USA Swimming News

Tuesday, June 15, 2021

Huske, Andrew and Ledecky Punch Tickets to Tokyo on Second Night of Wave II Olympic Trials – Swimming


After dropping Dana Vollmer’s 2012 American record in Sunday night’s semifinal, Torri Huske did it again Monday in the final of the 100 butterfly – punching her ticket to Tokyo at just 18 years old.

Her time of 55.66 beat her previous mark by .12 and now ranks as the fastest time in the world this year. 

“This definitely gives me more confidence in my other races,” said Huske, who still has several more events over the course of the week. “I’m trying not to get too, like, high after this race because I feel like I won’t fall asleep at night otherwise. 

“I have two races tomorrow. I’m trying to focus more on my other races now. I’m trying, like, to kind of move on and start refocusing. It hasn’t really changed my mindset, I feel like.”

Sixteen-year-old Claire Curzan out-touched Kate Douglas 56.43 to 56.56 to finish as the event runner-up. Kelsi Dahlia, the 2016 Olympic Trials champion and Olympian, finished fourth in 56.80. 

In the men’s 100 breast, it didn’t take another American record on Monday night, but Michael Andrew still punched his ticket to Tokyo in his first event. 

After lowering his own American record during morning prelims and then again Sunday night during semifinals, he used all of his almost-6-foot-7 frame to beat Andrew Wilson 58.73 to 58.74 for the victory.

Andrew came back about 15 minutes later for the second semifinal of the men’s 100 backstroke to finish fourth and qualify in the eighth position for Tuesday’s night’s final. 

“It’s still hard to believe it’s real,” Andrew said. “It didn’t feel as much like a redemption swim. In 2016, I definitely came in with the perspective that I’m very young and there’s an outside chance that I make the team. I remember swimming really well–I came in third or fourth to Josh Prenot by a hundredth–and I carried a lot of experience from that race. 

“Fast forward five years, I had become a short course world champ, won Pan Pacs, so all this experience I think had, led to this day – and it’s built a greater vessel, better athlete, and I think there’s been a lot of maturity through it.”

For the last finals event of the night, Katie Ledecky, the world-record holder, proved her continued prowess to win in 4:01.27 – the third-fastest time this year. 

As is her signature, she led from start to finish, opening a sizable body-length lead after the first 150 meters and never looking back.

Paige Madden, who swept the distance events at 2021 NCAA Championships, bettered her morning personal-best swim (4:05.92) to finish behind Ledecky in 4:04.86 and place herself in line to make her first Olympic team. 

“(Having this extra year) has been tremendous for me,” Madden said. “I’ve matured a lot. It’s been good for my strength and training and my mental attitude.”

In the four evening semifinals, the usual suspects advanced to Tuesday night’s finals – led by 2016 Olympic gold medalists Ryan Murphy in the 100 backstroke and Lilly King in the 100 breaststroke.
Murphy’s winning time of 52.22 led a strong contingent into Monday’s final that includes 2012 Olympic gold medalist Matt Grevers, 2021 NCAA Champion Shaine Casas and surprise runner-up Hunter Armstrong, who was second in 52.67. 

‘This is unbelievable; I didn’t expect it,” said Armstrong, who transferred from West Virginia to Ohio State for the 2020-21 NCAA season. “It’s an honor (to be in the final). I’ve looked up to Ryan (Murphy) and Shaine had a great season.”

In the women’s 100 breast, King proved she’s still the queen of the event with a winning time of 1:04.72 – the first time she’s been under 1:05 since 2017. 

“My plan was to take it out fast and then hang on for dear life,” said King, the world-record holder. “This extra year has been a blessing. I don’t think in 2020 I would have been here. But this extra year gave me what I needed.”

After winning the 400 freestyle Sunday night, Kieran Smith came back strong to qualify with the top time in the 200 free final Tuesday night. 

His time of 1:45.74 puts him just outside the top 10 times in the world this year – and he said he’s expecting an even faster race Tuesday, especially with Zach Apple, Townley Haas and Blake Pieroni, among others, vying for one of the coveted two spots.

“I had a good sleep, and a really good nap (after morning prelims), and it was good to know I was already on the team, so I was able to relax,” Smith said. “It definitely takes the pressure off. Tomorrow, I’ll sleep in, have a good breakfast, get in a good nap and then go through my regular routine before the final.”

In the final event of the evening, Regan Smith recorded the second-fastest time in 2021 in winning her 100 backstroke semifinal in 57.92. 

She will spar with 2016 Olympian Olivia Smoliga, who was second in 58.50, as well as Katharine Berkoff, Rhyan White and Isabelle Stadden, who all went under 59 seconds. 2016 Olympic silver medalist Kathleen Baker finished 11th and out of contention.

“It’s been a lot time since I was under 58, and I feel like I’m in a good spot right now (going into Tuesday’s final),” Smith said. “The 100 butterfly (which she made the final in Sunday but scratched to focus on the backstroke) was a great learning experience. It was a great way for me to get into the meet and get some racing.”

Tuesday’s morning events begin with the women’s 200 freestyle followed by the men’s 200 butterfly, women’s 200 individual medley and women’s 1500 free – the first time the event is being contested at the Olympic level.

Tuesday evening’s finals start with the men’s 200 freestyle followed by the women’s 100 backstroke, men’s 100 backstroke and women’s 100 breaststroke.

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