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Michael Andrew Qualifies for Tokyo, Lilly King Shines in Semifinals on Night Two of Olympic Trials

By Justin Limoges | June 15, 2021, 1:09 a.m. (ET)

Michael Andrew reacts after competing in the Men’s 100m breaststroke final at the 2021 U.S. Olympic Team Swimming Trials on June 14, 2021 in Omaha, Neb.

 

OMAHA, Neb. – Michael Andrew does it again.

The 2016 world champion secured his spot on the U.S. Olympic Team for the first time ever this evening at the 2021 U.S. Olympic Team Trials – Swimming following yet another amazing run in the men’s 100-meter breaststroke final. 

Andrew, 22, finished the race in 58.73, which was surprisingly the slowest time he concluded in the 100 breast. Andrew Wilson finished only a hundredth of a second behind at 58.74, giving him the opportunity to qualify for the roster heading into the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020.

“It’s still hard to believe it’s real, it’s been five years in the making,” Andrew said. “I remember the walk down the stairs so vividly from 2016 [at the U.S. Olympic Team Trials – Swimming], not making that team as a 17-year-old. To be able come back now and rectify that is a dream come true.”

The preliminary round and semifinals couldn’t have gone any better for Andrew on the first day of Trials, as he broke two American Records in the men’s 100 breast – the first setting his time as the No. 3 fastest in the world in 58.19 and the second breaking that record at 58.14.

Andrew said his strategy was re-evaluated for each stage of the race, yet the execution did not meet up to his expectations throughout. 

“My strategy each race changed mentally – like my goals and plan going into it changed,” Andrew said. “But the execution, I felt like, actually got worse throughout [the rest of the event]. But coming home, I got too focused on what was happening around me and made a little bit of a rookie mistake, and made everybody stress a bit coming into the wall.”

Andrew also qualified for the men’s 100-meter backstroke final, which takes place tomorrow evening. He completed Heat 2 of the semifinals in 53.82 to finish in the top eight only one event after he competed in the 100 breaststroke final. 

“My plan coming into this evening was to not think about the backstroke at all,” Andrew said. “I knew if I came into it thinking about the double, that would mentally have some sort of drawback on my 100 breast.”

While qualifying for Tokyo and earning a spot in the 100 backstroke are the highlights for Andrew’s day, he’s also very appreciative of his entire family for being at the CHI Health Center to support him the whole way.

“A few months ago, I didn’t expect my family to even be here together as a team,” Andrew said. "We just went through a very heavy, hectic season. The fact that my whole family is here together, celebrating, cheering, loving on one another, is just hard to put into words – I’m just really grateful my whole team is here.”

Veterans, Young Stars Shine in the Semis of Day 2

Lilly King set the fastest time in the world in 2021 for the women’s 100-meter breaststroke after finishing first in Heat 2 of the semifinals in 1:04.72 at Trials.  

King, 24, was excited to hit under 1:04.90, which she hasn’t hit since the 2017 world championships. 

“I haven’t been under 1:04.90 since 2017, so it’s been a long road and I’m just really happy to have that time and I think training’s paying off.”

The 2016 Olympian attributed part of her success to the extra year of preparation created by the COVID-19 pandemic. 

“I’m just training better; I think this extra year for me has been such a blessing,” King said. “I’ve had another year to get myself together, I don’t think in 2020 that I was quite ready for the Olympics. I definitely think that extra year gave me that excuse that I needed.”

King was followed by Annie Lazor, a two-time Pan American Games Lima 2019 gold medalist, in 1:05.37 and 17-year-old star Lydia Jacoby in 1:05.71. 

Kieran Smith’s performance in the men’s 200-meter freestyle also highlighted the action for the night after leading the semifinals with a 1:45.74.

“I want to race here for the rest of the week,” Smith said. “But I don’t want to let my guard down. That’s why I pushed tonight’s semifinal, a little bit.”

Three-time Olympic gold medalist Ryan Murphy led the charge in the men’s 100-meter backstroke in 52.22 and was followed closely behind by college standouts Hunter Armstrong in 52.67 and Shaine Casas in 52.77.

Armstrong was thankful to have finished alongside both Murphy and Casas in the top three.

“Honestly, it’s an honor. I mean, I really look up to Ryan Murphy and Shane Casas, they’re just amazing athletes and I’m really proud to be able to compete with them on an elite level.” 

2019 world champion Regan Smith finished clear in the women’s 100-meter backstroke semifinals in 57.92 followed by Olivia Smoliga, 58.50.

Smith, the current world record holder for the women’s 200-meter backstroke and former world record holder in the 100, is looking to replicate that success into tomorrow’s final. 

Swimming U.S. Olympic Team Trials 2021 Highlights

Michael Andrew Men's 100M Breaststroke Final | Swimming U.S. Olympic Team Trials 2021
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06/15/2021
Lilly King Women's 100M Breaststroke Semi | Swimming U.S. Olympic Team Trials 2021
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06/15/2021

Justin Limoges

Justin Limoges is a 2020 sports communication graduate from Bradley University, originating from Newport, Vermont. He is a digital media assistant for TeamUSA.org.

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