Simone Manuel Rebounds To Make Second Olympic Team On Final Night Of Olympic Swimming Trials

By Sharon Robb
OMAHA, Neb., June 20, 2021—The final night belonged to Simone Manuel at the U.S. Olympic Swimming Trials at CHI Health Center.

In her final shot to make her second Olympic team, the four-time Olympic medalist won the 50-meter freestyle in an emotionally-charged race. Her time was 24.29, just 1/100ths ahead of Abbey Weitzeil in 24.30.

The 24-year-old Manuel of Alto Swim Club missed making the team in the 100-meter freestyle which she is defending Olympic gold medalist. She said earlier in the week that she had been battling a condition known as “overtraining syndrome” leading up to Trials which caused her to take three weeks off away from the pool in April because of mental and physical exhaustion.

After the semifinals, Manuel said “I desperately want to be on the team. I feel like I have so much to give this sport, not just in the pool but out of the pool. I just want to see whatever I’ve got. I want to walk away with my head held high at the end of this meet. I am the person who fights to the end. Hopefully, it gets me a ticket to Tokyo, but if it doesn’t, I’m proud of myself.”

On Sunday night, Manuel did punch her ticket to Tokyo in dramatic fashion. Weitzeil was the first to climb over the lane line to congratulate her after the race. The visibly emotional Manuel covered her face and started to cry happy tears and slapped the water.

“More than anything I’m relieved,” Manuel said. “I’m just so happy I accomplished part of my goal. Plans don’t always go as you want them to go, but I’m glad I can walk away with my head held high.

“This year has been difficult, especially the last couple of months. But before I dove in, I felt like it was my moment. Today may have been the longest day of my life. That 50 was the longest 50 of my life. I’m just glad to have it over and be able to regroup and get ready for the Olympics. Hopefully, I can swim faster so I can win a medal for Team USA.”

Added Weitzeil, “I’m literally so excited for Simone right now. I don’t even care about the times. I looked at the board and saw she got first and I was so excited. I don’t even care about my race. She is just an amazing person. I was really rooting for her in that race. During the race, I saw her right there and I was like, ‘yes, let’s go, come on.’ That’s what I was thinking the whole time.”

Not to be overshadowed, Caeleb Dressel of the Gator Swim Club won his third individual event while tying his American record in the 50-meter freestyle in 21.04, fastest time in the world this year.

Dressel’s reaction time was .60 off the blocks. Michael Andrew was second in 21.48, just 25/100ths of a second ahead of sentimental favorite Nathan Adrian, who was attempting to make his fourth Olympic team but finished in 21.73.

“This was really a tough field,” Dressel said. “I’m really glad I got to descend the meet, starting with the 200, then a couple of 100s and ending it with the 50. I’m super happy and hope to go fast in a month.”

Said Adrian, “Those two guys beat me. That’s how this sport works. They are going to be good and going to give Team USA our best shot at getting the most medals as possible. I am now their biggest fan. I’m excited to watch from home and cheer like crazy.”

In the final and longest event of the evening, Clearwater’s Bobby Finke of St. Petersburg Aquatics and University of Florida, led from wire-to-wire to win the 1500-meter freestyle. Finke, who already won the 800, won the 1500 in 14:46.06, his best time by more than 2 1/2 seconds and third fastest time in the world. Michael Brinegar, 800 free runner-up, was second in 15:00.87.

“The time means a lot,” Finke said. “I’ve been waiting to drop in that race for a couple years now. I’m just honored to go to Tokyo and try to improve my time.”

With the U.S. team finalized, there are 26 women and 23 men traveling to training camp in Hawaii before heading to Tokyo.

In addition to Dave Durden (men) and Greg Meehan (women), the remaining coaching staff announced are Gregg Troy, Anthony Nesty, Peter Andrew, Teri McKeever, Todd DeSorbo, Bob Bowman, Jack Bauerle and Ray Looze. The open-water coach is Catherine Kase.

Fort Lauderdale High alum Philippe Marcoux swims his first race while brother Raphael swims his second event on Monday, both in the 50-meter freestyle. Raphael is seeded fifth in 22.58 and Philippe is seeded ninth in 22.89.


50-meter freestyle: 1. Simone Manuel, ALTO 24.29, 2. Abbey Weitzeil, CAL 24.30, 3. Torri Huske, AAC 24.46.

50-meter freestyle: 1. Caeleb Dressel, Gator Swim Club 21.04, 2. Michael Andrew, RPC-SI 21.48, 3. Nathan Adrian, CAL 21.73.

1500-meter freestyle: 1. Bobby Finke, SPA 14:46.06, 2. Michael Brinegar, MVN 15:00.87, 3. Jordan Wilimovsky, KSWM 15:05.29.

Sharon Robb can be reached at

Ledecky, Dressel, White Win On Day Seven Of Olympic Trials; Erica Pelaez Top FGC Finisher

By Sharon Robb
OMAHA, Neb., June 19, 2021—Katie Ledecky closed out her third U.S. Olympic Swimming Trials with a win in her signature event Saturday night at CHI Health Center.

Ledecky, 24, of Nation’s Capital Swim Club won the women’s 800-meter freestyle in 8:14.62, her fourth win of the Trials. She also won the 200, 400 and 1500 freestyles breaking the women’s record for most Olympic Trials wins. Ledecky will now try to become the first woman to win three Olympics gold medals in the 800 event.

“I haven’t been super happy with my times, but I still feel like I am in a good spot,” Ledecky said. “The Trials have been fine this week. I am just so excited about this team that’s coming together and getting to be on the team with somebody like Katie (Grimes).”

Ledecky is undefeated in the 800 event since winning the 2012 Olympics at age 15. She has the Top 23 times in the world in the event.

Ledecky will be the fifth U.S. woman to swim in four individual events at an Olympics after Shirley Babashoff, Summer Sanders, Katie Hoff (who did five in 2008) and Missy Franklin.

Ledecky will also be part of the 4×200-meter free relay in Tokyo, giving her the chance to become the first American woman to win five golds at a single Olympics in any sport.

At 15, Katie Grimes of Sandpipers of Nevada became the youngest to make the Olympic team after finishing second in 8:20.36. Swimming in Lane 8, she dropped 11 seconds off her previous best with the third best swim in history for 15-16 year-olds behind Ledecky and Janet Evans.

Coming home in the final 50 meters, 9/100ths of a second separated Grimes with veteran open water swimmer Haley Anderson, third in 8:20.51.

For Ledecky, it was like looking in a mirror. She made her first Olympic team at age 15 in 8:19.78 at Trials. After her race, Ledecky swam over to Grimes’ lane to congratulate her.

Added Grimes, still in a state of disbelief, “I’m just speechless,” Grimes said. “I know I’m only 15, but it’s a lot of work.”

Two-time Olympic gold medalist Caeleb Dressel, 22, of Gator Swim Club shook off a tough double, winning the 100-meter butterfly in 49.87 and then coming back 30 minutes later to earn the top seed for Sunday night’s 50-meter freestyle final.

Dressel, who holds the world record in 49.50, was on world record pace until the final 20 meters.

Olympian Tom Shields was second in 51.19. Shields was the second fastest qualifier on Friday with his fastest time in five years. In December 2019 he talked about his suicide attempt in 2018 and credited his wife for turning his life around.

In the 50-meter semifinals, Dressel qualified in 21.51 followed by Michael Andrew in 21.55 and sentimental favorite and Olympian Nathan Adrian in 21.78.

Anthony Ervin, at 40 the oldest swimmer at Trials, was eliminated in morning prelims in 22.61 for 23rd place. He won the event at the 2000 and 2016 Olympics.

In the biggest upset of the Trials, 19-year-old world record holder and reigning world champion Regan Smith was knocked out of a spot in the 200-meter backstroke by two 18-year-olds, who were swimming on each side of her.

Rhyan White of Alabama won in 2:05.73 and Phoebe Bacon of Wisconsin Aquatics was second in 2:06.46. Smith was third in 2:06.79. Tokyo will be their first international meet. Smith was already qualified in two events but the 200 backstroke was her best event.

“I just tried to stay focused on my own race,” White said. “I’m excited.”

Added Bacon, “There is a lot of pressure but I raced her before so to me it was just another race.”

In the women’s 50-meter semifinals, Abbey Weitzeil of Cal was top qualifier in 24.27 followed by Torri Huske in 24.45 and Simone Manuel was third in 24.50 and has one final shot to make the team.

In her final event at the Trials, Erika Pelaez, 14, of Eagle Aquatics was 20th in the 50-meter freestyle in a lifetime-best 25.57, bettering her previous best of 25.83.

The top two finishers of most events will most likely become 2021 US Olympians. Relay only spots go to places 3-6 (though not completely guaranteed for 6th place) of 100- and 200-meter freestyle events. The maximum roster size for Team USA is 26 men and 26 women.

All races 200 meters or shorter have three stages at Trials: a prelim in the morning, followed by a semifinal that evening. The final of the top-8 qualifier will take place on the following night.

Sunday’s events are: (Evening session only), men’s 50-meter freestyle final, women’s 50-meter freestyle final and men’s 1500-meter freestyle.

On opening day of Swimming Canada’s Olympic Trials at the Toronto Pan-Am Sports Centre, former Fort Lauderdale High and Florida Gold Coast swimmer Raphael Marcoux was tenth in the 100-meter butterfly in 54.96 after going 54.59 in prelims.


200-meter backstroke: 1. Rhyan White, BAMA 2:05.73, 2. Phoebe Bacon, WA 2:06.46, 3. Regan Smith, RIPT 2:06.79.

800-meter freestyle: 1. Katie Ledecky, NCAP 8:14.62, 2. Katie Grimes, Sandpipers 8:20.36, 3. Haley Anderson, MVN 8:20.51.

100-meter butterfly: 1. Caeleb Dressel, Gator Swim Club 49.87, 2. Tom Shields, Cal Aquatics 51.19, 3. Luca Orlando, DART 51.64.

Sharon Robb can be reached at

Lazor, Andrew, Murphy, Weitzeil Win; Lochte’s Bid For Fifth Olympics Ends With Seventh Place; Julia Podkoscielny Top FGC Finisher On Day Six Of Olympic Trials

By Sharon Robb
OMAHA, Neb., June 18, 2021—In an emotional storybook ending in the women’s 200-meter breaststroke, training partners Annie Lazor and Lilly King finished first and second Friday night at the U.S. Olympic Swimming Trials at CHI Health Center.

It was one race King didn’t mind losing.

Lazor’s father David died two months ago unexpectedly at home. It was King who not only drove five hours to his funeral but promised Lazor’s mother she would look after her, motivate her and do everything it took to get her on the Olympic team.

The two trained together in Bloomington with King’s coach Ray Looze leading up to the Trials. Before stepping on the blocks, King, who had already won the 100 breaststroke and Lazor just missing a spot finishing third, looked over at Lazor and told her she loved her and let’s go get it.

Lazor broke open a close race to win in 2:21.07 and King finished second in 2:21.75. The two immediately hugged and slapped the water in jubilation.

At 26, Lazor is the oldest American woman to qualify for her first Olympic team in 17 years.

“I knew what her plan was and she knew what my plan was and we just wanted to do it together,” a teary-eyed Lazor said. “I’m just overcome with emotion. It’s been a long couple of months for me and I just couldn’t have done it without this girl. She pulled me through practice every day. I am so thankful for her.

“I knew she was going to be out fast. I knew if I could just hang with her and be within striking distance at the 100 I had a chance. It couldn’t have gone any better.”

Added King, “We’re family. Your teammates are always your family especially with the year we’ve been through and last couple of months for her. You have two of the top 200 breaststrokers training every day in practice so good things are going to happen.”

On the other end of the emotional spectrum, world record holder Ryan Lochte, looking to make his fifth Olympic team, saw his hopes end with a seventh place finish in the 200-meter individual medley in 1:59.67.

Lochte was second fastest qualifier in 1:58.48 in prelims and sixth fastest in 1:58.65 in semis but was unable to put the race together that he wanted.

“I really wanted to be on this Olympic team,” Lochte said. “This is probably my most important swim meet that I’ve ever had in my entire career, the one that meant the most to me. So falling short and feeling like I let everyone down was one of the hardest things.

“This ain’t the end of the road, there is a lot more I want to accomplish in swimming whether it’s in the pool or outside the pool making swimming better,” Lochte said. “I’m enjoying it, I’m having fun teaching these kids everything I’ve learned. I’m going to go be a dad now and go hug my kids.”

Michael Andrew, 22, of MA Academy controlled the 200 IM from start to finish to win in 1:55.44. He went out quickly in the butterfly in a 23.77 split and was on world record pace until the final 50. Chase Kalisz was second in 1:56.97.

“The goal this evening was to edge a little closer to the world record,” Andrew said. “I don’t know if it was fatigue or race strategy. I think I was out too fast, and it hurt me on the back end. I was really trying to drive the line, but my arms were shot. In this race, my strategy wasn’t really good. I was just thinking about how far they were behind. It got very sloppy at the finish, all things we can be working on.”

World record holder and reigning Olympic gold medalist Ryan Murphy, 25, of California Aquatics, swept the backstroke events after winning Friday’s men’s 200-meter backstroke in 1:54.20.

The Bolles alum was 55.31 at the 100 and just blew off the 150-meter wall to extend his lead. It was the second fastest time in the world this year. Bryce Medford of Sierra Marlins was second in 1:54.79. Former Sarasota swimmer Austin Katz of Longhorn Aquatics was third in 1:55.86.

“I accomplished my goals,” Murphy said. “I am so excited to be going back to the Olympics in the 100 and 200 back. I’m obviously ecstatic to make another team in both races but I don’t think the times are necessarily reflective of where I’ve been in practice.

Asked where he is at right now compared to five years ago before going to Rio, Murphy said, “I think I’m certainly better at training. The details are a little sloppy right now but that’s nice. I know exactly where I can improve over these next five weeks to be a little bit better in Tokyo.”

In the women’s 100-meter freestyle, Abbey Weitzeil, 25, found her back speed to win her first Trials event in 53.53. Erica Brown, swimming in Lane 8 after knocking out Simone Manuel for that eighth spot in finals, was second in 53.59. The pair will be joined by Olivia Smoliga (53.63) and Natalie Hinds (53.84) on the 4×100 relay. For Hinds, Tokyo will be her first international trip.

“It means everything,” Weitzeil said. “I was nervous. Taming your nerves is definitely person by person in how you do that. This is the most nervewracking meet I have ever been to. It’s a different meet. Being more confident helps. I’ve learned to get past the negative thoughts.”

Julia Podkoscielny, 16, of Pine Crest Swimming was 43rd in the 200 backstroke in 2:18.07 in her final event of the Trials.

Erika Pelaez, 14, of Eagle Aquatics will swim the 50-meter freestyle on Saturday.

The top two finishers of most events will most likely become 2021 US Olympians. Relay only spots go to places 3-6 (though not completely guaranteed for 6th place) of 100- and 200-meter freestyle events. The maximum roster size for Team USA is 26 men and 26 women.

All races 200 meters or shorter have three stages at Trials: a prelim in the morning, followed by a semifinal that evening. The final of the top-8 qualifier will take place on the following night.

Saturday’s events are: (Morning Session), men’s 50 freestyle prelims, women’s 50 freestyle prelims, men’s 1,500 freestyle prelims; (Evening session) men’s 100 butterfly final, women’s 200 backstroke final, women’s 800 freestyle final, men’s 50 freestyle semifinal, women’s 50 freestyle semifinal.

Daily finals coverage will be broadcast across NBC channels. Along with live finals coverage, 24 hours of preliminaries will be available on and NBC Sports App.

For prelims, today through June 19, 11 a.m. on NBC Stream and 6:30 p.m. on NBCSN. For finals, today through June 16 on NBC at 8 p.m., June 17 NBC at 10 p.m. and NBCSN at 8 p.m., June 18-19 NBC at 9 p.m. and June 20 NBC at 8:15 p.m. All times are Eastern Standard Time for South Florida.

The five-day meet, which begins Saturday, at Toronto’s Pan Am Sports Centre will determine who competes for Canada at the Tokyo Olympics. No fans are allowed in the venue. The meet had been delayed in April and again in May because of pandemic-related restrictions. It is the first time the entire Canadian team has gathered in one place since the 2019 World Championships in South Korea. Five women and one man were named to the Canadian team in January to compete in their best event(s): Kylie Masse (100 and 200 backstroke), Maggie MacNeil (100 butterfly), Penny Oleksiak (200 freestyle), Sydney Pickrem (200 breaststroke, 200 and 400 individual medley), Taylor Ruck (100 freestyle) and Markus Thormeyer (200 backstroke).


200-meter breaststroke: 1. Annie Lazor, Mission Viejo 2:21.07, 2. Lilly King, Indiana Swim Club 2:21.75, 3. Emily Escobedo, COND 2:22.64.

100-meter freestyle: 1. Abbey Weitzeil, Cal 53.53, 2. Erika Brown, Tennessee Aquatics, 3. Olivia Smoliga, Athens Bulldogs 53.63, 4. Natalie Hinds, Athens Bulldogs 53.84.

200-meter backstroke: 1. Ryan Murphy, Cal 1:54.20, 2. Bryce Mefford, Sierra Marlins Swim Team 1:54.79, 3. Austin Katz, Longhorn Aquatics 1:55.86.

200-meter individual medley: 1. Michael Andrew, MA Swim Academy 1:55.44, 2. Chase Kalisz, Athens Bulldogs 1:56.97, 3. Kieran Smith, UFlorida 1:57.23.

Sharon Robb can be reached at

Kalisz, Smith, Weyant Win On Opening Night Of U.S. Olympic Trials; Alex Evdokimov Top FGC Finisher

By Sharon Robb
OMAHA, Neb., June 13, 2021—Chase Kalisz became the first swimmer to make the U.S. Olympic team Sunday night at the Olympic Swimming Trials at CHI Health Center.

Trailing by three seconds in the 400-meter individual medley going into the breaststroke, Kalisz, 27, of Athens Bulldogs powered his way back to win in 4:09.09, second fastest time in the world this year, and make his second consecutive Olympic team.

Training mate Jay Litherland, a dual U.S. and Japan citizen, reeled in early leader Carson Foster in the final 20 meters to finish second in 4:10.33.

Kalisz was hugged by good friend and legendary Michael Phelps after he climbed out of the pool.

“This is the Olympic Trials, times don’t matter, it’s all about racing,” Kalisz said. “I knew where I needed to be. I made my move right where I needed to make my move and I’m happy how it played out.

“It’s been a rough year, I guess a tough two years, but to make the Olympic team with my teammate Jay who I get to train with every single day, that’s the coolest part.”

In the second final of the night, Kiernan Smith, 21, of University of Florida, not only had to win but had the pressure of having to swim FINA’s “A” qualifying time of 3:46.78. He did just that, winning in a personal-best 3:44.86, fastest time in the world this year. No other swimmer in the field made the qualifying cut.

Smith took it out hard in the first half of the race and had at least a body length lead and was on American record pace for the first 200 meters.

“I knew there was a little pressure to make that time considering no Americans had made it so far this year,” Smith said. “I was confident with myself after a pretty relaxed morning swim. I really just wanted to pounce on the first 200 and stay out there and make it a one-man race if I could.

“All that was going through my head in the last 100 was I am about to be an Olympian,” Smith said. “It sounds incredible to make my first Olympic team. I couldn’t imagine that five years ago when I was first here.”

In a thrilling women’s 400-meter individual medley race, 19-year-old Emma Weyant of Sarasota Sharks making her Trials debut, came on strong in the final 50 meters against two veterans to pull off the shocker and win in a best time 4:33.81 and earn a spot on the team.

Flickinger led after the butterfly and backstroke legs with Weyant in striking distance. St. Petersburg’s Melanie Margalis, down five seconds, surged back into contention after the breaststroke leg. All three were even on the final 50 turn with 1/10th of a second separating them. Weyant turned it on in the final 20 meters with Flickinger just behind her.

“I just put my head down in the last 50, it hurt a lot but having all those amazing girls to race was awesome,” said Weyant, who deferred going to school at Virginia for a year to train for the Trials in Sarasota. “I had to learn about making a race plan and today was just about racing. To hear I am an Olympian is crazy, I can’t even believe it.”

In the women’s 100-meter butterfly semifinal, 18-year-old Torri Huske of Arlington Aquatics broke the American record in 55.78, erasing Dana Vollmer’s mark of 55.98.

In a span of eight hours, Michael Andrew, 22, broke the American record twice in prelims and semifinals of the 100-meter breaststroke. With two explosive starts, Andrew broke Kevin Cordes’ 2017 American record of 58.64 by nearly a half second in 58.19, in morning prelims. He came back at night to break it again in the semifinals in 58.14.

Four of the five qualified Florida Gold Coast swimmers competed on opening day with only one advancing into the semifinals.

In the morning prelims of the 100-meter breaststroke, Alex Evdokimov, 25, of Pinnacle Racing (VA) and formerly Coral Springs Swim Club, finished eighth in a best time 1:00.22 to qualify for the semifinals where he finished fifth in 1:00.64 and failed to make finals by two spots placing tenth. He was seeded tenth in 1:00.47. He has the 200 breaststroke left to swim.

In other Florida Gold Coast results:

South Florida Aquatic Club’s Kathleen Golding, 20, of University of Florida was 21st in the 400 IM in 4:47.94 off her best time of 4:46.12. She has the 400 freestyle and 200 IM left to swim.

Julia Podkoscielny, 16, of Pine Crest Swimming, was 25th in the 400 IM in 4:48.72, off her best time of 4:44.83. She has the 200 IM and 200 backstroke remaining.

Josh Zuchowski, 17, of FAST, was 37th out of a field of 38 swimmers in 4:32.24, off his best time of 4:25.79. He has the 100 and 200 backstroke events left to swim.

Erika Pelaez, 14, of Eagle Aquatics will start racing on Monday. She has qualified in the 100 backstroke, 50-and 100 freestyles.

Before Sunday’s prelims, 36-year-old Ryan Lochte scratched from the 400 IM. It is the first time since 2000 he has not competed in the event.

Two surprises in morning prelims were Zane Grothe (400 freestyle) and Madisyn Cox (400 freestyle) failing to make finals. Grothe had competed in the event in two World Championships and under 3:46. He struggled to a 3:50.80 to place 11th. Cox was 10th in 4:44.36, off her best time of 4:36.61, that would have placed her second seed in finals.

The top two finishers of most events will most likely become 2021 US Olympians. Relay only spots go to places 3-6 (though not completely guaranteed for 6th place) of 100- and 200-meter freestyle events. The maximum roster size for Team USA is 26 men and 26 women.

All races 200 meters or shorter will have three stages at Trials: a prelim in the morning, followed by a semifinal that evening. The final of the top-8 qualifier will take place on the following night.

Monday’s events are: (Morning Prelims Session), women’s 100 backstroke, men’s 200 freestyle, women’s 100 breaststroke, men’s 100 backstroke, women’s 400 freestyle; (Evening Session), women’s 100 butterfly final, men’s 200 freestyle, women’s 100 breaststroke semifinal, men’s 100 breaststroke final, women’s 400 freestyle final, men’s 100 backstroke semifinal and women’s 100 backstroke semifinal.

Daily finals coverage will be broadcast across NBC channels. Along with live finals coverage, 24 hours of preliminaries will be available on and NBC Sports App.

For prelims, today through June 19, 11 a.m. on NBC Stream and 6:30 p.m. on NBCSN. For finals, today through June 16 on NBC at 8 p.m., June 17 NBC at 10 p.m. and NBCSN at 8 p.m., June 18-19 NBC at 9 p.m. and June 20 NBC at 8:15 p.m. All times are Eastern Standard Time for South Florida.

Ten months after her father died from a brain tumor, Kaylee McKeown, 19, broke the women’s 100-meter backstroke world record in 57.45. The previous mark was 57.57 set by Regan Smith in 2019. Emily Seebohm, 29, swimming next to her, was second in 58.59 and qualified for her fourth Olympic team.


400-meter individual medley: 1. Emma Weyant, Sarasota Sharks 4:33.81, 2. Hali Flickinger, SUN 4:33.96, 3. Melanie Margalis, SPA 4:34.08.

400-meter individual medley: 1. Chase Kalisz, Athens Bulldogs Swim Club 4:09.09, 2. Jay Litherland, Dynamo 4:10.33, 3. Carson Foster, RAYSOFH 4:10.86.

400-meter freestyle: 1. Kiernan Smith, UFlorida 3:44.86, 2. Jake Mitchell, CSC 3:48.17, 3. Ross Dant, NCS 3:48.30.

Sharon Robb can be reached at

It’s Show Time: U.S. Olympic Swimming Trials Get Under Way Sunday; SOFLO’s Golding, FGC’s Podkoscielny, Zuchowski, Evdokimov Compete

By Sharon Robb
OMAHA, Neb., June 12, 2021—The long hours of hard work, dedication and sacrifice come down to the next eight days when swimmers from across the nation, including South Florida, compete in the U.S. Olympic Swimming Trials at CHI Health Center.

After a year delay because of the pandemic, all eyes will be on stars Caeleb Dressel, Katie Ledecky, Ryan Murphy, Simone Manuel, Michael Andrew, Lilly King, Ryan Lochte and Regan Smith.

Dressel, 24, former Clay High School, Bolles Club and University of Florida standout and 13-time world champion, qualified for seven events and is the top seed in the 50-meter freestyle (21.04, US record), 100-meter freestyle (46.96, US record) and 100-meter butterfly (49.50, world record), all three of which he is the reigning world champion.

Dressel also qualified 11th in the 200-meter freestyle (1:47.31), ninth in the 200-meter butterfly (1:56.29) and 14th in the 200-meter individual medley (1:59.97).

Bolles alum Ryan Murphy, 25, who swept the backstrokes at the 2016 Rio Olympics, is looking to regain his world’s best role after being beaten at world championships. He is looking to extend the U.S. streak of winning every Olympic men’s backstroke title dating to 1996.

Ledecky, 24, can make the Olympic team in five events including relays with an eye on making history in Tokyo. She is a favorite in the 200, 400, 800 and 1500 freestyles. She holds the world record in the 400, 800 and 1500.

No American woman has won more than four gold medals at one Olympics. In the 800 freestyle, Ledecky owns the 23 fastest times in history and every Olympic and world title dating to her Olympic debut in 2012 at age 15. In the 1500, she owns the 10 fastest times in history.

At age 36, Ryan Lochte, who has been training with Gregg Troy in Gainesville for the past three years, is trying to tie the record (of Michael Phelps and Dara Torres) for most Olympic appearances by a U.S. swimmer. Dressel has also been training with Troy.

“I’d give him a very serious chance of medaling and winning at the Olympics, not just making the U.S. team,” Dressel said. “I’m not really buying the whole old-man thing anymore. He knows how to get up and boogie.”

Lochte is seeded 15th in the 400-meter individual medley, which opens the trials. He’s entered in six events over the eight-day meet, although it’s unlikely he will swim all six. The 200 IM, which he still owns the world record set in 2011, could be his best chance. He’s seeded fifth.

“I don’t have that target on my back anymore,” he said. “I know I’m hunting them instead of being the hunter. I’ve changed my life around completely. I’m a better person, I’m more grown up. I’m a family man, I’m a dad and husband. At the pool, they will be like, ‘Oh, come on, old man, you can do it. I’m like, ‘Grrr, if you only knew how hard this is.’”

Lochte has not had many stellar swims at meets or dropped any impressive times.

“We haven’t seen in competition what we see in training,” Troy said. “He’s done a good job training.”

Other qualified swimmers with University of Florida or Gator Swim Club ties are: Talia Bates, 20; Clark Beach, 21; Ethan Beach, 21; Caitlin Brooks, 20; Adam Chaney, 19; Jace Crawford, 19; Mitch D’Arrigo, 26; Will Davis, 21; Sherridon Dressel, 22; Robert Finke, 21; Trey Freeman, 21; Brennan Gravley, 20; Julian Hill, 20; Dillon Hillis, 20; Natalie Hinds, 27; Isabel Ivey, 20; Alena Kraus, 21; Drew Loy, 23; Tylor Mathieu, 20; Vanessa Pearl, 21; Allie Piccirillo, 20; Amanda Ray, 18; Grant Sanders, 23; Kieran Smith, 21; Jonathan Tybur, 25; Kevin Vargas, 19; and Tyler Watson, 20.

Many coaches believe the year delay has added to the build-up of the Trials. Meets and training were shut down during portions of the pandemic.

“I think the kids are dying to race,” said Ray Looze, who coaches breaststroker Lilly King. “If anybody sets a world record, that’s a phenomenal accomplishment. But I think there’s going to be some world records that go down because there’s been some people that have had to go through a great deal and they really, really want it bad.”

Unlike the Wave I shorter format where 49 swimmers qualified for Wave II, the regular format for team selection at the Trials will be used.

The top two finishers of most events will most likely become 2021 US Olympians. Relay only spots go to places 3-6 (though not completely guaranteed for 6th place) of 100- and 200-meter freestyle events. The maximum roster size for Team USA is 26 men and 26 women.

All races 200 meters or shorter will have three stages at Trials: a prelim in the morning, followed by a semifinal that evening. The final of the top-8 qualifier will take place on the following night.

Sunday’s events are: (Morning Session)men’s 400 individual medley prelims, women’s 100 butterfly prelims, men’s 400 freestyle prelims, women’s 400 individual medley prelims and men’s 100 breaststroke prelims; (Evening Session) men’s 400 IM final, women’s 100 butterfly semifinal, men’s 400 freestyle final, women’s 400 IM final and men’s 100 breaststroke semifinal.

Swimming is one of the top sports for the U.S. at the Olympics. In the 2016 Rio Games, 33 of the 121 medals won by the Americans came from swimming, just ahead of 32 from track and field. Sixteen gold medals out of the 46 won by the U.S. also came from swimming.

In other highlights:

Hall of Famer and Arizona State coach Bob Bowman will be coaching at this first U.S. Olympic trials without his former swimmer Michael Phelps, 35, now married with two sons and retired from swimming.

ASU has 20 qualifiers, up from four in 2016. He is also coaching veterans Matt Grevers, Allison Schmitt, Hali Flickinger and Leah Smith, who have been training in Tucson.

“It’ll be strange,” Bowman told the Arizona Republic. “When Michael was with me [since age 15 in 2000], I had had an idea of what was going to be happening at the trials and after the trials. It will be a completely different experience, but I’m excited to go with these guys. They have prepared well and want to get better.”

Florida Gold Coast will be well-represented by five talented swimmers. They are:

Kathleen Golding, 20, University of Florida All-American, seeded 28th, 400-meter freestyle, 4:12.38; 37th, 400-meter individual medley, 4:46.12, and 35th, 200-meter individual medley, 2:15.48.

Julia Podkoscielny, 16, Pine Crest Swimming, seeded 24th, 400-meter individual medley, 4:44.83; seeded 49th, 200-meter individual medley, 2:16.36 and 48th seed, 200-meter backstroke, 2:14.16.

Josh Zuchowski, 17, of King’s Academy and Flood Aquatics Swim Team (FAST), seeded 44th, 400-meter individual medley, 4:25.79; 48th, 100-meter backstroke, 55.99 and 29th, 200-meter backstroke, 2.00.76.

Alex Evdokimov, 25, Pinnacle Racing (VA), formerly Coral Springs Swim Club, seeded 10th, 100-meter breaststroke, 1:00.47 and 16th, 200-meter breaststroke, 2:12.10.

Erika Pelaez, 14, Eagle Aquatics and South Florida HEAT, seeded 53rd, 100-meter backstroke, 1:01.85; seeded 40th, 100-meter freestyle, 55.51; seeded 57th, 50-meter freestyle, 25.83.

Seeds were taken from pre-meet psych sheet for the qualifying period (Nov. 28, 2018-May 30, 2021).

Daily finals coverage will be broadcast across NBC channels. Along with live finals coverage, 24 hours of preliminaries will be available on and NBC Sports App.

For prelims, Sunday’s schedule is 11 a.m. on NBC Stream at 5:30 p.m. on NBCSN and June 14-19 11 a.m. on NBC Stream and 6:30 p.m. on NBCSN. For finals, Sunday through June 16 on NBC at 8 p.m., June 17 NBC at 10 p.m. and NBCSN at 8 p.m., June 18-19 NBC at 9 p.m. and June 20 NBC at 8:15 p.m. All times are Eastern Standard Time for South Florida.

Sharon Robb can be reached at

U.S. Olympic Trials Split Into Two Meets As Pandemic Safety Precaution; 2021 Tokyo Olympics Still A Go

By Sharon Robb
OMAHA, Neb., January 26, 2021–In a departure from past U.S. Olympic swimming trials, the qualifying event will be split into two meets because of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

With the Tokyo Games six months away, USA Swimming announced Tuesday it is revising the swimming trials because of continued coronavirus risks including limiting the number of swimmers who can compete indoors at CHI Health Center Arena.

The organization announced it will have fewer than half its usual number of competitors, 750 swimmers (50 to 60 swimmers in each event) trying to qualify for one of 50 or so spots on the U.S. Olympic team.

The smaller group of participants will reduce the number of people inside CHI Health Center Arena and allow for swimmers to maintain a safe social distance, “a safer and healthier environment for the competitors and everyone involved,” USA Swimming said in a news release.

A Wave I meet of lower-ranked swimmers, about 550-650, who qualified for the trials is scheduled for June 4-7.

The top two finishers will advance to the main Wave II meet with about 750 swimmers on June 13-20, the previous scheduled dates for the Trials, to determine who will represent the U.S. at the 2021 Tokyo Olympics, July 23-Aug. 8.

USA Swimming also implemented new qualifying standards required for the Wave II meet, based on the 41st seeded athlete as of Jan. 26.

In past quadreniums, the Trials were staged as a spectacle with fireworks inside the facility. The nationally-televised meet was staged before sold-out crowds over eight days. In 2016, there were more than 1,700 qualifiers mainly because the popularity of the sport had grown because of legendary Michael Phelps.

“It’s the greatest spectacle in swimming,” Tim Hinchey, USA Swimming’s president and chief executive told the Washington Post. “The reality is, as important as it is to create that fantastic Super Bowl-like environment for our top elite athletes, and we know that experience has absolutely transferred into gold medals and results at Olympic Games, we also know for that 12- or 13-year old, walking into that stadium and experiencing this kind of meet is also aspirational to the next set of Games. It’s got to touch both sides.”

Officials said the two meets will look and feel the same. More than 1,300 swimmers have already earned qualifying cut times for the Trials.

Event organizers are still working out a detailed health and safety plan, and no decision has been made yet on spectators at trials.

Officials said some fans will be able to attend trials in-person. Five years ago, nearly 200,000 spectators attended the eight-day event, but USA Swimming has yet to put tickets on sale for this June’s trials.

Local regulations in Omaha allow for 75-percent capacity at the CHI Health Center Arena, which is home of the Creighton University basketball teams but also hosts other major events such as concerts.

NBC is still expected to broadcast the Wave II showcase event, but USA Swimming has not announced broadcast plans for its preliminary Wave I meet.

“We want to keep that promise to the first-timer, not just the veteran, and I think this accomplishes that,” Hinchey said. “We know that 13 year-old may not have an impact this year, but history tells us it makes a big impact for the next Olympic Games. Already knowing that our next quad went from four years down to three, this is important.”

SOFLO could have at least three Trials qualifiers including Kathleen Golding, Mary Smutny and Miguel Cancel.

With the Opening Ceremonies six months away, IOC President Thomas Bach said that he received confirmation from all 206 National Olympic Committees that they’re committed to the Games, along with full support from the Japanese government and all IOC members.

“Everybody is really determined to make this Olympic Games, in six months from now, the light at the end of the tunnel in which, at this moment, we are all still in,” Bach said in a video statement.

Sharon Robb can be reached at

Phelps, Lochte Renew Rivalry On Day Six Of U.S. Olympic Trials

By Sharon Robb

July 1, 2016—In their final meeting on American soil, Michael Phelps and Ryan Lochte, defending Olympic gold and silver medal winners, resumed their longtime rivalry Friday night at the U.S. Olympic Swimming Trials.

Smiling and joking as they walked out of the ready room to the blocks, the pair lived up to expectations in front of a sellout crowd at CenturyLink Center in Omaha, Neb.

The longtime rivals and friends will represent the U.S. in the event for the fourth consecutive Olympic Games after Phelps finished first in 1:55.91 and Lochte was second, qualifying for his first individual event, in 1:56.22.

Lochte, still nursing a groin injury, holds the world record he set in 2011 and has won the world championships every year since 2009.

“No matter what, win or lose we have a great friendship going which is why we have such a great rivalry,” Lochte said. “This will be my first time at the Olympics not having so many events so I can buckle down and focus on my two events.”

In Friday night’s finals:

Women’s 200-meter breaststroke:

NCAA Swimmer of the Year Lilly King, 19, of Indiana swept the breaststroke events, winning in 2:24.08. Molly Hannis of Tennessee Aquatics added her name to the first-time Olympians list placing second in 2:24.39. Bethany Galat of Texas A&M finished third for the second time in the breaskstroke events in 2:24.52. She has dropped eight seconds in her event in one year.

Women’s 100-meter freestyle:

Abbey Weitzeil led from start to finish to become another first-time Olympian, winning in 53.28, a U.S. Open record. Simone Manuel, another first-timer, was second in 53.52. American record holder Amanda Weir and Lia Neal earned spots on the relay. Katie Ledecky was seventh in 53.99.

Men’s 200-meter backstroke:

Bolles alum Ryan Murphy swept the backstroke events, winning the 200 in 1:53.95, the second fastest time in the world this year. Cal Aquatics teammate Jacob Pebley finished second despite a few lane line problems. Pebley hugged the lane line and his shoulder hit the line for four strokes but he still managed to touch second in 1:54.77. Olympic gold medalist Tyler Clary, in his last chance to make the team, finished third in 1:55.33 and will not return to defend his title.

“It’s awesome,” Murphy said. “I couldn’t do it without the support of my family. My grandpa has come to every one of my swim meets the past four years.”

Said Pebley, “We have been training all year. I knew if I followed Ryan in the race and kept up with him we were going to Rio.”

In the 800-meter freestyle prelims, Katie Ledecky was top qualifier in 8:10.91, third fastest in the world and 11 seconds faster than her closest competitor. At 19, Ledecky now holds all ten of the fastest times in history.

In the 200-meter backstroke women’s semifinals, Maya DiRado was the fastest qualifier in her race in 2:08.14. World record holder Missy Franklin is the second fastest qualifier, winning her semifinal in 2:08.63. Elizabeth Beisel, swimming with a fractured finger qualified fifth in 2:09.81. She took her finger tape off just before jumping in the water. Clara Smiddy of AquaKids Sharks and Michigan was tenth in 2:10.74.

Seth Stubblefield and Tim Phillips swam the world’s fourth and fifth fastest times in the world in the 100-meter butterfly. Stubblefield finished in 51.26. Phillips won his semifinal in 51.28.

Saturday’s events are: women’s 50-meter freestyle prelims and semifinals; men’s 1500-meter freestyle; 200-meter backstroke; men’s 100-meter butterfly; women’s 800-meter freestyle final; and men’s 50-meter freestyle.

NBC is broadcasting finals every night at 8 p.m. EST. USA swimming is live streaming prelims and finals at



200-meter breaststroke: 1. Lilly King, Indiana 2:24.08, 2. Molly Hannis, Tennessee Aquatics 2:24.39, 3. Bethany Galat, Texas A&M 2:24.52; FLORIDA GOLD COAST: 19. Emily Kopas, Swim Fort Lauderdale 2:30.00, 50. Rachael Bradford-Feldman, Louisville 2:33.28.

100-meter freestyle: 1. Abbey Weitzeil, Canyon Aquatics 53.28, 2. Simone Manuel, Stanford 53.52, 3. Amanda Weir, SA 53.75, 4. Lia Neal, Stanford 53.77; FLORIDA GOLD COAST: 29. Megan Moroney, Cavaliers 56.00, 30. Harper Bruens, Tennessee 56.03, 86. Marta Ciesla, Pine Crest Swimming 57.49, 87. Kyla Valls, Miami Swimming 57.54.


200-meter backstroke: 1. Ryan Murphy, Cal Aquatics 1:53.95, 2. Jacob Pebley, Cal Aquatics 1:54.77, 3. Tyler Clary, SwimMAC 1:55.33; FLORIDA GOLD COAST: 65. Brandon Goldman, LSU Tigers 2:04.13.

200-meter individual medley: 1. Michael Phelps, North Baltimore 1:55.91, 2. Ryan Lochte, SwimMAC 1:56.22, 3. David Nolan, North Baltimore 1:59.09; FLORIDA GOLD COAST: 71. Brandon Goldman, LSU Tigers 2:06.88, 78. Kile Aukerman, SOFLO 2:07.69.

Sharon Robb can be reached at

Adams, Prenot, Adrian Win On Day Five Of U.S. Olympic Trials; SOFLO’s Aukerman Completes Trials Journey

By Sharon Robb

June 30, 2016—More than halfway through the eight-day trials, the U.S. is putting together a team full of first-time Olympians.

On Thursday night, one more fresh face, Josh Prenot, was added to the U.S. team roster in individual events during the U.S. Olympic Swimming Trials in front of a sellout crowd at CenturyLink Center in Omaha, Neb.

The U.S. has as many as 18 first-timers in the individual and relay events.

“I see a lot of new faces,” said five-time Olympian Michael Phelps. “I don’t even know half of them. It’s exciting to have new faces, where people are really pumped to come up in the sport. That’s a good thing to see as I’m on my way out.”

South Florida Aquatic Club’s Kile Aukerman, competing in his third and final event of the Trials, was 78th in the 200-meter individual medley in


In Thursday night’s finals:


Josh Prenot of Cal Aquatics overtook Kevin Cordes of Foxcatcher and broke the American and U.S. Open records to win in 2:07.17. Prenot, a first-time Olympian, caught Cordes in the final 20 meters. The 6-foot-6 Cordes out-touched Will Licon by 14/100ths of a second for second place in 2:08.00. Cordes was already qualified in the 100-meter breaststroke. “That swim came from hard work,” Prenot said. “I have been training for this all year. The hard work is paying off. It feels amazing. This is the happiest I have ever been.”

WOMEN’S 200-METER BUTTERFLY: Cammile Adams of SwimMAC, who bounced back from a disqualification scare in prelims, moved from seventh to first after the opening 100 meters and went on to win in 2:06.80. Hali Flickinger of Athens Bulldogs, 25th four years ago at Trials, was second in

2:07.50. Sixteen-year-old Cassidy Bayer was third in



Defending Olympic gold medalist Nathan Adrian of Cal Aquatics held off his young challengers to win in 47.72, second fastest time in the world this year. Bolles alum Caeleb Dressel was second in 48.23 to become a first-time Olympian. “Heading back to the Olympics means everything to me,” Adrian said. “We put in four years of really hard work. The jitters are over. We punched our ticket. These young guys showed how people have underestimated how good American sprinting is.” Said Dressel, “There wasn’t any pressure, I just went out there and had fun. The most comfortable I am is behind those blocks. I train for huge closing speed and that’s what gets it done so I am very happy.”

In the semifinals, Bolles alum Ryan Murphy of Cal Aquatics earned the top seed in the 200-meter backstroke in 1:55.04, fifth fastest time in the world this year. Cal teammate Jacob Pebley was second in 1:55.18. 2012 Olympic gold medalist Tyler Clary won the first semifinal in 1:55.92. In the women’s 100-meter freestyle, American short course record holder Abbey Weitzeil earned the top seed in 53.58. Simone Manuel won the first semifinal in 53.64. Michael Phelps won the first semifinal in the 200-meter individual medley in 1:57.61. Ryan Lochte earned the top seed in the second semifinal in 1:56.71. Teenager Michael Andrew tied the junior world record in 1:59.44 to finish sixth and qualify for finals.

Friday’s events are: men’s 50-meter freestyle prelims and semifinals; women’s 800-meter freestyle; men’s 100-meter butterfly prelims and semifinals; women’s 200-meter backstroke prelims and semifinals; women’s 200-meter breaststroke final; men’s 200-meter backstroke final; men’s 200-meter individual medley final; and women’s 100-meter freestyle final.

NBC is broadcasting finals every night at 8 p.m. EST. USA swimming is live streaming prelims and finals at



200-meter butterfly: 1. Cammile Adams, SwimMAC 2:06.80, 2. Hali Flickinger, Athens Bulldogs 2:07.50, 3. Cassidy Bayer, NCA 2:08.68; FLORIDA GOLD COAST: 66. Claire Donahue, SOFLO 2:17.12, 90. Kyla Valls, Miami Swimming 2:20.45.


200-meter breaststroke: 1. Josh Prenot, Cal Aquatics 2:07.17, AR, 2. Kevin Cordes, Foxcatcher 2:08.00, 3. Will Licon, Texas 2:08.14; FLORIDA GOLD COAST: 11. Alex Evdokimov, Coral Springs Swim Club 2:14.00, 37. Kile Aukerman, SOFLO 2:17.52.

100-meter freestyle: 1. Nathan Adrian, Cal Aquatics 47.72, 2. Caeleb Dressel, Bolles 48.23, 3. Ryan Held, NCS 48.26, 4. Anthony Ervin, Unattached 48.54.

Sharon Robb can be reached at

Phelps Makes History On Day Four Of U.S. Olympic Trials; SOFLO’s Donahue, Auckerman Compete In Second Event

By Sharon Robb

June 29, 2016—Michael Phelps, the most decorated athlete in Olympic history, made a little more history Wednesday night at the U.S. Olympic Swimming Trials in front of a sellout crowd at CenturyLink Center in Omaha, Neb.

Phelps, who turns 31 on Thursday, became the first American male swimmer to qualify for five Olympic teams after winning the 200-meter butterfly in 1:54.84.

After touching the wall, Phelps looked up at the scoreboard and held up five fingers showing the significance of the swim. Phelps’ first Olympics was the 2000 Sydney Olympics when he was 15.

Only 384 athletes in all Olympic sports have made five Olympic teams, including 13 swimmers. Only one other U.S. swimmer, Dara Torres, has made five teams (1984, 1988, 1992, 2000, 2008).

It was Phelps’ fourth consecutive Trials title in the 200-meter butterfly, the longest streak of any individual event winner in U.S. swimming history.

The 18-time Olympic gold medalist said he was happy that his 7-week old infant son, Boomer, was awake to watch the race.

Phelps took the lead at the 50-meter mark and never relinquished it. Tom Shields of Cal Aquatics, who was closing in on Phelps in the final 20 meters, was second in 1:55.81 and made his first Olympic team.

“This race was significant for a lot of reasons, making five Olympics means the most tonight,” Phelps said. “It was my last race on American soil. I was going for my fifth Olympics. And it looked like Boomer was awake for the race which is good. Tonight was all about making the team.”

South Florida Aquatic Club ProFlo teammates Claire Donahue and Kile Aukerman swam their second event of the Trials.

Donahue, competing in her third Trials, was 66th in

the 200-meter butterfly prelims in 2:17.12 ending her bid to make her second Olympic team.

Aukerman, was 37th among 99 swimmers in the 200-

meter breaststroke in 2:17.52. Aukerman, who qualified in three events, has the 200-meter individual medley left.

In other finals:


Katie Ledecky continued to build her Olympic schedule by winning the 200-meter freestyle in 1:54.88. Missy Franklin earned her first individual Olympic berth finishing second in 1:56.18. “It can be tough changing gears to the lower distances, but I put in the training,” Ledecky said. “I knew it was going to be a dogfight tonight. I wanted to get my hand on the wall as fast as I could.”

Said Franklin, “I wanted to get a spot on that relay. It was so important for me to get on the team. That relay is going to be awesome. Last night was really tough and coming back from that, I was telling myself, I’m not done fighting, I’m not done believing in myself.”


Maya DiRado swept the IM events, winning in 2:09.54, third best time in the world this year. Just 45 minutes after racing the 200 freestyle, Melanie Margalis of St. Peterburg just out-touched Caitlin Leverenz by 1/100th of a second in 2:10.11 to finish second and make her first Olympic team. Leverenz took an extra stroke coming into the finish and was third in 2:10.16.

In the semifinals, Kevin Cordes broke the U.S. Open record and earned the top seed going into Thursday’s 200-meter breaststroke final in 2:07.81. Cordes was on world record pace until the final 15 meters. Florida Gold Coast swimmer Alex Evdokimov of Coral Springs Swim Club missed making finals by two spots, placing tenth in 2:14.42.

Cammile Adams of SwimMAC, who had her disqualification in the 200-meter butterfly overturned, is top seed in 2:07.31 for Thursday’s final.

Nathan Adrian of Cal Aquatics is top seed for the 100-meter freestyle in 47.91, second fastest in the world this year. Bolles’ Caeleb Dressel is third seed in 48.53. Ryan Lochte, still bothered by a groin injury, scratched from the semifinal.

Thursday’s events are: women’s 100-meter freestyle prelims and semifinals; men’s 200-meter backstroke prelims and semifinals; women’s 200-meter breaststroke prelims and semifinals; men’s 200-meter individual medley prelims and semifinals; men’s 200-meter breaststroke final; women’s 200-meter butterfly final; and men’s 100-meter freestyle.

NBC is broadcasting finals every night at 8 p.m. EST. USA swimming is live streaming prelims and finals at



200-meter freestyle: 1. Katie Ledecky, NCA 1:54.88, 2. Missy Franklin, STARS 1:56.18, 3. Leah Smith, Cavaliers 1:56.63, 4. Allison Schmitt, North Baltimore 1:56.71; FLORIDA GOLD COAST: 20. Megan Moroney, Cavaliers 2:00.48, 44. Tasija Karosas, Texas 2:02:03, 72. Kyla Valls, Gulliver 2:03.57.

200-meter individual medley: 1. Maya DiRado, Stanford 2:09.54, 2. Melanie Margalis, St. Petersburg 2:10.11, 3. Caitlin Leverenz, Cal Aquatics 2:10.16; FLORIDA GOLD COAST: 18. Rachael Bradford-Feldman, Kentucky 2:15.88, 67. Kathleen Golding, SOFLO 2:19.65, 69. Kelly Fertel, Gulliver 2:19.74.


200-meter butterfly: 1. Michael Phelps, North Baltimore 1:54.84, 2. Tom Shields, Cal Aquatics 1:55.81, 3. Jack Conger, NCA 1:56.45.

Sharon Robb can be reached at

SOFLO’s Aukerman, Donahue, Golding Ready For U.S. Olympic Trials That Begin Sunday

By Sharon Robb

June 24, 2016—It’s show time on the big stage for three South Florida Aquatic Club swimmers.

Claire Donahue, Kile Aukerman and Kathleen Golding will compete in the June 26-July 3 U.S. Olympic Swimming Trials in Omaha, Neb.

Making the Trials is a huge accomplishment in itself. Now they will chase the brass ring trying to make the Aug. 5-21 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.

All three have opening races on Sunday: Donahue in her signature event, the 100-meter butterfly, Golding in the 400-meter individual medley and Aukerman in the 100-meter breaststroke.

The talented trio coached by veteran SOFLO head coach Chris Anderson will share the same deck with the sport’s Big Four: Michael Phelps, Katie Ledecky, Ryan Lochte and Missy Franklin for eight days to determine the U.S. men and women’s Olympic teams.

The top two in each final will qualify for Rio, plus up to six finishers in the 100- and 200-meter freestyle events for relays. The top six in each event also make the senior national team.

Nearly 2,000 swimmers have qualified for the Trials with the most coming from California, Pacific Coast, North Carolina and Florida. The event at CenturyLink Center is a sell out for the first time with more than 200,000 tickets sold.

Donahue, 27, a 2012 Olympian, is making her third U.S. Olympic Trials appearance and coming off a solid year of training. Donahue won a gold medal at the 2012 London Olympics as a member of the winning 400-meter medley relay team.

Donahue is seeded fifth in the 100-meter butterfly in 58.03.

“Not just the training aspect but outside factors,” Donahue said. “Recovery. Doing things like yoga. Making sure my diet’s right on. Making sure every aspect of my life is surrounded by swimming, helping me perform and helping me grow in the sport.”

Golding is the only high school swimmer from a South Florida public high school to qualify. At 15, she is also one of the youngest.

Training alongside Olympians and national-caliber swimmers at South Florida Aquatic Club in Pembroke Pines including four-time Jamaican Olympian Alia Atkinson, a Flanagan alum, has helped her improve.

Golding qualified in the 200-meter individual medley (2:18.67) and 400-meter individual medley (4:53.68), two of the sport’s toughest events.

“It definitely helps to watch the older girls and learn from them,” she said. “They are really good.”

Golding is realistic about her expectations for the Trials.

“I am going there for the experience,” Golding said. “I want to see what it’s like and I want to see how I stack up.

“I have been really focused lately, making sure everything I do in practice counts towards trials. My coach and I are pretty confident going into. I have been swimming pretty well.”

Golding would love to advance into the semifinals in one of her events. Despite her age, she is experienced when it comes to competing at big meets.

“I have been to meets with Missy and Michael,” Golding said. “There’s going to be a lot of fast people. I have been training really hard and doing a lot more dryland work. I think I should swim best times. I know after Trials I am going to be really motivated because it’s such a motivating meet. It makes me want to go to the Olympics even more and really enforces how much I want to be better.”

Aukerman is going in with three Trials cuts and lifetime-bests in the 100-meter breaststroke (1:03.38), 200-meter breaststroke (2:17.96) and 200-meter individual medley (2:04.35). All three times he swam at the Tennessee Aquatics Invitational earlier this month.

The 23-year-old Wright State alum is thrilled to be there. After graduating college, Aukerman decided to put his career on hold to train seriously for nearly two years at SOFLO.

“I got some scholarship money and started swimming to get a good education,” Aukerman said. “As the years went on I started improving and had a good senior year. I thought maybe with long course training under my belt I could get better.

“I totally committed myself to going after it. I got my degree and everything and I will be looking for a job after this year. You have the rest of your life to go to school and work. The Trials are once in a lifetime.”

Aukerman is also realistic about the Trials.

“I want to better my time at Trials,” he said. “My goal in my mind these last two years has been I wanted my last meet to be the Olympic Trials. I want to go best times there. If I do that I will be 100 percent fine to say goodbye to swimming. It’s the best possible way to go out swimming at one of the best meets in the world.”


Aukerman: Sunday, 100-meter breaststroke, Wednesday, 200-meter breaststroke, Thursday, 200-meter individual medley

Donahue: Sunday, 100-meter butterfly, Wednesday, 200-meter butterfly

Golding: Sunday, 400-meter individual medley, Tuesday, 200-meter individual medley.

The Trials will be shown exclusively across NBC networks and mobile platforms. Prelims will be live daily at 11 a.m. Eastern Standard Time on the NBC Sports app.

NBC Sports will live stream the Trials including both prelims and finals sessions. It will also be available on NBC Sports online at, or through the NBC Sports app available on the iTunes App Store, Google Play, Windows Store, Roku Channel Store, Apple TV and Amazon Fire.


Miguel Cancel, Gulliver Prep; Marta Ciesla, Pine Crest; Lauren Driscoll, American Heritage Plantation; Anya Egorova, Gulliver Prep; Kelli Fertel, Gulliver Prep; Alex Evdokimov, Taravella; Casey Francis, Pine Crest; Kathleen Golding, Cooper City; Brandon Goldman, St. Thomas Aquinas; Emily Kopas, University School; Austin Manganiello, Miami Palmetto; Blake Manganiello, Miami Palmetto; Lindsey McKnight, Plantation American Heritage; Jessica Nava, Westminster Academy; Carlos Omana, Belen Jesuit; Michael Saco, Miami Palmetto; Juan Sequera, Reagan; Clara Smiddy, South Florida HEAT; Sam Smiddy, South Florida HEAT; Niki Urquidi, Gulliver Prep; Kyla Valls, Ransom Everglades.


Reagan alum Isabella Paez, 20, of Duke will try and qualify for the Venezuelan Olympic team and University School alum Jordy Groters of Missouri will try and make the Aruba team at the June 23-26 RBC Bahamas National Swimming Championships at the Betty Kelly Kenning National Swim Complex in Nassau. Paez and Groters are former high school district, region and state champions. Foreign swimmers will have a final chance to qualify the following week at the June 29-July 2 Caribbean Islands Swimming Championships, also in the Bahamas.

Sharon Robb can be reached at