Michael Phelps and Missy Franklin appear to have their work cut out at the U.S. Olympic Trials later this month to earn spots on Rio 4x100m freestyle relays.
Phelps and Franklin both swam their fastest 100m freestyles of 2016 in a trials tune-up meet in Austin, Texas, on Friday night, but neither posted a time that ranks in the top five among Americans in the event this year.
Phelps won the Austin men’s 100m freestyle in 49.49 seconds (full results here) against a field that did not include the top Americans in the event. He is ranked eighth in the U.S. Usually, the top six finishers in the 100m free at the Olympic Trials earn Olympic 4x100m free relay berths.
Phelps later was beaten in the 100m butterfly in Austin by Joseph Schooling of Singapore, 51.58 to 51.65, but Phelps remains fastest among Americans in the fly this year.
“Kind of happy, kind of not,” Phelps said in a Facebook video. “It’s decent, but I’m always really very hard on myself. … Today was a little motivating. … I would have been a lot happier if I was a half-second faster in both of the 100s today.”
The fastest Americans in the 100m free this year are Olympic champion Nathan Adrian (48.00) and University of Florida rising junior Caeleb Dressel (personal-best 48.74 in a different meet Friday). But no other American has broken 49 seconds, leaving a wide opening for Phelps and others.
Phelps has made the Olympic 4x100m free relay in the past without swimming the 100m free at trials, but given his lack of impressive 100m free times since the start of 2015, he may have to post a strong time in Omaha in three weeks to prove he deserves a relay spot.
His coach, Bob Bowman, is the U.S. Olympic men’s head coach. The coaching staff determines relay lineups at the Olympics.
In the Austin women’s 100m freestyle, Allison Schmitt won in 54.30 seconds, her fastest time since the 2012 U.S. Olympic Trials.
Franklin took second in 54.56, her fastest time this year but just ninth-fastest among Americans for 2016.
Franklin made the 100m freestyle final at every major international meet from 2012 through 2015, but she goes into the Olympic Trials as an underdog in the weakest of her four primary events. Dana Vollmer and Katie Ledecky have the fastest U.S. 100m freestyle times in 2016 at 53.59 and 53.75.
In other meets Friday, China’s Sun Yang won a 200m freestyle in Santa Clara, Calif., in 1:44.82, the fastest time in the world since 2013. Sun is the reigning Olympic 400m and 1500m free champion and earned silver in London in the 200m free.
Sun could now be favored to become the first swimmer to sweep the 200m, 400m and 1500m frees at one Olympics.
Correction: An earlier version of this post incorrectly said Ryan Lochte was not competing this weekend. He is swimming at a small meet in Charlotte.