U.S. Olympic Trials: Caeleb Dressel, Zach Apple Ready to Clash in 100 Freestyle Final

Photo Courtesy: Peter H. Bick

U.S. Olympic Trials: Caeleb Dressel, Zach Apple Ready to Clash in 100 Freestyle Final

It was an event that was expected to be a barn burner in each of the three rounds of the 100 freestyle and round two proved to be just that – with some big names in the A-Final and some big names left out.

Two-time reigning world champ Caeleb Dressel leads the qualifiers into tomorrow’s final with a 47.77, just 0.01 ahead of Zach Apple (47.78) who has already made the team in the 4×200 free relay as a fifth place alternate. This is Dressel’s first night swim of the meet, after racing the 200 free on Monday morning and scratching out of semifinals. He has yet to make the team for Tokyo, with his first opportunity coming tomorrow night in the 100 freestyle.

“These meets are quite miserable when you’re not swimming to be honest,” Dressel said. “You’re miserable in your own thoughts… I’m happy with that swim. Keep the ball rolling, and it will be fun tomorrow. I have gotten better every swim, so I have to keep the ball rolling for tomorrow.”

Apple will try to do the same.

“This whole year, the 100 free has kind of been the focus of training,” Apple said. “The 200 free has been on the back burner, so to be fifth there gave me a lot of confidence going into today and tomorrow.”


Nathan Adrian and Caeleb Dressel. Photo Courtesy: Peter H. Bick

Shockingly, Nathan Adrian, who was aiming to make his fourth Olympic team, was left out in 13th place with a 48.92. Adrian was the oldest among the semi finalists at age 32, and he seemed to be a shoe-in for the 4×100 free relay after being the face of US sprinting since winning his first individual national titles in 2009 while still an undergrad at Cal Berkeley.

“This is such an all in–in so many indescribable ways–is such an all in sport,” Adrian said. “Unfortunately I wasn’t able to stick 2 good swims out there. I had a really good one this morning. I honestly don’t know what happened.”

Pending what happens later in the 50 free, Adrian may be left off the US Olympic team for the first time since 2004. Adrian turned first in his semi final heat at 22.81, but faded badly on the back 50 with a 26.11, the slowest among the 16 men. For comparison, Apple brought his back in 24.53.


Nathan Adrian. Photo Courtesy: Peter H. Bick

“I definitely planned on bringing it back and finishing strong tonight,” Apple said. “I knew Ryan (Held) was going to be out fast, and I tried to hop up around him and let him take me out a bit. I knew I could finish it strong. That’s been a staple of my swimming through the years, so the last 50 meters felt pretty good.”

2016 Olympians Blake Pieroni (48.13) and Ryan Held (48.34) advanced to the final in third and fourth as the six relay members are starting to shape up as they have their sights set on repeating gold in the 4×100 free relay. Dressel and Held swam on the gold medal winning team in Rio, while Pieroni swam on the prelims relay. Apple swam at the last two World Championships for this relay as the Americans haven’t been beaten internationally in the 4×100 free relay since 2015. Heading into 2021, Russia, Australia and Italy look to be the top countries to beat in the 4×100 free relay, and the United States will get a chance to see how they stack up tomorrow with the top four finishers.


Zach Apple. Photo Courtesy: Peter H. Bick

“We had six guys under 48 so we have really good talent,” Caeleb Dressel said. “But it is tough to get your hand on the wall first.”

“As I go from prelims to semis to finals, I have to take more deep breaths to calm my mind and calm my heart down,” Pieroni said. “I gotta sleep as much as I can. I took a two-hour nap today, and I felt great today. I have to sleep 10 hours.”

The six men have to get the job done tomorrow, but names like Brooks Curry (48.51), Bowe Becker (48.62), Coleman Stewart (48.62) and Brett Pinfold (48.73) have a chance to make their first Olympic team.

Some big names missed tomorrow’s final, including Maxime Rooney (48.86), who had the third fastest time nationally in 2019 in the 100 free, along with two-time Worlds member Michael Chadwick (48.89), and 2019 NCAA champion Dean Farris (49.15).

A pair of high schoolers finished in the bottom eight with Jack Alexy (48.82) in 10th overall after breaking the national age group record earlier today, along with NC State commit Arsenio Bustos (49.19) in 16th. Florida’s Adam Chaney, who swam on a couple national junior teams, finished ninth overall at 48.81.

2021 Olympian Drew Kibler, who was third in last night’s 200 free and on the team for Tokyo, was 14th at 49.02.

Results (Top Eight to Final)

  1. Caeleb Dressel, 47.77
  2. Zach Apple, 47.78
  3. Blake Pieroni, 48.13
  4. Ryan Held, 48.34
  5. Brooks Curry, 48.51
  6. Bowe Becker, 48.62
  7. Coleman Stewart, 48.62
  8. Brett Pinfold, 48.73
  9. Adam Chaney, 48.81
  10. Jack Alexy, 48.82
  11. Maxime Rooney, 48.86
  12. Michael Chadwick, 48.89
  13. Nathan Adrian, 48.92
  14. Drew Kibler, 49.02
  15. Dean Farris, 49.15
  16. Arsenio Bustos, 49.19

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1 year ago

It really hurts me so much because I don’t get to see Nathan Adrian compete at the Tokyo Olympics in the 100 free or in a relay.

1 year ago

It really hurts me so much because I don’t get to see Nathan Adrian compete at the Tokyo Olympics in the 100 free or in a relay.


Antonio – Boommm, Americans ?? mean business bro ?

1 year ago

Stroke Count 32 / 37 ( reaction time .59 ) going to be a Crazy Final heat!!!