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U.S. Olympic Trials: Jessica Hardy Paces 50 Free Prelims With Trials Textile Best, Near American Textile Best; Dara Torres Makes Top Eight -- July 1, 2012

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OMAHA, Nebraska, July 1. A day after lifting a huge weight off her shoulders with an Olympic-berth winning effort in the women's 100 free, Jessica Hardy raced with joy for the first time in years en route to the top seed in the women's 50 free at the 2012 U.S. Olympic Trials.

Hardy, who lost her Olympic spot in 2008 after testing positive for clenbuterol before having her sentence reduced to one year due to a contaminated supplement, bounced back last night from four years of stress with a victory in the women's 100 free. Today, in the splash-and-dash prelims, she rocketed to a 24.55 to move to eighth in the world. The performance cleared the Trials textile best of 24.75 set by Christine Magnuson two heats earlier, and nearly lowered the American textile best of 24.53 posted by Dara Torres back in 2007. Hardy took second to Torres in 2008, 24.25 to 24.82, before losing her time to the positive test.


Magnuson, meanwhile, picked up a 24.75 in heat 14 of 16 to clear her lifetime best of 25.06. That performance also beat the Trials textile best of 24.90 set by Torres in prelims of the 2000 event in Indianapolis. Magnuson, the Olympic silver medalist in the women's 100 fly, missed the team earlier in the week and the 50 free is her last shot at returning to the squad.

SwimMAC training partners Kara Lynn Joyce and Madison Kennedy tied for the third seed with matching 24.93s. Both have recently moved to Charlotte to train with Dave Marsh's post-grad group at SwimMAC.

Twelve-time Olympic medalist Dara Torres, now 45 years old, continued to prove that age is just a number for the legendary swimmer. She punched the wall in 25.00 to qualify fifth, just .10 seconds off her textile best at Trials from back in 2000. Torres is gunning for an amazing sixth Olympic appearance. She competed in the 1984, 1988, 1992, 2000 and 2008 Olympic Games. She already is the first American to swim in five Olympics, and is the oldest U.S. swimming gold medalist in history.

Margo Geer (25.16), Sam Woodward (25.20) and Amanda Weir (25.23) rounded out the top eight, while 34-year-old Erika Erndl qualified 13th with a 25.41. Additionally, Betsy Webb made the semifinals out of the pre-circle seeds with a 12th-ranked 25.40.

The Semifinalists:
Jessica Hardy -- 24.55
Christine Magnuson -- 24.75
Kara Lynn Joyce -- 24.93
Madison Kennedy -- 24.93
Dara Torres -- 25.00
Margo Geer -- 25.16
Sam Woodward -- 25.20
Amanda Weir -- 25.23
Lara Jackson -- 25.27
Kait Flederbach -- 25.28
Liv Jensen -- 25.36
Betsy Webb -- 25.40
Erika Erndl -- 25.41
Kate Dwelley -- 25.44
Kelsi Hall -- 25.52
Megan Romano -- 25.58


Results: US Olympic Trials: Women's 50 Free Prelims

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