U.S. Olympic Trials: Michael Andrew Unloads Fastest Time in the World in 200 IM Semifinals; Ryan Lochte Qualifies Sixth

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Photo Courtesy: Peter H. Bick

U.S. Olympic Trials: Michael Andrew Unloads Fastest Time in World in 200 IM Semifinals; Lochte Qualifies Sixth

Days after booking his first Olympics ticket in the men’s 100 breaststroke, Michael Andrew threw down a massive performance of 1:55.26 in the semifinals in the men’s 200 individual medley. Andrew went out under world-record pace, and after taking advantage of a 32.21 breaststroke leg, he was more than 1.2 seconds under the pace after 150 meters. He faded badly on the last 50 and almost 2.5 seconds compared to the pace, but Andrew still put up a mark that moved him to fifth-fastest all-time in the event, behind only Ryan LochteMichael Phelps, Kosuke Hagino and Laszlo Cseh.

Andrew previously beat his best time by a half-second in prelims, but he looked to have exerted significant effort on the race, so many expressed doubts as to whether he could go much faster moving forward. However, he blew all those doubts away with his performance in the semis. Previously, only Duncan Scott (1:55.90) had swum under 1:56 this year, so this establishes Andrew as a very real contender for Olympic gold in the event. His 100 breast performance put him into medal contention, but he was never going to compete with the likes of Adam Peaty in that event. The 200 IM is a different story.

Andrew’s only concern in this event is the freestyle leg, but that remains a huge issue. Andrew actually had the slowest freestyle split out of all the semifinalists. Compare his splits to those from Lochte’s world record swim from the 2015 World Championships in Shanghai.

Andrew (2021): 23.90, 53.09 (29.19), 1:25.30 (32.21), 1:55.26 (29.96)
Lochte (2011): 24.89, 53.48 (28.59), 1:26.51 (33.03), 1:54.00 (27.49)

Meanwhile, after qualifying second in prelims, world record-holder and four-time 200 IM world champion Lochte went out fast in the first semifinal and was in the mix for the lead at the halfway point. But on the breaststroke leg, 400 IM winner Chase Kalisz swam past Lochte, and then so did 200 and 400 free winner Kieran Smith. Kalisz and Smith dueled as Lochte faded on the second 100, and Kalisz touched first in 1:57.19, moving himself to ninth in the world for 2021. Kalisz has a lifetime best time of 1:55.40, which ranks him seventh all-time in the event, and we should expect the 2017 world champion to jump up into the 1:56 range (or perhaps join Andrew in the 1:55s) in the final.

Smith finished second in the heat in 1:57.61, good enough for the third-fastest qualifying time. Although Abrahm DeVine also passed Lochte to touch third in the heat, DeVine was disqualified. Lochte ended up touching in 1:58.65. The 200 IM was long considered his best chance at qualifying for his record-tying fifth Olympic team, and he will have a chance Friday night after earning the sixth seed.

Carson Foster qualified fourth in 1:57.77, followed by Sam Stewart (1:58.37). Andrew Seliskar (1:58.92) and Trenton Julian (1:59.21) also qualified for the final.

Results

  1. Michael Andrew 1:55.26
  2. Chase Kalisz 1:57.19
  3. Kieran Smith 1:57.61
  4. Carson Foster 1:57.77
  5. Sam Stewart 1:58.37
  6. Ryan Lochte 1:58.65
  7. Andrew Seliskar 1:58.92
  8. Trenton Julian 1:59.21

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