By Jim Rusnak // USA Swimming Director of Media Properties | Monday, July 4, 2016OMAHA – For the second time in two days, Abbey Weitzeil and Simone Manuel finished 1-2 in a women’s sprinting event at the 2016 U.S. Olympic Team Trials – Swimming.
On Friday, the duo took the top two spots – Weitzeil first, Manuel second – in the women’s 100m freestyle, earning their way onto the Olympic roster in the 100m free and 400m free relay.
Sunday, they did it again, in the same order, in the 50m free. Weitzeil hit the wall first in 24.28, with Manuel five-hundredths of a second behind in 24.33. Their performances were the sixth- and seventh-fastest in the world this year in this event.
“I was coming in here to win and make the team, so it’s not a surprise,” Weitzeil said. “But still, even if you’re experiencing it, and you know you can do it, when you touch the wall and see that ‘1’ (on the scoreboard) it’s a huge sensation of, ‘Oh my gosh, this happened.’
“I think the hardest part was just how long I the meet was. It’s an eight-day meet, and most of the days, I wasn’t swimming, so just coming here and pretty much just sitting and waiting for a 50-second race and a 25-second race is definitely a long process.”
“I think it’s a big deal,” Manuel said. “Just coming off 2012, I was 17th in the 100 free, and my goal (in 2012) was to make semifinals. So getting an individual swim has been something I’ve dreamed of for four years, and then being able to pull it off in the 50 free is exciting, and then I’ll have the relay, too. I’m super excited for what’s to come.”
From the Shortest Event to the Longest
The meet concluded with the men’s 1500m free.
Connor Jaeger and Jordan Wilimovsky separated themselves from the field early on and flirted with the U.S. Open record for much of the way. Jaeger then put some distance between him and Wilimovsky final 50 meters for the win in 14:47.61. Wilimovsky touched about a second and a half behind in 14:49.19. Their times were the fourth- and sixth-fastest in the world this year.
It was Jaeger’s second win of the meet after taking the 400m free on day 1.
“I’m just blessed that I can come to a meet like this with friends and family here to support me,” Jaeger said. “I had a great meet, and I’m really fortunate. Some people didn’t, and that’s really unfortunate.
“When you’re in a sport like this for a long time, you get to know everybody, so it’s an emotional ride, because whether you’re doing well or you’re not, you are seeing your friends having good or bad meets, and you feel for them. Even in a race like that, I’m best friends with Michael McBroom, and he didn’t make the team. That’s sad, but that’s the sport.”
Wilimovsky came into this Trials with his spot on the Olympic roster already secure. Last year, he qualified for the open water 10K race by taking first at the 2015 FINA Open Water World Championships.
He is now the first American swimmer to qualify for the Olympic team in both the pool and open water since open water became an Olympic event in 2008.
“That’s what I’ve been working toward this year, trying to represent the United States in two events,” Wilimovsky said. “Open water has only been around since 2008, so it’s not that old or anything. I’m sure there are a lot of people (in the future) who are going to do it.”
Wrapping it Up
In the end, 47 people – 22 women and 25 men – have earned their spot on the 2016 U.S. Olympic Team roster in both the pool and open water.
Earning the Omega Top Male Swimmer of the Meet award was Michael Phelps, who won three events – the 200m fly, 200m IM and 100m fly. Katie Ledecky was named Omega’s top Female Swimmer of the Meet for her wins in the 400m free, 200m free and 800m free.
The Omega Coach of the meet went to California Aquatics’ Dave Durden. Durden is the coach of record for six swimmers on the men’s team: Nathan Adrian, Anthony Ervin, Ryan Murphy, Jacob Pebley, Josh Prenot and Tom Shields.
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