By John Lohn
OMAHA, Nebraska, July 3. WHAT the United States will do in the 400 freestyle relay is one of the big questions for the Olympics. With the French having a loaded arsenal, some have wondered if the U.S. can challenge for the gold. After the 100 freestyle, it looks like the Stars and Stripes has the ability to make a run for gold, not that it will be easy.
Briefly the American-record holder during the preliminaries, Garrett Weber-Gale roared to the wall and touched in 47.92 to take top honors and the accompanying berth to Beijing. Taking the second slot was veteran Jason Lezak. Although Lezak couldn't match his semifinal swim of 47.58, which set an American record, Lezak was fast enough for second, going 48.05.
"I've been working on my strength and my stroke," Weber-Gale said.
Cullen Jones, whose best event is the 50 freestyle, was third in 48.35, earning an Olympic bid as a member of the 400 free relay. Also securing a relay slot was Nathan Adrian, who placed fourth in 48.46. Adrian, of Chinese descent, took advantage of a reprieve a day earlier. When Ryan Lochte decided to scratch the event, Adrian had to beat Alex Righi in a swimoff to gain a place in the championship final.
Although their spots on the 400 free relay must be verified later in the week, Matt Grevers and Ben Wildman-Tobriner should get spots. Grevers was fifth in 48.67 and Wildman-Tobriner, among the 50 free favorites, was timed in 48.80. Nick Brunelli, who went 48.29 in the semifinals, was seventh in 48.87 and Gabe Woodward touched in 48.93 for eighth.
"I took a year off from school (Cal) and this made it work," Adrian said. "The crowd is electrifying. It's whoever can push the most. I had the outside lane. These guys are all huge and I need clean water."
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.