By Sharon Robb
June 28, 2016—Jacksonville-born Ryan Murphy, one of the sport’s rising young stars, has been dreaming about this moment since he was four years old.
The Bolles alum made his first U.S. Olympic team Tuesday night winning the 100-meter backstroke at the U.S. Olympic Trials in front of a packed house at CenturyLink Center in Omaha, Neb.
Murphy, who turns 21 on July 2nd, is one of 10 first-timers to make the U.S. Olympic team the first three days of the Trials.
Murphy won a tight race in a lifetime-best 52.26, fastest time in the world this year. David Plummer, 30, a father of two, was second in 52.28. Defending Olympic gold medalist Matt Grevers, 30, was third in 52.76 and failed to qualify.
“This is a dream come true,” Murphy said. “I started swimming at the age of 4 when this was a dream. To see it come to fruition 16 years later, I don’t know what to say right now. It was my night tonight.”
Murphy and Grevers were under world record pace for the first 50 meters. Plummer put in a late surge down the stretch and caught Grevers.
“This is just unbelievable, I am pretty speechless,” Murphy said. “It hasn’t kicked in yet. Matt Grevers paved the way for me and has been a huge inspiration.”
Plummer, who missed making the 2012 team by 12/100ths of a second, had one chance to make the team since the 100 backstroke was his only event.
“This means everything, it means so much,” Plummer said. “This is the culmination to a long and great career.”
South Florida Aquatic Club teenager Kathleen Golding made her final appearance at the meet in her second event. Golding, 15, one of the youngest in the field, competed in the 200-meter individual medley prelims and finished in 2:19.65.
SOFLO teammates Claire Donahue and Kile Aukerman compete in their second events on Wednesday. Donahue has the 200-meter butterfly and Aukerman swims the 200-meter breaststroke.
In other finals:
MEN’S 200-METER FREESTYLE:
In the closest race of the meet so far, Townley Haas, 19, of Nova Aquatics, out-touched Conor Dwyer to win in 1:45.66. Dwyer of Trojan Swim Club, who had already made the team in the 400, was second in 1:45.67. Jack Conger was third in 1:45.77 and Ryan Lochte was fourth 1:46.62. The top four make the team for relays. Less than a second separated the top eight. “It’s still kind of a shock to me,” Haas said. “This is unbelievable. I’m not sure how I feel yet.”
WOMEN’S 100-METER BACKSTROKE:
Olivia Smoliga of Athens Bulldogs left Natalie Coughlin, the most decorated Olympic swimmer of all time, and defending Olympic gold medalist Missy Franklin, in her dust as she won big in 59.02 to make her first U.S. Olympic team. Kathleen Baker, who led at the 50, touched second in 59.29. Clara Smiddy of Michigan, a Florida Gold Coast swimmer with AquaKids Sharks, was sixth in 1:00.12. Franklin finished seventh in 1:00.24 and Coughlin, 12 years older than anyone in the field, was eighth in 1:00.48. “When the Olympics are on the line, it is so hard to stay calm,” said Smoliga, who was fourth at Trials four years ago. “This is so amazing.”
WOMEN’S 100-METER BREASTSTROKE:
NCAA Swimmer of the Year and short course American record holder Lily King, 19, won in 1:05.20, the fastest time in the world for the last two years. “I am really excited about that time at this stage,” Smoliga said. SwimMac’s Katie Meili was second in 1:06.07. “I am so grateful to so many people who supported me along the way of this journey,” Meili said.
In the 200-meter butterfly semifinals, Michael Phelps, 30, led from start to finish to set himself up nicely for finals. The event’s two-time Olympic gold medalist finished in 1:55.17, sixth fastest time in the world this year. “It was a swim to get in tomorrow’s final,” Phelps said. “I was looking to go faster but that’s how I am, I always want to be better.”
In other semifinals, Maya DiRado was top seed in the 200-meter individual medley in 2:10.09 and Katie Ledecky is top seed in the 200-meter freestyle in 1:55.10. Her 100 split was 56.73.
Wednesday’s events are: men’s 100-meter prelim and semifinal; women’s 200-meter prelim and semifinal butterfly; men’s 200-meter prelim and semifinal breaststroke; women’s 200-meter freestyle final; men’s 200-meter butterfly final and women’s 200-meter individual medley.
NBC is broadcasting finals every night at 8 p.m. EST. USA swimming is live streaming prelims and finals at usaswimming.org.
TUESDAY FINAL RESULTS
100-meter backstroke: 1. Olivia Smoliga, Athens Bulldogs 59.02, 2. Kathleen Baker, SwimMAC 59.29, 3. Amy Bilquist, CAL Aquatics 59.37; FLORIDA GOLD COAST: 6. Clara Smiddy 1:00.12, 11. Tasija Karosas, Texas 1:00.79, 24. Megan Moroney, Cavaliers 1:01.80.
100-meter breaststroke: 1. Lilly King, Indiana 1:05.20, 2. Katie Meili, SwimMAC 1:06.07, 3. Molly Hannis, Tennessee Aquatics 1:06.65; FLORIDA GOLD COAST: 41. Emily Kopas, Michigan/Swim Fort Lauderdale 1:10.17.
200-meter freestyle: 1. Townley Haas, Nova Aquatics 1:45.66, 2. Conor Dwyer, Trojan Swim Club 1:45.67, 3. Jack Conger, NCA 1:45.77.
100-meter backstroke: 1. Ryan Murphy, Cal Aquatics 52.26, 2. David Plummer, NYAC 52.28, 3. Matt Grevers, Tucson Ford 52.76; FLORIDA GOLD COAST: 27. Brandon Goldman, LSU 55.89.
Sharon Robb can be reached at email@example.com