Connor Jaeger

Connor Jaeger, Abbey Weitzeil end Olympic Swim Trials with wins

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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.

VIDEO: Michael Phelps reflects on Trials, looks ahead to Rio

Ryan Lochte fails in 400m IM as swimmers begin to clinch Olympic berths

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OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — The first event of the U.S. Olympic swimming trials produced a stunner: Ryan Lochte failed to qualify for the team Sunday night in an event he won at the 2012 London Games.

Lochte, an 11-time Olympic medalist, raced out to a big lead on the first two legs of the 400-meter individual medley but had nothing left for the breaststroke and freestyle. He finished third behind Chase Kalisz and Jay Litherland, who were college teammates at Georgia.

After the race, Lochte revealed that he pulled a groin muscle during the morning preliminaries, saying it left him with no choice other than to try to build a commanding lead in the butterfly and backstroke and hope it would hold up.

It didn’t. Not even close.

TRIALS: Broadcast ScheduleEntry Lists
PREVIEWS: Men | Women
FIVE KEY RACES: Men | Women

Kalisz won in 4 minutes, 9.541 seconds, while Litherland rallied to take the second spot for Rio in 4:11.021.

Lochte, his legs totally gone, labored home in third at 4:12.021.

“I had to go out faster than usual because I couldn’t use my legs in the breaststroke,” said the 31-year-old Lochte, who still has several other events to claim his spot on his fourth Olympic team — assuming he can overcome his injury. “I did everything I could in that race, it just wasn’t enough. Just got to forget about that and move forward.”

While college teammates Kalisz and Litherland celebrated, Lochte hung on a lane rope, totally exhausted. He finally made it over to the side of the pool, struggling just to climb out of the water. He said he might need a cortisone shot to help deal with the pain.

“I’m going to keep working on it day in and day out, and hopefully it gets better,” Lochte said. “I thought about it this morning, about scratching, but I mean, it’s the Olympic trials. If I had a broken leg, I’d still go out there and swim.”

ZACCARDI: Lochte’s outlook for rest of Trials

Michael Phelps, who won the 400 IM at both the 2004 and 2008 Olympics, finished fourth behind Lochte in London and dropped the grueling event from his program. With no races on the first day of the meet, Phelps watched from the stands.

“I wasn’t surprised with Jay,” Phelps said. “He’s like a shark in the water. He knows how to rise to the occasion.”

Phelps was especially happy for long-time training partner Kalisz, who like Litherland is heading to his first Olympics.

“He’s like a brother to me,” Phelps said.

Unaware of Lochte’s injury, Phelps said he could tell that Lochte had nothing left when he got to the breast. And the two freestyle laps were downright painful to watch, as Lochte closed with a sluggish pace of 1:00.56 — more than 3 seconds slower than the 20-year-old Litherland.

“I know what Ryan felt like in that race,” Phelps said, remembering his loss at the 2012 Olympics. “I felt the same thing. It’s tough to swim two 400 IMs in one day at that level. … When you overdo it in that first 200, you’re not going to have anything left.”

Two other finals were held at the sold-out CenturyLink Center, which is hosting the Olympic trials for the third straight time in a temporary pool.

Maya DiRado qualified for her first OIympic team in the women’s 400 IM, knocking off 2012 silver medalist Elizabeth Beisel.

DiRado, who plans to retire after the London Games at age 23, is a late bloomer who peaked at just the right time. She touched in 4:33.73, finishing a couple of body lengths ahead of Beisel, who still earned a spot on her third Olympic team by holding off Bethany Galat.

Beisel finished in 4:36.81, while Galat missed out on Rio by less than a second in 4:37.69.

“Really the biggest thing is just staying calm and not getting flustered,” DiRado said. “I don’t know what life I’m living, but it’s amazing.”

In the men’s 400 freestyle, Connor Jaeger and Conor Dwyer are heading back to the Olympics for the second time after finishing 1-2. Jaeger won in 3:43.79, while Dwyer took the runner-up spot in 3:44.66 — just 0.38 ahead of third-place finisher Townley Haas.

Kalisz knew he would need a comeback to beat Lochte.

“I don’t have a fly and backstroke like him, so I’ve got to play to my strengths,” Kalisz said. “The whole thing went by so fast and I feel like I’m in a different reality right now.”

Phelps broke down crying when congratulating Kalisz after the race.

“He told me he was proud of me,” Kalisz said. “It was just a very emotional moment.”

Lochte has entered five more events at the trials, giving him plenty of chances to still get on the Olympic team. But the groin injury makes him a huge question mark.

“He’s somebody who’s really, really tough,” Phelps said. “Hopefully, he can get some recovery and get whatever he needs worked on. He’s somebody we need.”

Full Olympic Trials results are here.

MORE: For Michael Phelps at Olympic Trials, nothing is a lock

Ryan Lochte qualifies for Olympic Trials 400m IM final

Ryan Lochte
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OMAHA — Ryan Lochte can clinch a spot on his fourth Olympic team on Sunday night.

Lochte, an 11-time Olympic medalist, qualified second fastest into the Olympic Trials 400m individual medley final from the top morning heats on the first day of competition.

“My first race is always the worst one,” Lochte said. “I didn’t really press anything to full potential. I think there’s a little juice left. There has to be.”

The top two finishers in the eight-man final on Sunday (8 p.m. ET, NBC and NBC Sports app) will make the U.S. Olympic team.

Lochte is a favorite along with Chase Kalisz, who earned silver and bronze 400m IM medals at the last two world championships. Kalisz beat Lochte by .12 in their preliminary heat.

Other meet headliners Michael PhelpsMissy Franklin and Katie Ledecky are not in any of Sunday’s events and will make their Trials debuts in the next two days.

Full Olympic Trials results are here.

TRIALS: Broadcast ScheduleEntry Lists
PREVIEWS: Men | Women
FIVE KEY RACES: Men | Women

Lochte, 31, won the 400m IM at the London Olympics, his only individual gold medal from those Games. He had not raced the grueling event at a major international or national meet since.

Also in Sunday’s prelim session, 2012 Olympians Connor Jaeger and Conor Dwyer qualified second- and fourth-fastest into Sunday night’s men’s 400m freestyle final. They were bettered in prelims by Zane Grothe, who is trying to make his first Olympic team.

In the women’s 400m individual medley, Olympic silver medalist Elizabeth Beisel and world silver medalist Maya DiRado qualified second and fourth into Sunday night’s final. Sarah Henry, eyeing her first Olympics, was fastest in prelims.

Favorites Dana Vollmer and Kelsi Worrell advanced to the women’s 100m butterfly semifinals. Also advancing was favorite Kevin Cordes into the men’s 100m breaststroke semifinals.

MORE: Missy Franklin confident going into Trials after frustrating swims

Sunday Night Schedule
Men’s 400m IM final
Women’s 100m butterfly semifinals
Men’s 400m freestyle final
Women’s 400m IM final
Men’s 100m breaststroke semifinals