Caeleb Dressel Ties His Own American Record; Simone Manuel, Bobby Finke Close Out Olympic Trials With Qualification Spots
By Justin Limoges |
June 20, 2021, 11 p.m. (ET)
Abbey Weitzeil and Simone Manuel react after competing in the Women's 50m freestyle final during Day Eight of the 2021 U.S. Olympic Team Swimming Trials at CHI Health Center on June 20, 2021 in Omaha, Neb.
OMAHA, Neb. – The final night of action at the 2021 U.S. Olympic Team Trials – Swimming did not disappoint as both two-time Olympic gold medalist Caeleb Dressel and Michael Andrew seized their third qualifications for the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020.
Dressel, 24, edged the field with a time of 21.04 to claim the first spot on the men’s 50-meter freestyle roster. Andrew, 22, picked up the second qualification in 21.48.
Dressel’s swim managed to tie the American Record (21.04) in the 50 freestyle, which he previously set at the 2019 world championships in Gwangju, South Korea.
“There’s only so much you can think about a race that lasts 21 seconds,” Dressel said. “I knew that I had a chance to be 21-low – a good race is what I thought I saw on the board. So, I’m really happy with that, I thought I held stroke together pretty well, I got a little choppy in the middle of the pool, but the beginning and end were as good as they could have been.”
For both swimmers, the 50 free qualification concluded their total roster spots at three each – Dressel already qualified in the men’s 100-meter butterfly and 100-meter freestyle, while Andrew qualified earlier in the men’s 200- and 400-meter individual medleys.
“This was anything but an easy year, especially with this being the first real meet, it’s brutal,” Dressel said. “But I’m really proud of myself, I don’t think there’s no shame in saying that.
“I understand people’s interest in my career, but for me, it’s just about swimming faster – that’s what I like to do. I like to look for ways to get better, I like the challenges that the sport brings. So, I’m going to have that in a month in the water.”
Nathan Adrian missed out on Olympic qualification following a third-place finish in 21.73. The future for the five-time Olympic gold medalist is to take a break.
“It was not what I was hoping for, no doubt,” said Adrian regarding his failure to qualify. “I don’t know, to be honest [on the future]. If I was to commit to anything right now, it would generally mean nothing. What I will commit to doing is taking a good break – letting my body, letting my mind just recover.”
Adrian last competed at the 2019 world championships where he successfully medaled two golds – 400-meter freestyle and 400 mixed freestyle – and a silver in the 4x100-meter free.
Adrian, 32, happily embraced and congratulated both Dressel and Andrew after the race, noting how excited he is to see the future of USA Swimming at Tokyo and beyond.
“We are still so far away from the true ceiling and how fast people can go,” Adrian said. “People like Caeleb [Dressel] going a 21.0, with five more weeks of resting [will be interesting to see] what he can do. To have young people see that… it’s a snowball and it’s just going to keep going and going in a positive feedback loop.”
Simone Manuel, Abbey Weitzeil Earn 50 Free Qualifications
Simone Manuel and Abbey Weitzeil qualified for their second Olympic Games after finishing in the top two in the women’s 50-meter freestyle final tonight.
Manuel, 24, completed the race with a time of 24.29 and was ecstatic about her rebound victory following her elimination from the women’s 100-meter freestyle earlier this week.
“Even though I didn’t make it in the 100, my goal was to still make the Olympic team and I did that,” Manuel said. “I haven’t thought too much far ahead to Tokyo. I know that I’ll have to regroup and hopefully swim faster so I can win a medal for Team USA.”
Manuel came into Trials with overtraining syndrome (OTS), which she was diagnosed with in March. Manuel took the following three weeks off in order to help tackle the condition but noted how it has still affected her all the way through Trials in Omaha.
“I definitely think sharing that information allowed me to swim more free, but the last couple weeks and months have been really hard,” Manuel said. “I’m a consistently hard worker, so taking practices off, because my body wasn’t recovering or having to get out early because I may had been tired after a set was really hard for someone that just loves to go to practice.”
Weitzeil, 24, finished in second in 24.30, awarding her the second qualification in the 50 free.
Weitzeil swept the 50 and 100 freestyle events during the 2016 U.S. Olympic Team Trials – Swimming and went on to finish in seventh in the 100 at the Olympic Games Rio 2016. She also won silver in the 4x100-meter freestyle relay, swimming the fastest spilt for Team USA in the final.
Bobby Finke Dominates the 1,500 Freestyle For Second Spot
Bobby Finke claimed Olympic qualification in the men’s 1,500-meter freestyle this evening, outdistancing the field in 14:45.06.
“I hope I can compete with them [in Tokyo]; the timing is a lot,” Finke said. “I’ve been waiting to drop in that race for a couple years now. I’m honored to go to Tokyo and try to improve my time.”
Finke was excited to earn his second spot for Tokyo, having already qualified in the men’s 800-meter freestyle earlier in the week. With Dressel winning the 50 free and 100 free and Kieran Smith winning the 200 free and 400 free, the Florida Gators swept the freestyle events.
“I think Kieran and I have mentioned [that the Florida men could sweep the freestyles] before, but we’re kind of just joking around and just having fun and training our butts off,” Finke said.
Michael Brinegar also qualified with a second-place finish in 15:00.87, only 0.05 seconds off from his personal best (15:00.82).
Brinegar, 21, is going to be a second-generation Olympian once he hits the pool in Tokyo. His mother, Jennifer (Hooker) Brinegar, competed in the Olympic Games Montreal 1976.
Track & Field U.S. Olympic Team Trials 2021 Highlights
Men's 50-Meter Freestyle | Swimming U.S. Olympic Team Trials 2021
Justin Limoges is a 2020 sports communication graduate from Bradley University, originating from Newport, Vermont. He is a digital media assistant for TeamUSA.org.