AUSTIN, Texas, Jan. 16 – Avon’s Madison Kennedy has been swimming for the past few years with an eye on securing a berth on the U.S. Olympic swim team. Her best opportunity to join the Americans in Rio in August will probably as a sprinter in the 50 meter freestyle.
Kennedy, who won her first U.S. national title in the 50 free last August in San Antonio, finished second Saturday night in the 50 freestyle at the Arena Pro Series meet in Austin. Kennedy swam the race in 24.72 seconds, just 0.01 seconds off her career-best time in the 50 free when she won her national championship (24.71).
Kennedy was the top American in the race. She lost to 22-year-old Sarah Sjostrom of Sweden, who pulled away in the final 25 meters, winning the race in 24.17 seconds. It was Sjostrom’s third win of the meet. She also captured the 100 freestyle and 100 butterfly on Friday. Sjostrom finished second in the 200 freestyle earlier in the evening on Saturday night.
In the 50 free final, Kennedy beat her SwimMAC Carolina teammate Arianna Vanderpool-Wallace of the Bahamas by 0.12 of a second. Vanderpool-Wallace was third with a time of 24.84 seconds. The next best American in the race was Abbey Weitzeil, 19, who finished with a time of 24.93.
Kennedy was the top swimmer after qualifying with a time of 25.03 seconds.
She was tenth in the 100 freestyle on Friday night. She is scheduled to swim Sunday in the 100 backstroke.
The meet in Austin is the second of seven stops on the Arena Pro Swim Series, being held at the University of Texas. The winner of each event earns $1,000 with $600 for second place and $200 for third place. It’s also a way to compete against a challenging field of international swimmers. Swimmers can register Olympic qualifying times in these races.
Kennedy, if she makes the American team, has already swum Olympic-qualifying times in the 50 and 100 freestyle. The U.S. Olympic trials are in late June and early July in Omaha, Nebraska.
The remaining stops on the Arena Pro Swim Series are in Orlando (March 3-5), Mesa, Arizona (April 14-16), Charlotte (May 12-15), Indianapolis (June 2-5) and Santa Clara, California (June 2-5).