U.S. Olympic Trials: Luca Urlando and Zach Harting Tie for Top Seed in 200 Fly Semifinals

Photo Courtesy: Peter H. Bick

U.S. Olympic Trials: Luca Urlando and Zach Harting Tie for Top Seed in 200 Fly Semifinals

The men’s 200 fly was considered one of the most open events of the Olympic Trials, with the United States still waiting for someone to fill the shoes of Michael Phelps, a three-time Olympic gold medalist in the event and five-time Olympian. In the semifinals, it was impossible to split the top two finishers as Georgia-trained Luca Urlando and Louisville-trained Zach Harting posted equal times of 1:55.21 in separate semifinal heats. That time moved the two into a dead-heat for 10th in the world rankings.

In the first semifinal heat, Louisville’s Nicolas Albiero took the race out hard and set up an early lead, but he faltered slightly down the stretch, and Urlando, the pre-meet favorite, put up a sub-30-second third 50 split to take the lead. Urlando pulled away down the stretch, and Dynamo’s Gunnar Bentz put on a late charge to move into the second position. Urlando’s 1:55.21 was off his lifetime best of 1:53.84 that has made him the 12th-fastest performer and third-fastest American in history. Bentz finished second in 1:55.42, clipping his lifetime best by 0.09, and that was good for the fourth overall seed for the final. Albiero finished in 1:56.29.

After the race, Albiero said, “I was just trying to manage the pain. My race strategy is a little bit different, but I was trying to manage it today, this morning and tonight a little bit better. Hopefully I’ll have a good lane for tomorrow night.”

In semifinal No. 2, Trenton Julian took the lead at the 150 with a 1:23.25, more than a second ahead of the field and putting him position for a breakthrough effort. However, the California Golden Bear faded on the last 50, splitting 32.10 as Harting swam by him. But Julian did finish in 1:55.35, just 0.14 behind Harting in the heat, and that was good for the third seed for the final.

“I was just trying to repeat what I did in the morning,” Harting said. “Strong morning swim, I know I’m capable of more, and I just wanted to build on that in the semifinals.”

It took a 1:57.08 to qualify for the championship heat as Brooks Fail was the last man in at 1:57.08. Expect an exciting race in the final, with both Urlando and Harting known for their second half swims and others more willing to push the pace from the start. Julian, in particular, will be worth watching to see if he can replicate or come close to that pace he showed in the semifinals without exerting too much energy and then try to finish the race. The Cal graduate has had a strong season, including a runner-up finish to Albiero at the NCAA championships in the 200-yard fly, and that has vaulted him into Olympic contention.


  1. Luca Urlando 1:55.21
  2. Zach Harting 1:55.21
  3. Trenton Julian 1:55.35
  4. Gunnar Bentz 1:55.42
  5. Nicolas Albiero 1:56.29
  6. Corey Gambardella 1:56.56
  7. Zach Brown 1:5702
  8. Brooks Fail 1:57.08