Once every 4 years, swimming garners some legitimate attention in the sports world, starting with trials and going through the Olympic games. With Wave II of the United States Olympic Trials for swimming scheduled to kick off tomorrow, I thought it would once again be appropriate to put out a little preview/predictions on what could end up being the most unpredictable trials in at least the last 30 years.
- The delays and leadup have made it tough to pick favorites
During most trial years, World Championships for swimming would have happened the previous summer. This usually provides some insight as to who the favorites are in most events. Between the COVID shutdown and the extra year gap from 2019 World’s, there are very few outright ‘favorites’ to make the team this year.
- Qualifying Standards
With the gap in competing for many swimmers, as well as the qualifying period for trials going from May 2018-May 2021, it would make sense for some of the younger qualifiers to have made some significant leaps and bounds, while some of the professionals (depending on where they are in their careers) to possibly regress compared to their seed times. I expect there to be a significant number of swimmers who are relatively under the radar to make the team in any event not swum by anyone named Ledecky, Dressel, Manual, or King.
- World Rankings
Leading up to this trials, the US has much lower rankings for top times in the world compared to any year in recent memory. Regardless how trials goes, this is something to keep in mind leading into the games, and could make for some very exciting races between multiple countries in many different events.
- Great Coverage
With the leadup to trials and with the spread of Wave I and Wave II, it is reasonable to assume the television coverage of trials will be excellent, with (hopefully) minimal time gaps between finals races. Click HERE for a list of the network coverage for each day of trials.
Top 7 Predictions
- The only clear favorites (as mentioned above) are Ledecky, Dressel, Manual, and King. Among them, I don’t believe that any World Records will be broken at this trials.
- Ryan Lochte will qualify for the games in one of the IMs
- There will be less than 4 collegiate swimmers total to make the US team in individual events. There have been quite a few NCAA standouts in yards over the past year, BUT few have seemed to be racing particularly fast in meters.
- Claire Curzan and Torri Huske will both make the Olympic team as high schoolers. Both are FAST in multiple events, and have World Junior Championship experience. Don’t be surprised if one breaks the American record in the 100 Fly.
- With how fast the rest of the world has been swimming, don’t be shocked if the US has the lowest medal count in Olympic swimming from the 90s-today. There are sure to be some phenomenal races spanning across many different events with swimmers from many different countries. **This prediction had to be posted now before the times from trials are thrown into the mix**
- Michael Andrew will punch his ticket in an individual event (200 IM and/or 100 Breaststroke).
- The Women’s 100 Backstroke Finals will be the most exciting event to watch.
Regardless of the outcome, Olympic Trials is always one of the purest forms of competition; whenever some of the best in the world step up to race, anything can happen and its always a blast to watch.