U.S. International Team Trials: Kieran Smith Surges to 400 Free Title, Goes 1-2 with Trey Freeman (VIDEOS)

Photo Courtesy: Peter H. Bick

U.S. International Team Trials: Kieran Smith Surges to 400 Free Title, Goes 1-2 with Trey Freeman

The 2022 U.S. International Team Trials continued on Friday with the finals of the men’s 400 freestyle from Greensboro Aquatic Center.

With World Championship roster spots on the line, just two swimmers punched their tickets to Budapest for the World Championships later this summer. Both swimmers were from Florida.

Olympian Kieran Smith had qualified fourth out of prelims but was just saving something for the final. He touched the wall first in a time of 3:46.61. Smith was out quick with a 53.82 first 100 meters of the race to take the lead, where he stayed the rest of the race.

It was an extremely strong performance, going four seconds faster than his prelims time, which saved enough energy for the final, allowing Smith to have enough in the tank to earn a spot in the World Championships.

Smith, who didn’t have a dominating of an NCAA meet as last year, has been completely locked in at the International Team Trials after winning the 200 freestyle on Thursday, then adding the 400. That assures him of at least three events with the 800 freestyle relay.

“I would have liked to put up a better time, but the 400 is on Day 1 of the World Championships. That was a big help last summer (at the Olympics) swimming that fresh,” Smith said. “I wanted to attack from the start and swim with the lead. I always find myself in a better spot when I swim with the lead.”

Swimming multiple events at the international level is something Smith is becoming accustomed to. He swam the same three events at the Tokyo Olympics and earned the bronze medal in the 400 freestyle.

Florida teammate Trey Freeman qualified second into finals and held that spot, finishing just behind Smith in 3:46.93. They were the only two swimmers to break 3:47. Freeman was fifth at the halfway point of the race before putting together a stellar back-half to get his hand on the wall behind Smith and ahead of the rest of the field.

“I did a big kickout on the last wall and I tried to pull away. I didn’t see him coming. I am glad I didn’t get Finked by Freeman,” Smith said with a laugh.

After finishing sixth in the 200 freestyle, Freeman officially punched his ticket to his first major international meet, and will be going with his teammate Smith.

“I felt like I was finally able to get out of my own way. (It meant a lot) I was crying and giving (Anthony) Nesty hugs,” Freeman said. “For me, I have been focusing a lot and it took me a long time to find that long-course stroke. I am hitting my stride at the right time. It was a long time coming. Training with Kieran every day, I know what he does an I know what I can do, and I had the confidence for a strong last 150. Training with him is pretty relentless and its humbling.”

It has been an impressive meet for the Gators training group. Of course it isn’t unexpected either with Caeleb Dressel, Bobby Finke, Smith, Freeman and Katie Ledecky, who now trains in Gainesville.

NC State’s Ross Dant finished third in 3:47.11, then there was another significant time drop off between third and fourth place at the International Team Trials.

Ohio State’s Charlie Clark took fourth in 3:49.36, followed by Texas’ Coby Carrozza (3:50.41) and Florida’s Tyler Watson (3:52.40).

Texas’ Luke Hobson, who qualified with the top time from prelims, finished seventh in 3:52.94, finishing ahead of Gator Swim Club’s Nicholas Caruso (3:53.50).

Here are all the links you need for coverage of the USA Swimming International Team Trials:

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