By Jim Rusnak // USA Swimming Director of Media Properties | Friday, July 1, 2016
OMAHA – For just one moment Wednesday morning, it looked like Cammile Adams would not be standing where she was standing Thursday night at the 2016 U.S Olympic Team Trials – on the medal podium for the women’s 200m butterfly.
Adams was initially disqualified in the prelims of that event for allegedly breaking the vertical plane towards her back on a turn. The call went down to the instant replay officials in the bowels of the CenturyLink Center stadium, and the video clearly showed Adams violated no such rule. The ruling was overturned.
That set the stage for finals tonight, where Adams cruised to a win in the 200 fly in 2:06.80. In doing so, Adams became just the second swimmer this week to defend an Olympic Trials title from 2012. (Nathan Adrian would also do so about 10 minutes later in the men’s 100m free – more on that later).
Her time makers her the seventh-fastest swimmer in the world this year in that event, and she will be heading to Rio to compete in her second Olympic Games.
“To me, it’s so much more than just swimming,” Adams said. “I’ve learned about myself and how to overcome obstacles, and yesterday was an obstacle that I never thought I would have to overcome, but it was, and I’m really glad that I have the support staff that I have behind me, just to put me on the path to overcome it all. It really has been the defining factor behind me these past two days.”
Finishing second behind Adams was Hali Flickinger in 2:07.50. Flickinger has not officially made the team, but will likely be added to the roster later in the week, pending swimmers qualifying in multiple events.
Flickinger almost missed out on Trials this week. She says she has a chronic condition that makes her catch a virus almost every month that gives her a fever and ulcers in her throat. It occurred last week, and she had to miss two days of training and reschedule her flight to Omaha at the last minute.
“I was actually really nervous and stressed out, but luckily it happened the week before and not here,” Flickinger said. “I catch this virus more than people would think. I catch it almost every month, and my body actually realizes how to recover faster now.”
Catching and Riding a Wave of Momentum
Kevin Cordes has been having quite a week at Trials.
On the first day of the meet, he set the American record in the semifinals of the men’s 100m breaststroke in 58.94, the second-fastest time in the world this year. The very next night, he qualified for his first Olympic Team with a win in that event.
Then in the semifinals of the 200m breaststroke Wednesday, he set the U.S. Open record in 2:07.81.
As the top seed in Thursday night’s finals of the 200 breast, he rode that momentum through the 150 meter mark of that race, where he was 1.19 seconds ahead of world record pace.
In that final 50, though, Josh Prenot caught a little bit of that wave Cordes was riding, and passed him down the homestretch for the win.
Prenot’s time of 2:07.17 was an American record, eclipsing the former mark of 2:07.42, set by Eric Shanteau in 2009. It was also the fastest time in the world this year. Cordes was second in 2:07.17.
“Kind of the mistake I made last night was being a little too aggressive through the first 100, so I just tried to stay calm in order to finish hard my last 50,” Prenot said. “Before tonight, that was probably the most nervous I’ve ever been for a race, so staying calm was a bit of a challenge, but it ended up working out.
“It was kind of surreal, to be honest. I’ve been looking up to some of the dudes I competed against for my entire childhood swimming career, so to be able to be considered to have a shot was kind of unexpected.”
With the win, Prenot qualified for his first Olympic Team. Because he qualified for the team earlier in the week in the 100m breast, Cordes earned the right to compete in the 200m breast in Rio as well.
So far, Prenot and Cordes are the only swimmers to break an American record this week. They will head to Rio as the first and third seeds in the 200 breast.
“Kevin has looked strong throughout this meet,” Prenot said. “He consistently gets it done every summer, so being next to him was a good thing for me.”
American Sprinting on the Rise
About 10 minutes after Adams became the second swimmer this week to defend an Olympic Trials title, Nathan Adrian stepped up on the blocks in the 100m freestyle and followed suit, touching the wall in 47.72. It was the second-fastest time in the world this year.
Four years ago in London, Adrian became the first American male since Matt Biondi in 1988 to win gold in the 100m free. He and Biondi are also the only swimmers to win multiple Trials titles in that event.
Competing in the 100m free with him in Rio will be Caeleb Dressel, who finished second in 48.23. Ryan Held (48.26) and Anthony Ervin (48.54) secured spots on the 400m free relay with their third and fourth-place finishes. Jimmy Feigen (48.57) and Blake Pieroni (48.78) finished fifth and sixth and are eligible to be added to the team, pending swimmers qualifying in multiple events.
“I couldn’t be more excited with the direction American sprinting is going right now,” Adrian said. “That is certainly a lot faster than it was four years ago, so hopefully give it another month or so, and we’ll be even faster than that.”
One Last Showdown for the Ages
One of the biggest stories of the night, besides the six people newly named to the U.S. Olympic Team roster, came from the semifinals of the men’s 200m IM.
For the fourth straight Olympic Trials, legends Michael Phelps and Ryan Lochte will go head-to-head in the finals of this event. Lochte qualified as the top seed in 1:56.71, while Phelps is the second seed in 1:57.61.
Last year, Lochte won this event at the FINA World Championships, only to have Phelps turn in the fastest time in the world a day later at the Phillips 66 National Championships.
In Olympic and Olympic Trials competition, Phelps holds the edge over Lochte in this matchup, winning at both the Trials and Olympics in 2004, 2008 and 2012. Lochte, however, holds the world record in 1:54.00.
“He and I have gone back and forth a number of times in this race and during big meets,” Phelps said. “We have great races, and we’re right there with each other tomorrow in the middle of the pool, and it’s going to be good. We’re going to be out and probably step on the gas a little bit more than we have in the past, and you’ll have an exciting race.”
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