By Kari Lydersen
Neil Walker won the 100 free with a 48.71, taking the lead at the 50 and beating out Gary Hall Jr., who finished second in 48.84.
Walker, 24 and representing Texas, was out in 22.71, followed by Hall in 22.92–both men well under Alex popov's 23.33 world record split. Neither seriously challenged Matt Biondi's 1988 American record of 48.42, though Walker had come close in semi-finals with a 48.55.
Third was Scott Tucker in 48.95, fourth Jason Lezak in 49.15, fifth Anthony Ervin in 49.29, sixth 200 free champion Josh Davis in 49.40, seventh Jamie Rauch in 50.19 and eighth Sabir Muhammad in 51.00.
The top six finishers qualify for the 400 free Olympic relay team in this event.
After the race, Walker acknowledged: "I made the same mistake that I did in the 100 backstroke. I went out too fast and came back too slow. I had to struggle coming home, but I think the adrenaline of the final makes you do [go out fast]."
Gary Hall, who came out in patriotic red-white-and blue boxing trunks and sparred in the air before swimming, commented: "Any time you race in an event like this, it always comes down to a couple hundredths of a second. So there's always a possibility you might not make the team. I just try to concentrated on what I do in my race. It felt really good, and I'm really stoked to be going to Sydney."
Hall said he "picked up" the boxing trunks at the Muhammad Ali fight Night for Parkinson's Disease. "I don't think I was supposed to leave with them, but I took them anyway. I wanted to bring them out out for a special occasion, andd tnight was the night.
Anthony Ervin, who trains with Hall and other top sprinters in Phoenix, said he was delighted to be the first person of African-American descent to make the US Olympic swim team. "My father is 75 percent African-American and 25 percent American indian," said the Cal sophomore-to-be. "I'm proud of my heritage, but I don't like to think of my performance in terms of my race. i do it for myself and my family."
For live results feeds check the OMEGA TIMING site.
Full results and schedule of events are available from US Swimming