Olympic Berth Lets Feigen Match Expectations

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By John Lohn

OMAHA, Nebraska, June 30. JOURNALISTS love to extrapolate. We love to gaze ahead, offering up possibilities for rising stars. We love the what-if game, even if it means looking excessively into the future, unaffected by the pitfalls which could hinder the athlete at which we're peering.

When Jimmy Feigen came out of Churchill High School in San Antonio, he was a signed, sealed and delivered can't-miss recruit to the University of Texas. He had set national high school records in the 50 and 100 freestyles and it was just a matter of time before Feigen was a star on the international scene, contending for medals against the best sprinters in the world.

Four years after those lofty aspirations were thrown upon his shoulders, Feigen is still looking for a breakthrough at a major international competition. He'll get the chance next month when the Olympic Games open in London. Why? Because Feigen nailed down his first Olympic berth at the United States Trials on Friday night.

Racing in the championship final of the 100 freestyle, Feigen secured a ticket to the London Games with a fifth-place finish, good for a spot on the American 400 free relay. Feigen was the second seed heading into the final, but couldn't match his semifinal time of 48.48. Nonetheless, his effort of 48.84 handed him, in all likelihood, at least a prelim outing in London.

“It is the realization of a dream,” Feigen said. “I am so excited to just be here. I have the third-fastest time in the United States right now, so I am really happy with where I am.”

The NCAA champion for Texas this past spring in the 50 and 100 freestyles, Feigen hasn't always had a smooth road. On a handful of occasions, illness has prevented him from delivering his best performances at a big meet. Fortunately, he's been firing at peak level at the Olympic Trials, exactly what coach Eddie Reese designed.

For the United States to contend for the gold medal in the 400 freestyle relay in London — even the silver or bronze — Feigen must play a significant role. It's a position with which he is comfortable and prepared to embrace. After all, such an effort has been in development for some time. Finally, it was unveiled to the public.
“That is awesome for (Feigen),” said former college teammate Ricky Berens, who also secured a slot on the 400 free relay. “I have known Jimmy for so long and we have talked for sevetral months about how he wants to be on the team and represent the relay.”

**The final Olympic Trials swim of Janet Evans was disappointing, as the 40-year-old legend was 53rd out of 65 competitors in the 800 freestyle, off a time of 9:01.59. Still, credit must go to the four-time Olympic gold medalist for diving back in the water and getting herself to a point where she could qualify for another Olympic Trials, 16 years after she wrapped up her career at the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta.

**The atmosphere of these Olympic Trials has gotten better every day, with Friday night's session witnessed by a sold-out crowd of 14,103 at the CenturyLink Center. During the five days of competition, the combined attendance has already exceeded 100,000, proof of Omaha's dedication to the event and the growth of the sport in the United States.

**Question of the Morning: What will unfold in tomorrow's championship final of the 800 freestyle, where Kate Ziegler, Chloe Sutton and Katie Ledecky will square off for two invitations to London?

**The North Baltimore Aquatic Club made a major statement in the 200 individual medley, qualifying three athletes for the championship final. While Michael Phelps, the two-time defending Olympic champion, was a lock to advance, he was joined by Chase Kalisz, bound for the University of Georgia, and Austin Surhoff, a standout for the University of Texas.

Even more impressive, all three NBAC athletes cracked the two-minute barrier, with Phelps leading the way in 1:56.66. Kalisz checked in at 1:59.66 and Surhoff touched the wall in 1:59.87. Phelps will duel with rival Ryan Lochte in the final, marking the their third clash of the meet. The match stands at a one round apiece, Lochte having won the 400 individual medley and Phelps having prevailed in the 200 freestyle.

Follow John Lohn on Twitter: @JohnLohn

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