U.S. Olympic Swim Trial Day 5: McLaughlin makes Team USA, Klinker makes 200 Fly final
Ryan Murphy and Abbey Weitzeil are a part of the 9 Cal Bears that have made Thursday night's semifinal races
Day 4 saw a 3rd Cal Bear qualified for Tokyo. Katie McLaughlin became a first-time “Calympian” by earning a place on the Team USA 4x200m Free Relay.
Since I did not get around to finish this post today until after the prelim session is over, I am happy to report that 9 Bears across three events have qualified for tonight’s semifinal swims. Abbey Weitzeil and Destin Lasco earned the top seed time in W. 100 Free and M. 200 Back while all 4 Cal men in 200 Back won their heat!
Katie McLaughlin is your newest Calympian
By placing 4th in 200 Free, Katie McLaughlin has earned a spot on Team USA by qualifying for the 4x200 Free Relay. Check out the full race below (which could be geo-lock to be US-only). McLaughlin nearly took the second spot behind Katie Ledecky, which would have allowed her to also race in 200 Free, but faded slightly in the last 50m.
Nonetheless, becoming an Olympian has got to be sweet redemption for Katie McLaughlin. After a strong high school senior year, McLaughlin was a favorite to make the Rio Games as a Cal freshman 5 years ago. But she suffered a freak neck injury that January, which prevented her from swimming at the NCAA that year. While she recovered in time to race in that Olympic Trials, she was certainly not at her best that June.
McLaughlin helped Cal to several relay NCAA titles during her Cal career. Now she will hope to do the same for Team USA, where the women are expected to win Gold, unlike their male counterparts.
Rachel Klinker earns a spot in 200m Fly final
Rising Cal junior Rachel Klinker just missed out on the 100 Fly final by placing 10th in that semifinal earlier this week. She was able to make the 200 Fly final with the 7th best semifinal time.
Klinker already posted a PR (personal record), but she will likely need to lower that time by another 1.5 seconds to challenge Hali Flickinger and Regan Smith on Thursday night.
Trenton Julian ran out of gas in 200m Fly Final
Trenton Julian came out fast in 200 Fly semifinal on Tuesday night before fading to third in the last 50m. With possibly a better strategy on Wednesday night, it looked like Julian might earn a top-2 spot in 200 Fly, but he slipped to 5th in the last 20m or so. You can watch that race here.
As a young guy, Julian has already bounced back to qualify for the 200 IM semifinal on Thursday night. Julian had also swum in 200 Free earlier this week.
Nathan Adrian and Jack Alexy out in 100m Free semi
I truly still believe that Nathan Adrian can make his 4th Olympic via the 50m Free this weekend. Nonetheless, it was sad to see Adrian fade in the second half of his 100m Free semifinal swim. Adrian had the lead at the turn but just could not hold it and slide to 6th in the first semifinal.
Also just missing out on the final was incoming Cal freshman Jack Alexy. Alexy set a new National Age Group (age 16-17) record in the prelim and nearly put himself in a final where up to 6 Olympic berths were available.
Reece Whitley’s Olympic dream will have to wait
Unfortunately, Whitley could not yet live up to the hype in the 2021 Olympic trials. More frustrating is how Whitley did not even make the finals (top-8) of either Breaststroke events. As one of the youngest competitors in the men’s breaststroke field, Reece Whitley should still be in his prime in 3 years.
Former Calympian Josh Prenot might be done with swimming after losing in 200m Breast
Josh Prenot sounded rather practical on Twitter after his 200m Breast disappointment in the prelims. The US Record holder and 2016 Rio Silver Medalist just could not replicate that magic. He had struggled through some World Championships and two seasons of ISL racing to live up to that lofty standard set 5 years ago.
If this is indeed it for Prenot’s swimming career, he achieved a pinnacle (USA Olympian, a Silver medal) that few athletes can match. With his Cal physics degree, I am sure Prenot can find a fine second career elsewhere.
Prenot was technically still listed on the prelim heat sheet for 200 IM, but he did not swim that event on Thursday morning.
Day 5 Schedule and Cal Bears to watch
Thursday, June 17
Morning session, 8 AM PT, LIVESTREAM
Women’s 100 freestyle preliminaries
Just like 200 Free, there are more spots (4 guaranteed, likely 6) for the finalists of this event due to the 4x100m Free Relay.
1: Abbey Weitzeil (53.52) - Q
10: Katie McLaughlin (54.72) - Q
18: Isabel Ivey (55.30)
T58: Ayla Spitz (56.87)
Men’s 200 backstroke preliminaries
200 Back was the event that saw Cal sweep both Olympic berths 5 years ago when Ryan Murphy and Jacob Pebley book the two spots. There is a strong possibility of a repeat of the Cal sweep this year, even after Pebley’s recent retirement from swimming.
1: D. Lasco (1:56.88) - Q, winner of heat 3
2: B. Mefford (1:57.51) - Q, winner of heat 5
5: R. Murphy (1:57.95) - Q, winner of heat 6
7: D. Carr (1:59.09) - Q, winner of heat 4
22: G. Jett (2:01.46)
28: C. Mefford (2:02.18)
Women’s 200 breaststroke preliminaries
Men’s 200 individual medley preliminaries
7: A. Seliskar (1:59.38) - Q
13: T. Julian (2:00.73) - Q
16: J. Louser (2:01.26) - Q
17: S. Grieshop (2:01.31) - just missing out on the top 16 was Grieshop who was in an early heat
32: C. Jhong (2:03.14)
Josh Prenot - DNS (sadly, this is consistent with his sentiment after yesterday’s disappointment in 200 Breast)
Destin Lasco - DNS (since he’s also swimming the 200 Back)
Evening session, 5 PM PT, LIVESTREAM
Men’s 800 freestyle final
Men’s 200 breaststroke final
Women’s 100 freestyle semifinal
Abbey Weitzeil and Katie McLaughlin (top-8 advance to Friday’s final)
3: Abbey Weitzeil 53.66 - Q
11: Katie McLaughlin 54.31
Men’s 200 backstroke semifinal
Destin Lasco, Bryce Mefford, Ryan Murphy, Daniel Carr (top-8 advance to Friday’s final)
ALL FOUR BEARS ARE THROUGH TO THE FINAL!
1: Ryan Murphy - 1:55.60
3: Bryce Mefford - 1:56.57
4: Destin Lasco - 1:56.81
7: Daniel Carr - 1:57.73
Women’s 200 butterfly final
Rachel Klinker (top-2 becomes Olympian)
8: Rachel Klinker (2:11.09)
Men’s 100 freestyle final
Women’s 200 breaststroke semifinal
Men’s 200 individual medley semifinal
Andrew Seliskar, Trenton Julian, Jason Louser
7: Andrew Seliskar (1:58.92) - Q
8: Trenton Julian (1:59.21) - Q
15: Jason Louser (2:01.11) - 7th in semi 1
Cal Bears who have qualified for Team USA at this meet
Andrew Seliskar - Men’s 4x200m Freestyle Relay, 1st-time Calympian
Ryan Murphy - Men’s 100m Backstroke, 2nd-time Calympian
Katie McLaughlin - Women’s 4x200m Freestyle Relay, 1st-time Calympian