet, he’s finishing up the 1,000,000 for time LCM with a band buoy and paddles that Schubert gave him on Thanksgiving

Reply to  Queens
2 months ago

And negative split by 100,000 – or start over

Reply to  YGBSM
2 months ago

kick board launcher at the ready for those that are weak.

Bull Gator
Reply to  Queens
2 months ago

That’s about 1/2 of what the Gators do.

2 months ago


James Beam
2 months ago

Wonder if he is having Student Visa issues…..

Reply to  James Beam
2 months ago

where is he attending school?

James Beam
Reply to  swimster
2 months ago

If you are in the USA on a Student Visa, you have to be attending school full-time. The minute you drop out, the school is required by law to notify the authorities (not sure who) that you are no longer in school…and they are required to send you back to your country. You have 21 days to leave…'re%20an%20F,active%E2%80%9D%20to%20%E2%80%9Cwithdrawn.%E2%80%9D

Reply to  swimster
2 months ago

Saddleback College?

Reply to  James Beam
2 months ago

He is no longer listed on Indiana’s roster. I wondered the same thing.

About James Sutherland

James Sutherland

James swam five years at Laurentian University in Sudbury, Ontario, specializing in the 200 free, back and IM. He finished up his collegiate swimming career in 2018, graduating with a bachelor's degree in economics. In 2019 he completed his graduate degree in sports journalism. Prior to going to Laurentian, James swam …

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