In what seems almost like a bad joke, two more American gold medal hopefuls have been knocked out of the A-final by the 2-per-country rule.
In the 100 backstroke held on Wednesday, Aaron Peirsol was the third-fastest swimmer (and American) in the prelims, but was saved by Ryan Lochte deciding to scratch the event to focus on his other event, the 200 free. This time, Peirsol probably won’t be so lucky. Lochte’s only other event today is (probably) the 400 free relay, and if last night’s relay was any indicator, he won’t need the rest.
Peirsol had the third fastest time in the prelims (1:56.22), behind Lochte (1:55.26) and Tyler Clary (1:55.56). Those two, in prelims, put up the 2ndd and 4th fastest times in the world this year. The first and third fastest are both held by the number 3 qualifier Ryosuke Irie from Japan.
Peirsol won the 2004 Olympic gold in this event, and took silver in 2008. This is the second time during this meet that he has had trouble getting up and swimming in the prelims. Whereas Lochte and Clary put up seasons-best times by multiple tenths, Peirsol was only able to shave off .06 seconds from his Nationals mark.
Perhaps even a bigger disappointment, but maybe less of a surprise, was Rebecca Soni getting knocked out of the 50 breaststroke A-final. Soni, who won gold in the 100 breast yesterday, and whose best event is the 200 that takes place tomorrow, had the second fastest 50 time in the world coming into the meet. She wasn’t quite able to reach top speed, however, and was well off of her best time in 31.02. This was the 5th fastest prelim time.
Jessica Hardy (30.39) and NCAA 100-yard champ Annie Chandler (20.61) were the top two-finishing Americans–1st and 4th overall–to qualify for the A-final. Those two, unlike Soni, specialize in the sprint events. Hardy is the World Record holder in the 50 and the 100, and swam the fastest time in the world in the prelim. Chandler’s mark is good for third fastest.
Although Soni easily won her heat, she was doomed by the fact that she raced in the first circle-seeded heat, whereas Americans Hardy and Chandler were both in the final heat. Soni’s time was actually slower than her opening-50 split of the 100 breast, which was a 30.96.
Katie Hoff, the American record holder in the 400 free, was similarly disappointed, only her scenario was slightly worse-case. She had the 5th fastest prelim time overall, but was the 4th best American. This means that she won’t even be able to swim in the B-final. Hoff would have finaled easily if she had gone anywhere in the vicinity of her 4:05.50 from Nationals, but unfortunately, whatever she had left in the tank for this race will be left unseen.
And finally, Kathleen Hersey (58.32), had the third fastest time overall in the prelims, but Christine Magnuson (57.82) and Dana Vollmer (57.89) had the top two times, knocking Hersey to the B-final.