Wed, Jul 04, 2012 - Page 19 News List

Breaststroker Hardy wins 50m, 100m freestyle

AFP, OMAHA, NEBRASKA

Jessica Hardy, bottom, wins the women’s 50m freestyle ahead of Dara Torres, top, at the US Olympic swimming team trials on Monday in Omaha, Nebraska.

Photo: AFP

Jessica Hardy won the 50m freestyle at the US Olympic swimming trials on Monday as Dara Torres was denied in her bid to make a sixth Olympic team.

Torres, 45, finished fourth in the final behind Hardy, Kara Lynn Joyce and Christine Magnuson.

Hardy clocked 24.50 seconds to add the 50m to her surprising 100m freestyle triumph, with Joyce second in 24.73.

In the only other event on the final night of the trials, Andrew Gemmell won the 1,500m freestyle in 14 minutes, 52.12 seconds, with Connor Jaeger nabbing the second ticket to London in 14:52.51.

On the day when the last four spots on the US team for London were decided, Olympic superstar Michael Phelps made news by surrendering one of his.

Phelps, who won an unprecedented eight gold medals in Beijing and qualified to swim the same events in London, said he would not swim the 200m freestyle in his fourth and final Games, giving him a seven-event slate.

Torres was trying for just one and when the effort was done, she said her swimming career was over.

“This is really over,” Torres said as she held six-year-old daughter, Tessa, in her arms.

Torres lingered at the finish, hugging Hardy and Joyce in the lanes to either side of her and taking a long look around as she exited the pool.

“That’s it. I’m going to enjoy some time with my daughter, have a nice summer and cheer the US team on from afar,” she said.

Torres had already become the oldest woman swimmer to compete in the Games when she won three silver medals in Beijing at 41.

Since then she has undergone reconstructive surgery on her left knee and coped with the death of German-born coach Michael Lohberg, who helped guide her to a fifth Olympics eight years after her fourth.

Lohberg was diagnosed with aplastic anemia shortly before the Beijing Games and died in April last year, and Torres teared up as she spoke of him.

“I was very emotional before my swim,” Torres said.

“When I was putting my suit on with my trainer, Anne Tierney, we started crying because I started thinking about Michael. In July of 2010, he had said to me: ‘Let’s go for this,’” she added.

“I really wanted to finish the story that I started with him. I didn’t make it, but I know he would have been proud,” she said.

Hardy, the 100m breaststroke world-record holder who was shut out of the top two in that event, was astonished to add the 50m freestyle to the 100m freestyle she won, in the wake of her breaststroke disappointment.

“I didn’t have any cognitive thoughts during the race,” Hardy said.

“I was just: ‘Go! Go! Go!’” she added.

“I couldn’t have predicted this,” added Hardy, who missed Beijing and served a one-year ban after a positive drug test that arbitrators eventually ruled was caused by a tainted supplement.

“I thought I was going to be a better breaststroker here for sure,” Hardy said.

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