Introducing The Team That Aims To Have Every Member Make A Rio Podium: The USA

Maya DiRado, USA Swimming

USA Swimming is rolling out videos in which members of the Rio 2016 Olympic Games team introduce themselves and take us on a whirlwind tour of their swim careers and provide a glimpse of their lives and loves. Some fine insight into how significant inspirational moments early on the road can be. Watch the videos: the first 11…

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USA Swimming is rolling out videos in which members of the Rio 2016 Olympic Games team introduce themselves and take us on a whirlwind tour of their swim careers and provide a glimpse of their lives and loves. Some fine insight into how significant inspirational moments early on the road can be. Watch the videos: the first 11…


kevin roose

i think this will be the toughest Olympics for America in a long time in the pool….
While i believe they will come out again being number one they would have had to fight all the way to earn it…
There is so much quality around the world now many countries boast between 1 to 2 legitimate gold medal chances….
Ledecky the super star that she is will carry America probably winning 4 gold medals , 3 look certain 400/800/200 relay 200 free debatable ……
Can Phelps add to the American cause for gold he certainly looks on track for the 100 fly debatable 200 i.m and 200 fly …….
America appear to have the womens 200 free relay , mens 100 medly relay in the bank…..
it will make for absorbing viewing ……

Craig Lord

Yes, it will, Kevin. As I’ve written it is a swing-o-meter of a Games in the sense that, like an election, there are target seats that will give the Gsmes away or not. Most medals will depend on the deep rank and file suit but the balance of gold promises a mighty fight that requires all who hit best expectation to do so: Larkin, Phelps, Seebohm, Ledecky 200, McEvoy, Campbells, Prenot etc, and relays; against each other and, of course, a world that gets ever better at not giving in, not being phased when the big teams walk out on deck. The fear factor once played a big role and still will for some but you get a sense that it troubles ‘the rest’ far less.


USA, due to its resources and depth, will always be the perennial super-power. Below then, things have historically been “swings and roundabouts” with various nations having periods of prominence followed by fall-aways back into the ruck.

The “Old Firm” USA-AUS battle has not, actually been a perennial, but has rather only been a factor during those eras where AUS was at the head of the “Second Divison”; namely post war era to 1972 then late 90s to 2008.

Putting aside the GDR/CHN situations; there aren’t really so many NEW nations showing there faces. Most of these countries have histories of producing swimmers of World/Olympic medal standards; what is more interesting is that some are actually showing signs of broadening their base rather than just in niche/specialists strokes.

Craig Lord

Head of the second division – like now – and how, on the clock going in, quite clearly, CW. It is true that the strength of stronger nations is where the battle builds, not in the depth of nations, as I’ve often written


We will only know in 3 weeks time whether that position is a reality or a mirage.

What IS true is that:
– there are a decreasing number of events where we have “locks” for gold and a good number of these are swimmers from other nations

– more and more of those with multiple medal/multiple gold potential are “non Old Firm”

– the relays are no longer likely US gold medal sweeps (indeed that is not realistically in play) or shared between the Old Firm.

It is certainly fair that the swimming world looks much much less in awe of US power. Not disrespect but they clearly recognise that even USA has gaps in their program that can be exploited. Furthermore, like every team, generational changes will occur and this will not always with “like for like”replacement when those being replaced are greats or epochal performers.

Craig Lord

Just so, CW

kevin roose

There is potential there from the so called smaller nations to produce super stars at these games ……….
Hosszu a real chance 200/400 i.m ( maybe 200 back )
Hagino a real chance 200/400 i.m ( maybe 200 free)
A real treat if were to happen …….

Craig Lord

‘Fraid I don’t share the joy there, Kevin. Just too many questions for it to be a ‘treat’


I’d tend to read’ every member a medal’ as not so much literally but that there’s an expectation that every other country is going to bring their A game too so we expect all our swimmers to improve over Trials performance.

Show up physically and mentally ready for peak performance and fun and amazing things can happen.

Dave Nicholson

Two points here:

1. The superiority of Phelps has masked several weaknesses in the US men’s team over the past two cycles, particularly in 2008. The women were also particularly weak in 2008.

2. The US is clearly in a transition period. I’m pleased that so many relatively untested young athletes made the team, even at the expense of some proven, experienced medal threats. It was time for the USNT to move on a bit. Many of the newer swimmers have limited international long course experience.

I’m sure the US team’s performance in Rio will be entirely unpredictable, outside of Ledecky. I wouldn’t be surprised to see a few complete flameouts and I wouldn’t be surprised to see a few Misty Hymens emerge. I have no idea who will fall into which category.

bill Hanratty

I agree Dave.


I can agree with much of Dave’s comments. The US team has had its golds inflated in recent games by the presence of exceptional figures capable of multiple hauls, especially on the men’s side.

Whilst the two foremost of these male figures are remain present & remain formidable performers; there is every liklihood that we are now in a situation of diminishing returns. Whilst a new dominant female figure has established herself over the past cycle, the other expected titan has not established herself.

The male side still remains the stronger as regards spread of talent & medal events although the majority of expected gold may still come from the ageing titans. The women’s side may potentially match the men on golds but are unlikely to do so in overall medals with the majority of golds coming from Ledecky.

Outside Ledecky & King; it is much harder to see any other US females contending for individual gold.

Male freestyle has no US favourites so any individual gold from that area may be somewhat of an upset.

In male formstrokes & IM, US swimmers are narrow favourites or 2nd favourites in most events but its difficult to classify any as “locks”.

IF all their ducks line up, their gold total could be in the range of 16-18 but may just as easily be as low as 11-12

kevin roose

I agree on the womens side for America Ledecky and King are the best gold medal chances .
Ledecky wont have it all her own way in the 200 though and will have to be at her superstar best to win …
King has a formidable tenacious ( Bronte) like competitor in Meilutyte and King would have well truly earnt the gold if she beats her…
The 4 x 200 free relay looks in the bank ….
Of course the 400/800 free …….
So possible 5 gold from the women …….maybe a 6 th in the 4 x 100 medley relay not locked in though thats for certain ….


11 gold would already mean that US stepped a lot, 16 would mean the stepped and a lot of other people went bad.

Sure golds are 5 only: 4×200 free (Men and Women) 4×100 medley Men, and Ledecky 400/800
Gold Medal contenders (Which would not be an upset if happened):
Ledecky 200 free, King 100 Breast, Phelps 100/200 fly/200IM and Men 100 back.

The Women medley relay and Men 4×100 free relay would not be upsets but not the same “contender” lever of the ones mentioned above. A little below is 200 breast

Any other gold medal would be a upset..

So a perfect US would have 14 golds.. but even this perfect would need someone else to Slip. A medal count of 8 to 10 would be the most realistic capacity of US swimming right now.

And the point of the relays, if US must use all swimmers on the relays (They put all their RO swimmer on all relays) US is giving up all 6 relay medals for sure..


Rafael, can agree with almost all. However, I’d also add M200back to the “contender” category as Murphy is right on Larkin’s shoulder to bring it to 15. Anything above that would most certainly be am upset but there are a number of races (m free/W200bk) that are complete lotteries and Americans are amongst the contenders).

I will, however, agree that 10-11 is probably the “median” figure, 8 would be the bottom level of expectations.

Barring mishaps, USA will medal in all relays; the only nation likely to do so. A clean sweep is exceedingly unlikely (W4X100 looks out of reach) but 5/6 is possible. 3/6 look “in the bag” but I suspect they would be disappointed with anything below 4/6.


These mishaps might actually have been cause by the US swimming by themselves.. they put all 6 guys as RO swimmers on all relays.. If by following Fina rule by the book, all 6 must swim on all 3 relays! Also on the girl side there are 4 RO only swimmer on all 3 relays.

If it is not a mistake entry by US Swimming or they will have to use all of them or be DQ.. either way, this situation would put all US relays out of medal contetion almost automatically..


Will need to go & check those entry lists but if they’ve done as you’ve said, I agree there’s the potential of at least one GMBU (Grand Military Balls Up).

Having had a look at those lists, your scenario is entirely valid. One would have to have thought that they will have fully clarified the exact ruling with FINA before making such selection decisions.

If that were the case, one would have thought FINA would have the competence and decency to communicate their precise ruling on this issue to ALL competing nations for if USA IS to otherwise get away with what seems an obvious breach; they are going to “wearing” a barge full of manure

Craig Lord

As often the case, CW: the wording, if clear English is to be believed, is that those who have a solo swim don’t count, so to speak, but all others there ONLY for a relay, MUST swim at least once – otherwise DQ for all. I see no room for wriggle on that. If it turns out otherwise, then we will know a deal has been cut and not everyone has been privy to how FINA is interpreting its own wording. Deals or even discussions with single federations should not happen. Global clarification, clear and precise is what ought to happen. We trust that is what has happened otherwise, as you suggest in your last line.


CW, the text is as follow:
If an NOC [National Olympic Committee] enters relay-only swimmers for a specific event, these swimmers must swim either in the heat or final of that relay event. Should a relay-only swimmer not compete, this will lead to the disqualification of the respective team in the final.

For me it is clear that any swimmer who is listed as RO for that event, must swim that event, So Feigen must swim the 4×200, Smith must swim the 4×100 and so on..


Craig, great … or at least cynical minds think alike. One cannot think that USA Swimming would be so heedless as to risk such potential “own goals”

My interpretation of the rule is thus:

– a swimmer entered in ANY individual event may be nominated for ANY relay for their respective gender. Should they not be thus used, there is no penalty.

– However, a swimmer who has only been selected for relays only (no individual swims) must swim either the heats or finals of the relay(s) for which they are nominated. Failure to do so renders said relay liable for DQ.

– I do understanding that a medical waiver can be used but these would need to be examined/signed off by the officiating medical officer of the meet.

Craig Lord

Yes, Rafael, no wriggle room.

Craig Lord

Correct, CW, or at least that’s how I read it and think it to be the only way you can read it

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