By John Lohn
OMAHA, Nebraska, July 6. IT was a role reversal of the 400 freestyle. Making a move at the 800-meter mark and taking the lead around 1250 meters, Peter Vanderkaay punched a ticket to Beijing in the 1500 freestyle as he became the fourth-fastest man in the history of the event. Vanderkaay was timed in 14:45.54.
The winner of the 400 freestyle, where Vanderkaay was second, Larsen Jensen pushed the pace for more than the first half of the race. But Vanderkaay continued to cut into his lead, took over first and then pulled away to qualify for Beijing in his third individual race. He'll also contest the 200 and 400 freestyle and will be on the 800 free relay. Vanderkaay just missed Jensen's American mark of 14:45.29, but set a U.S. Open record.
"I think I've trained for this and I'm ready," said Vanderkaay, who will compete in his second Games, but first as an individual. "It will be different and exciting."
Jensen finished in second place in 14:50.80 and will get the chance to swim the race for the second time at the Olympics. Four years ago, Jensen won the silver medal behind Grant Hackett. Both Vanderkaay and Jensen figure to challenge Hackett as the Aussie tries to produce a three-peat in the event.
The top qualifier going into the final, with a prelim swim of 14:50.024, Erik Vendt couldn't stay with the frontrunners and finished fourth in 15:07.78. Vendt was considered a leading medal contender for Beijing, where he'll be a prelim member of the 800 free relay. Third went to Chad LaTourette, a rising distance star who went 14:57.50 to become the fifth American under the 15-minute barrier.
Fifth went to Kyle Young in 15:15.36 and the sixth position was occupied by Tom Koucheravy (15:16.38). The field was rounded out by Robert Margalis (15:19.96) and Joe Kinderwater (15:21.84).
Video Footage Removed Due to NBC Restrictions
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