US Olympic Trials: Kieran Smith Controls 400 Free Pace, Leads Top Eight Field of Potential First-Time US Olympians

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Photo Courtesy: Peter H. Bick

Short course yards American record holder Kieran Smith barely took a hard stroke in the heats, cruising to a 3:48.06 as he controlled the pace of heat six of seven. Smith pulled Arizona grad Chris Wieser along with him in his heat at 3:48.84, along with his fellow Florida Gator teammate Trey Freeman (3:48.88), who qualified third and fourth.

The big surprise came out of heat seven as NC State’s Ross Dant emerged from lane eight with a 3:48.40, dropping three seconds on his best time as he is all of a sudden the second seed in tonight’s final. The top seed coming into the meet, Zane Grothe, who represented the US at the last three major international meets in this event, including winning the bronze at the 2018 Pan Pacs, finished out of the final with a disappointing 3:50.80 in 11th place. NCAA champion Jake Magahey, who was a popular second place pick coming into the meet behind Kieran Smithh, finished out of the final in ninth place at 3:49.89.

Three-time NCAA champ Townley Haas finished 12th overall from a non-seeded heat with a 3:50.89 as three of the biggest names behind Kieran Smith in this event – Magahey, Grothe, and Haas, will not fight for a spot on the plane to Tokyo in tonight’s final.

All eight swimmers that advanced to the final have never swum for the US in the Olympic Games. Florida’s Mitch D’Arrigo, who led for the majority of heat seven, represented Italy at the 2016 Olympics where he was 23rd in the 200 freestyle. He is the eighth see at 3:49.49 as three Florida Gators made the A-Final in Smith, Freeman and D’Arrigo.

Arizona’s Brooks Fail finished in fifth at 3:49.37 ahead of Michigan’s Jake Mitchell (3:49.39), who could potentially be the first Olympic swimmer from the legendary Carmel Swim Club in Indiana. Andrew Abruzzo of Georgia is the seventh seed at 3:49.43.

2019 Worlds team member Grant Shoults finished 17th at 3:51.52.

The pace was not particularly quick this morning as none of the men swam under the 3:46.78 FINA A cut, but that should change tonight now that the first race jitters are out of the way. The pace should heat up tonight as the eight men get in a race to try and qualify for the Tokyo Olympic Games.

Results:

  1. Kieran Smith, 3:48.06
  2. Ross Dant, 3:48.40
  3. Chris Wieser, 3:48.84
  4. Trey Freeman, 3:48.88
  5. Brooks Fail, 3:49.37
  6. Jake Mitchell, 3:49.39
  7. Andrew Abruzzo, 3:49.43
  8. Mitch D’Arrigo, 3:49.49

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