By John Lohn
OMAHA, Nebraska, July 2. AFTER he qualified for the Beijing Olympics in the 100 breaststroke earlier in the week, Brendan Hansen mentioned some nerves before the race. He also said he would be much more relaxed for the 200 breast, the race that put him on the international stage when he won the world title in 2001. Certainly, Hansen looked easy in the morning prelims of the longer race.
Racing in the last of nine heats, Hansen comfortably moved through his four laps and touched the wall in 2:11.29. It was a solid start to the event for the former world-record holder, two-time world champion in the event and the bronze medalist from the 2004 Olympics in Athens. Hansen holds the American record at 2:08.50.
"Just trying to feel my stroke, and actually to get into a rhythm to get my body adjusted to the 200 versus the 100," Hansen said about his swim. "I had a pretty excited roommate last night, since Aaron [Peirsol] is my roommate. He came back on cloud nine, maybe even 10! There is so much expectation for you to make this team. It is so hard to make it. Once you get that first one on, you can get into your rhythm."
Hansen was followed into the semifinals by fellow 2004 Olympian Scott Usher, who raced next to Hansen in the prelims and turned in a time of 2:11.41. Also going under 2:12 and claiming the third seed for the evening session was Scott Spann, who touched the wall in 2:11.88. Spann was third in the 100 breast earlier in the week.
Eric Shanteau, favored to land a berth to China, was fourth in 2:12.39 and was followed by Ryan Hurley (2:12.82), Clark Burckle (2:12.86) and Sean Mahoney (2:13.27). Giorda Pogioli was next in 2:13.47 and the rest of the semifinal bids were secured by John Criste (2:13.74), Chris Ash (2:13.80), Paul Zaich (2:14.85), Mark Gangloff (2:14.95), Agustin Magruder (2:15.15), P.J. Sullivan (2:15.25), Jon Roberts (2:15.68) and Eric Friedland (2:15.81).
Video Footage Removed Due to NBC Restrictions
Go to Swimming World's 2008 Olympics Landing Page for the most comprehensive coverage of the meet on the Internet.