The US Olympic swimming trials wrapped up on Sunday with Simone Manuel winning the 50m freestyle to snatch a spot in Tokyo after missing out in the 100m freestyle, which she won at the 2016 Rio Games.
Also earning a Tokyo ticket in the final night of action in Omaha, Nebraska, was Bobby Finke with a win in the men’s 1,500m freestyle, while Caeleb Dressel qualified for a third individual event, blitzing to victory in the men’s 50m freestyle and equaling his US record of 21.04 seconds.
No result at the entire week-long meet was more welcomed than Manuel’s after she failed to make the final in the 100m freestyle.
The first black woman to claim an individual swimming gold medal, an emotional Manuel later said that she had been suffering from overtraining syndrome, which had kept her out of the pool until just weeks prior to the trials.
“I’m a hard worker. I take a lot of pride in what I do,” Manuel said. “I just want to go out there and do my best.”
With one last opportunity to make the Tokyo team, Manuel dug deep and got to the wall first in 24.29 seconds, just 1/100th of a second ahead of Abbey Weitzeil, who had already clinched her spot with a win in the 100m freestyle.
While Manuel is on her way to Japan, there was no storybook ending for Nathan Adrian, who was attempting to earn a berth on his fourth Olympic team after overcoming testicular cancer.
The winner of eight Olympic medals, including five gold, Adrian had been a top US sprinter since the 2008 Beijing Games, but at 32 years old, he came up short, finishing third in the 50m freestryle, behind Dressel and Michael Andrew.
“I was really rooting for Nathan, but the point of having this meet is to pick the two fastest guys,” Dressel said. “I’m not ready to be on a team without him [Adrian], but we’ve got a great coaching staff and I’m sure we will figure it out.”
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