U.S. Nationals: Bobby Finke Turns to His Biggest Weapon to Prevail in 800 Freestyle


U.S. Nationals: Bobby Finke Turns to His Biggest Weapon to Prevail in 800 Freestyle

The way the summer was scheduled, Bobby Finke ensured he would excel in Budapest, which served as the host of the World Championships last month. And with illness hampering him during the early days of the United States National Championships, he was even less likely to produce eye-opening times. Yet, Finke seems to bring one thing with him wherever he goes, and however he feels: The best closing power in the sport.

The reigning Olympic and world champion in the 800-meter freestyle, Finke hit the switch for the last lap and left his challengers behind en route to the national title at the William Woollett Aquatics Center. Slightly ahead of Will Gallant with 50 meters remaining, Finke covered the last length in 26.99, compared to the 28.46 of Gallant, and won in 7:51.21. Gallant was second in 7:53.34 and David Johnston placed third in 7:54.60.

Over the past year, especially, Finke has shown that if he is within striking distance entering the final 100 meters of a distance-freestyle race, the opposition is in trouble. After rallying for Olympic gold last summer in Tokyo, Finke again turned to his trademark closing speed in Budapest, where he became the first American to win the 800 freestyle at Worlds. This weekend, Gallant learned all about Finke’s final flourish.

Really, the only individual to solve the Finke puzzle was Italian Gregorio Paltrinieri, who won the 1500 freestyle at the World Championships. Rather than let Finke lurk, Paltrinieri pressed the pace and took away Finke’s weapon. It is a strategy that others will have to adopt, and an approach Finke will need to be aware of going forward.

Gallant put together a dynamite performance at Nationals, as his victory in the 1500 freestyle was complemented by his last-night swim in the 800 freestyle. Gallant continually enhances his profile on the distance scene and, as was the case at the 2020 Olympic Trials, look for him to be contender for an Olympic berth to Paris.



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