Nathan Adrian earns chance to defend Olympic gold in 100m freestyle

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Nathan Adrian will defend the gold medal he won by one one-hundredth of a second in London. He took the event with a strong finish at the U.S. Olympic Swimming Trials on Thursday in 47.72 seconds.

Caeleb Dressel, 19, touched second in 48.23. He and the 27-year-old Adrian will compete individually in the 100m in Rio.

Ryan Held, 20, finished third (48.26) and Anthony Ervin, 35, was fourth (48.54), sending them to Rio as part of the 4x100m freestyle relay team. The oldest swimmer at Trials, Ervin led at the halfway point but couldn’t hold on. He was the 2000 co-Olympic 50m freestyle champion and finished fifth in the 50m in 2012. Rio will mark his third Olympics.

Both Dressel and Held are rising college juniors. If either one of them swims the relay final at the Olympics, they will be the youngest Americans to do so since Michael Phelps led off the relay in 2004.

Jimmy Feigen finished fifth (48.57) and Blake Pieroni sixth (48.78), possibly getting them on the Olympic team as relay swimmers. Phelps and Ryan Lochte opted out of the 100m at Trials but can be added to the relay in Rio since they are already on the Olympic team in other events.

In the men’s 100m four years ago at the Olympics, Adrian edged Australia’s James Magnussen, touching in 47.52. Magnussen came in at 47.53 for one of the closest finishes in Olympic history.

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