Steve West, 43, Nearly Gets Olympic Trials Cuts, Breaks Masters World Record

Steve West 2012 Olympic Trials
Photo Courtesy: Peter H. Bick

Steve West already holds the distinction of being the oldest man to compete at the U.S. Olympic Swimming Trials, but the 43-year-old wants to swim at the 2016 meet and chased the qualifying times last weekend at the Los Angeles Invite.

West, who was 40 years old when he swam the 100 and 200 breaststrokes at the 2012 Trials, nearly qualified for those same events again. He swam a 2:18.57 in the 200 breast prelims, missing the Olympic Trials qualifying time of 2:18.39 by a slim margin. It’s his first time under 2:19 as a Masters swimmer, though, and the result was a Masters world record in the 40-44 age group. Italy’s Alberto Montini had the former record with a 2:18.94 from 2009.

The L.A. Invite was sanctioned as a USA Swimming and U.S. Masters Swimming competition, which made it possible for West to break the world record. Masters world records can only be set in sanctioned Masters competitions.

West scratched from the 200 breast finals to prepare for the 100 breast. After a 1:04.26 in prelims, West got oh-so-close to the Olympic Trials cut in the B final with a 1:03.81, missing the cut of 1:03.69. It’s his second-fastest time in Masters, just off the 1:03.76 he swam at the 2012 USMS nationals. It also just missed the Masters world record of 1:03.76 that Russian Vladislav Bragin swam in 2012.

West competed in the 1992, 1996, 2000 and 2012 Olympic Trials. His best finish was in 1996, when he was third in the 200 breast with a 2:14.96. He was a multiple All-American at the University of Michigan and was named a Swimming World Magazine World Masters Swimmer of the Year in 2014.

Steve West’s splits
100 breast:

30.34, 33.47

200 breast
31.75, 34.99, 35.42, 36.41


  1. George W. Serbia

    It is a privilege and an honor to share a Masters workout with Steve. Great guy. I would buy a ticket to watch him otherwise

  2. Todd Torres

    Great swims Steve! Wish we had a long course pool in Greenville, NC Greenville, NC Recreation & Parks

  3. Mark Torres

    Great swims! Good luck making trials, we are pulling for you!

  4. Ian Howells

    Anyone over the age of 30 who says they are too old to do any sport should be ashamed. Someone for all to aspire to.

  5. Bob Perkins

    There’s still time Alfonso…

  6. Bob Lange

    What were his times 20 years ago? Late bloomer ??

    • avatar

      I think a bit of the opposite. Steve was right on the cusp of Olympic qualification but just missed out (I think he was 3rd at the trials in 1996). Not too sure about the times; in all truth he might benefit from advances in technique (flutter kick on the breaststroke) that have come about in the last 20 years.

    • avatar
      Jeff Commings

      Bob, as is noted in the article, he was swimming at the Olympic Trials 20 years ago. He was third in the 100 breast and fourth in the 200 breast at the 1996 Trials.

  7. avatar

    What is the trials cut in the 100 breast? The article lists the cut in the 200 but not in the 100.

    Just looked it up: 1:03.69. By the way, the USA Swimming website lists the 200 Breaststroke OT standard for 2016 at 2:18.39, not 2:18.49 as shown in the article.

    Either way, some great swimming for West!

    • avatar
      Jeff Commings

      Thanks for noticing that, Duncan. I’ve made that fix.

  8. avatar

    Great job, Steve:
    Now…quit your day job, hie yourself to Tempe where you can train full time under Bob Bowman for the next year and come Omaha ’16, that ticket to Rio’ll be yours for the asking.
    As the Old Coach always said: “Access to Success is Through the Mind.”

  9. Ben Hobbins

    Ata way Steve! Great training and technique.

  10. Erika Braun

    Way to go, Steve West! Almost there! ????

    • Jason Marsteller

      Methinks Steve West forgot that he was a Swimming World admin! That was Steve, FYI

  11. Amy Okada

    Val has come competition Val BagriJanika HoLorenzo Lau