Swimmers named to the Olympic Team Thursday include: Elizabeth Beisel (Saunderstown, R.I.), in the 400m I.M. Kate Ziegler (Great Falls, Va.) in the 400m free, Margaret Hoelzer (Huntsville, Ala.) in the 100m back, Megan Jendrick (Puyallup, Wash.) in the 100m breast, Elaine Breeden (Louisville, Ky.) in the 200m fly, Kathleen Hersey (Atlanta, Ga.) in the 200m fly, Garrett Weber-Gale (Milwaukee, Wis.), Jason Lezak (Irvine, Calif.), Cullen Jones (Irvington, N.J.) and Nathan Adrian (Bremerton, Wash.) in the 100m free.
In the men's 200m breast, Hansen was out in front for the first 100 meters of the race, with Longhorn Aquatics teammate Spann and Eric Shanteau (Lilburn, Ga.) shadowing him closely in the lanes on either side. Shanteau drew within seven-hundredths of a second to Hansen on the third turn, and as the three swimmers raced home, Spann pulled ahead in the final 25 meters or so.
Spann finished first, followed by Shanteau in 2:10.36. Hansen faded to fourth in 2:11.37, behind fellow 2004 Olympian Scott Usher (Grand Island, Neb.) in 2:11.00. "In the last 15 meters, I got so tired," Spann said. "All I could think in my head was, 'This is coming on four years, and this is my last stroke.'"
In the men's 100m free, Weber-Gale came out on top, turning in a time of 47.92 and edging out American record-holder Lezak by 13-hundredths of a second. Lezak was the first swimmer to the turn in Thursday's finals, but the whole field was neck-and-neck down the homestretch. Weber-Gale was first, followed by Lezak in 48.05, Jones in 48.35, Adrian in 48.46. Because of the 4x100m free relay, the top four finishers automatically make the Olympic team. Matt Grevers (Lake Forest, Ill.) finished fifth in 48.67, and Ben Wildman-Tobriner (San Francisco, Calif.) was sixth in 48.80. They may be named to the Olympic team later in the week, pending swimmers competing in multiple events.
"It really hurts that last 15 meters," Weber-Gale said. "I just tried to relax my legs and not really think of anyone else. I just tried to get my head in line and get to the wall."
Elaine Breeden won the women's 200m butterfly in 2:06.75, breaking the meet record of 2:07.33 that she set in last night's semifinals. The race for second was between Kathleen Hersey, Mary DeScenza (Naperville, Ill.) and Kim Vandenberg (Moraga, Calif.). It was Hersey who pulled ahead down the stretch, touching second in 2:07.33. Hersey was named to the team in the medal ceremony later in the evening.
The winners in each of tonight's finals - along with the top four swimmers in the men's 100m free - automatically qualified for the U.S. Olympic Team. Unless otherwise stated, the second-place finishers in tonight's finals - along with the fifth- and sixth-place finishers in the men's 100m free - will likely be named to the team later in the week, pending swimmers qualifying in multiple events.
In semifinal action, Natalie Coughlin (Vallejo, Calif.) turned in the top time of the women's 100m free with a time of 53.66. Dara Torres (Los Angeles, Calif.) finished just behind Coughlin and will be the second seed tomorrow in 53.76.
Coughlin set the meet record in this event in prelims Thursday in 53.64. Both she and Lacey Nymeyer (Tucson, Ariz.) finished prelims under the previous meet record of 54.07. Nymeyer is the third seed after tonight's semifinals, clocking a 54.07.
The matchup in the finals of tomorrow night's men's 200m backstroke will feature the top two swimmers of all time in that event, Ryan Lochte (Daytona Beach, Fla.) and Aaron Peirsol (Irvine, Calif.), as the top two seeds. Peirsol turned in the fastest time in the semifinals in 1:55.78, with Lochte qualifying second in 1:56.52.
Rebecca Soni (Plainsboro, N.J.) clocked the second-fastest time of the year in the semifinals of the 200m breast in 2:23.05. Amanda Beard (Irvine, Calif.) qualified as the second seed for tomorrow night's final behind Soni in 2:25.43.
Lochte will also go head-to-head Friday against Michael Phelps (Baltimore, Md.) in the finals of the 200m I.M. Phelps and Lochte are the top two swimmers of all time in this event and are seeded 1-2 heading into tomorrow night's finals. Lochte qualified first in 1:57.57, while Phelps qualified second in 1:58.05.
Tomorrow's events include prelims and semifinals of the men's 50m free, men's 100m fly and women's 200m back. Prelims and finals of the women's 800m free will also be conducted, as will the finals in the women's 200m breast, men's 200m back, men's 200m IM and women's 100m free. Friday night's finals and semifinals will air live on NBC, beginning at 7 p.m. CT.