Connor Jaeger, Sun Yang, Ryan Cochrane Set to Battle in 800 Free

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BARCELONA, Spain, July 30. THE three top qualifiers did what they had to do to set up what should be an epic finale in the men’s 800-meter freestyle at the FINA World Championships.

USA’s Connor Jaeger, who has quickly become the Red, White and Blue’s go-to distance swimmer with Peter Vanderkaay out of the game right now, topped qualifying in 7:49.28. He will be looking to do what no American has ever done, and that is win this event at Worlds since it was incorporated into the schedule in 2001. Larsen Jensen came the closest for Team USA in 2003 and 2005 behind Grant Hackett, but Jaeger might just have the ability to pull it off.

China’s Sun Yang, the defending champion, cruised into finals with a 7:49.37. He’s already won the 400-meter freestyle event, and is looking to match Hackett with a 400-800-1500 sweep this year. That’s a tall task, but Sun is definitely in line to pull it off.

Canada’s Ryan Cochrane, meanwhile, joined Jaeger and Sun under 7:50 in prelims with a third-seeded 7:49.58. He has finished on the podium the last two worlds with a bronze in 2009 and a silver in 2011, and he’s hoping that progression leads to gold this time around.

USA’s Michael McBroom (7:50.62), Tunisia’s Ous Mellouli (7:50.77), Faroe Islands’s Pal Joensen (7:50.81), Italy’s Gregorio Paltrinieri (7:52.33) and Australia’s Jordan Harrison (7:52.55) will also vie for the world title during the finale.