By John Lohn
OMAHA, Nebraska, June 29. WITH the amazing depth of swimming in the United States, each event this week will feature an athlete with credentials deserving of an Olympic invitation who does not receive that bid. On the men's side, the 400 freestyle is a discipline that might have the highest-profile misses.
Tonight, four Olympians will do battle for the two berths to Beijing: Peter Vanderkaay, Erik Vendt, Klete Keller and Larsen Jensen. Two of them will be on the outside looking in. More, there is a distinct possibility that the two outsiders could manage times that go under the current American record. Yep, it's just that fast.
The American-record holder in 3:43.82, Vanderkaay eased through the early portion of his morning swim, picked up the pace slightly during the last 200 meters and touched in the fastest qualifying time of 3:48.06. That time could see six seconds sliced off by tonight, when 3:42 figures to be very much in the picture for the top guns.
Vanderkaay was followed in the No. 2 slot by his Club Wolverine teammate, Erik Vendt. The silver medalist at the last two Olympics in the 400 individual medley, Vendt opted to shift gears for his third Olympic Trials and went after the 400 free. Shutting it down during his prelim swim, Vendt checked in with a mark of 3:48.25.
Grabbing the third position for the evening final was reigning Olympic 1500 free silver medalist Larsen Jensen. Swimming next to Vanderkaay, Jensen stopped the clock in 3:48.28 and was followed in the fourth position by rising distance star Chad LaTourette. The 19-year-old had a strong finish to his first swim and clocked in at 3:48.59.
Meanwhile, the fifth spot for the final went to Klete Keller, as the bronze medalist in the event at the last two Olympics cruised in 3:49.92. The rest of the field for the final was completed by Tobias Work (3:51.16), Michael Klueh (3:51.36) and Matt Patton (3:51.47).
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.