U.S. Olympic Trials: Kate Ziegler Posts Smooth 8:27 To Top 800 Free Qualifying; Janet Evans Returns to Retirement

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OMAHA, Nebraska, June 30. KATE Ziegler, now back with The Fish after training in California for some time, is back in the mix for the women's distance freestyle spots at the 2012 U.S. Olympic Trials.

Ziegler, a four-time World gold medalist including a silver in the 1500 free last summer, is looking to better her 10th-place finish at the 2008 Beijing Olympics after being one of the favorites going into the Games. She clocked an 8:27.61 to lead the way this morning, just outside of the top 10 in the world this year. Ziegler took second in this event in 2008 to Katie Hoff, 8:20.81 to 8:25.38. Hoff has struggled with food poisoning all week, and wound up faltering this morning with a 13th-place time of 8:39.03 to miss the Olympic squad.

Curl-Burke's Katie Ledecky checked in with an 8:27.91 to earn the second seed. She's one of several youngster to populate the distance freestyle finale. NBAC's Gillian Ryan, another youngster, qualified third in 8:28.99 Ryan took fourth in the 400 free earlier in the week.

Chloe Sutton, who placed second in the 400 free to make the Olympic squad earlier in the week, qualified fifth in 8:29.01. She placed third in 2008, and will be vying for a second individual Olympic swim in London.

Becca Mann, 14, who already has two finals to her credit this week, earned her third with an 8:31.53. She is just two seconds back of Cynthia “Sippy” Woodhead's 13-14 U.S. National Age Group record of 8:29.35 set way back in 1978.

Haley Anderson, the open water Olympian, qualified sixth in 8:33.53, while Stephanie Peacock (8:34.78) and Danielle Valley (8:36.59) completed the rest of the finale.

Notably, Janet Evans ended her comeback bid at 40 years old with a 53rd-place 9:01.59. Immediately after her swim, in something that had been pre-planned, she signed her retirement papers with USADA.

“I had to check a box — 'Permanently retired' or 'Temporarily retired,'” Evans said. “I paused for a few seconds and then checked 'Permanently retired.'”

The Finalists:
Kate Ziegler — 8:27.61
Katie Ledecky — 8:27.91
Gillian Ryan — 8:28.99
Chloe Sutton — 8:29.01
Becca Mann — 8:31.53
Haley Anderson — 8:33.53
Stephanie Peacock — 8:34.78
Danielle Valley — 8:36.59

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