U.S. Olympic Trials: Michael Andrew Confident Entering 100 Breast Final But Tough Competition Looming

Michael Andrew -- Photo Courtesy: Peter H. Bick

U.S. Olympic Trials: Michael Andrew Confident Entering 100 Breast Final But Tough Competition Looming

Last summer, Michael Andrew missed out on qualifying for the main international meet of the summer for the first time since aging out of junior-level competition. Andrew appeared to qualify for the World Championships team in the 50 butterfly, but he missed out based on the U.S. selection procedures. He finished just one hundredth away from making the team in the 50 freestyle. His 100-meter races, however, were especially rough as he missed the A-finals in both breaststroke and butterfly.

In the Olympic year, Andrew placed extra emphasis on those two-lap races to give himself the best chance at qualifying for the U.S. Olympic team, and early this year, he returned to sub-1:00 territory in the 100 breaststroke. Through two rounds of the event at Olympic Trials, Andrew is in contention but by no means a lock to secure his spot with the top-eight swimmers advancing to the final separated by less than a half-second.

The 25-year-old Andrew clocked 59.72 in prelims and then 59.65 in semifinals, booking lane seven for the final. “I think better with each repetition,” Andrew said of his performance. “I may be a veteran, but I still get nervous. I really wanted to come out swinging, and I think I made a few minor mistakes, but that’s the beauty of having three chances. Now we can rest up tomorrow morning and get ready for a fast final.”

He has never won a medal at a World Championships and Olympics in the 100 breast, but Andrew remains the American-record holder in the event with his mark of 58.14 posted in the Trials semifinals three years ago. Nic Fink, who has reached the podium in this event at three consecutive World Championships and was considered the pre-race favorite, is the only other man in the field who has ever cracked 59.

Charlie Swanson and Josh Matheny booked the middle lanes for the final ahead of Fink while Liam Bell, the NCAA champion in the 100-yard breast, looms along with veteran Jake Foster. Good competition but not American-record level. For Andrew, a repeat of his three-year-old best time would surely result in a top-two finish, but that’s not how we expect the race to develop.

Instead, Andrew will battle to achieve an edge in what is sure to again be a tightly-packed field, but he is not planning to prioritize any one technical or strategic aspect to ensure his top performance. “I think the X-factor is making the team here is the athlete that doesn’t think about all the technical details,” Andrew said. “I think it’s one of those things where the moment you start thinking, you take it out of your training. You’ve got to let the training speak. If you aren’t prepared, you aren’t prepared.”

Now, as he enters the meet coming off a rough 2023 summer season and far from a lock to qualify for Pairs, Andrew is planning and hoping for the best but also maintaining perspective, ready to accept with whatever results he achieves.

“Mindset is good. I think what I recognize more than anything is this is my third Olympic Trials swimming,” Andrew said. “At the end of the day, it’s just swimming. I’m confident in my ability, but I also recognize that it doesn’t define who I am, so it gives me the freedom to race and to enjoy it because I think a lot of athletes come and race at a Trials like this, in a stadium like this, with a crowd like this and crumble under the fear of it all.”

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