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OMAHA, Nebraska, June 28. CAITLIN Leverenz, who made the team earlier in the meet with a second-place effort against Elizabeth Beisel in the women's 400 IM, clinched the women's 200 IM title with a Trials textile best at the 2012 U.S. Olympic Trials. Meanwhile, Ariana Kukors overtook Elizabeth Pelton down the stretch for the second spot.
Leverenz popped a time of 2:10.22, clearing her 2:10.51 from semifinals as the fastest textile time in Trials history, Katie Hoff still owns the overall mark with a 2:09.71 to win the 2008 title. Leverenz has been faster this year with a third-ranked season best of 2:09.71, but obviously did not care about the time as she reached the wall first. She will next turn her sights towards the likes of Stephanie Rice (2:09.38) and Ye Shiwen (2:09.43), who currently lead her in the rankings. After a third-place finish in the 200 breast and fourth-place effort in the 200 and 400 IM in 2008, Leverenz has definitely picked up the pace this year with two Olympic individual swims.
In what turned out to be a gut-wrenching finish, world-record holder Kukors caught Pelton in the final 15 meters, 2:11.30 to 2:11.55, for the second spot on the Olympic squad. Pelton had scratched the 100 back to focus on the 200 IM but did not have enough in the tank to hold off a hard-charging Kukors. Kukors, who recently changed training bases to The Bolles School, owns the world and American record in the event with a 2:06.15 from the 2009 World Championships in Rome during the techsuit era. She also owns the American textile best with a 2:09.12 from the 2011 World Championships in Shanghai. She missed the 2008 Olympic team with a third-place finish in this event behind Hoff and Natalie Coughlin.
Maya Dirado finished fourth in 2:12.26, matching her performance in the 400 IM, while Elizabeth Beisel, who won the 400 IM on day one, claimed fifth in 2:12.37. Celina Li (2:13.34), Jasmine Tosky (2:14.67) and Jana Mangimelli (2:15.19) rounded out the championship field.