Friday, June 18, 2021
Thursday Night Finals: History for Bobby Finke, Redemption for Nic Fink, Dressel and Flickinger Break Records
The tenth session of Wave II started off with a bang in the men’s 800-meter freestyle final. History was to be made as this new event is being added to the Olympic lineup.
The top eight wasted no time attacking, with everyone out faster than their previous swims. Ross Dant, Will Gallant, Bobby Finke and Michael Brinegar led from the start, with Finke and Dant breaking away at the 500 mark. Brinegar caught up by the last 50, nabbing the second spot. Finke won with a 7:48.22, becoming the first US Olympian in this event.
Finke gave his father - who is also his swim coach - the best Father’s Day gift ever, saying, “He deserves this too after all those 5 a.m. practices,” said Finke.
The men’s 200 breaststroke was a who’s who of talented veterans. The crowd was pulling for Nic Fink, who just missed a Tokyo spot when he finished third in the 100 breaststroke two nights ago.
Tonight’s impressive field of talent stayed neck-and-neck the entire length, but it was Athens Bulldog Swim Club’s Fink who pulled away on the last 50 and got the job done in 2:07.55, cementing his first Olympic berth. Andrew Wilson, who already finished second in the 100 breaststroke, nabbed another second-place finish with a 2:08.32.
“Tonight, I decided to stick to my own strategy and stay in my comfort zone,” said Fink. “It wasn’t me. It was my coaches and teammates and all their support that helped make it happen. Success is contagious and seeing them succeed made me realize I can do it too.”
The women’s 200 butterfly brought out heavy favorites, with Riptide’s Regan Smith and Sun Devil Swimming’s Hali Flickinger leading the way. Breaking her own U.S. Open record fly by two one-hundredths, Flickinger touched first with a 2:05.85 followed by Smith’s 2:06.99.
“This is so exciting, I’m just so honored to represent U.S.A.,” said Flickinger.
The men’s 100 freestyle final brought all the fury. As expected, Caleb Dressel won with a 47.39, setting a new U.S. Open record. Zach Apple touched second in 47.72 and the third and fourth relay spots were won by 2016 Olympic gold medalist and Indiana Swim Club athlete, Blake Pieroni (48.16), and Brookes Curry of LSU (48.19).
“It’s a huge weight that’s been lifted off my shoulders,” Dressel said. “I like being on the blocks…the worst is being in the hotel room alone with your thoughts… I remember being in this stadium, sitting in those seats when I was 15 and watching Michael Phelps and Ryan Lochte in the 200 IM. And now here I am. I hope some 15-year-old is watching me and saying, ‘yeah I’m gonna beat that punk’ — please, do it!”
As predicted, the men’s 200 IM was one of the biggest events of the night, and it was only the semifinals. Michael Andrew was under world record pace for most of the race—teasing the crowd for what will come in finals—and posting a 1:55.26, the fastest time in the world this year. Ryan Lochte advanced to the finals, as well as Chase Kalisz, Kieran Smith, Carson Foster, Sam Stewart, Andrew Seliskar, and Trenton Julian.
Also on tonight’s agenda was the women’s 100 freestyle semifinal where Simone Manuel, 2016 Olympic gold medalist in this event, just missed finals, finishing ninth in 54.17. Natalie Hinds and Olivia Smoliga tied for top seed with a 53.55, followed by Abbey Wietzeil. Catie Deloof, Linnea Mack, Allison Schmitt, Kate Douglass and Erika Brown round out the top eight.
In the men’s 200 backstroke semifinals, it took a 1:58 or faster to advance to tomorrow’s finals. Ryan Murphy leads with a 1:55.60, followed by Austin Katz, Bryce Mefford, Destin Lasco, Jack Aikins, Hunter Tapp, Daniel Carr and Shaine Casas.
In the women’s 200 breaststroke semifinal, Annie Lazor, Lilly King and Bethany Galat lit up the second heat; King just edged Lazor by seven hundredths (2:22.73. Joining them tomorrow night is Emily Escobedo, Ella Nelson, Bethany Galat, Allie Raab, Micah Sumrall and Rachel Bernhardt.
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