Torres needs 1 fast lap to make Olympic team

July 2, 2012 - 4:11 AM
APTOPIX US Swim Trials

Michael Phelps and Tom Shields, top, swim in the men's 200-meter butterfly final at the U.S. Olympic swimming trials, Sunday, July 1, 2012, in Omaha, Neb. Phelps won the final. (AP Photo/Nati Harnik)

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — Dara Torres' quest to make a record sixth Olympic team is down to one last chaotic lap.

The 45-year-old mother needs to finish first or second in the 50-meter freestyle final at the U.S. trials on Monday night to earn a spot in London.

"I'm ecstatic," she said after qualifying third-fastest in Sunday night's semifinals.

Jessica Hardy, who won the 100 free, led the way in 24.56, followed by Christine Magnuson at 24.72. Torres wasn't far behind in 24.80.

"It wasn't all I've got," said Torres, one of five women to go under 25 seconds in the semis.

Torres won three silver medals four years ago in Beijing. Now it's not about the hardware; it's about making the team in her only event. She would be the first American swimmer and the oldest to compete in six Olympics.

"It's much tougher this time around," she said.

Not so much for Michael Phelps.

The 14-time Olympic gold medalist will be going for another eight medals in London. He concluded the last trials of his storied career with a victory in the 100 butterfly, securing his fifth individual event at the games. Add in three relays and he'll be doing eight events like he did in Beijing.

"I'm still excited about the Olympics," he said. "It's the biggest stage to perform at."

Phelps texted coach Bob Bowman the other night that he didn't "feel as peppy as I usually do at big meets."

Bowman agreed, saying, "He wasn't sharp here, he didn't feel like he had any speed, so I love that he did some decent times and there is room for improvement."

Phelps won the 100 fly in 51.14, well off his world-record pace (49.82) but fastest in the world this year.

Tyler McGill hung on for the second Olympic spot in 51.32. Ryan Lochte, swimming an event he normally doesn't in major competitions, finished third.

Phelps, who won a historic eight golds four years ago, is set to swim the same individual events in London: the 100 and 200 fly, the 200 and 400 individual medley, and 200 freestyle.

Missy Franklin will be nearly as busy as Phelps. She capped her breakout trials with a dominating win in the 200 backstroke, giving her four individual events and likely all three relays at the games — the first American woman to swim that many events in a single Olympics.

"It's so overwhelming but so exciting," said Franklin, a 17-year-old who will be a high school senior in the fall. "The whole week went really, really well."

She led all the way in winning the 200 back with a time of 2 minutes, 6.12 seconds, fastest in the world this year and nearly 1 1/2 seconds ahead of runner-up Elizabeth Beisel, who secured the second spot in London at 2:07.58.

Franklin had already earned spots in the 100 and 200 freestyle and 100 back, but she is the world champion in the 200 back.

"She's the best in the world for a reason. She can beat all of us pretty handily," Beisel said.

Franklin isn't even the youngest member of the U.S. swim team.

That distinction belongs to 15-year-old Katie Ledecky, who made her first Olympics with an easy win in the 800 freestyle, touching in 8:19.78. Kate Ziegler is also going after finishing second in 8:21.87.

"I just went for it and tried to hold on," Ledecky said.

Anthony Ervin, the Olympic 50 free champion in 2000 who quit the sport three years later, earned his way onto the team at 31. He finished second to Cullen Jones in the sprint race, giving Ervin a chance at a medal to replace the gold he auctioned off to help tsunami victims.

"I am surprised to be here at all," Ervin said.

Jones, the first African-American to win a gold medal in swimming, made up for the disappointment of the trials four years ago, when he failed to qualify for an individual event and had to settle for a spot in the relays.

Now he'll swim the 50 and 100 free in London.