Five women’s races to watch at U.S. Olympic Swimming Trials
With 26 events over eight days, there will be plenty to watch at the U.S. Olympic Swimming Trials in Omaha, starting Sunday on NBC, NBCSN and NBC Sports Live Extra.
Here are five women’s events to focus on:
Women’s 100m freestyle - July 1
Three 19-year-olds will battle some Olympic veterans for six Olympic berths (only two individually, though), and some vets who are not necessarily freestyle specialists. The top seed is Simone Manuel, who clocked in at 53.25 as a 17-year-old at the 2014 Pan Pacific Championships. Seeded second will be Missy Franklin (53.68), the reigning Olympic 100 and 200 backstroke champ. Third is reigning Olympic 100 butterfly champ Dana Vollmer (53.59). Then there’s 19-year-old Katie Ledecky (53.75), who won gold at the 2015 Worlds in every freestyle event longer than 100 meters, and another 19-year-old, Abbey Weitzeil (53.77). A relay spot could go to 33-year-old Natalie Coughlin, who has won 12 Olympic medals, two of which were in the 100 free (bronze in 2004 and ’08).
Women’s 200m freestyle - June 29
The 200 free will be similarly loaded with big names battling for six spots. Ledecky is the favorite after winning the event at the 2015 Worlds and posting the world’s second-fastest time so far this year (1:54.43). Franklin won bronze at last year’s Worlds in 1:55.49, seventh-fastest since the start of 2015. And Allison Schmitt is the defending Olympic gold medalist. She won in London in 1:53.61, but her best time since January 2015 is 1:56.23. Manuel, seeded ninth, could vie for a berth here as well.
Women’s 100m backstroke - June 28
This one could come down to Franklin and Coughlin. Franklin is the defending Olympic champion, winning the London 100 back in 58.33; she placed fifth at the 2015 Worlds in 59.40, tops among Americans. Coughlin, however, holds the fastest American time since the start of 2015 (59.05). She’s a two-time Olympic gold medalist in this event (2004 and ’08), but was edged out at the 2012 Trials by Franklin and then-18-year-old Rachel Bootsma, whose recent times leave her a longshot in the event at this year’s Trials.
Women’s 400m individual medley - June 26
Maya DiRado, 23, looks set to make her Olympic debut after winning silver in the 400 IM at the 2015 Worlds in 4:31.71, the second-fastest time in the world since the start of 2015. Close behind is Elizabeth Beisel, who posted 4:31.99 at the 2014 Pan Pacific Championships, and won silver at the London Games with a time of 4:31.27. Caitlin Leverenz also took part in that Olympic final, placing sixth (4:35.49); her best mark since is 4:35.46. And Ledecky will be seeded fifth in this race, though she is unlikely to have designs on swimming it in Rio.
Women’s 200m butterfly - June 30
Cammile Adams made her Olympic debut four years ago after winning this event at Trials, and then finished fifth in London (2:06.78). She dropped her time to 2:06.40 and won silver at the 2015 Worlds, and her best mark since January 2015 is 2:06.33, fifth in the world. She’ll be challenged at Trials by 18-year-old Katie McLaughlin, who placed sixth at Worlds last year in 2:06.95, the world’s 11th-best time in the past two years. DiRado and Hali Flickinger could also contend for that second spot.