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OMAHA, Nebraska, June 26. NBAC's Allison Schmitt, one of the top swimmers in the world who seems to still stay out of the limelight, held off a challenge from Curl-Burke's Katie Ledecky, 4:05.60 to 4:05.78, to win her heat and lead the way into finals of the women's 400 free at the 2012 U.S. Olympic Trials.
Both times surpassed the Trials textile best of 4:06.43 posted well back in 1988 at the Austin, Texas Trials. Evans, notably making an appearance this year at Trials at 40 years old, clocked a 4:21.49 to finish 80th. Schmitt has been a bit faster this year with a fifth-ranked 4:05.40, while Ledecky jumped to ninth in the world rankings with her swim.
Schmitt, an Olympic bronze medalist, has twice finished in the top three in her Trials career with a second-place effort in the 200 free and third-place 400 free at the 2008 edition. She finished just off the podium with a fourth-place effort in the 400 free last summer at the World Championships in Shanghai.
Ledecky, meanwhile, has been tearing up the national age group distance field as just a 15 year old training under Yuri Suguiyama at Curl Burke. This is her initial Trials experience, and being placed next to Schmitt could not have hurt her heading into finals. The two will neck-and-neck again heading into the finale.
Mission Viejo's Chloe Sutton, an open water Olympian in the 10K in 2008, is looking for her first pool swimming berth after giving up open water to train in the pool. She qualified third in 4:07.19, already bettering her performance in 2008 when she finished 19th in the middle distance event before taking third in the 800 free.
Florida's Elizabeth Beisel ripped off a lifetime best time of 4:08.37 to qualify fourth after winning the women's 400 IM and making the Olympic team last night. The FISH's Kate Ziegler, who made the team in 2008 with a second-place time of 4:03.92, is also in the hunt for an Olympic position with a fifth-seeded 4:08.38. Gillian Ryan (4:09.83), Amber McDermott (4:10.20) and Becca Mann (4:10.38) rounded out the championship field.
A day after electing to not defend her pair of 400 IM Trials titles from 2004 and 2008, defending 400 free champion Katie Hoff missed making finals of the women's 400 free with a 20th-place 4:13.08. Her coach at T2 Aquatics, Paul Yetter, spoke with the press after the swim and explained that she had food poisoning.
Allison Schmitt — 4:05.60
Katie Ledecky — 4:05.78 (lifetime best)
Chloe Sutton — 4:07.91
Elizabeth Beisel — 4:08.37 (lifetime best)
Kate Ziegler — 4:08.38
Gillian Ryan — 4:09.83
Amber McDermott — 4:10.20
Becca Mann — 4:10.38 (lifetime best)