OMAHA, Neb. – Michael Phelps won his fourth event of the meet Sunday at the 2012 U.S. Olympic Team Trials, taking the men’s 100m butterfly with a time of 51.14.
That accomplishment makes him eligible to swim eight events at the 2012 Olympic Games – the 100 fly, the 200 fly, the 200 IM, the 400 IM, the 200 freestyle and all three relays.
It’s the same program he followed in his historic eight-gold-medal run in Beijing, though his status in the 400 free relay is up in the air. Phelps did not compete in the 100m freestyle last week in Omaha, but any swimmer on the Olympic roster can be added to a relay at the head coach’s discretion.
“It shows that I can do this program at a high level again,” Phelps said. “I think we were struggling over the last few years doing one at this level. It will be good to get home and start working toward London.”
Other swimmers winning events Sunday included Missy Franklin in the women’s 200m backstroke (2:06.12), Katie Ledecky in the women’s 800m freestyle (8:19.78) and Cullen Jones in the men’s 50m freestyle (21.59).
It was Franklin’s second win of the meet after taking the 100 back on day 3. Like Phelps, she has qualified in multiple events this week – the 100 back, the 200 back, the 100 free, the 200 free and is eligible to swim in all three relays. She is the first American female swimmer in history to qualify for the Olympic Games in seven events.
“The whole week has gone really well, just as well as (coach Todd Schmitz) and I could have asked for,” Franklin said. “We’re so thrilled. I can’t believe I have seven events. It’s so overwhelming and so exciting at the same time. I’m going to focus on the small things now and hopefully be better in London.”
Second-place finishers Sunday were Elizabeth Beisel in the women’s 200 back (2:07.58), Tyler McGill in the men’s 100 fly (51.32), Kate Ziegler in the women’s 800 free (8:21.87) and Anthony Ervin in the men’s 50 free (21.60). Each of these swimmers will be added to the Olympic roster in each of those events.
Also added to the Olympic roster Sunday were the fifth and sixth-place swimmers from the men’s and women’s 100m and 200m freestyles. Qualifying for the team in these spots were Jimmy Feigen and Jason Lezak in the men’s 400 free relay; Matt McLean and Charlie Houchin in the men’s 800 free relay; Amanda Weir and Natalie Coughin in the women’s 400 free relay; and Shannon Vreeland and Alyssa Anderson in the women’s 800 free relay.
Women’s 200m Backstroke
Turning to the races, Franklin won the women’s 200m backstroke handily, jumping out to a lead in the first length of the race and never looking back. She finished about a body-length ahead of runner-up Beisel. Their swims were the first- and fourth-fastest in the world this year.
“I’m so happy with my 200 backstroke,” Franklin said. “It always hurts so bad at the end, but if it doesn’t you’re not doing it right.”
With her second-place finish Sunday, Beisel has qualified to swim in two events in London. She also won the 400 IM on the first night of competition.
Men’s 100m Butterfly
Phelps made some uncharacteristic mistakes early in the men’s 100m butterfly. Touching sixth at the turn, Phelps was able to chase the pack down in the final 50 meters to edge McGill by 18-hundredths of a second with one last desperate lunge at the wall. Their times were the first and second-fastest in the world this year.
“It was a pretty crappy first 50 and a pretty terrible finish,” Phelps said. “I was super long. I should have taken another stroke. It felt OK. It didn’t feel great, but it didn’t feel horrible.”
Coming into tonight, McGill was determined to secure his spot on the team.
"I just had to make a decision this morning that I was going to London and commit to that," McGill said. "Nothing was going to get in my way of qualifying."
Ryan Lochte finished a noteworthy third in this event in 51.65. Last night, Lochte swam an unprecedented triple in the finals of the 200 back, 200 IM and the semifinals of the 100 fly to put himself in a position to qualify for the Games in the 100 fly.
Women’s 800m Freestyle
Katie Ledecky stormed to a lead from the start of the women’s 800m freestyle, and left everyone at her feet and racing for second by the 200-meter mark. Ziegler gave chase in the second half of the race, but couldn’t make up ground at that point. Ledecky's time was an Olympic Trials meet record. She and Ziegler's performances were the second- and third fastest in the world this year.
At 15, Ledecky is the youngest member of this year’s Olympic Team. She’s come a long way, considering a year ago she didn’t even have her Olympic Trials cut in the 800 free.
“Four years ago, I never knew how to qualify for Olympic Trials,” Ledecky said. “I thought it was this unreal thing. It’s just unbelievable to think back to where I was and to think about the work I’ve put in the last couple of months with my coach. I had a lot of confidence going into that race.”
Now qualifying for her second Olympic Team, Ziegler was once in Ledecky’s shoes.
“I started out on my first international team when I was 16 years old or so, and I looked up to the older swimmers,” Ziegler said. “Now I have that opportunity to give back, if nothing else. I would love to leave the sport saying that I helped mentor, shape – whatever – the future of our sport. I think that’s one of the greatest gifts I could give.”
Men’s 50m Freestyle
Jones and Ervin came out on top of a tight field in the men’s 50m freestyle, touching within one-hundredth of a second of each other and beating third-place finisher Nathan Adrian to the wall by just eight-hundredths of a second. They will be the second and third seeds heading into London this summer, behind defending Olympic champion Cesar Cielo.
“I’ve got to focus on the London Games now,” Jones said. “I qualified in my two favorite events, and I don’t want to let people down.”
Ervin and Jones were the first and second male swimmers of African-American descent to qualify for the Olympic Team. They are now the first African-American duo to qualify for the Olympic swimming team in the same event.
Sunday night’s second-place finish for Ervin caps a successful comeback after a nine-year absence from international competition.
“I’ve been feeling gratitude all week, up to that moment I walked out there,” Ervin said. “I was thinking about all the people who have been through my life, especially the ones who stayed.
“I just want to have a good time. I just want to keep this fun train chugging.”
In the lone semifinal of the night, Jessica Hardy was the top qualifier in the women’s 50m freestyle in 24.56. Christine Magnuson and Dara Torres rounded out the top three in 24.72 and 24.80. Should Torres make the team, she will become the oldest athlete to qualify for an Olympic Games. She is 45. She will also become the first American swimmer to qualify for six Olympic Games.