Monday, June 14, 2021
First Pool-Team Olympians Crowned at Trials Wave II Opening Night
The first day of Wave II did not disappoint. Three new American records, courtesy of Michael Andrew (twice) and Torri Huske, and nail-biting finishes set the pace for what to expect the rest of this week.
The first event of the evening showcased USA’s first 2021 Olympians: Chase Kalisz and Jay Litherland. Their 400 IM race brought all the excitement that only Trials provides.
Top seed from prelims, Carson Foster, held a sizable lead after the butterfly and backstroke legs, but the field caught up on breaststroke. Litherland, Foster and Kalisz were neck and neck to the finish with Foster just missing out by half a second.
“Just like 2016, I look up and I see Jay touch, and I forget the entire race,” said Kalisz. "That’s one of my best buddies; that's my training partner. It means the world to go 1-2 with him. As far as Carson, Carson has nothing to worry about. He's one of the most talented kids that I've come across. He's clearly got three strokes that are better than me. I think he has a bright future.”
Next up, the women’s 100 butterfly semifinal where NAG record holder Torri Huske wasted no time smashing Dana Vollmer’s American record with a 55.78, and coming dangerously close to the world record (55.48).
Second seed for tomorrow’s final is Claire Curzan. Both teen phenoms were almost a second faster than this morning’s prelims. Olympic gold medalist Kelsi Delhi sits two tenths back, seated third for finals. Kate Douglass, Katie McLaughlin and Regan Smith, all posting 57’s, are part of what will be a speedy pack tomorrow night. Huske and Curzan have consistently raced each other, breaking records and sharing sprinting success over the years.
“It’s great,” says Curzan of their friendship. "We’re always going to push each other, it's very inspiring.”
Only one-and-a-half seconds separated the eight finalists in the mens 400 free seed from prelims setting up for a fantastic finals fight. Kieran Smith led from the start, with the rest of field evenly behind him by a body length. The battle for second was tight, ending with Jake Mitchell nabbing the second spot by less than two tenths.
“It’s been a hard road getting here,” said Smith during the medal ceremony. “I’m so happy that the dream finally came true.
“I just kind of had to tell myself that I belong here, I belong in the position that I put myself in. And going into Tokyo I will have to think much of the same.”
The women's 400 IM championship final was the race to watch – three of the top 10 swimmers in the world were in tonight’s race. Olympic gold medalist Melanie Margalis was battling it to the very end with world championship silver medalist Hali Flickinger, when Emma Weyant came on strong the last 100, negatively splitting her freestyle leg, and ended up with the win of 4:33.81 to Flickinger’s 4:33.96. Margalis was just edged out with a 4:34.08.
“I was shocked. When I touched the wall, I didn’t look at my time, I just heard it and looked up at my sister,” said Weyant. “I’m super excited. I’ve never experienced anything like (the medal ceremony), it’s all surreal.”
Not to be outdone, the men’s 100 breaststroke was nothing short of amazing, and it was only the semifinals.
Andrew, Kevin Cordes, and Nic Fink lit up heat two with Andrew breaking his own American record he set this morning in prelims (58.19) with a 58.14. Fink followed up with a 58.50, and Andrew Wilson and Kevin Cordes, 59.08 and 59.33 respectively, round out the top four for what will be an amazing final tomorrow night.
After breaking his own American record, Andrew says he has some things to tweak to make the Olympic team.
“It felt messy, lots I need to clean up but very happy with the time. There is a lot left in the tank, it didn’t feel physically hard but there were times that I got out of my lane,” says Andrew. “I need to focus on my own race. Lights and camera I might have tried a little too hard so I’ll readjust for tomorrow night.”
Wave II continues Monday with finals of the women’s 100 butterfly, men’s 100 breaststroke and women’s 400 freestyle. Click here to see how you can watch.
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