By Sharon Robb
June 29, 2016—Michael Phelps, the most decorated athlete in Olympic history, made a little more history Wednesday night at the U.S. Olympic Swimming Trials in front of a sellout crowd at CenturyLink Center in Omaha, Neb.
Phelps, who turns 31 on Thursday, became the first American male swimmer to qualify for five Olympic teams after winning the 200-meter butterfly in 1:54.84.
After touching the wall, Phelps looked up at the scoreboard and held up five fingers showing the significance of the swim. Phelps’ first Olympics was the 2000 Sydney Olympics when he was 15.
Only 384 athletes in all Olympic sports have made five Olympic teams, including 13 swimmers. Only one other U.S. swimmer, Dara Torres, has made five teams (1984, 1988, 1992, 2000, 2008).
It was Phelps’ fourth consecutive Trials title in the 200-meter butterfly, the longest streak of any individual event winner in U.S. swimming history.
The 18-time Olympic gold medalist said he was happy that his 7-week old infant son, Boomer, was awake to watch the race.
Phelps took the lead at the 50-meter mark and never relinquished it. Tom Shields of Cal Aquatics, who was closing in on Phelps in the final 20 meters, was second in 1:55.81 and made his first Olympic team.
“This race was significant for a lot of reasons, making five Olympics means the most tonight,” Phelps said. “It was my last race on American soil. I was going for my fifth Olympics. And it looked like Boomer was awake for the race which is good. Tonight was all about making the team.”
South Florida Aquatic Club ProFlo teammates Claire Donahue and Kile Aukerman swam their second event of the Trials.
Donahue, competing in her third Trials, was 66th in
the 200-meter butterfly prelims in 2:17.12 ending her bid to make her second Olympic team.
Aukerman, was 37th among 99 swimmers in the 200-
meter breaststroke in 2:17.52. Aukerman, who qualified in three events, has the 200-meter individual medley left.
In other finals:
WOMEN’S 200-METER FREESTYLE:
Katie Ledecky continued to build her Olympic schedule by winning the 200-meter freestyle in 1:54.88. Missy Franklin earned her first individual Olympic berth finishing second in 1:56.18. “It can be tough changing gears to the lower distances, but I put in the training,” Ledecky said. “I knew it was going to be a dogfight tonight. I wanted to get my hand on the wall as fast as I could.”
Said Franklin, “I wanted to get a spot on that relay. It was so important for me to get on the team. That relay is going to be awesome. Last night was really tough and coming back from that, I was telling myself, I’m not done fighting, I’m not done believing in myself.”
WOMEN’S 200-METER INDIVIDUAL MEDLEY:
Maya DiRado swept the IM events, winning in 2:09.54, third best time in the world this year. Just 45 minutes after racing the 200 freestyle, Melanie Margalis of St. Peterburg just out-touched Caitlin Leverenz by 1/100th of a second in 2:10.11 to finish second and make her first Olympic team. Leverenz took an extra stroke coming into the finish and was third in 2:10.16.
In the semifinals, Kevin Cordes broke the U.S. Open record and earned the top seed going into Thursday’s 200-meter breaststroke final in 2:07.81. Cordes was on world record pace until the final 15 meters. Florida Gold Coast swimmer Alex Evdokimov of Coral Springs Swim Club missed making finals by two spots, placing tenth in 2:14.42.
Cammile Adams of SwimMAC, who had her disqualification in the 200-meter butterfly overturned, is top seed in 2:07.31 for Thursday’s final.
Nathan Adrian of Cal Aquatics is top seed for the 100-meter freestyle in 47.91, second fastest in the world this year. Bolles’ Caeleb Dressel is third seed in 48.53. Ryan Lochte, still bothered by a groin injury, scratched from the semifinal.
Thursday’s events are: women’s 100-meter freestyle prelims and semifinals; men’s 200-meter backstroke prelims and semifinals; women’s 200-meter breaststroke prelims and semifinals; men’s 200-meter individual medley prelims and semifinals; men’s 200-meter breaststroke final; women’s 200-meter butterfly final; and men’s 100-meter freestyle.
NBC is broadcasting finals every night at 8 p.m. EST. USA swimming is live streaming prelims and finals at usaswimming.org.
WEDNESDAY FINAL RESULTS
200-meter freestyle: 1. Katie Ledecky, NCA 1:54.88, 2. Missy Franklin, STARS 1:56.18, 3. Leah Smith, Cavaliers 1:56.63, 4. Allison Schmitt, North Baltimore 1:56.71; FLORIDA GOLD COAST: 20. Megan Moroney, Cavaliers 2:00.48, 44. Tasija Karosas, Texas 2:02:03, 72. Kyla Valls, Gulliver 2:03.57.
200-meter individual medley: 1. Maya DiRado, Stanford 2:09.54, 2. Melanie Margalis, St. Petersburg 2:10.11, 3. Caitlin Leverenz, Cal Aquatics 2:10.16; FLORIDA GOLD COAST: 18. Rachael Bradford-Feldman, Kentucky 2:15.88, 67. Kathleen Golding, SOFLO 2:19.65, 69. Kelly Fertel, Gulliver 2:19.74.
200-meter butterfly: 1. Michael Phelps, North Baltimore 1:54.84, 2. Tom Shields, Cal Aquatics 1:55.81, 3. Jack Conger, NCA 1:56.45.
Sharon Robb can be reached at email@example.com