OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — Connor Jaeger had to swim nearly a mile to earn another race at the Olympics.
Abbey Weitzeil claimed her second individual event in Rio with a frantic dash from one end of the pool to the other.
The final night of the U.S. Olympic swimming trials came down to the long and short of it, a pair of races that couldn’t provide more of a contrast.
Jaeger used a powerful finishing kick to pull away from Jordan Wilimovsky in the 1,500-meter freestyle Sunday night, while Weitzeil claimed victory in the 50 free just ahead of Simone Manuel.
The metric mile was a two-man race all the way. By the end, no one was within a half-lap of the leaders.
Jaeger got a strong kick off the next-to-last wall and began to get some separation on his only challenger. Pulling away on the final lap, he finished in 14 minutes, 47.61 seconds.
“He’s the fastest American ever, so it’s fun to just try and hang with him as far as I can,” said Wilimovsky, who touched in 14:49.19 — more than 17 seconds ahead of third-place finisher Michael McBroom.
Jaeger and Wilimovsky had already locked up their berths in Rio before they dove in the pool. Jaeger also won the 400 free, while Wilimovsky had earned a spot for the U.S. in the open-water event at Rio.
Now, he’ll become the first U.S. swimmer to compete in both the pool and the ocean at the same Olympics.
“It’s really, really cool,” Wilimovsky said. “Obviously open water has only been around (at the Olympics) since 2008, so it’s not that old.”
Jaeger won a silver medal in the 1,500 at last year’s world championships. Four years ago, he finished sixth in the event at the London Olympics.
“We’re going to have to be better in Rio,” said Jaeger, who was more than 6 seconds off his personal-best time. ”
The 50 free was a carbon copy of the 100 free.
Weitzeil won in 24.28 seconds and Manuel was next at 24.33 — the same 1-2 finish they had in the two-lap race. Madison Kennedy missed out on a trip to Rio by 15-hundredths of a second.
“I’m super stoked,” Weitzeil said. “I came to this meet in 2012 as a 16-year-old just making the cuts, just came to participate. To go from then to now in four years, winning events that I was thinking about during that time, it’s just amazing. It hasn’t set in what I’ve actually done.”
Four other swimmers who already earned spots on the Olympic team were farther back.
Olivia Smoliga finished fourth, while Dana Vollmer, Lia Neal and Amanda Weirbrought up the back of the pack.