Here are some notes from prelims on day 5. The top 16 swimmers from each event will go on to swim in tonight’s semifinals.
Women’s 100m Freestyle
Two veterans who finished third in their signature events come into this race looking for redemption and that elusive spot on the Olympic roster.
Jessica Hardy and Natalie Coughlin finished third in the 100m breaststroke and 100m backstroke, respectively, on the third night of finals at the CenturyLink Center. Hardy is the world record holder in the 100 breast, and Coughlin held the American record in the 100 back before it was broken Wednesday by teenage phenom Missy Franklin. She was also the two-time defending Olympic champion in that event.
The two are back in the game for a spot on the Olympic Team after prelims of the 100 free. Hardy qualified third for tonight’s semifinals in 54.52, while Coughlin qualified ninth in 54.99.
Dana Vollmer is the top seed in 54.35, followed by Allison Schmitt in 54.49. Both women have already qualified for the team in multiple events, Vollmer in the 100m butterfly and 800 free relay; Schmitt in the 200 free, 400 free and 800 free relay. They and Missy Franklin (seventh seed, 54.78) are the only swimmers in the top 16 to have already qualified for the Olympic Team. As many as six spots are open on the Olympic roster in this event.
Men’s 200m Backstroke
Ryan Lochte, the defending Olympic gold medalist in the 200 back, was the top qualifier in 1:57.24. Lochte scratched from the finals of the men’s 100m freestyle tonight to concentrate on this race and the 200m IM. Tyler Clary, who will likely be named to the Olympic Team after his second-place finish last night in the 200m butterfly, is the second seed in 1:57.93, followed by Matt Grevers in 1:58.90.
Grevers, who qualified for the team with a win in the 100m backstroke Wednesday, may scratch from the 200 back to concentrate on tonight’s finals of the 100m freestyle. Then again, there had been talk of him scratching from the 100 free after last night’s semis.
“After talking to my coach, he convinced me that the 100 free was the way to go,” Grevers said. “If it was up to me, I would just do the 100 free, but coaches do know best, so I’ll have to see what they say. He wouldn’t let me talk about it yet. He said, ‘Go do the 200 back, and then we’ll talk.’”
Two 16-year-olds will be racing in tonight’s semifinals – Ryan Murphy and Alexander Katz. Murphy was the bronze medalist in the 200 back at the 2011 Pan American Games.
Women’s 200m Breaststroke
Rebecca Soni is the No. 1 seed, qualifying for tonight’s semis in 2:23.11. The defending world champion in both breaststroke events, and the defending Olympic champion in this one, Soni was upset on Wednesday, finishing second to Breeja Larson in the finals of the 100m breast. Though Soni has not yet officially been named to the team, she will likely be added to the roster pending swimmers qualifying in multiple events.
One of the big stories in the 200 breast is Amanda Beard, who, if she qualifies for the team in this event, will have qualified for five Olympic Games. She is the fifth seed after this morning’s prelims in 2:27.07.
Beard said she used this morning’s prelims to get a feel for her stroke and a glimpse of her competition.
“You want to go out there and do a good time, but in the same sense, you don’t want to use too much energy,” Beard said.
Men’s 200m IM
Another potential no-holds barred Phelps-Lochte showdown awaits in the finals 200m IM, with both swimmers advancing from this morning’s prelims. Phelps qualified second in 1:59.27, while Lochte was fourth in 1:59.92 after a tough double in the 200 back.
“The 200 back is probably one of the hardest events,” Lochte said. “It takes all the legs out of you. It’s definitely a challenge, but I’m up for it.”
While much of the spotlight in this race will be on Phelps and Lochte, the two fastest swimmers of all time in the 200 IM, a couple other swimmers have potential to steal the show, including Conor Dwyer, who has already qualified for the Olympic Team in the 400m free and 800m free relay. Dwyer is the first seed in 1:59.11.
Also in the mix is Peter Vanderkaay. Not usually associated for his prowess in the IMs, Vanderkaay pushed his training partner Lochte in this morning’s prelims, qualifying fifth in 2:00.01.
Finals Note – With Ryan Lochte scratching from the 100 free, that gives Jason Lezak one more opportunity to make the team in the 100 free and the 400 free relay. Lezak raced to worldwide fame in the 400 free relay in Beijing, coming from behind in the final 50 meters to snatch victory from the French team. His split is the fastest 100-meter swim of all time.
For more information about the 2012 U.S. Olympic Team Trials, including complete results, go to www.usaswimming.org/trials. Also, follow all the action from Trials on your mobile device with DeckPass Plus, available now for your iPad, iPhone or Android.