Jake Mitchell Secures 400 Free Olympic Berth After Swimming 3:45.8 in Post Finals Time Trial

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Photo Courtesy: Peter H. Bick

University of Michigan’s Jake Mitchell officially stamped his name on to the US Olympic team for Tokyo with a 3:45.86 in a 400 freestyle time trial on Tuesday night in front of the Omaha crowd that was cheering for him every step of the way.

Mitchell swam in the pool alone in front of the remaining crowd on night three of the Trials as he took the race out much, much quicker, turning three seconds quicker than his finals swim at 1:49.86 at the 200, where he was a 1:52.9. Mitchell was also under world record pace at this point and he kept rolling at the 300, flipping at 2:47, which was quicker than where the original winner Kieran Smith was at that point in the 400 finals race, and four seconds faster than where himself (2:51.6). Mitchell started to show signs of fatigue, splitting a 29.13 on the seventh 50, as the pace started to catch up to him. But on the final 50, with the crowd roaring, Mitchell touched at 3:45.86, splitting a 28.84 on the final 50, to swim under the FINA A cut and grab a spot on the US Olympic team.

It was a shocking development in the men’s 400 freestyle final on Sunday night at the US Olympic Trials in Omaha where only one swimmer got under the FINA A cut of 3:46.78. Questions began murmuring around the pool deck over whether second place finisher Jake Mitchell of the University of Michigan and Carmel Swim Club would be able to represent the United States at the Olympic Games.

Mitchell’s 3:48.0 in the original 400 free final on Sunday was deemed not quick enough to race in Tokyo and a time trial needed to be swum where he had to go faster than 3:46.78. The top ten swimmers, minus the winner Kieran Smith, would be eligible for the time trial, but since Mitchell finished runner-up, he had first dibs at the time trial.

“I was obviously pretty disappointed (in the 400 final) because all summer I was training to go 3:44 and 3:48 was not what I hoped,” Mitchell said immediately after the race.

Jake Mitchell is now ranked 12th in the world among swimmers that have qualified for the Olympic Games.

With his swim, Jake Mitchell joins high school teammate Drew Kibler as the first two swimmers out of Carmel Swim Club to make an Olympic team. With so much success on the junior level from that program, it is a bit surprising it had yet to produce an Olympian, but that changed on Tuesday, June 15. Kibler earlier in the night finished third in the 200 freestyle to secure a spot on the team for the 4×200 free relay.

The first person to embrace Mitchell in the water was his Carmel coach Chris Plumb.

“I knew we had a lot of swimmers that had a good chance coming into this meet,” Mitchell said of being the second Carmel swimmer to make the Olympic team. “I trained with Drew for a couple years so seeing him make it, I knew I had to as well.”

“I was in doping control, but I literally ran — I could hear the crowd,” Kibler said during his press conference. “I ran from the crowd to the pool deck…I can’t think of anyone who deserves it more. I was so over the moon for him. He is such an incredible trainer and just a really, really great guy. He is just a really, really good friend and a good person, and so it just means even more for me to see him succeed in something that means so much to him. He deserves every bit of it, and I’m so excited for him.”

Jake Mitchell just finished his freshman year at the University of Michigan where he was Big Ten champ in the 500 freestyle and finished 28th at NCAAs in the same event. He is also the national public school record holder in the 500 freestyle.

World Rankings (Tokyo Qualifiers)

  1. Elijah Winnington, AUS, 3:42.65
  2. Jack McLoughlin, AUS, 3:43.27
  3. Martin Malyutin, RUS, 3:44.18
  4. Florian Wellbrock, GER, 3:44.35
  5. Felix Auböck, AUT, 3:44.51
  6. Gabriele Detti, ITA, 3:44.65
  7. Marco de Tullio, ITA, 3:44.74
  8. Lukas Martens, GER, 3:44.86
  9. Kieran Smith, USA, 3:44.86
  10. Danas Rapsys, LTU, 3:45.39
  11. Guilherme Costa, BRA, 3:45.85
  12. Jake Mitchell, USA, 3:45.86
  13. Kieran Bird, GBR, 3:46.00
  14. Ayoub Hafnaoui, TUN, 3:46.16
  15. Aleksandr Egorov, RUS, 3:46.17
  16. Antonio Djakovic, SUI, 3:46.54

2 comments

  1. Sunny Olson

    So exciting I lost my voice cheering for him???♥️