2021 Trials Vision: 100 Breaststroke Looks Wide Open With Numerous Contenders


Each day during the pre-scheduled days of the 2020 U.S. Olympic Trials, Swimming World will take its readers back four years to the 2016 Trials in Omaha to recap each event, and will offer some insight into what the events will look like in 2021.

Unlike 2016, when seemingly the entire group of contenders was new, the men’s 100 breaststroke is poised to be a balance of returning contenders with a few upstarts mixed in.

The U.S. Olympic Trials would have started this week with a group of contenders ready to punch their tickets to Tokyo. The group might not be the same one year from now, but here is how it was shaping up for this week.

The Favorites

Heading into Trials, there appear to be three favorites in the event, meaning not every top contender can make the team. That makes for extremely exciting racing with everything on the line.

Andrew Wilson, who made the final four years ago, has the top four times by a U.S. swimmer since the beginning of 2019, with his best time being 58.93 at the 2019 FINA World Cup, two hundredths of a second ahead of his best time from the 2019 FINA World Championships. Not bad for a Division III college swimmer.

Michael Andrew has also come a long way in four years. After setting a national age-group and world age group record in 2016, Andrew has been as fast as 59.14 since 2019, and has a shot at making the team in multiple events.

Meanwhile, Cody Miller, who won the bronze medal in Rio in 2016, has been as fast as 59.24 since the start of 2019. He seems to come up big in the biggest races, and definitely cannot be counted out.


Photo Courtesy: Peter H. Bick

The Contenders

The trio isn’t so far ahead that no one else has a shot at the 2021 Trials, either.

Kevin Cordes, who made the team in 2016 along with Miller, went a 1:00.27 at the 2019 Pan American Games.

Ian Finnerty, who at Indiana broke the NCAA record in the short course yards event, has been at 59.49 in long course at World University Games.

One of the other younger upstarts is Devon Nowicki of Michigan Lakeshore Aquatics. Nowicki has catapulted himself into contention the past couple of years and made a huge statement at 2019 Nationals, winning the 100 breast in 59.69.

Nic Fink, who made the final four years ago, also still has a legitimate shot as well. Since the start of 2019, he has been as fast as a minute flat.


Devon Nowkicki; Photo Courtesy: Connor Trimble

Meanwhile, Cal’s Reece Whitley shouldn’t be counted out, either, though his best event is the 200 breast. He has gone 1:00.05 in long course, though he has also been extremely fast in the NCAA short-course season.

The Longshots

Brandon Fischer could also make a splash. He has been as fast as 59.86.

Josh Matheny and Kevin Houseman also have been under 1:00.50 and could make some noise at the 2021 Trials, with Matheny more of a threat to qualify in the 200 breaststroke.

Looking Ahead to 2021

The road to Olympic gold will again go through Great Britain’s Adam Peaty. He holds the world record at 56.88, which he lowered at the 2019 World Championships.

Belarus’ Ilya Shymanovich and Great Britain’s James Wilby are other leading figures, along with China’s Yan Zibei, the bronze medalist at the World Championships. Needles to say, earning a medal for the U.S. will be tough. Of course, four years ago, that was also the case and Cody Miller stunned everyone, including himself and got on the podium. The last American to win gold was Nelson Diebel in 1992.

2021 Trials Vision:

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Day 2:


  1. Mike Mcgowan

    This could be interesting. The favorites may not be the favorites.