By Sharon Robb
OMAHA, Neb., June 15, 2021—World record holders and defending Olympic champions Ryan Murphy and Lilly King will return to the Olympics while Kieran Smith and Regan Smith make their debut in Tokyo.
Murphy, King and Regan Smith all punched their ticket to Tokyo while Kieran Smith qualified in his second event Tuesday night at CHI Health Center.
Bolles alum Ryan Murphy, 25, of Ponte Vedra, Fla. won the men’s 100-meter backstroke in 52.33. Hunter Armstrong, 20, of Ohio State, seventh after the turn, moved up to finish second in 52.48. 2012 Olympic champion Matt Grevers, 36, was sixth in 53.27.
Murphy was first off the blocks (.50) and led wire-to-wire despite a late surge by Armstrong to return and try to defend his title.
“It’s incredible,” Murphy said. “It means so much to make another Olympic team and do it in front of a crowd and my family. Those guys were fast. The U.S. has always had a lot of really good young backstrokers. They seem to come out of nowhere. What an incredible swim for Hunter. It’s nice going into Tokyo knowing we have two really good guys.”
In the strongest event for the American women, Lilly King, 24, out in 30.34, won the women’s 100-meter breaststroke in 1:04.79. King had posted a world-leading 1:04.72 in the semifinals.
Teenager Lydia Jacoby, 17, of Seward, Alaska, fifth at the turn, was a surprise second ahead of Annie Lazor in 1:05.28, second fastest swim in the world this year. Jacoby is the first swimmer from Alaska to make the Olympic swim team. King, Jacoby and Lazor have the top three times in the world this year.
“I think I’ve proven myself over these last five years,” King said. “Now I get to call myself a two-time Olympian so that’s pretty cool. Lydia is awesome. We swim completely different races. I’m glad to have a new partner headed into Tokyo.”
After winning the 400-meter freestyle, Kieran Smith of University of Florida, leading at the halfway mark, won the 200-meter freestyle in 1:45.29. Townley Haas of Nova Aquatics will return to the Olympics after finishing second in 1:45.66. Drew Kibler was third in 1:45.92 and Andrew Seliskar was fourth in 1:46.34 and will make the relay.
“I slept really well last night and I was lucky enough to have the morning off this morning and got some good rest in today,” Smith said. “I tried to put up the best time as possible tonight.”
Former world record holder Regan Smith, 19, won the women’s 100-meter backstroke in 58.35. She was first out in 27.90 and ahead of world record pace but fell off in the final 30 meters. Rhyan White, 21, of Alabama was second in 58.60 ahead of Olivia Smoliga, 26, who was looking to return to the Olympics but finished third in 58.72.
“It started to hurt really bad in the last 25 meters,” Smith said. “I could see girls on both sides of me and I just knew I had to get my hand on that wall as fast as I could. I’m just so happy. That was a lot. It’s very surreal and it hasn’t hit me yet. Maybe it will sink in more later, but I know the 10-year-old me would be so proud. This was her dream.”
In a 400-meter freestyle time trial, Jake Mitchell of Carmel Swim Club swam a best time by more than two seconds in 3:45.86, well under the FINA “A” cut time of 3:46.78 to claim the second spot in the event behind Smith.
South Florida Aquatic Club’s Kathleen Golding, 20, of University of Florida was 20th in the 200-meter individual medley in a lifetime-best 2:14.93. Her previous best was 2:15.48.
Julia Podkoscielny, 16, of Pine Crest Swimming was 45th in the 200 IM in 2:18.59. She has the 200 backstroke remaining on Friday.
Erika Pelaez, 14, of Eagle Aquatics has the 100 freestyle on Thursday and 50 freestyle on Saturday left to swim.
Josh Zuchowski, 17, of FAST has the 200 backstroke left to swim on Thursday.
Alex Evdokimov, 25, of Pinnacle Racing (VA) and formerly Coral Springs Swim Club, has the 200 breaststroke left to swim on Wednesday.
The top two finishers of most events will most likely become 2021 US Olympians. Relay only spots go to places 3-6 (though not completely guaranteed for 6th place) of 100- and 200-meter freestyle events. The maximum roster size for Team USA is 26 men and 26 women.
All races 200 meters or shorter will have three stages at Trials: a prelim in the morning, followed by a semifinal that evening. The final of the top-8 qualifier will take place on the following night.
Wednesday’s events are: (Morning Prelims Session), men’s 100 freestyle prelims, women’s 200 butterfly prelims, men’s 200 breaststroke prelims, men’s 800 freestyle prelims; (Evening Session), men’s 100 freestyle semifinal; women’s 200 freestyle final, men’s 200 butterfly final, women’s 200 butterfly semifinal, men’s 200 breaststroke semifinal, women’s 200 individual medley final, women’s 1,500 freestyle final.
Daily finals coverage will be broadcast across NBC channels. Along with live finals coverage, 24 hours of preliminaries will be available on NBCOlympics.com and NBC Sports App.
For prelims, today through June 19, 11 a.m. on NBC Stream and 6:30 p.m. on NBCSN. For finals, today through June 16 on NBC at 8 p.m., June 17 NBC at 10 p.m. and NBCSN at 8 p.m., June 18-19 NBC at 9 p.m. and June 20 NBC at 8:15 p.m. All times are Eastern Standard Time for South Florida.
TUESDAY FINAL RESULTS
100-meter backstroke: 1. Regan Smith, RIPT 58.35, 2. Rhyan White, BAMA 58.60, 3. Olivia Smoliga, ABSC 58.72.
100-meter breaststroke: 1. Lilly King, ISC 1:04.79, 2. Lydia Jacoby, STSC 1:05.28, 3. Annie Lazor, MVN 1:05.60.
200-meter freestyle: 1. Kieran Smith, UF 1:45.29, 2. Townley Haas, NOVA 1:45.66, 3. Drew Kibler, TXLA 1:45.92, 4. Andrew Seliskar, CAL 1:46.34.
100-meter backstroke: 1. Ryan Murphy, CAL 52.33, 2. Hunter Armstrong, OSU 52.48, 3. Shaine Casas, TAMU 52.76.
Sharon Robb can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org