By Jim Rusnak // USA Swimming Director of Media Properties | Sunday, July 3, 2016
OMAHA – Before the final of the men’s 100m butterfly Saturday at the 2016 U.S. Olympic Team Trials, Bob Bowman asked Michael Phelps what the game plan was for tonight’s race.
The answer was simple.
“I said I don’t want to lose my last race on American soil,” Phelps said.
He then went out and executed said game plan, out-touching Tom Shields 51.00 to 51.20, the second- and third-fastest times in the world this year.
It was Phelps’s third win of the meet after finishing 1-2 with Shields in the 200m fly Wednesday, and then besting Ryan Lochte in the 200m IM Friday.
With Phelps planning on retiring after the Olympics, tonight’s swim brought a close to an outstanding career at Trials, considered by many to be the most pressure-packed meet in the world.
Phelps has competed in five Olympic Trials over the course of his career, and has amassed 16 wins in those five meets, more than any other swimmer by a longshot. The second swimmer behind Phelps in that category – the legendary Mark Spitz – has six.
Phelps has now qualified for the Olympic team in 27 events, counting relays, and is the only swimmer to win an event at Trials four times. In fact, he’s done that in two events – the 200m fly and 200m IM. His win in the 100m fly Saturday was his third Trials win in that event.
Oh, and at the age of 30 years, two days, he is the oldest Olympic Trials champion since at least 1960, which is as far back as USA Swimming’s statistics go in this category.
“I have a lot of emotion here, with Boomer and with family here, and being my last meet on American soil,” Phelps said. “There was a lot going on this week. We did everything that we wanted to do. I made it in three events, and possibilities for relays, and we’ll see what happens.”
Women's 800m Free
Everyone knows Katie Ledecky has become the most dominant force in distance swimming.
Well, heading into to Saturday’s final of the women’s 800m freestyle, she owned the 10 fastest swims of all time in that event, knocking Rebecca Adlington of Great Britain off the list with her swim in yesterday’s prelims in 8:10.91, now the fourth-fastest time in history.
Tonight Ledecky cruised to another win in that event, turning in the third-fastest time in history in 8:10.31. It was the second-fastest time in the world this year, behind her world record of 8:06.68, which she swam last January at the Arena Pro Swim Series at Austin.
Leah Smith finished second in 8:20.18. Despite the nearly 10-second deficit behind Ledecky, Smith’s time mad her the third-fastest swimmer in the world this year in that event.
It was the third win of the meet for Ledecky, who also won the 400m free and 200m free earlier in the week. Smith finished second to Ledecky in the 400, and qualified to swim the 800m free relay in Rio with a third-place finish in the 200m free.
“I would have liked to have been faster, but I could kind of tell during the race that it wasn’t going to be much faster than yesterday,” Ledecky said. “I would have liked to have brought in my legs a little more throughout the race, but they just weren’t there tonight, and that made my arms a little tired.
“I did what I wanted to do here, and it set me up for what I wanted to do in Rio. I think I’m really excited to get back to work this week and see if I can get a little faster, and then taper down and rest up for Rio.”
Women's 200m Back
Also winning her third event of the week was Maya DiRado, who won the women’s 200m back in 2:06.90, the fourth-fastest time in the world this year. Missy Franklin, the world-record-holder and defending Olympic champion in the 200m back, touched second in 2:07.89.
DiRado will also represent the U.S. in the 200m IM and 400m IM in Rio, which will be her first Olympic Games.
“This is a dream,” DiRado said.
In addition to the second place finish in the 200m back tonight, Franklin also finished second in the 200m free Wednesday.
“One of the things I’ve been trying to do this whole year is not compare myself to 2012,” Franklin said. “Coming in, I think a lot of people thought that in order for me to have the same success, I would have to do the same thing I did in 2012, and that’s not what I came in here intending to do. I came in here to be the best of who I am right now, not who I was four years ago. To get to individual spots and a relay spot, I’m so happy with that.”
Men's 50m Free
Nathan Adrian won his second event of the week, edging Anthony Ervin in the 50m free by a hundredth of a second, 21.51 to 21.52. Their times were the third- and fourth-fastest times in the world this year in that event.
Adrian also won the 100m free on Thursday with the second-fastest time in the world. Ervin finished fourth in 100, earning a spot on the Olympic Team in the 50m free and the 400m free relay.
“I’m happy with my 47.7 (in the 100 free) and 21.5, but it’s all about racing and qualifying,” Adrian said. “It’s crazy. There were two guys (in the 50 free) who won (Olympic) medals in that event (Ervin and Cullen Jones). Caeleb (Dressel) and some of the younger guys are certainly capable of winning medals in the future, so it’s an honor to come out of that field on top.
“(Rio) is not going to be easy. Switching between the 100 and 50 takes a lot of focus and mental energy – switching the strokes, switching the timing, the kicks and body position. It’s something that Dave and I are going to focus on, being able to switch between the two whenever we need to.”
Second Place Finishers No Longer in Limbo
The second-place finishers from each event were officially added to the U.S. Olympic roster Saturday, along with the fifth- and sixth- place finishers in the women's 100m free and 200m free. The fifth- and sixth- place finishers in the men's 100m free and 200m free are still awaiting official placement on the team.Tune in at 9 a.m. CT for Deck Pass Live Presented by AT&T, and at 9 p.m. for #Lane9, streaming live from the 2016 U.S. Olympic Team Trials onsftest.usaswimming.org.
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