OMAHA, Neb. The mens 100 freestyle final will have a strong Charlotte flavor Friday night, with three of the eight swimmers involved sporting deep Queen City roots.
On Thursday, Ricky Berens and Scot Robison both made the final at the U.S. Olympic Swim Trials. They each grew up in Charlotte before moving elsewhere for college and post-graduate swim careers. Cullen Jones took the opposite path, coming into the state for college at N.C. State, and then moving to Charlotte in 2008 to join SwimMAC Carolinas Team Elite.
At least one of those three men will make the Olympic team in the 100 free, because the top six get to go in the event since a relay is swum at that distance. Berens already has his ticket to London he made it in the 200 free relay.
But Jones, who like Berens is a 2008 Olympic gold medalist, needs to qualify. And Robison has never made an Olympic squad, so Friday could be an enormous night for the Charlotte Latin graduate and former ACC Swimmer of the Year at Virginia.
Im just thrilled to be in the final, said Robison, whose semifinal time of 48.91 seconds was his career best. It feels really, really good My strategy will be to keep it all the same instead of doing anything crazy or special.
Berens qualified fourth in the semifinals Thursday despite his goggles filling up with water during the race. Im going to have to do something about that it keeps happening, Berens said.
Robison was tied for fifth with Ryan Lochte and Jones was eighth edging into the final by 2/100 of a second with a time of 49.03. Favorite Nathan Adrian was fastest in the semifinals at 48.33.
Im sure that David (Marsh, Jones coach) is going to tell me I need to take it out a little faster, but I was able to bring it home, said Jones, who was seventh in his heat at the 50-meter turn before rallying.
Jones teammates, Nick Brunelli and Josh Schneider, made the final 16 of the race but not the final eight. They each have the 50 freestyle still to come, as does Jones.
• SwimMAC Carolinas Davis Tarwater, who has had a couple of brutal near-misses in his career at Olympic Trials, had another Thursday. In the 200 butterfly final, Tarwater led or was second to Michael Phelps for the first 150 meters. But Tarwater was passed by two more swimmers in the final 50, finishing fourth. Tarwater has one event left the 100 butterfly.
Phelps won to qualify for another event but shrugged off the performance, saying it was OK but that his time of 1:53.65 wont win a gold medal this year.
• SwimMACs Elliott Keefer qualified fifth for the Friday night final of the 200 mens breaststroke.
• Allison Schmitt, Phelps teammate at the North Baltimore Aquatic Club, continued her extremely strong meet by winning the 200 womens freestyle in American-record time of 1:54.40.
• Caitlin Leverenz (first) and Ariana Kukors (second) qualified in the 200 womens individual medley.
• SwimMACs Kate Mills finished 13th in the womens 200 butterfly. The Harvard graduate begins graduate school in Spain in the fall.