What It Does It Take to Make it Back?


After every prelims session this week, we’ll take a quick look at the times it took to earn a second swim in each event. Remember that for events that are 400m or longer, the top 8 swimmers from prelims go to straight to the final, while the top 16 in prelims go on to semi-finals in the 200m and under events. Specifically, we’ll be comparing the 8th/16th place prelims times to what it took to advance at the last three Olympic Trials, and sometimes trying to offer a bit of preliminary analysis to account for notable changes, or the lack thereof. Note that we are ignoring the impact of scratches promoting swimmers into the semis or finals, and only examining the times swimmers needed in the morning to guarantee themselves a spot, or in rare cases, a swim-off.

Here’s a quick glance at the 8th/16th place times from this morning, compared to what it took to advance at the 2008, 2012, and 2016 Trials.

Day 4 2008 2012 2016 2021
Men’s 100 Free 49.37 49.76 49.55 49.07
Women’s 200 Fly 2:12.58 2:12.79 2:12.54 2:12.14
Men’s 200 Breast 2:15.81 2:13.87 2:14.70 2:13.14
Men’s 800 Free 7:57.11

For a couple minutes, it appeared that, for the first time ever, it might take a sub-49 to earn a second swim in the men’s 100 free. That didn’t quite happen, as “only” 12 men were under 49, but the next four were all between 49.03 and 49.07, with Dean Farris nabbing that final spot in tonight’s semis. That makes this the fastest prelims session in Olympic Trials history, eclipsing 2008, when it took a 49.37. In 2016, a 49.55 made it to semis. Today, that same time would’ve placed only 24th.

The women’s 200 fly also got faster today, with Alena Kraus‘ 2:12.15 exactly four-tenths of a second faster than the 16th place time from 2021. In terms of placing, however, there wasn’t much difference, as the 2:12.54 it took to qualify in 2016 would’ve placed 19th today. The top end was a tad faster, too, with six women under 2:10 this morning, compared to just four women in 2016.

Meanwhile, the men’s 200 breast got a lot faster today, at least on the bottom end. The 2:13.14 from AJ Bornstein that it took to qualify for tonight’s semi-finals would’ve placed 9th in prelims in 2016. However, the top end was notably slower; last Trials, three men were faster in prelims than Matt Fallon‘s prelims-leading 2:10.13 this morning. The three men who were under that time in 2016 — Kevin Cordes, Will Licon, and Nic Fink — all earned a second swim today, qualifying 3rd, 5th, and 2nd, respectively.

It’s the first time the last event of the morning, the men’s 800 free, is being contested at US Olympic Trials, so we don’t have previous historical data with which to compare, but for posterity’s sake, we’ll not here that it took Jordan Wilimovsky a 7:57.11 to take 8th in prelims and secure a spot in the final.





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