Newcomers take spotlight at U.S. Olympic trials

Wed Jun 29, 2016 1:14am EDT
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By Steve Keating

OMAHA, Nebraska (Reuters) - Newcomers Townley Haas, Olivia Smoliga and Lilly King all punched their tickets to the Rio Games upstaging some of the biggest names in U.S. swimming on Tuesday, as a wave of fresh faces washed over the U.S. Olympic trials.

Haas, 19, competing in his first trials, touched first in the men's 200 meters freestyle edging Conor Dwyer by 1/100th of a second to claim his Rio spot while another 19-year-old King was the winner of the 100 breaststroke clocking the fastest time of the year, one minute, 5.20 seconds.

Smoliga landed a place on the U.S. squad with a victory in the women's 100 backstroke while Ryan Murphy is also heading to his first Olympics winning the 100 backstroke.

"I still can't believe it, I'm in shock," said Smoliga. "It was a star-studded heat ... you know they're going to put up such a great fight, and it was a fight."

As the newcomers celebrated, Olympic gold medal winners Jessica Hardy, Missy Franklin, Matt Grevers, Natalie Coughlin and Ryan Lochte were left to ponder where it all went wrong.

In securing her Rio berth Smoliga registered a time of 59.02 and took down two American swimming giants in 2012 Olympic 100 backstroke gold medalist Franklin as well as Coughlin, who is bidding to become the single most decorated U.S. female Olympian of all-time.

Murphy also beat out a defending Olympic champion in the men's 100 back, posting a winning time of 52.26 ahead of David Plummer and London gold medal winner Grevers.

It was another frustrating evening for the injured Lochte, the 11-time Olympic medal winner denied a spot in an individual event for the second time in three days.   Continued...

Jun 28, 2016; Omaha, NE, USA; Townley Haas reacts after the men's freestyle 200m finals in the U.S. Olympic swimming team trials at CenturyLink Center. Mandatory Credit: Rob Schumacher-USA TODAY Sports