TSX BULLETIN: Dressel wins second, Douglass wins third, Ledecky wins fourth at U.S. Swimming Trials

Olympics-bound American Freestyle superstar Katie Ledecky (Photo: USA Swimming)

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Night eight of the U.S. Olympic Trials in swimming in Indianapolis started with the last stop on the Caeleb Dressel return tour, as he tried for a return engagement in the men’s 100 m Butterfly, in which he won Olympic gold in Tokyo in 2021.

Dressel has been getting better and better as the Trials have progressed, taking third in the 100 m Free, then winning the 50 m Free and he got an excellent start in the 100 Fly, coming up in front from his underwater surge off the start.

Dressel was efficient and timed his stroke to turn perfectly, reaching in 23.53, with a 0.32 edge on Backstroke star Ryan Murphy! On the way home, Dressel stayed steady, but in lane one was 17-year-old Thomas Heilman, already the winner of the 200 m Fly last Wednesday.

Heilman closed on Dressel and was essentially even with 20 m left, but Dressel’s relentless stroke and perfect timing to the wall got him the win in 50.19, now no. 3 in the world for 2024. Heilman touched in a lifetime best of 50.80, now no. 6.

Dare Rose, the 2023 Worlds bronze medalist in the event, was third in 50.84; Murphy faded to sixth in 51.46.

The women’s 200 m Medley final appeared to be a two-woman race between 2023 Worlds gold and silver medal winners – and University of Virginia stars – Kate Douglass and Alex Walsh, Gretchen’s older sister. They were at the front right away, with Douglass turning first on the Fly leg, with Beata Nelson 0.45 back and then Walsh. The Virginia stars were 1-2 after the Backstroke leg and just 0.20 apart at the 150 m mark after they moved away from the field.

On the Freestyle leg, Douglass gained the edge after 30 m and touched first with a lifetime best of 2:06.79, the fastest time ever on American soil (or water), and no. 2 in the world for 2024. Walsh was close, but punched her ticket to Paris at 2:07.86, a little slower than her seasonal best, at no. 4.

Douglass’ 2:06.79 is the no. 5 performance in history, and moves her to be the no. 4 performer, and the no. 2 performance in U.S. history. It’s her third win at the Trials, after the 100 m Free and 200 m Breaststroke.

There was no doubt about Katie Ledecky in the women’s 800 m Freestyle final, taking a big lead right from the start, and cruising home in 8:14.12, just behind her seasonal best. She won her fourth event at the Trials – the 200-400-800-1500 m Freestyles – but opted out of the 200 m Free, but will be on the 4×200 m Free relay.

Behind her was Paige Madden, a member of the Tokyo silver winners in the 4×200 m Free relay, who scored a huge lifetime best of 8:20.71 for second, now no. 8 in the world for 2024. She had been at 8:27.64 before Saturday. Jillian Cox was third in 8:22.97.

The morning women’s 50 m heats saw Torri Huske, second in the 100 m Free, as the top qualifier at 24.47, but she was in the second semi. The first semi saw Abbey Weitzeil, who swam this event in both Rio and Tokyo, emerge in the final 10 m to touch in 24.48, ahead of Catie Deloof in 24.66.

The second semi was a fight between Gretchen Walsh, the world-record-setter in the 100 m Butterfly earlier, fought with Huske for the touch as they finished in 24.06 and 24.09 to move to nos. 5-6 in the world for 2024. Two-time Olympian (and Rio 50 m silver winner) Simone Manuel got third in 24.51.

In the morning heats, Tokyo 2020 Olympic men’s 1,500 m gold medalist Bobby Finke was the leading qualifier in 14:59.04, with David Johnston second-best, but well back at 15:02.42 and Charlie Clark at 15:04.77.

The final night on Sunday has the men’s 1,500 Free final and women’s 50 Free final to wrap up the Trials.

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