OMAHA, Nebraska (AFP) — Brendan Hansen's chance of regaining his 200m breaststroke world record from Kosuke Kitajima in a Beijing Games showdown died Thursday with his shock defeat at the US Olympic swimming trials.
Hansen, who had already secured his Beijing berth in the 100m breaststroke, became the first major upset victim of the trials as training partners Scott Spann and Eric Shanteau surged past him on the final lap to finish one-two.
While Hansen crashed out, Garrett Weber-Gale was backing it up, posting his second sub-48sec time in two days with his victory in the men's 100m freestyle.
Weber-Gale had dipped under 48 seconds for the first time in Wednesday's heats with a time of 47.78, and he won the final in 47.92, ahead of 32-year-old Jason Lezak (48.05).
"I feel elated," Weber-Gale said. "I told you guys it was going to take 47 to get on the team, and I came ready to swim 47."
"Thankfully, all the hard work and dedication has paid off."
Lezak couldn't quite match his scintillating 47.58 of the semi-finals, but the veteran said he was more than satisfied with his performance here.
"Three swims under my previous best time, nothing to get down about," he said.
Nor was Lezak too concerned that Frenchman Alain Bernard's world record of 47.50 remained out of reach.
"Honestly I don't really care about that world record, who knows how long that record will stand," he said. "I'm just going after a spot (on the team) and a medal in Beijing."
Lezak missed out in Athens four years ago, when as a top medal contender in the 100m free, he failed to advance to the semi-finals.
Now he'll get at least one more chance for individual Olympic glory, as well as sprint relay gold, and he'll try to add one more event when he swims the 50m free this weekend.
"It definitely takes the pressure off - the 50 has always been my secondary event," Lezak said.
Hansen, however, lost out on one shot at Olympic redemption. Although he'll likely get a 100m breaststroke showdown with his Japanese rival Kosuke Kitajima, he won't get a shot in the 200m, in which Kitajima shattered Hansen's world record on June 8.
The Japanese swimmer snagged both breaststroke golds in Athens, with Hansen second in the 100m and third in the 200m.
"I might have been worried too much about getting this done and not worried enough about the guys who were gunning after me," Hansen said. "My hat's off to those two. I train with them every day, maybe I trained them a little too well."
Spann posted the first sub 2:10 swim of his career, winning in 2:09.97. Shanteau touched second in 2:10.36 while Hansen faded to fourth in 2:11.37.
The Americans will have their work cut out in Beijing, since Kitajima set raised the bar earlier this month with a time of 2:07.51, and Hansen is the only other swimmer ever to break 2:09. Brenton Rickard clocked a strong 2:09.51 at Australia's trials in March.
Elaine Breeden booked her second individual spot on the team with a victory in the 200m butterfly in 2:06.75, adding it to her runner-up finish in the 100m fly. Kathleen Hersey was second in 2:07.33.
Michael Phelps continued his progress toward a fourth individual berth, posting the second-fastest time in the 200m individual medley semi-finals.
Ryan Lochte was quickest in the medley semis in 1:57.57, with Phelps posting a 1:58.05.
The medley was the second half of a tough double assignment for Lochte, coming less than an hour after he posted the second fastest time in the 200m backstroke semis of 1:56.52 behind Aaron Peirsol (1:55.78).
Phelps, who has already qualified with victories in the 400m medley, 200m freestyle and 200m butterfly, will tackle the 200m medley final on Friday as well as launching his final individual bid in the 100m butterfly.
Katie Hoff suffered her first disappointment of the week, failing to qualify for the women's 100m freestyle final after victories in the 200m and 400m medleys, 200m and 400m freestyles.
Natalie Coughlin led the way in the semi-finals with a time of 53.66, with evergreen Dara Torres, 41, second-fastest in a personal best 53.76.
Rebecca Soni was fastest in the women's 200m breaststroke semi-finals with a time of 2:23.05, with 2004 Olympic gold medallist Amanda Beard, 26, second-fastest in 2:25.43.
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