United States Olympic Trials: Where Pure Joy and Utter Heartache Intersect

Josh Prenot - by Matthew Bish- Bold Action Media, for Arena

The United States Olympic Trials bring joy for some, and heartache for others. It’s a brutal intersection of feelings.

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The United States Olympic Trials bring joy for some, and heartache for others. It’s a brutal intersection of feelings.


Bad Anon

Defending champions like Grevers and Clary i’d say are the biggest casualties….Others who made the team like Lochte, Franklin, Schmitt wont be able to defend some of their titles which is also a little bit heartbreaking….. Whats left is to see if the rookie members will be able to prevail in the i waters… Ledecky and Phelps can potential win 5+ individual golds between themselves carrying team US… Other contenders are yet to prove themselves on the grand stage… Its only 4weeks left and we will be in for an interesting week of olympic swimming competition… Is there a link for FINA Olympic A list of qualifiers to see where US swimmers stand in the world… FINA rankings/swimvortex rankings have multipe entry lists instead of the 2per country as per Olympic entry sheets

Kim Simonsen

Were the winning times not a bit disappointing compared to previous trials, or were my expectations just too high 🙂

Craig Lord

I think expectations are too high in general, Kim, among swimming fans. The number of ‘it will be a world record’; ‘they will smash their LTB’ etc out there is woefully high. Some fans seem to have forgotten what a world record means, what it means to achieve certain speed; why world-class performance just doesn’t happen time and time and time again (barring a few examples, one prime example) – and that for good reason. I expected a handful of swims to be a touch faster but in general the trials standard was where I expected it to be, and in a few cases faster than I’d anticipated, but nothing that stretched to surprise.

Craig Lord

Our database sorts that, Bad Anon but that view is not made public. Nearer the Games, it may be made available to subscribers but that can only happen after we know for sure who has entered/been selected … otherwise such a list makes no sense in the context of the O Games. There are some teams that have selected domestic No1 and No3 for certain events for example (others have selected no swimmer even though the top 2 are ranked top 30 in the world all swimmers, let alone 2 per nation), so just selecting top 2 per nation does not guarantee you a reliable list.


I think your expectations were maybe too high 🙂
Compared to previous trials, remember that there was no WR set in 2012 US OT also.
Many if not most first time qualifiers actually swam PBs:
Murphy, Weitzeil, Manuel, Smoliga, Smith, Dirado, Litherland, Prenot, Pebley, Cordes, King, etc.

Many who finished 3rd and 4th also swam significant PBs: Stubblefield, Galat, Bilquist, etc.

People are probably quite shocked that the very top swimmers not swimming as fast as they expected: Ledecky, Franklin, Phelps, Lochte.

But their performances were actually in line with their form going in, although I was a bit surprised that Ledecky were not faster in 100/200 free, and Franklin was pretty bad in 100 back. For Lochte and Phelps, well, this is the first time since 2012 trials that they swam full program. In this site at least, I think we have tempered our expectations of those swimmers.


I am not sure about the college argument. Of course most of them are in college. They are young and they want to have a post-swimming career. The real question is: would they be better swimmers if NCAA races were swam in meters and not in yards?

Craig Lord

Probably never going to happen, Therealuigi; facilities and tradition in the mix… but yes, I think that would help a great many and would also encourage fans following NCAA etc to be more realistic in their expectations… chalk and cheese.


@Craig Lord. How cannot be a surprise 4:00.6 by Leah Smith? It is more than surprise. It took Ledecky to swim her third best at this distance to win this race. She broke for more than a second best ever times if not to count exceptional exceptions of 2009 Pellegrini and Ledecky. You guys are spoiled.

Craig Lord

Yozhik: “…and in a few cases faster than I’d anticipated, but nothing that stretched to surprise.”

Americans work to the Olympic cycle, so, yes Smith a touch swifter than I might have thought but a slither at that after an unrested 4:03.3 earlier in the season and this pathway:

At 17/18 in 2012: 4:07.10
at 18/19: 4:06.28 in a year she clocked 4 4:06s
at 19/20: 4:04.66 in a year she clocked 5 4:05s or better
at 20/21: 4:00.65 in a year she warmed up with unrested minor-moment efforts of 4:03.33; 4:04.74; 4:05.21; 4:05.85 and 4:06.06.

Her 200 curve since 2012, backwards:
1:56.47; 1:57.79; 1:57.57; 1:59.62; 1:58.56

The real test ahead – Rio against the world, a different kind of pressure cooker.

(p.s: KL swam her third best but it didn’t take that to win the race…her 11th best would have sufficed)


Well, olympic pre-season is over. Time for bets. Here mines:

FREE: 50 Manadou/100 McEvoy/200 Sun*/400 Sun*/1500 Paltrinieri
FLY: 100 Le Clos/200 Laszlo
BACK: 100 Plummer/200 Larkin
BREAST: 100 Peaty/200 Koch
IM: 200 Michael/400 Seto
400FR: Australia
800FR: US
400MR: US

FREE: 50 C1/ 100 C1/200 Fede/400 Ledecky/800 Ledecky
FLY: 100 Sarah/200 Mireia
BACK: 100 Emilie/200 Katinka
BREAST: 100 Ruta/200 Peddersen
IM: 200 Katinka/400 Katinka
400FR: Australia
800FR: US
400MR: Australia

Swimmer male of the Games: Michael Phelps (3 golds: 200IM/800FR/400MR; 1 silver: 100FLY; 1 bronze: 200FLY). I´ll never choose as swimmer male of the games an *)
Swimmer female of the Games: Katinka (3 individual golds)

* I think chinese swimmers will win more golds. But I don´t know them and I don´t want to know them (this is for obvious reasons)
** I don´t know if Efimova is finally swimming or not. This fact could change my breaststroke bets. But Yuliya, my sweet darling, you are the most beautiful of the swimmers, you are so pretty. You could have a wonderfull career as a top model. But please, do give up swimming


Not sure about all this ”nothing else to to target for another 4 years, (referring to those who narrowly missed out).
What about the world champs?


“I live, I breathe”
You are probably have seen a great deal of exciting things during your career, Mr. Lord. So a jump of 3 sec in personal best to the level where nobody was before, but Ledecky is “nothing that stretched to surprise”. Peanuts. Just a well expected next step in the progression. Well, lucky me. I am still sensitive to such achievements. I WAS impressed. I am more than sure, that should she were 0.7sec faster breaking 4 minutes mark she would have much more media attention. Isn’t it unfair and stupid to make artificially such a thresholds?

Craig Lord

I see what you mean Yozhik, but it works both ways… a 4:02 was well within bounds of expectation … and she went 1.4sec faster than that – 0.35sec per 100m faster than I might have plumped for. To be impressed is not to be surprised. I have indeed seen a great many exciting things in my time, Yozhik, but nothing matches those when the coincide with the ultimate moment in the pool – the Olympics. We shall see where we are next month…

Time is not the only thriller… and it isn’t over ’til it’s over:

400 free

2007 world title – 4:02.61 – Manaudou

Euro crown – 4:01.53 La Fede …
USA GP – 4:02.20 Katie Hoff …

Beijing 2008 …

Heats – 4:02.19 La Fede; 4:02.24 Adlington…


4:03.22 Adlington gold
4:03.29 Hoff silver
4:03.52 Jackson bronze
4:03.60 Balmy
4:04.56 Pellegrini
4:04.66 Potec
4:05.05 Barratt
4:11.26 Manaudou

And a few sessions later, the racer and champion spirit will out:

1:54.82 La Fede, 200 gold

That takes guts and a heart of steel … only at the Olympics

I live and I breathe, too … but the pulse races when it needs to 🙂


For me, the hardest miss to watch was Madison Kennedy. The others mentioned are either Olympic vets or still relatively young. She’s 28, and this time around it seemed like first timer Olympian here or it was never going to happen for her.

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