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The penultimate day of the U.S. Olympic Trials in Omaha showcased the two superstars of the American team for Tokyo: Caeleb Dressel and Katie Ledecky.
Dressel left no doubt in his first event, the men’s 100 m Butterfly final, storming to a win by more than a second in 49.87 over Tom Shields (51.19) and Luca Urlando (51.19). Not quite as fast as his world-leading 49.76 in the semis, but still the no. 5 performance in history. Dressel now owns eight of the top 11 times in this event ever.
He then had the 50 m Freestyle semifinals 37 minutes later, and watched Michael Andrew dominate the first race, winning in 21.55 – no. 3 in the world for 2021 – trailed by Bowe Becker (21.83).
Dressel and 2012 Olympic 100 m Free champ Nathan Adrian – now 32 – were next to each other in semi two, with Dressel taking the lead at about 20 m and won by daylight in 21.51, making him no. 3 for 2021, with Adrian out-dueling Michael Chadwick for second, 21.78 to 22.01. Dressel is well positioned for win no. 3 tomorrow night, but can veteran Adrian out-swim newcomer Andrew for second?
There was no doubt that Katie Ledecky was going to win in the women’s 800 m Freestyle. And she delivered in 8:14.62 for her fourth win, with the second-fastest time of the season (she’s already the world leader). The race for the second spot was tight between open-water star Haley Anderson and 15-year-old Katie Grimes, who scored a huge lifetime best of 8:20.36 to get second, with Anderson at 8:20.51. Grimes is now no. 5 in the world for 2021.
Rhyan White finished second to Regan Smith in the women’s 100 m Backstroke, but got to the touch first in the women’s 200 m Backstroke final in 2:05.73, no. 3 in the world for 2021. Smith – the world-record holder in the event – got out in front and led at 150 m, but White passed her on the final lap as did Phoebe Bacon, who got second by 2:06.46-2:06.79, the nos. 4-5 performers on the year list. But Smith will not be swimming this event in Tokyo.
The winner of the men’s 800 m Freestyle – Bobby Finke – led the men’s 1,500 m Freestyle heats in the morning in 15:04.66, ahead of 400 m Free runner-up Michael Brinegar (15:07.93) and open-water star Jordan Wilimovsky (15:14.67). The final is Sunday.
In the women’s 50 m Freestyle, Rio co-100 m champ Simone Manuel had the second-fastest time in the morning heats, then won the first race, out-touching Erika Brown, 24.50-24.57 with Catie Deloof third in 24.68. Manuel will be the sentimental favorite for tomorrow.
Heats leader Abbey Weitzeil won the second semi in 24.27, no. 9 on the 2021 world list, just ahead of Torri Huske (24.45).
Only three events on the final night of the Trials tomorrow: the men’s and women’s 50 m Freestyles and the men’s 1,500 m Freestyle.
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