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OMAHA, Nebraska, July 2. FOR such a short race, there were plenty of storylines playing out in the women's 50 free to close out qualifying for the ladies at the 2012 U.S. Olympic Trials.
Jessica Hardy continued her redemption tour with a second win of the meet. She raced to a 24.50, setting the American textile best and lowering the Trials textile best. Her swim beat the American textile best of 24.53 set by Dara Torres back in 2007, while also lowering Hardy's Trials textile best of 24.55 set during preliminary qualifying. Hardy added the 50 free to her 100 free win earlier in the meet, nearly giving her a three-event individual slate in London after taking third in the 100 breast. Her time this event shot her to a seventh-ranked tie with Therese Alshammar this year, who posted a 24.50 at the Swedish Championships earlier this week.
Hardy has completely shrugged off her one-year suspension for a positive test for clenbuterol back in 2008, which later was confirmed to be by way of a contaminated supplement. With the completion of the 2012 Trials, and her on her way to London, she can finally start where she truly left off four years ago.
Kara Lynn Joyce, who has had a bit of a nomadic career moving from training center to training center, including a stop with Missy Franklin in Colorado before recently heading to SwimMAC, earned her third Olympic bid with a second-place time of 24.73. She clipped Christine Magnuson (24.78) by just .05 seconds for the second spot on the team. Joyce made the team in the event in 2004 with a 25.02 to 25.11 loss to Jenny Thompson for the Trials title, before securing a spot for relay duty in 2008. She has four Olympic silver medals to her credit. Magnuson, who claimed silver in the women's 100 fly in 2008, missed out on qualifying this year with a third and sixth-place finish (100fly).
Dara Torres, seeking her sixth Olympic appearance at 45 years old, came up just a bit short with a fourth-place 24.82. The time came up a bit shy of her semifinal time of 24.80, not enough to make the squad. She's had a remarkable career with 12 Olympic medals, four golds, four silvers and four bronzes, spanning from 1984, 1988, 1992, 2000, and 2008 Olympic appearances. Torres later told the media that she is done with competitive swimming.
Madison Kennedy (25.10), Kait Flederbach (25.13), Margo Geer (25.26) and Lara Jackson (25.42) rounded out the top three. Kennedy swims with Joyce at SwimMAC, while the final three finishers are all Arizona-connected swimmers.