Final pieces in place, U.S. ready for Rio plunge

Sun Jul 3, 2016 9:36pm EDT
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By Steve Keating

OMAHA, Nebraska (Reuters) - Connor Jaeger and Abbey Weitzeil wrapped up eight days of cut-throat competition by claiming the last two wins at the U.S. Olympic trials on Sunday as the final pieces of the Rio Games swim team were put in place.

It was the second victory of the trials for both Jaeger and Weitzeil, who will be part of the 45-member squad that includes 30 first-time Olympians.

Jaeger, who qualified in the 400m free on the opening day of the trials last Sunday, was back in the CenturyLink Center pool for the finale touching first in the 1,500 meters freestyle in 14 minutes, 47.61 seconds, fourth fastest time in the world this year, while Jordan Wilimovsky secured the last spot on the squad with his runner-up finish.

Weitzeil, winner of 100 meters free, added the 50 free to her Rio agenda getting home in 24.28, just 5/100ths of a second in front of Simone Manuel.

With the trials over the focus quickly shifts to the Rio pool next month where the U.S. will look to a mix of youth and experience to produce an American gold rush.

At one end of the spectrum are Michael Phelps, the most decorated Olympian of all-time with 22 medals, who qualified for his fifth Games and Ryan Lochte his fourth. At the other extreme are 30 Olympic newcomers.

"I feel like we've seen some guys step up that we haven't had before and I can't wait to see them go to the Games and step up again," said Bob Bowman, Phelps' longtime coach who will take charge of the U.S. men's team in Rio.

"I feel very good about where we are now but going forward we are going to have to step up to a new level.   Continued...

Jul 3, 2016; Omaha, NE, USA;  Connor Jaeger off the blocks to start the 1500 meter freestyle final during the in the U.S. Olympic Swimming Team Trials at CenturyLink Center. Mandatory Credit: Rob Schumacher-USA TODAY Sports