By Kari Lydersen
Women's 50 Free:
Dara Torres won her first gold of the meet, completing her stellar comeback, with a 24.90 victory in the 50 free. The time set a new Trials record, breaking her own mark of 24.93 from the semi-finals.
"I'm upset with my time but I'm glad I won," said Torres. "By the fourth day I was running on fumes. My legs are sore and I'm very tired. This is a good learning experience for Sydney. I'll know to conserve my energy more there."
Amy Van Dyken was second in 24.99; the 1996 Olympic gold medalist in this event, she was fourth behind Torres and Jenny Thompson in the 100 free. She had held the old Trials record with a 25.17 from 1996.
"I wanted to win," said Van Dyken. "But here, if it's first or second you make the team, and that's the ultimate goal. So today second is fine."
She noted that she is "thrilled" with her time, considering she underwent shoulder surgery earlier this year.
"I came here just hoping to make it as an alternate and now I'm on the relay and the 50," she said. "This is unbelievable."
Third was Haley Cope in 25.40. Cope looked to be in the race until a bad touch at the finish. Fourth was 1996 Olympian Catherine Fox in 25.59. Liesl Kolbisen was fifth in 25.62, and 15-year-old Christina Swindle was sixth in 25.66. Seventh was Courtney Allen in 25.72, and eighth was Tammie Stone in 25.82.
Torres, 33, set an American record in the 100 fly prelims and was second to Jenny Thompson in that event and the 100 free. Van Dyken, who won four golds at the last Olympics, made her first individual event in Sydney with her second place finish.
Men's 1500 Free:
In one of the most inspiring and emotional events of the meet, 18-year-old Erik Vendt swam a controlled, strategic and ultimately fast 1500 to break George DiCarlo's American record from 1984. Vendt's 14:59.11 was more than two seconds under DiCarlo's 15:01.51 mark. Vendt had been behind record pace until the 1200 mark, swimming a gutsy last 300 and finishing in a 58.03. Vendt's time makes him the eighth fastest performer ever and the first American under the 15 minute mark.
Vendt led the race the whole way, but for the first 700 there were four swimmers within a one second range: Vendt, Chris Thompson, Robert Margalis and Tyler Painter.
Vendt and Thompson both made noticeable moves at the halfway point, with Vendt gaining a solid lead over Thompson and Thompson, 21 and swimming for Club Wolverine, pulling away from the rest of the field. By the ninth 100, Vendt was splitting 29.6 to 29.8 per 50.
"My goal was to break the American record but I wasn't sure if I could accomplish that or not," said Vendt, representing the Squids and Trojan. "I just wanted to get out in front of the field. At 1100 I looked over there and saw my teammates and the whole side of the pool going crazy and I knew I was on pace for breaking the American record. I didn't want to let the chance go."
Vendt also noted that, "I know most of the fans came here tonight to see Dara swim the 50, but I think we put on a good show. If we can generate more interest in the mile, that makes it more interesting."
Thompson ended up second in 15:09.16, making his first Olympic team. Thompson noted that he had been sick for several days at the meet.
"I just didn't have it today," he said. "But I've got quite a while to get better now and I'm sure I'll be at full strength in Sydney. The goal here was just to make the team and I did."
Robert Margalis, 18, was third in 15:13.59, and Nat Lewis, swimming from lane 1, passed Painter to take fourth in 15:15.86.
Jamie Grimes was fifth in 15:21.80, logging the second fastest last 100 of the race with a 59.68.
Painter was sixth in 15:22.58. 16-year-old Fran Crippen was seventh in 15:30.50 and 17-year-old Aram Kevorkian was eighth in 15:38.66.
For full results check the US Swimming site
TV COVERAGE OF THE SWIM TRIALS
Olympic Swim Trials coverage on NBC:
Aug 19, 4-6 p.m. EST
Olympic Swim Trials coverage on PAX-TV:
Aug. 26, 9-11 p.m. ET and PT
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