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Gretchen Walsh follows world record with 1st Olympic berth; Carson Foster wins 400 IM

Gretchen Walsh followed up a world record 100m butterfly with something that felt just as good

INDIANAPOLIS – Gretchen Walsh followed up a world record in the 100-meter butterfly with something that felt just as good.

Her first trip to the Olympics.

Walsh didn’t go as fast as she did a night earlier in the semifinals, but she hit the coveted Olympic spot in 55.31 seconds on a loaded field at the U.S. Olympic swimming trials on Sunday.

Facing three medalists from the Tokyo Games, Walsh knew she had work to do – even after setting a world record in the semi-finals with a time of 55.18, breaking Sweden’s Sarah Sjöström’s record since the Olympics of 2016 in Rio de Janeiro.

Using the same strategy, Walsh again went out strong in the final and was below her world record pace on the turn.

Then it was a matter of hanging in there for the 21-year-old native of Nashville, Tennessee, who swims for the University of Virginia.

She finished with the second fastest time in history, while Torri Huske took the second Olympic spot with a time of 55.52, making her the third fastest woman in swimming history.

“I couldn’t ask for a better start to the meet,” Walsh said.

Regan Smith became the fourth fastest woman ever with 55.62, but third place was not enough to get her to Paris on the powerful American team. Later in the match she will have more opportunities to claim her spot.

The first final of the evening produced another first Olympian.

Carson Foster defeated Tokyo gold medalist Chase Kalisz in the 400-meter individual medley final.

But Kalisz should get the chance to defend his gold in Paris and take second place to claim the expected second American spot.

Jay Litherland, the 400 IM silver medalist in Tokyo, missed his third Olympic Games with a third-place finish.

Foster, 22, a Cincinnati native who played collegiately in Texas, led the entire race, finishing in 4 minutes, 7.64 seconds.

He seemed on the verge of tears when Kalisz reached over the track rope to give him a hug, knowing how much this meant to the winner.

At the 2021 trials in Omaha, Nebraska, Foster was the top seed coming out of the preliminaries, but was chased in the finals by both Kalisz and Litherland.

Third place cost Foster a trip to the Tokyo Games. When the Americans won 1-2 at the Olympics, the missed opportunity hurt even more.

Kalisz closed to within a tenth of a second on the breaststroke leg, but the 30-year-old simply didn’t have enough in the tank to keep up with the younger Foster. The winner rode away on the freestyle, with Kalisz hitting the ball in 4:09.39.

Litherland faded at the end for a time of 4:12.34.

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AP Summer Olympics: https://apnews.com/hub/summer-olympics