Past Olympic Trials Indicate Several Big Leaps On The Horizon

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Past Olympic Trials Indicate Several Big Leaps On The Horizon

Swimmers across the United States have long awaited the 2021 Olympic Trials. According to statistical information, the big names usually show up and get the job done in their pursuit of Olympic berths. Statistically, since 2000, 91.8 percent of the Olympic qualifiers have been top-10 seeds.

But new names also find their way into the spotlight. As we sit in wait of this year’s Trials, it is worth highlighting some of the biggest seeding moves from recent Trials in Omaha.


The 2012 Olympic Trials saw quite a few notable upward movements, notably in the women’s 200 butterfly.

Caroline McElhany was seeded 28th with a time of 2:11.80, but she rose with each swim. She placed 13th in prelims, qualifying her for the semifinals, in which she placed seventh. With that swim, she made it back to finals, where she dropped her final time down to a 2:09.90 for fifth.

Harvard’s Courtney Otto also exhibited a major jump. Seeded 52nd, Otto placed 11th during prelims and ninth in the semifinals, just missing a finals swim. Other notable 200 fly progressions were made by 16-year-old Megan Kingsley, who rose from 57th to finishing 11th in semifinals, and Kathleen Nolan, who rose from 51st to 14th in the semifinals.

The men’s 200 freestyle presented a number of upsets as well. Tom Luchsinger jumped from 85th to 11th in prelims with a significant three second drop. Michael Weiss followed, likewise, dropping two seconds to bring his rank from 52nd to 14th after prelims.

In the women’s 200 backstroke, Lisa Bratton and Hannah Moore were both seeded in the 100s, but dropped enough time to place 11th and 13th, respectively, going into the semifinals.

Brendan McHugh had a similar experience, going from 107th to 16th after a seven second drop in the 200 breaststroke.


In 2016, Alex Evdokimov and Brandon Fiala each had two significant moves. The two of them disrupted the men’s 100 breaststroke semifinals lineup. Evdokimov moved from the 83rd seed to 10th by dropping two seconds to go a 1:01.14. Fiala, seeded 123rd with a 1:03.56, swam a 1:01.40 in prelims to place 15th. In the men’s 200 breaststroke, Evdokimov dropped more than three seconds to go from 77th to 11th. He then placed 10th after his semifinals swim. More, Fiala jumped from 88th to 15th in the men’s 200 individual medley prelims.

As for the women’s events, Meaghan Raab went from 72nd to 16th in the 400 IM, dropping from a 4:52.54 to a 4:48.77. Lauren Pitzer, seeded 77th in the 400 free with her 4:16.89, rose to 16th with a 4:12.14.


In addition to the delayed year of Trials, the 2021 meet was announced earlier this year to be split into two waves. The faster Wave II time standards were strategically decided using the times of the 41st-ranked qualifiers as of the wave-split announcement date.

Why 41st? Because in 2008, Morgan Scroggy was seeded 41st in the 200 backstroke, but she still qualified for finals. This made for one of the stronger rank jumps in the last five Trials meets. Alongside Scroggy is Erin Phenix, who, seeded 38th in 2000’s 100 free, qualified for the Sydney Olympic team.

While this year’s Trials have yet to take place, we can still anticipate upsets in the ranks. Wave I swimmers will have the chance to swim again in Wave II should they place first or second in their events. This setup will bring in some underdogs.