We started things out tonight in the women's 200 back, where consensus picks Missy Franklin and Elizabeth Beisel picked up their tickets to London in yet another event. While neither approached the kind of time I believe they are capable of, they finished off a long week in style. Shout-out, though, to Elizabeth Pelton, who took third twice this week. She will move to train with Teri McKeever at Cal next year, and McKeever has been known to help just-missed potential Olympians regain their swagger after disappointing Trials. See Coughlin, Natalie.
Like the 200 back, the men's 100 fly ended up with a very predictable finish. Michael Phelps and Tyler McGill took out the top two slots as expected but only after a very wacky race. Tim Phillips, as expected, took the race out hard, but 23.62 turned out to be a bit too hard, and he faded. In a jumble at the halfway point, Phelps found himself in sixth place, behind even Ryan Lochte. Phelps, though, did what he does best, destroying the field off the wall and pulling away along with McGill before winning by two tenths at the touch. Phelps claimed tonight to be his final race ever on American soil. If Phelps does indeed retire as he plans to do, I feel honored to have been a witness.
From there, the races turned unpredictable. Kate Ziegler bounced back from a rough 400 free to make the team in the 800, but who saw Katie Ledecky coming two months ago? Who ever thought she would break 8:20 and enter the Olympics with the second-fastest time in the world? Tonight's performance announced her to the world stage. Chloe Sutton, meanwhile, found herself back in fourth. Again, who would have picked Sutton to miss the team in the 800 at any point over the past two years? But at Olympic Trials, anything can happen, and those who handle the pressure the best find their way to the Olympics.
|Katie Ledecky blew away the field from the start in the 800.|
I saw one more final, the men's 50 free, another where the long-assumed favorite found himself on the outside looking in. Nathan Adrian posted the fourth-fastest time in the world in 21.68, but Cullen Jones and Anthony Ervin swam even faster. Jones came in at 21.59 for the second-fastest time in the world, just 0.21 behind Cesar Cielo. Ervin, meanwhile, moved to third in the world at 21.60, 0.20 under his best time from 12 years ago. After receiving his medal, Ervin shouted to the crowd in utter excitement, "I'm going to the Olympics!" Hard to believe that this guy stepped away from the sport disinterested a year before he could go for his second Olympic team. Even without Adrian, these guys are major medal contenders.
|Anthony Ervin relishing making his second Olympic team.|