U.S. Olympic Trials Preview, Day Five: Caeleb Dressel Aims to Complete Comeback in 100 Freestyle

Caeleb Dressel -- Photo Courtesy: Peter H. Bick

U.S. Olympic Trials Preview, Day Five: Caeleb Dressel Aims to Complete Comeback in 100 Freestyle

American swimmers, coaches, officials and hundreds of thousands of fans will make their way to Lucas Oil Stadium — home of the National Football League’s Indianapolis Colts — for a unique U.S. Olympic Trials, complete with three temporary pools (two 50-meter and one 25-meter). The action takes place from June 15-23, with swimmers putting their hopes and dreams on the line for the opportunity to represent Team USA at the Summer Olympic Games in Paris.

These previews are part of a comprehensive Trials edition of Swimming World, which is set to be released next week.



Kate Douglass — Photo Courtesy: Peter H. Bick

Within the last year, Kate Douglass has emerged as the fastest 100 freestyler in the country, narrowly missing a medal at the last two editions of the World Championships while playing a significant relay role at both meets. Douglass has been as fast as 52.57, more than 3-tenths faster than any American during this Olympic cycle.

There will be plenty of depth in the event, with the Americans more likely to pose a challenge to Australia in the 400 free relay than at any point in recent years.

Abbey Weitzeil was victorious in the 100 free at the past two Olympic Trials, while Simone Manuel is the 2016 Olympic champion and American record holder in this event. Both are still contenders, while Torri Huske, the 2022 World Champs bronze medalist in the 100, has been resurgent in 2024. Gretchen Walsh smashed Manuel’s American record this year in the 100 yard free and looks to be in line for a huge drop in long course.

Favorite: Kate Douglass
Contenders: Abbey Weitzeil, Torri Huske, Gretchen Walsh, Simone Manuel
Relay Contenders: Olivia Smoliga, Maxine Parker, Bella Sims, Erin Gemmell, Catie DeLoof
Wild Cards: Alex Shackell, Natalie Hinds, Erika Connolly (née Brown), Katharine Berkoff
Top 6 at 2021 Trials: Abbey Weitzeil 53.53, Erika Brown 53.59 , Olivia Smoliga 53.63, Natalie Hinds 53.84, Catie DeLoof 53.87, Allison Schmitt 54.12
World Record/Splits: 51.71 Sarah Sjostrom, SWE (Budapest 7-23-17)
24.83                              51.71 (26.88)


No American has won an international medal in the 200 fly since Michael Phelps retired, but teenager Thomas Heilman came close last year, tying for fourth at the World Championships. Heilman and Carson Foster were the U.S. representatives at the Fukuoka meet, with both men clocking 1:53s in the event, and they will be favored again this time if they can approach their best times.

Luca Urlando, a 2022 World Championships finalist, has been steadily improving as he comes back from shoulder surgery in late 2022, while Zach Harting, the Olympic Trials winner three years ago, is in the midst of a strong season.

Dare Rose, the 2023 World Championships bronze medalist in the 100 fly, could factor in here as well, while Cal teammate Gabriel Jett will look to return to the 1:54-form he showed in 2022.

Favorites: Carson Foster, Thomas Heilman
Contenders: Luca Urlando, Trenton Julian, Zach Harting
Wild Cards: Gabriel Jett, Dare Rose, Chase Kalisz
Top 2 at 2021 Trials: Zach Harting 1:55.06, Gunnar Bentz 1:55.34
World Record/Splits: 1:50.34 Kristof Milak, HUN (Budapest 6-21-22)
24.19             51.89 (27.70)             1:20.51 (28.62)             1:50.34 (29.83)


Katie Ledecky of United States of America reacts after competing in the 400m Freestyle Women Heats during the 20th World Aquatics Championships at the Marine Messe Hall A in Fukuoka (Japan), July 23rd, 2023. Katie Ledecky placed first.

Katie Ledecky — Photo Courtesy: Andrea Staccioli / Deepbluemedia / Insidefoto

Katie Ledecky has not lost a 1500-meter race in more than a decade, and she will look to secure her spot for a run at a second consecutive Olympic gold.

Meanwhile, Katie Grimes is the clear favorite for the second spot. The teenager nearly qualified for the Olympic team in this event in 2021, coming up just short to then-club teammate Erica Sullivan, and she won World Championships silver in this event in 2022.

We could see world junior champion Kate Hurst make a run here, while Sullivan faces a tough task in returning to the Olympic team after earning silver behind Ledecky in Tokyo.

Favorites: Katie Ledecky, Katie Grimes
Contenders: N/A
Wild Cards: Kate Hurst, Claire Weinstein, Paige Madden, Erica Sullivan
Top 2 at 2021 Trials: Katie Ledecky 15:40.50, Erica Sullivan 15:51.18
World Record/Splits: 15:20.48 Katie Ledecky, USA (Indianapolis 5-16-18)
28.90                                  58.50 (30.41)                    1:29.26 (30.76)           2:00.25 (30.99)
2:31.11 (30.86)                 3:02.50 (31.39)                 3:33.71 (31.21)            4:04.88 (31.77)
4:35.86 (30.98)               5:06.82 (30.96)                5:37.52 (30.70)           6:08.29 (30.77)
6:39.28 (30.99)               7:10.13 (30.85)                 7:40.88 (30.75)           8:11.70 (30.82)
8:42.52 (30.82)               9:13.20 (30.68)               9:43.96 (30.76)          10:14.83 (30.87)
10:45.43 (30.60)             11:16.15 (30.72)              11:47.05 (30.90)         12:17.94 (30.89)
12:48.62 (30.68)             13:19.43 (30.81)             13:50.27 (30.84)         14:20.71 (30.44)
14:51.26 (30.55)             15:20.48 (29.22)



Matt Fallon first emerged when he was the top qualifier through prelims and semis at the last Olympic Trials before he fell to eighth in the final. Now, the fast-finishing Penn swimmer is the heavy favorite, having captured bronze in the 200 breast at Worlds last year. Fallon will try to qualify for his first Olympic team, and he will put himself in the medal conversation again if he can approach or break the American record — 2:07.01 set by Josh Prenot at the 2016 Trials.

Josh Matheny was a World Championships finalist in this event last year, while Nic Fink was the Trials winner in this event in 2021, although Fink has gravitated further toward the 100 breast in recent years.

This event will mark Jake Foster’s best chance to get on the Olympic team by far. He owns a best time of 2:08.23, just ahead of Matheny’s top mark of 2:08.32.

Favorite: Matt Fallon
Contenders: Josh Matheny, Nic Fink, Jake Foster
Wild Cards: Will Licon, Charlie Swanson, Daniel Roy
Top 2 at 2021 Trials: Nic Fink 2:07.55, Andrew Wilson 2:08.32
World Record/Splits: 2:05.48 Qin Haiyang, CHN (Fukuoka 7-28-23)
28.53             1:00.72 (32.19)             1:33.36 (32.64)             2:05.48 (32.12)


Defending Olympic champion Caeleb Dressel will try to stamp his ticket back to the Games in this event. Dressel is the American record holder at 46.96, although we’ll see how close he can get to that mark as he works his way back to top form.

Jack Alexy, meanwhile, became the second-fastest American ever a year ago while clocking 47.31 to earn a surprise silver medal at the World Championships, and Chris Guiliano, who debuted internationally at those Fukuoka Worlds, clocked 47.49 earlier this year.

The U.S. Olympic team coaching staff will be watching closely to see if the American men can swim enough times in the 47-mid range to establish themselves as 400 free relay favorites. Veteran Ryan Held will try to return to the Olympic team after just missing in 2021, and Matt King has showed significant promise over the past two years.

Expect a fierce semifinal race to qualify for the top-eight, with tiny margins likely determining who will have a chance to race for a top-six spot and potential Olympic relay qualification.

Favorites: Jack Alexy, Caeleb Dressel, Chris Guiliano
Contenders: Ryan Held. Matt King
Relay Contenders: Destin Lasco, Justin Ress, Hunter Armstrong, Macguire McDuff, Drew Kibler, Brooks Curry
Wild Cards: Maximus Williamson, Jonny Kulow, Patrick Sammon, Luke Hobson
Top 6 at 2021 Trials: Caeleb Dressel 47.39, Zach Apple 47.72, Blake Pieroni 48.16, Brooks Curry 48.19, Bowe Becker 48.22, Ryan Held 48.46 (Held did not qualify for the Olympic team because of roster-size limits)
World Record/Splits: 46.80 Pan Zhanle, CHN (Doha 2-11-24)
22.26                              46.80 (24.54)


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3 days ago

It’ll be absolutely fascinating to see where Dressel is ‘at’ with his sort of comeback. American 4×100m freestyle relay looks very solid for Paris Gold. But you never know!

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