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World Record-holders Lilly King, Ryan Murphy Tokyo Bound After Wins at US Swimming Trials

Lilly King (AP Photo)

Lilly King (AP Photo)

King won the women's 100m breaststroke in 1min 04.79sec -- a hair off the world-leading 1:04.72 she produced in the semi-finals

World record-holders Lilly King and Ryan Murphy will chase repeat gold in Tokyo after victories on Tuesday in the US Olympic swimming trials.

King won the women’s 100m breaststroke in 1min 04.79sec — a hair off the world-leading 1:04.72 she produced in the semi-finals but a signal all the same of her intentions in Tokyo.

Murphy won the men’s 100m backstroke in 52.33sec to give himself a chance to defend the gold he won in Rio de Janeiro in 2016 in a world record 51.85

King powered to an early lead in the breaststroke and had no trouble holding on.

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Behind her however, familiar rivals Bethany Galat and Annie Lazor were overhauled by 17-year-old Lydia Jacoby, who finished second in 1:05.28 to give Alaska it’s first US swimming Olympian.

“It’s kind of what I expected coming in," King said. “But I did not expect Lydia to have that race and I’m excited to have a new training partner and excited to see what we can do."

Murphy, who won both 100m and 200m backstroke in Rio to continue the US winning streak in those events, will also be accompanied by an Olympic newcomer in the 100m back after 20-year-old Hunter Armstrong roared from seventh at the turn to finish second in 52.48.

Regan Smith, whose 100m backstroke world record was eclipsed by Kaylee McKeown at the Australian trials this week, earned a chance to take on the Aussie in Tokyo with a 100m back victory in 58.35sec.

That didn’t come close to McKeown’s 57.45, or her own previous world record of 57.57, but for Smith it was “a big relief."

“Honestly I’m glad that’s over," said Smith, who went out in a blistering 27.90sec then had to hold on to edge Rhyan White, who took second in 58.60.

“I had a lot of adrenaline, I think I took that first 50 out a little too fast," Smith said. “I was very aware of the girls around me and how close it was. Honestly I didn’t think I was going to make it. I’m very glad that race is behind me now."

Smith said knowing the array of talent she’d face at trials just to have a chance to reach the Games meant she hadn’t yet focused much on McKeown.

“I haven’t been thinking about things too much internationally, I’m trying to focus on things here," she said. “That world record, I’ve got some work to do and I’m glad I have another shot in Tokyo to race the best of the best."

- Long day for Ledecky -

Keiran Smith won the men’s 200m freestyle to add a second event to his Tokyo programme.

The 21-year-old Smith, who won the 400m free on Monday to make his first Olympic team, clocked 1:45.29, putting him among the top 10 in the world this year.

Townley Haas was second in 1:45.66 to give himself a chance to improve on his fifth-place finish in the 200m free in Rio.

Drew Kibler and Andrew Seliskar finished third and fourth to book trips to Tokyo as part of the 4x200m free relay pool.

Katie Ledecky topped the times in the 200m freestyle semi-finals in 1:55.83 as she homed in two more Olympic events.

In a hectic day, the five-time Olympic gold medallist easily topped the times in the heats of the 1500m freestyle in the morning — a couple of hours after posting the second-fastest time in the 200m free preliminaries.

“Long day at the office," Ledecky said of the daunting double, which gives her her “biggest day of racing top to bottom" in an ambitious programme that includes the 200m, 400m, 800m and 1500m freestyles.

Ledecky had locked up a trip to her third Olympics with a victory in the 400m free on Monday, when she admitted that her time of 4:01.27 wasn’t as fast as she was expecting.

“I was a lot more nervous than I expected to be coming back to this environment," Ledecky said. “I felt like we went from zero to 100 when it comes to fans.

“Even for somebody like me it takes some getting used to," Ledecky said, adding she felt “a lot more relaxed coming into tonight."

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first published:June 16, 2021, 09:31 IST