Time Trial in Men’s 400 Free Tuesday and Friday To Determine Second Olympic Qualifier in Event

jake-mitchell-time trial
Photo Courtesy: Peter H. Bick

The top 10 finishers 400 free minus champion Kieran Smith will participate in a time trial to determine a possible second Olympic qualifier in the event.

Only Smith reached the Olympic “A” qualifying standard in Sunday’s 400 free finals at the Olympic trials at the CHI Health Center in Omaha.

Sources confirmed with Swimming World that a time trial with the top 10 finishers will take place to see if anyone else reaches the Olympic “A” standard of 3:46.78.

One athlete made the FINA A time standard (3:46.78) in the men’s 400m Free Finals, which is required to participate in the Olympic Games. The only other U.S. athlete with an A time in this event finished 11th.

Two men’s 400m Free Time Trials have been added to this week’s schedule for the athletes who finished 2-10. One will be on Tuesday night, June 15, and the one will be on Friday night, June 18, both at the conclusion of the evening’s finals events. Additionally, athletes can swim a time trial any day this week on their own.

If more than one athlete makes the FINA A time standard in Omaha, they will be ranked in finish order, based on the June 13 results.

If no athletes make the FINA A time standard in Omaha, they will have until June 27 to continue to try and achieve an A time at another FINA approved meet.

That makes the situation interesting since Zane Grothe was 11th and the only other swimmer in the qualifying period to reach an “A” standard.

Grothe finished 11th in the event. He is the only other swimmer besides Smith that has recorded a time under the “A” cut during the Olympics qualifying period (March 1, 2019 until June 27, 2021), he would be in line to claim the other American berth in the event as of right now. Grothe swam a 3:45.76 at the 2019 World Championships, well under the time. However, Grothe could still be knocked off the Olympic team should any other finisher from the race surpass the “A” cut between now and June 27.

Smith was the only swimmer to eclipse the FINA “A” cut and earn a spot in the race in Tokyo. Carmel’s Jake Mitchell was fifth with 50 meters to go, more than a half-second out of second place, but he sprinted home in 27.79, much faster than anyone else in the field besides Smith, and it was good enough to put Mitchell into second. He touched in 3:48.17, good enough to touch out NC State’s Ross Dant (3:48.30), DART’s Chris Weiser (3:48.42) and Arizona’s Brooks Fail (3:48.47).

Mitchell alluded to a time trial after the race.

“I’m really excited for that. I know as the meet goes on, I normally feel better, especially when I’ve got my first-race jitters out. So I’m definitely very excited for the opportunity to time trial that and get the qualifying time,” Mitchell said. “There’s going to be a lot less nerves I think. I know that I’m swimming fast and there’s going to be a lot of people watching and my family’s here, so a lot of people that are close to me are going to be watching so I knew I’m going to feel better as the meet goes on.”

No American won a medal in the 400 free at the 2016 Olympics, where the retired pair of Conor Dwyer and Connor Jaeger took fourth and fifth, respectively, and they did not medal at either the 2017 or 2019 World Championships, with only Zane Grothe finishing at the back of the final on both occasions. Previously, the Americans had won bronze at four straight Olympics, with Klete Keller in 2000 and 2004, Larsen Jensen in 2008 and Peter Vanderkaay in 2012.

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