OMAHA, Neb. – Jessica Hardy qualified for her third event, the women’s 50m freestyle, on night eight of 2012 U.S. Olympic Team Trials, winning with a time of 24.50.
In addition to the 50m free, Hardy will also be eligible to represent Team USA in the women’s 100m freestyle and the 400m free relay. Hardy, traditionally a breaststroker, has had to change her focus on strokes after qualifying for only freestyle events.
“I don’t believe it,” says Hardy of her freestyle qualifications. “What is happening? I thought I was a breaststroker coming into this meet, but shoot--- I’ll take it.”
Also qualifying to represent the U.S. in the women’s 50m freestyle event was Kara Lynn Joyce (24.73). Joyce won a silver medal in the 2004 Olympics in the 400m free relay, and two silver medals in the 2008 Olympics for the 400m free relay and the 400m medley relay.
“I’m shocked, so happy,” says Joyce. “I’m on cloud nine.”
The final additions to the Team USA roster are distance swimmers Andrew Gemmell and Connor Jaeger, who went one-two in the men’s 1500m freestyle.
Both swimmers are new to the Olympic arena. Last year, Gemmell won the 5k open water competition at the 2011 FINA World Championships, and Jaeger, a sophomore at University of Michigan, placed third in the mile at the 2012 NCAA championships.
He put himself on the radar by snatching the best preliminary time in the 400m freestyle earlier this week (3:48.06), but came in sixth in finals. Jaeger also made the 1500m freestyle preliminaries memorable when he continued to swim and extra lap after winning his heat and losing track of where he was in the race.
“I hope everyone’s able to forget that 1600 I did yesterday and is able to focus on the 1500 I did tonight,” says Jaeger.
Both Gemmell and Jaeger were the only two swimmers to post a sub-15 minute time in the 1500m freestyle for both preliminaries and finals. They rank 4th and 5th in the world, respectively, with those times.
Women's 50m Freestyle
With the sound of the start, Hardy bounded off the lane four block and broke into a split-second lead after about 25m. She was tailed closely by Joyce, Magnuson (24.78) and Torres (24.82), the only four qualifiers with times under 25 seconds.
This ends Dara Torres’ bid to extend her career as the female swimmer with the most Olympic appearances and attempt to become the oldest medaling Olympian. Torres, 45, qualified 5th in the 50m freestyle preliminaries (25.00) and 3rd in the semi-finals (24.80).
With their finals times, Hardy and Joyce rank 7th and 12th in the world, respectively.
“I tried to do a lot of visualization,” says Joyce. “I couldn’t be happier.”
Men's 1500m Freestyle
Chad La Tourette held an impressive lead throughout the first third of the race, with Michael McBroom in second. At the 600m mark, La Tourette topped out at a 10-meter lead, as Gemmell and Jaeger began to gain speed and improve their splits.
By the 850m mark, Gemmel and Jaegar surpassed McBroom for second and began to chase La Tourette. Jaegar and La Tourette tie at 1250m, and Gemmell took control of the race in the last 50m.
“I try to put my head down and race,” says Gemmell of gaining in the last 50m. “I couldn’t see past him [Jaeger], so I didn’t know if I needed to pass him to get a spot, or what.”
Only four-tenths of a second separated Gemmell and Jaeger. La Tourette finished with a time of 14:57.53. The three were the only swimmers to post sub-15 minute times in the finals.
Olympic Coaching Staff
The rest of the coaching staff was named Monday night under men’s head coach Gregg Troy and women’s head coach Teri McKeever.
The men’s coaching team will include assistant coaches Bob Bowman, David Marsh and Eddie Reese.
The women’s coaching staff will include assistant coaches Steve Bultman, Dave Salo and Todd Schmitz.
The open water staff is lead by head coach Tim Murphy. Shannon Gilespy will be the open water manager.
Andy Kershaw was named head manager, and Jeri Marshburn the assistant manager. Jon Urbanchek will serve as the special assistant coach.
All members of the U.S. Olympic swim team are subject to final approval by the United States Olympic Committee.