By John Lohn
OMAHA, Nebraska, July 2. WITH three simple words from Bob Bowman this morning, the face of the 100 freestyle changed. "One and done," Bowman said, referring to the decision to remove Michael Phelps from the event after the preliminaries. And so, his personal-best time of 47.92 will stand until he presumably leads off the American 400 freestyle relay in Beijing.
Despite Phelps' absence from the semifinals of the 100 free, there were plenty of fireworks in the event, the most explosive from veteran Jason Lezak. Becoming the third-fastest man in history, Lezak established an American record of 47.58, lowering the 47.78 produced by Garrett Weber-Gale during the preliminaries. It was actually Lezak's second American mark of the day, as he briefly set the standard in prelims, just before Weber-Gale went to work.
Lezak has long been one of the top freestylers in the United States and is improving with age. The 32-year-old, if all goes accordingly tomorrow night, could challenge Alain Bernard's world record of 47.50. Lezak was followed in qualifying by Nick Brunelli, who has battled through shoulder injuries and registered a swim of 48.29.
"I just wanted to make a statement and show that I've got this in me," Lezak said. "When the French went their 47.5s, I didn't think that was attainable. I've got to come back tomorrow and repeat."
Although he could not match his morning effort, Weber-Gale was solid in the semifinals, going 48.35 for the third seed. He was followed by Cullen Jones (48.58), Ryan Lochte (48.65), Matt Grevers (48.70), Ben Wildman-Tobriner (48.71) and Gabe Woodward (48.85).
"I said this morning that I wanted to creep my way up," Weber-Gale said. "That's exactly what I'm going to do."
"I wanted to swim just like it was the last time I was going to swim," Jones said. "I was thinking the last couple of strokes that I just wanted to make the Olympics."
"Coming in, I was just looking for a good time," Brunelli said. "My shoulder is great and is a non issue."
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.