U.S. Olympic Trials: Abbey Weitzeil Tops Qualifying in 100 Freestyle; Olympic Champ Simone Manuel Through in Sixth

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Photo Courtesy: Peter H. Bick

U.S. Olympic Trials: Abbey Weitzeil Tops Qualifying in 100 Freestyle; Olympic Champ Simone Manuel Through in Sixth

Earlier this week, at their Olympic Trials in Adelaide, the Australians delivered a statement in the 100-meter freestyle. Four women cracked the 53-second barrier in the event, headlined by Emma McKeon and Cate Campbell securing individual berths to next month’s Olympic Games in Tokyo. On Thursday morning, the Americans started their response.

As the United States Olympic Trials rolled into Day Five at the CHI Health Center in Omaha, 2016 Olympic Abbey Weitzeil claimed the top seed for the semifinals with the only sub-54 performance of the session. The 24-year-old prevailed in the seventh of nine heats, clocking in at 53.52. That outing was nearly a half-second clear of No. 2 seed Olivia Smoliga, who checked in at 54.00.

It was a sluggish morning, but enhanced speed is expected in the semifinals, and will be needed if the United States wants to position itself for a run at Australia in the 400 freestyle relay at the Games. The Aussies have won three of the past four Olympic titles in the event, with Team USA not on top of the podium since the 2000 Games in Sydney.

Qualifying third for the semifinals was Catie Deloof in 54.21, followed by Natalie Hinds (54.34) and Linnea Mack (54.37). In sixth was reigning Olympic champion Simone Manuel, who was racing for the first time this week after scratching out of the 200 freestyle. Manuel was timed in 54.47, just ahead of Erika Brown (54.61) and Kate Douglass (54.62).

Rising teenage star Gretchen Walsh, who was seeded seventh, was the biggest surprise to miss the semifinals, as she finished 28th.

Results:

1. Abbey Weitzeil, 53.52
2. Olivia Smoliga, 54.00
3. Catie Deloof, 54.21
4. Natalie Hinds, 54.34
5. Linnea Mack, 54.37
6. Simone Manuel, 54.47
7. Erika Brown, 54.61
8. Kate Douglass, 54.62
9. Beata Nelson, 54.71
10. Katie McLaughlin, 54.72
11. Allison Schmitt, 54.78
12. Torri Huske, 54.80
13. Claire Curzan, 54.84
14. Mallory Comerford, 54.85
15. Kelsi Dahlia, 54.96
16. Gabby Deloof, 55.22