Bobby Finke Claims Historic First Men’s 800 Free Olympic Spot Ahead of Brinegar

Photo Courtesy: Peter H. Bick

It was a historic race in the men’s 800 freestyle as the event would have its first Olympians in history with the addition of the event in this Olympic cycle. Bobby Finke claimed the premier title in the event, touching the wall first. More history was made with who touched second as Michael Brinegar became a second-generation Olympian — 45 years after his mother represented the U.S.

Finke led at the 200 split ahead of Ross Dant and Gallant but through 300 meters, every 50 saw a change in the leader.

By the final lap, it was Fink, Dant and Michael Brinegar in contention ahead of Olympian Jordan Wilimovsky.

Finke put together a strong final turn and the race was for second between Dant and Brinegar with Brinegar holding off Dant for the second spot.

Finke finished the race in 7:48.22, ahead of Brinegar (7:49.94).

“It is the first 800 at the Olympics and I am honored to bea  aprt along with Michael Brinegar,” Finke said. “I saw them oh my god. I was really nervous the whole time and I am grateful to get my hand on the wall first and get to Tokyo. “I think in 2016, I was more stressed than I was here. That is because I made the final in the 1500 and I didn’t want to get last because I felt like I would be slowing down the meet. I got seventh. I am more relaxed here.”

Michael Brinegar , who took a gap year to train with Mark Schubert last year, became a second-generation Olympian. Jennifer Hooker, his mother, was a 1976 Olympian for the U.S.

“I just knew if I stayed close enough, I was going to give everything I had on the last 50. I felt really good through the 500, and then my legs started getting really tight, so I did everything I could to stay on track,” Brinegar said.

Dant was third in 7:50.66, ahead of Wilimovsky (7:53.07).

Finke is the American record holder in the 1,650 freestyle in short-course yards, and received a lot of attention for his swimming at Florida, but has also proved to be strong in long course, claiming multiple U.S. national championships in 2019.

Finke has been around the scene the past few years, making the 2017 World Championship team when he was a junior in high school, and also was in the top 10 in the world in the summer of 2018.

Before he went off to the University of Florida in 2018, he was a 14:48 LCM at the Pan Pacs for eighth in the world. And last year, he had the fastest time in the U.S. with a 14:51 when he won the national title.

Will Gallant, who had the top seed out of prelims, finished fifth.


Men’s 800 Free Top 8 Results

  1. Bobby Finke, 7:48.22
  2. Michael Brinegar, 7:49.94
  3. Ross Dant, 7:50.66
  4. Jordan Wilimovsky, 7:53.07
  5. Will Gallant, 7:57.97
  6. Trey Freeman, 7:59.09
  7. James Plage, 8:00.43
  8. Andrew Abruzzo, 8:01/91
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