Bremerton's Adrian wins 100 freestyle, headed to London
Nathan Adrian qualified for the Olympics for the second time by winning the 100-meter freestyle Friday night at CenturyLink Center in the U.S. Olympic swimming trials.
Special to The Seattle Times
OMAHA, Neb. — American sprinters are chasing faster speeds at the Olympics, and it's Bremerton's Nathan Adrian who is leading the pack.
Adrian qualified for the Olympics for the second time by winning the 100-meter freestyle Friday night at CenturyLink Center in the U.S. Olympic swimming trials.
After Thursday's preliminaries, Adrian figured it would take "a high 47" to win the race, but nobody got under the 48-second mark in the final. Adrian's winning time in a field packed with the heavyweights was 48.10 seconds. Cullen Jones finished second (48.46).
The top six in the 100 qualified for the Olympics, either for the individual event or the U.S. relay team. Nabbing the final spot was 36-year old Jason Lezak.
"I was happy to be between a couple of sprinters who were going to go out with me and really help push me in the first 50 (meters), and I was able to get my hand first on the wall at the end," said Adrian.
From Lane 8 in 2008, Adrian finished fourth in the 100 free to qualify for the Olympics the first time. This time, the field chased him from the outset in Lane 4 after he posted the fastest time in prelims (48.33).
Adrian said he has become comfortable with being the front-runner.
"In '08, I was just some kid who had a chance of making the team," said Adrian, 23, who has been training in Berkeley, Calif. "This time, I'm still a kid that was expected to make the team."
David Durden, Adrian's coach, was happy that Adrian officially punched his ticket to London.
"In this environment, it's probably equal amount of joy and excitement and an equal amount of relief," said Durden. "That's what that race was about for him tonight."
But Durden also knows there's work to be done before London.
"He's got to get hustling a little bit to really compete with what is right now the top times in the world, and he knows that," said Durden.
Garfield High School alumnus B.J. Johnson, 25, finished sixth in the 200-meter breaststroke finals and failed to earn a spot in the Olympics. Still, it was a big improvement from the 2008 trials when he finished in a tie for 41st.
Johnson completed his final season at Stanford three years ago, and took some time off after completing his eligibility. He picked up the pace in his training last year.
"To be here now, I've come a long way and I'm proud of that," said Johnson. "Hopefully, I have another couple years of swimming left in me and this pays off."
Two-time Olympian (2000, 2008) and double gold medalist Megan Jendrick, 28, swam in her final event of the trials in a 200 breast preliminary heat Friday morning. After competing in the trials for King Aquatic four years ago in Omaha, the Tacoma swimmer decided to give it another shot after the birth of her son last October.
"After he was born, I didn't think I was going to come back and continue swimming," said Jendrick, who starting training in early February. "I ended up just wanting to get back into shape and my husband (Nathan) started coaching me and we went from there."
Jendrick, who had two previous comebacks from lengthy layoffs, has no regrets despite a time (2:34.09) that placed her in 38th place in the prelims.
"It was actually really fun getting into the pool every day with my husband and son on the pool deck," she said. "We thought we'd make a fun little trip and come here, and my son got to watch me swim."
• Brendan Hansen and Eric Shanteau were the favorites in the 200 breaststroke, but Scott Weltz won in a major upset, leaving Hansen and Shanteau with only one individual event — the 100 breast — at the London Games. Clark Burckle claimed the second spot on the Olympic team, another big surprise.
In another big upset, Breeja Larson won the women's 100 breast over Rebecca Soni and Jessica Hardy. At least Soni got second place, still good enough for a do-over in the Olympics.
• Natalie Coughlin barely kept alive her last chance to make it back to the Olympics. Having already missed out in the 100 butterfly and 100 backstroke, Coughlin is down to her final realistic chance in the 100 freestyle. She barely got out of the semifinals, finishing sixth in her heat but seventh overall to qualify for Saturday night's final.
Coughlin is trying to make it to a third Olympics and take a shot at tying Jenny Thompson and Dara Torres as the most decorated female Olympians in U.S. history.
Coughlin won six medals in Beijing, and she has 11 overall.
• In the night's other final, Cammile Adams pulled away to win the 200 butterfly in 2:06.52. Kathleen Hersey claimed the second Olympic berth (2:07.72), more than a second ahead of third-place finisher Kim Vandenberg.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.