Be sure to update this page throughout the night, as we will get recaps up as quickly as we can throughout the session!
Night five of the 2012 Olympic Swimming Trials in Omaha are underway, and it’s time to hand out 12-more Olympic spots: including the 6 men who will make up at least part of the American 400 free relay.
There will be no finals from Michael Phelps or Ryan Lochte (though they’ll have three combined semi-finals swims) but there is going to be a slew of sneaky-good finals; including the men’s 200 breast and women’s 200 fly.
The crowd is rowdy on Friday night, and for the first time this week it looks like a sell-out. It’s time to get started!
Men’s 200 Breaststroke Final
Who is Scott Weltz? Smart money says that about 100 fans in Omaha could’ve told you who Scott Weltz was until tonight. Not to toot our own horns – but those 100 probably are SwimSwam readers.
But even we didn’t see him coming through in this 200. He looked coming into this meet as though the 100 was going to be his money-race. Weltz, out of UC-Davis, is one of the better swimmers in that school’s history, but was still just sort of on the fringe of national-level swimming. But after taking a big chunk of time off (most of the 2010 season in long course), he absolutely unleashed upon the 2012 Winter National Championships, with a 5-second drop in this race (and a two-second race in the 100).
But even with that mid-season taper, Marin, who trains with the Marin Pirates of all places, he has taken it even further at this meet. His best coming in was a 2:12.37. He’s now the U.S. Olympic Trials Champion with a 2:09.01; that’s the number-five time in the world this year, and the third-fastest American in history.
Weltz ate this moment up. He jumped over the touchpads to exit the pool (unconventional at a meet where swimmers are expected to exit the side, and played to the crowd for about 3 solid minutes before finally making his way to the tunnels. It was fantastic to see. He was only 37th in this race at the 2008 Trials.
The runner-up is another first-time Olympian, and fan-favorite, Clark Burckle from Tucson Ford in 2:09.97. Burckle couldn’t quite match the impressive and surprising closing speed of Weltz, but he was better than the rest of the field as he too overtook Eric Shanteau. That’s a big shock, as Shanteau doesn’t get run down on the last 50 of this event all that often.
He finished 3rd in 2:10.05, with Hansen just behind in 2:10.25. That means that the Americans will send four different breaststrokers to London (maybe danger for the #2 finishers in different events, who are still waiting on doubles to see the final roster size?). Shanteau will only be in the 100 – which seems a bit backwards.
Elliott Keefer had the best meet of his life, and even in 5th swam a best time of 2:11.10, but came up short of the Olympic Team.
Women’s 100 Free Semifinals
The women’s 100 free semi’s continued to dwarf the men’s races in terms of speed, as 14 swimmers dipped under 55-seconds. That means that there were some very good times that missed the final, though I’d still argue that the “key” swimmers safely navigated through. That includes the top seeded Amanda Weir, who despite not having a great year in 2010, has resurged now back training at SwimAtlanta.
She is the top seed headed into finals, followed by Missy Franklin in 54.19. Franklin has been better in her sprint events so far at this meet, which hopefully encourages her to see what happens in the 50 at the end of the meet. Regardless, in the final, she’s going to have to hustle to hold off heat 1 champion Allison Schmitt, who was 3rd in 54.23 – there’s no way Schmitt doesn’t go 53 in the final.
Jessica Hardy also looked as good as she has in this meet by finishing 4th in 54.27; after that the times jumped a bit to Dana Vollmer in 54.43.
It’s great to see Madison Kennedy make it into this final as well, 6th in 54.45. She may be the United States’ best hope, after Hardy at doing something in London in the 50 free: that’s her best time by half-a-second.
And the great Natalie Coughlin will be swimming out of her favorite spot, lane 1, after finishing 7th in 54.48. That too is as good as she’s looked in this meet, and with such a tight final you have to like her chances of making the top 6. On the other hand, she was 7th in the 100 fly final, 7th in the 100 back semi-final, and now 7th here. Lucky triple sevens perhaps are now in play?
Fan favorite Megan Romano was 10th in 54.72, and Margo Geer couldn’t continue improving as she did in the first two rounds to take 12th in 54.85.
Men’s 200 Back Semifinals
As expected, Ryan Lochte didn’t crush the last 50 in this final quite like he did in the prelims – he was only a 28.30 (as compared to a 27.9 last year) – but that doesn’t mean he didn’t put up a masterful swim. Very much in “energy conservation mode” with doubles the next two evenings, Lochte coasted to an easy 1:55.73 to take the top seed overall in the men’s 200 back semi-final.
He and Tyler Clary really separated themselves from the field as the winners of the respective heats. Clary, building off of his momentum earned in the 200 fly final, took a 1:55.88 – backing up his post-prelims claims that he could do a 1:55 tonight.
Those two are a mile ahead of the rest of the field in this race; the next-best is Ryan Murphy, the 16-year old phenom, in 1:57.39. Unlike prelims, that is a best time for him, but he still has a huge gap to go to break into the top three. He is very close to Aaron Peirol’s National Ge Group Record, and will need to drop just over three-tenths in the finals to get there.
Nobody else in the final really seems to have the wheels to get close to those top two. Jacob Pebley, the fourth seed in 1:58.71, and Rex Tullius, the fifth seed in 1:58.79, barely started faster than Lochte finished.
Jack Conger also made his 2nd final in 8th in 1:59.68 – his 2nd final of the day also as only a high schooler.
A couple of studs in NCAA swimming, Alex Lendrum (9th – 1:59.85) and Cory Chitwood (10th – 2:00.03) just missed; Chitwood has three-straight NCAA Titles in this event.
Women’s 200 Fly Final
Cammile Adams played this race perfectly, and the on-fire women’s team at Texas A&M has their second champion at this meet, and second Olympian of the year, as she side-breathed her way to a 2:06.52. That’s a new Olympic Trials Record, clearing the 2:06.75 set by Elaine Breeden in 2008. That puts her 6th in the world in 2012.
That gives Steve Bultman 6 career Olympians for the United States, and two on this team. There’s no way that he gets left off of the staff, despite being relatively anonymous. It would be his first American Olympic staff since 1988, though he’s had plenty of presence at the games – Adams is the 11th Olympian he has qualified for the 2012 Games.
Adams won this race on a monster closing 50-meters, after her in-state rival Kathleen Hersey took the lead on the final turn. That’s not quite as quick as her best time from 2011, but it is a good swim headed into London for her.
Kim Vandenberg was 3rd for the 2nd-straight year, with a 2:08.99. That’s about half-a-second slower than she was in 2008; but still a great swim. This was her last serious shot at the Olympic roster for this meet.
Teresa Crippen has been battling sickness this whole meet, and she did what she had to do in this final – go out just a bit harder – however, she couldn’t finish like she did in the early rounds.
Another Aggie, Caroline McElhany, was 5th in 2:09,90, making three swimmers from the Lone Star State in the top five.
Men’s 100 Free Final
Say a little prayer for the men’s 400 free relay, if you’re so inclined. Nathan Adrian had a solid, but not world-beating, time of 48.10 in the men’s 100 free. That ranks him 4th in the world this year.
That in-and-of-itself is not nearly the anchor the Americans need to take down the Australians in this relay in London. But after that, things got incredibly shaky. Cullen Jones, who actually led this race before fighting through the last 10 meters or so, took 2nd in 48.46. Matt Grevers, after scratching the 200 back, was only 3rd here in 48.55. And Ricky Berens earned a second relay swim with a 48.80 for 4th. Even if you allow about half-a-second for relay takeoffs (generous for the Americans) that leaves them at a 3:12.00 or so, which may not be enough to medal in the relay.
The American men have never failed to medal in an Olympic relay, aside from the 1980 Olympics when the US boycotted it.
Jimmy Feigen took 5th in 48.84, and Jason Lezak was 6th in 48.88. Lezak, at 36-years old, found his way onto another Olympic Team.
Jones will be the Americans’ second individual swimmer, and based on his huge endorsement haul in Beijing, where he was only a relay swimmer, he’ll probably do extremely well in London. Good to see a man who’s dedicated so much of his time to the learn to swim initiative get the payoff.
Scot Robison (48.92) and Garrett Weber-Gale (49.21) took the last two spots; that means both of those swimmers, on the Worlds team, will have to count on the 50 to make the team.
Full Meet Results available here.