US Olympic Trials: Bobby Finke Cruises to 15:04 Top Seed in 1500 Free

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Photo Courtesy: Peter H. Bick

800 freestyle champ and 2021 Tokyo Olympian Bobby Finke was on cruise control in the heats of the 1500 freestyle on Saturday morning in Omaha with a 15:04.66. Finke was well off his 14:48 best time but is expected to challenge that and put up a good swim in tomorrow night’s final to close out the Olympic Trials for 2021. Finke is already on the team in the 800 free, where he finished ahead of 21-year-old Michael Brinegar, who is the second seed here at 15:07.93.

Brinegar has yet to break 15:00 in his career, and with a spot already secured in the 800, he could lay down a big swim in the 1500 final. Following him in third is open water Olympian Jordan Wilimovsky (15:14.67), who also looked to be on cruise control in his heat as he is on his second Olympic team in the 10K but will also be looking to upgrade on his fourth place finish in this event from the 2016 Olympics.

Bobby Finke and Michael Brinegar flipped at 8:02 and 8:03 in the first 800 of their heats, while Wilimovsky was a 8:04. Finke sped up his pace, splitting a few 29’s on the back end of the race, but he stayed consistently around 1:00’s in his the back of his heat as he is the USA’s best hope to make the podium come Tokyo. Finke has made his name known in short course yards in this event, demolishing the record books at the 2020 SECs with a 14:12 that was six seconds faster than anyone has ever been in the event, and he has done it two more times since. Finke has followed up his short course prowess with a win in the 800 earlier in the week and will get to let it sail in tomorrow night’s final.

The rest of the field has yet to make a major national team, excluding Florida’s Brennan Gravley, who represented the United States in the 5K and 25K at the 2019 Worlds, as he is seventh seed at 15:22.58, just off his best of 15:19.5. Gravley hails from the Sandpipers of Nevada, who had a swimmer in every heat but one of the men’s 1500 free prelims session, and already placed Erica Sullivan on the Olympic team in the inaugural women’s 1500 free.

Will Gallant (15:16.73) and Arik Katz (15:18.27) could factor into the second spot if they get into a race as Katz has been as quick as a 15:05 in his career, and Gallant lowered his best of 15:18.0 after also getting fifth in the 800 free final on Thursday night.

Charlie Clark (15:22.01) and David Johnston (15:22.61) also advanced to the final tomorrow night after adding slightly on their best times – Clark at 15:21.3 on the heat sheet, and Johnston at 15:20.0.

Results:

  1. Bobby Finke, 15:04.66
  2. Michael Brinegar, 15:07.93
  3. Jordan Wilimovsky, 15:14.67
  4. Will Gallant, 15:16.73
  5. Arik Katz, 15:18.27
  6. Charlie Clark, 15:22.01
  7. Brennan Gravley, 15:22.58
  8. David Johnston, 15:22.61