After Just Missing in 2021, Trenton Julian Earns Meaningful Spot on World Championships Team (VIDEO)

Trenton Julian -- Photo Courtesy: Peter H. Bick

After Just Missing in 2021, Trenton Julian Earns Meaningful Spot on World Championships Team (VIDEO)

Trenton Julian saw his Olympic dream slip away in excruciatingly painful fashion, figuratively and literally. In the 200 butterfly final at the 2021 Olympic Trials, Julian held the lead at all three turns, but on the final length, his stroke fell apart, and he faded badly. He ended up fifth, more than a second off the pace of the top-two finishers.

Later on that summer, Julian swam a time of 1:54.74 in the 200 fly, making him the fastest American in the event for 2021. The key to a performance like that, Julian said, was being able to go out around the same speed but staying relaxed to ensure he could close the deal on the last 50.

So when he returned for another major qualifying meet, Julian again held a big lead through 150 meters — but this time, he was prepared to hold on down the stretch.

“Swim my race, keep my head in my lane and swim my race, not let myself be distracted by everything around me,” Julian said of his pre-race plan. “If I fail at the end, hopefully I’m ahead where it won’t matter much.”

He turned at 150 meters in 1:22.98, more than a second clear of the field, and once again, the fatigue kicked in as the field closed the gap. Next to Julian was Zach Harting, the Olympic Trials winner and always a quick finisher, and one lane over from Harting was Luca Urlando, the pre-meet favorite in the 200 fly.

“Going into the last 25, I was looking around a little bit. I kept my head in my lane through the 150 and then started looking around a little bit. I saw Luca coming, and I knew if Luca out-touched me, I’d still be hopefully going (to Worlds),” Julian said. “So I was driving myself, put my head down to the wall and hoping he wasn’t going to come on too strong.”

Urlando did get by Julian at the end, and he won in 1:54.10, but Julian was just behind in 1:54.22. The time was a lifetime best and almost certainly good enough for a spot on the World Championships team, pending a formal announcement later in the week.

Julian had not performed at his best at last month’s NCAA Championships, where his highest finish was fourth place, but his return to long course racing brought the career breakout he had long been hoping for.

“It means so much,” Julian said. “Coming off last summer, there were a lot of things I wanted to do better, and coming off NCAAs, obviously I wanted to do better. The goal was the team title, and we accomplished that, so it meant a lot for me. Long course swimming feels so much more at home for me. It’s just been so much easier getting back into long course and getting back into the 200 fly and getting to a spot where I think I should be and just keep going with that.”

He has earned his spot at the World Championships, but Julian still believes he produce more finishing speed. While his last split of 31.24 was eight tenths quicker than he swam in the same position at last year’s Trials, he was still the slowest swimmer in the field on that length.

“There is definitely a smoother stroke I can find that third 50 compared to last night where I was just kind of scrambling,” Julian said. “Honestly, I’m really excited for what Luca and I can do in Budapest.”

Both Julian and Urlando appear to be serious medal contenders for the World Championships after both eclipsed the 1:54.45 that Federico Burdisso on his way ton Olympic bronze in the 200 fly last year. In the more immediate future, Julian will race in the 200 freestyle final Wednesday evening after he qualified third in prelims, so he will have a strong chance to add at least a relay spot to his program for Worlds.

Already having his spot on the team locked up means that everything now is just a bonus.

“So much weight off my shoulders. Feels awesome going through the rest of the meet knowing that there’s none of that pressure,” Julian said. “It’s so much nicer just racing to race.”


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