U.S. Olympic Trials: Princeton’s Nikki Venema Surges to 100 Butterfly Title at Wave I; Micah Slaton On Top

Nikki Venema Princeton
Photo Courtesy: Richard Hunter

U.S. Olympic Trials: Princeton’s Nikki Venema Surges to 100 Butterfly Title at Wave I; Micah Slaton On Top

When Nikki Venema touched the wall at the conclusion of the 100-meter butterfly at the United States Olympic Trials on Sunday night, it took a moment for the Princeton University and Tide Swimming athlete to digest what appeared on the CHI Health Center scoreboard. But after a slight delay, Venema’s shocked reaction told the story of what she accomplished.

Clocking a time personal-best time of 59.24, Venema claimed first place during Wave I action in Omaha, her time comfortably ahead of the 1:00.06 posted by Lexi Cuomo and good to advance her to next week’s Wave II competition. Venema entered the final as the No. 2 seed, but she left no doubt she was the class of the field when it mattered most. Sitting third at the midway point, following an opening-lap split of 27.68, Venema surged over the last 50 meters, splitting a field-best of 31.56.

While the COVID-19 pandemic has proved difficult for many athletes over the past year, Venema encountered a scenario more challenging than most. As an Ivy League athlete, Venema did not have the opportunity to compete in a collegiate season during the spring, due to her conference’s decision to cancel all athletics.

The leader at the turn, Cuomo held on for a bid to Wave II as she touched just ahead of Gigi Johnson (1:00.09) and Trude Rothrock (1:00.14).

Results:

1. Nikki Venema, 59.24
2. Lexi Cuomo, 1:00.06
3. Gigi Johnson, 1:00.09
4. Trude Rothrock, 1:00.14
5. Lizzy Cook, 1:00.40
6. Mia Kragh, 1:00.51
7. Grey Davis, 1:00.54
8. KyleighTankard, 1:00.68

In the men’s 100 buttefly, the top-two seeds from the morning preliminaries booked their tickets to Wave II, albeit in reverse order. Seeded second, Micah Slaton registered a winning time of 53.02 to edge top-seeded Aaron Sequeira (53.08). But both men accomplished what they set out to achieve: Extending their Trials for another week.

Slaton was in third place at the 50-meter mark, but used the fastest second lap in the field, in a split of 28.21, to get the wall ahead of the opposition. Placing third was Carl Bloebaum (53.36), who earlier in the meet qualified for Wave II in the 200 butterfly.

Results:

1. Micah Slaton, 53.02
2. Aaron Sequeira, 53.08
3. Carl Bloebaum, 53.36
4. Noah Henderson, 53.40
5. Lucas Bureau, 53.69
6. Sam Artmann, 53.82
7. Patrick Keough, 53.85
8. Matthew Whelan, 53.99