(Reuters) – Ryan Lochte’s Tokyo ambitions came to a crashing thud on Friday, as he failed to make the cut at the U.S. Olympic swimming trials, while 25-year-old Ryan Murphy secured his chance to once again vie for the backstroke double.
Six-time Olympic gold medal winner Lochte, who left the 2016 Games mired in scandal, had hoped to make his fifth Olympics in a bid for redemption but finished seventh in the 200m medley final.
“This ain’t the end of the road,” Lochte, 36, told a reporter after the race in Omaha. “There’s a lot more I want to accomplish in the sport of swimming, whether it’s in the pool or outside of the pool making swimming bigger.”
Michael Andrew, 22, who won the event in 1:55.44 and also qualified in the 100m breaststroke, said he was “honored to carry the torch.”
Murphy will have the chance to defend both of his Rio backstroke titles this summer, after winning Friday’s 200m race in 1:54.20, while 24-year-old Abbey Weitzeil punched her ticket to Tokyo, winning the 100m freestyle in 53.53.
Annie Lazor, 26, defeated reigning Olympic champion and training partner Lilly King in the 200m breaststroke final in 2:21.07 to book her first-ever trip to the Olympics, an emotional triumph just weeks after her father’s sudden death.
“It’s been a rough couple of months for me and I just couldn’t have done it without (King),” said Lazor, as she choked back tears and stood with her teammate. “She’s pulled me through practice every day – I’m so thankful for her.”
King, who finished .68 seconds behind, also made the team and will have the opportunity to defend her title in Tokyo.
“We really just wanted to do it together and it couldn’t have gone any better than that, honestly,” said Lazor.
Elsewhere in the action, five-time Olympic gold medalist Katie Ledecky made light work of her 800m freestyle heat, posting the top time of 8:16.61 and Caeleb Dressel scorched the men’s 100m butterfly semifinal in 49.76.
(Reporting by Amy Tennery; Editing by Shri Navaratnam)