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There were four finals at the U.S. Olympic Trials in Omaha on Friday, but the day and the night belonged to sprint superstar Caeleb Dressel.
His tight win in the men’s 100 m Freestyle on Thursday night seemed to relax him and he re-wrote the all-time list in the men’s 50 m Butterfly in the heats and semifinals!
In the morning, he blew away the field, winning in a world-leading 50.17, the no. 9 performance of all time, saying afterwards “We’ve still got to clean some stuff up.” especially on the finish.
He was more than ready in the semis, finishing the evening’s program with a dominant win in 49.76, the third fastest time ever, behind his world record of 49.50 from the 2019 World Championships semifinals in Korea and his 49.66 in the Worlds final. Dressel owns this event: he has seven of the top 10 times in history.
And there is still the final to go! Tom Shields was a distant second among the qualifiers at 51.20, followed by Coleman Stewart (51.54).
In the women’s 200 m Breaststroke, Annie Lazor just barely missed beating 100 m Breast winner (and Olympic champ) Lilly King in the semis, but got her in the final. King was out strongly and led at the 100 m mark, but Lazor took over on the third lap and never let up, splitting 35.97 and 36.20 over the last two laps to 37.02 and 36.55 for King. Their final times were 2:21.07 for Lazor (no. 3 on the 2021 world list) and 2:21.75 for King (still no. 5). Emily Escobedo was third in 2:22.64.
Rio double Olympic Backstroke champ Ryan Murphy showed he’s planning a double-double for Tokyo with a clear victory in the men’s 200 m Backstroke. Already the 100 m Back winner, he led wire-to-wire to win in 1:54.20, moving to no. 2 on the year list, ahead of Bryce Mefford, moving up from fourth in the 100 m Back final. Mefford’s time of 1:54.79 ranks him no. 5 in 2021; Austin Katz finished third in 1:55.86.
Michael Andrew claimed the world lead in the semis of the men’s 200 m Medley at 1:55.26 and was on world-record pace after the first three legs in both the heats and semis. Same in the final, with Andrew storming to the lead and winning by a second and a half over 2017 World Champion Chase Kalisz in 1:55.44 (but well of the record of 1:54.00). Kalisz used his brilliant Breaststroke leg to move from fifth to second and stayed there, finishing in 1:56.97, with Kieran Smith – who won the 200 m and 400 m frees – third in 1:57.23. World-record holder Ryan Lochte, trying for fifth Olympic team, was seventh in 1:59.67.
The women’s 100 m Freestyle was marked, of course, by the absence of 2016 Rio co-champion Simone Manuel, but former national champ Abbey Weitzeil led all the way and won in 53.53, a couple of 100ths better than her semifinal time. Erika Brown was a steady second and made the team at 53.59, beating veteran Olivia Smoliga, who will go to a second Olympic Games on at least relay duty in third (53.63). Natalie Hinds was fourth (53.64) and also on the plane for relays; 200 m Free runner-up Allison Schmidt finished sixth in 54.12.
In the women’s 200 m Backstroke semis, superstar Regan Smith had the fastest time, winning semi two in 2:07.23, ahead of Phoebe Bacon from semi one (2:07.46), Rhyan White (2:08.39 in heat two) and Kathleen Baker – remember her foot injury – was third in semi two in 2:08.58 and onto the final. Hali Flickinger, the winner of the 200 m Fly, was the final qualifier in 2:09.81.
The U.S. Trials continue though Sunday; Saturday’s finals include the men’s 100 m Fly, women’s 200 m Back and men’s 800 m Free.
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