By John Lohn
Photos by Peter Bick
INDIANAPOLIS, Ind., April 4. THE fourth night of finals at the United States World Championship Trials is shaping up to produce a handful of repeat winners, most notably in Michael Phelps, seeking his fourth and fifth victories of the championships. Here’s a recap of how the preliminaries unfolded.
100 Freestyle (Men)
One night after winning the 50 free, Jason Lezak registered the fastest time of the prelim session in the two-lap freestyle. The American-record holder in the event, Lezak clocked 49.55, to narrowly qualify ahead of Michael Phelps, already the winner of the 200 and 400 freestyles and the 100 butterfly. Phelps touched the wall in 49.58.
Six men went under the 50-second mark, including three swimmers linked to the University of Texas. Neil Walker checked in as the third-fastest qualifier with a time of 49.70 while Nate Dusing (49.89) and Garrett Weber-Gale (49.94) were fifth and sixth. Stanford’s Ben Wildman-Tobriner was fourth in 49.83.
Ryan Lochte and Nicholas Brunelli each went 50.00 to qualify for the evening final, but Ian Crocker and Matt Grevers were unable to advance to the championship heat.
200 Backstroke (Women)
An Olympian in the event last summer in Athens, Margaret Hoelzer has a firm grasp of the top position after qualifying first in 2:12.48. Hoelzer was nearly two seconds swifter than the remainder of a jam-packed field. While Leah Retrum was second in 2:14.44, she wasn’t far ahead of Katie Hoff, the eighth-place qualifier (2:15.06).
If Hoff can manage some outside smoke in the championship final, she could finish in the top two and qualify for the World Champs in a fourth event. Hoff has already taken top honors in the 200 I.M., 400 I.M. and 200 free.
200 Butterfly (Women)
Already the owner of a fantastic meet and invitations to Montreal in the 200 freestyle and 100 butterfly, Mary DeScenza led all qualifiers in the 200 butterfly with a time of 2:10.57. The NCAA champ in the event, DeScenza was followed in qualifying by Emily Mason (2:12.18).
Courtney Kalisz, a 14-year-old from the North Baltimore Aquatic Club, was the third qualifier, as she hit the wall in 2:12.19. If Kalisz can finish in the top-two slots, she’d join her NBAC teammate, Hoff, in Canada this summer.
200 Individual Medley (Men)
Since no one is going to touch Michael Phelps in this event, where he’s the world-record holder and Olympic champ, the race is for second place. Phelps qualified for the final in first, as he went 2:02.06. Watch for Phelps to put together another eye-popping performance tonight in the event he, perhaps, dominates the most.
Robert Margalis qualified second in 2:02.43, but has Ryan Lochte (2:03.62) on his tail. The Olympic silver medalist in the event and the short-course record holder, Lochte should drop considerable time. Eric Shanteau was fourth in 2:03.78.
800 Freestyle (Women)/1500 Freestyle (Men)
Although these finals will not be held until Tuesday night, it’s worth noting the qualifying results for two of the distance events. In the women’s 800 free, Laura Conway (8:39.10) qualified first, just ahead of Kate Ziegler (8:39.18). The final will also include Kelsey Ditto, Hayley Peirsol and Carly Piper.
For the men’s 1,500 free, Chris Thompson took the top qualifying spot, as he went 15:26.08. Shaun Phillips was second and Larsen Jensen, the American-record holder and Olympic silver medalist, was fifth.