U.S. Olympic Trials: Ryan Murphy, Hunter Armstrong Lead Stunning Men’s 100 Backstroke Semifinals

ryan-murphy, olympic trials
Photo Courtesy: Peter H. Bick

The men’s 100 backstroke semifinals at the Olympic trials put together some of the top swimmers in different levels of experience with veteran Olympians, college stars and even five teenagers — spanning age 17-36.

Defending Olympic gold medalist Ryan Murphy took the top seed to no surprise at 52.22. But in the second heat, it was Hunter Armstrong that turned a few heads by passing multiple swimmers down the stretch to get his hand on the wall first.

“It was nice. Honestly, I think I’m usually pretty good at remembering races. I honestly don’t remember too much about that one,” Murphy said. “That was surprising, honestly, so I’m excited for this next one tomorrow night.”

Ryan Murphy pulled away from the field late in the first semifinal race to finish in 52.22. Justin Ress was second in the heat at 52.86, followed by Matt Grevers (53.18).

Hunter Armstrong surged late to win the second semifinal in 52.67, followed by Shaine Casas, who finished in 52.67 after taking the early lead. Armstrong used a long stretch in the final stroke to earn the top spot in the heat.

“It’s so nice. It’s unbelievable. I didn’t expect it,” Armstrong said. “I’ve always struggled with takeout speed, and the guys next to me, that’s their strong suit. I trusted my coaches and trusted God. I was able to take it out with them and bring it back with everything I have. It’s an honor. I’ve really looked up to Ryan Murphy and Shaine Casas. They’re amazing athletes, and I’m really proud to be able to compete with them on an elite level.”

“This was a good build. I went out a little faster and I was just focused on racing,” Casas said.

Grevers was the oldest in the field at age 36, 11 years older than Murphy, the next-oldest competitor.

Nick Simons was the youngest at age 17.

Olympic trials 100 Backstroke Top 8 Results

1. Ryan Murphy, 52.22
2. Hunter Armstrong, 52.67
3. Shaine Casas, 52.77
4. Justin Ress, 52.86
5. Bryce Mefford, 52.87
6. Matt Grevers, 53.18
7. Hunter Tapp, 53.60
8. Michael Andrew, 53.82