TSX BULLETIN: Manuel stuns in 50 Free, Finke doubles up in 1,500 Free as U.S. Swimming Trials close in Indy

Olympic 1,500 m champ Bobby Finke closed out the Trials with a win and a trip to defend his gold medal in Paris! (Photo: University of Florida)

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Just two finals on the final night of the U.S. Swimming Trials in Indianapolis, in shortest and longest races on the program: the women’s 50 m Free and the men’s 1,500 m Free.

Just as in the women’s 100 m Butterfly early in the meet, Gretchen Walsh and Torri Huske were 1-2 in the qualifying, with Walsh at 24.06 and Huske at 24.09 in semi two, then Abbey Weitzeil in 24.48 from semi one.

They were lined up in lanes 3 (Weitzeil)-4 (Walsh)-5 (Huske) with 2016 Trials winner Simone Manuel in six.

Off the blocks, Walsh and Huske were in the lead, but then Weitzeil came on and appeared to lead at 25 m. But Walsh kept coming, Huske faded just slightly, as did Weitzeil, but then Manuel found another gear in the final 10 m and got to the wall first in 24.13, a seasonal best and now no. 5 in the world for 2024. It’s the third straight Olympic Trials win in this event for Manuel, now 27, who won silver in the 50 Free in Rio.

Walsh touched just behind in 24.15 (no. 6 in 2024), with Weitzeil at 24.26 and then Huske in 24.33. Amazing finish by Manuel, who suffered from overtraining syndrome, changed coaches and now is headed to her third straight Olympic Games.

The men’s 1,500 m was expected to be a clear win for Tokyo Olympic champ Bobby Finke, the leading qualifier on Saturday. It was.

He was up 0.49 seconds after the first length, 0.85 up after 100 m, and 2.63 at 200 m and it just grew from there. Finke finished in 14:40.28, now no. 2 in the world for 2024 after having been 14th coming in.

Behind him was a desperate battle for second between Luke Whitlock – second in the 800 m Free – and David Johnston, third in the 400 m Free and fourth in the 800 m Free and 11th at the 800 m at the 2024 Worlds in Doha. Johnston moved ahead in the final 200 m and looked solid for second, but Whitlock made a final-lap sprint and got close, but had to settle for third, 14:52.74 to 14:53.00.

These were stunning times, as Johnston had a best of 15:02 37 in 2022, and had to swim under the Olympic qualifying standard of 15:00.99 to make the team! Whitlock had a best of 15:08.09 coming in and scored a 15-second best. Daniel Matheson was fourth in 14:59.51, also under the qualifying standard.

Finke joined Caeleb Dressel, Ryan Murphy and Carson Foster as men’s multi-event winners, and Katie Ledecky, Kate Douglass and Regan Smith. On to Paris.

Quite a show, one that will be long remembered. Much more to unpack on this in the coming days.

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