U.S. Olympic Trials: Ryan Held Misses Olympic Team Despite Sixth-Place Finish in 100 Free

Photo Courtesy: Peter H. Bick

U.S. Olympic Trials: Ryan Held Misses Olympic Team Despite Sixth-Place Finish in 100 Free

Ryan Held will not be on the U.S. Olympic swim team because of a roster crunch. Held finished sixth in the men’s 100 free final Thursday in 48.46, which would normally qualify a swimmer for the Olympic team as part of the 400 free relay squad, so long as enough swimmers qualify for the team in multiple events to fit all relay alternates under the 26-man roster limit for the squad. Even if that happened, Held would still not be allowed to qualify because of a limit on relay-only swimmers that can be taken to the Games.

Currently, there are 13 potential relay-only swimmers: Drew Kibler, Andrew Seliskar, Patrick Callan, Katie McLaughlin, Bella Sims, Brooke Forde, Brooks Curry, Blake Pieroni, Bowe Becker, Olivia Smoliga, Natalie Hinds and Catie DeLoof. Only 12 such swimmers are allowed to be taken to the Games, and the swimmer whose finals swim ranked the lowest in USA Swimming’s modified world rankings (since March 1, 2019, with only two swimmers per country considered) would be the first dropped from the team. That is Held, who swam as fast as 48.07 in prelims of the 100 free to qualify first. Held’s 48.46 ranks lower in the modified world rankings than Callan’s 1:46.49 in the men’s 200 free final or Forde’s 1:57.61 in the women’s 200 free final.

Held won gold as part of the U.S. men’s 400 free relay at the 2016 Olympic Games, and he swam a very impressive 47.39 to win the U.S. National title in the 100 free in 2019, but he was unable to come close to that mark in 2021. Held actually had a chance to help his own cause in getting onto the team in the 50 free, but he surprisingly tied for 12th in the semifinals. He still could have gotten onto the team had another relay only swimmer (Sims in the women’s 800 free final, Becker in the men’s 50 free final or DeLoof in the women’s 50 free final) finished in the top two during the last few days of Olympic Trials, which would have reduced the number of relay-only swimmers by one, but since none of those scenarios unfolded, Held unfortunately found himself on the outside looking in.


  1. avatar

    Incredibly sad scenario. Roster spots left open, and a swimmer meets the criteria (top 6) to go. No idea why 12. Vs 13 relay spots matter if it dosent alter the number of swimmers on the roster. What is the rationale?

    • avatar

      I think the roster limit is there to basically try to create more parity between the wealthier/deeper countries who can afford to send more swimmers with the poorer ones. Basically kind of a salary cap/roster limit.

    • avatar

      What are the numbers for Australian team?

      • avatar

        Australia only picked 35 swimmers in total as they applied a QT higher than the FINA A cut. They also were under the relay only swimmer cap because some relay swimmers qualified for more than one relay. They also did not pick their 6th male in the 100m free.

  2. avatar
    Bob Hopkins

    the latest USA Swimming World Rankings show that the USA men have 8 in the top three in the 14 individual events to be swim in Tokyo and the women have 15 in the top 3

  3. avatar

    Am I missing something? I thought Held was 4th on the FINA world rankings in the 100 Free if you include all races from 3/1/2019 through 6/7/2021 (as well as the finals at the trials) as specified in USA Swimming’s selection process document, and selection among the 6th-place swimmers was in that order, and not “where your time in the finals would be in that order.” If you limit it to races since 3/1/2020, then Held is somewhere around 30th.

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