U.S. Nationals: Gabriel Jett Rides Confidence to Become Seventh-Fastest American Ever in Men’s 200 Fly (VIDEO)

Gabriel Jett -- Photo Courtesy: Peter H. Bick

U.S. Nationals: Gabriel Jett Becomes Seventh-Fastest American Ever in Men’s 200 Fly

Gabriel Jett posted a solid freshman campaign this year for the Cal Golden Bears, finishing as high as sixth at the NCAA Championships. He showed hints throughout the season of future-star potential, and he delivered on that Tuesday evening in dominating the field at U.S. Nationals in the men’s 200 butterfly. Jett qualified as the top seed in prelims in 1:56.35, his best time by a half-second, and then he clobbered the field in the final. He was ahead by 1.3 seconds at the halfway point, and he split 29.54 on the third 50 to extend the lead to upwards of two seconds.

Jett came into the wall in 1:54.37, knocking almost two more seconds off his prelims mark and making him the eighth-fastest swimmer in the world this year. The 19-year-old became the seventh-fastest American in history, trailing only the decorated group of Michael PhelpsTyler ClaryCarson FosterLuca UrlandoGil Stovall and Trenton Julian. Foster, Urlando and Julian (a teammate of Jett’s at Cal) have all posted quicker times this year, but Jett is poised to become a contender in what has suddenly become a fairly strong event for the United States after no swimmer broke 1:55 at last year’s Olympic Trials.

When asked after the race if he believed he was capable of a swim like that, Jett did not hesitate. “Yes,” he said. “I definitely shut down the third 50 in the morning. I was a little scared of how fast I was going out in the morning, and then going into the nighttime, I was just like, ‘Who cares? It’s a finals swim. I don’t need to be scared. Just attack it for the first three laps and just finish.’”

Jett explained that he has built the confidence in his swimming over the course of his first year in Berkeley through the work done in practice, and the results have begun to show in competition as Jett has rapidly progressed from promising freshman to NCAA finalist to national champion.

“I have to give a shout-out to my teammates and coaches. The training is everything. It’s the reason I can swim as well as I do,” Jett said. “Getting to bigger and bigger stages, just building confidence knowing I belong among these guys, and on a good day, I belong beating these guys. Moving through the bigger and bigger meets, they’re scary, but the more repetitions I get, the more time I move through these meets with my team, the more confidence I get, and that’s what helps me swim fast.”

Finishing second behind Jett was Sandpipers’ Ilya Kharun in 1:56.66. Kharun also dropped two seconds between his performances at Nationals. He entered the day with a best time of 1:58.70 before going 1:57.47 and then entering 1:56 territory at night. Sterling Crane placed third in 1:56.75, just ahead of Great Britain’s Max Litchfield (1:56.89) and Tucson Ford’s Brooks Fail (1:57.08).

Julian competed at Nationals, but he finished ninth in prelims. At night, he ended up winning the B-final in 1:56.73, more than two seconds off his best time (1:54.22) from the International Team Trials in April.


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