U.S. Olympic Trials: Teen Upstart Matt Fallon Leads 200 Breaststroke Prelims As Will Licon and Nic Fink Seek Redemption

will-licon-
Will Licon. Photo Courtesy: Peter H. Bick

Teen Upstart Matt Fallon Leads 200 Breaststroke Prelims As Will Licon and Nic Fink Seek Redemption

Redemption has emerged as the theme of the 200-meter breaststroke at the United States Olympic Trials.

For Will Licon, he is seeking to atone for what unfolded at the 2016 Trials. For Nic Fink, he is trying to bounce back from a third-place finish in the 100 breaststroke earlier this week. After the preliminaries, they are both chasing an upstart in 18-year-old Matt Fallon. Bound for the University of Pennsylvania, Fallon checked in as the top seed for the semifinals with a mark of 2:10.13.

Fallon paced a tightly bunched field, as seven athletes touched in the 2:10-range, including Fink. Consistent during his preparation for Trials, Fink missed an Olympic spot in the 100 breaststroke by .06 and is down to his last attempt to qualify for Tokyo. He was followed by training partner and 2016 Olympian Kevin Cordes, who went 2:10.45, just ahead of the 2:10.47 of Daniel Roy.

For five years, Licon has waited patiently for an opportunity at redemption. At the 2016 United States Olympic Trials, he finished in the damning third-place position in the 200-meter breaststroke, a mere .14 shy of a roster spot for the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro. Now, he has taken a first step toward a trip to Tokyo.

Licon claimed the fifth seed for the semifinals in 2:10.58, with Charlie Swanson next at 2:10.62. Rounding out the top eight were Jake Foster (2:10.83) and Andrew Wilson (2:11.15), who grabbed the second slot to Tokyo in the 100 breaststroke.

Reigning Olympic silver medalist and American-record holder Josh Prenot was 17th and missed advancing to the semifinals after a prelim of 2:13.42.

On a global basis, the 200 breaststroke features incredible depth, headlined by the world-record prowess of Russian Anton Chupkov and rising Japanese star Shoma Sato. Meanwhile, the Netherlands’ Arno Kamminga and the Australian pair of Matthew Wilson and Zac Stubblety-Cook have also been under the 2:07 barrier, along with Japan’s Ippei Watanabe.

Stubblety-Cook has made the most recent noise, as he produced a mark of 2:06.28 earlier this week at the Australian Trials. That swim is the second-fastest in history, trailing only Chupkov’s world record of 2:06.12. Wilson, though, will not be in Tokyo after missing Australia’s qualifying standard with an effort of 2:08.52. Meanwhile, Watanabe failed to qualify to represent Japan.

Results:

1. Matt Fallon, 2:10.13
2. Nic Fink, 2:10.24
3. Kevin Cordes, 2:10.45
4. Daniel Roy, 2:10.47
5. Will Licon, 2:10.58
6. Charlie Swanson, 2:10.62
7. Jake Foster, 2:10.83
8. Andrew Wilson, 2:11.15
9. Ilya Evdokimov, 2:11.54
10. Reece Whitley, 2:11.79
11. Cody Miller, 2:12.17
12. A.J. Pouch, 2:12.21
13. Jonathan Tybur, 2:12.29
14. Tommy Cope, 2:12.51
15. Brandon Fischer, 2:12.93
16. A.J. Bornstein, 2:13.14