Avon swimmer Madison Kennedy swam the two fastest times of her career in the 100-meter freestyle at the U.S. Olympic Trials Thursday here in Omaha, Nebraska.
But it wasn’t good enough to get her in Friday night’s final. Kennedy finished ninth with a career-best time of 54.18 seconds but only the top eight can swim in the final. The top two in the 100 free earn spots on the U.S. Olympic team while the next four finishers will probably earn spots on the 4×100 relay team.
Kennedy finished 0.11 of a second behind Allison Schmitt for eighth place and is the first alternate should someone scratch (withdraw from the race).
The broadcast crew from NBC speculated after the semifinals that Katey Leducky, 19, might scratch from the final to prepare for the 800 meter freestyle, an event in which she holds the world record. However, the Washington Post reported that a USA Swimming official confirmed that Leducky would swim in the final.
Coming into the Olympic Trials, Kennedy’s best chance for making the U.S. team was in the 50 meter freestyle. Kennedy is the No. 1 seed in the event and has swum the seventh fastest time in the world this season. Preliminaries and semifinals in the 50 freestyle are Saturday with the final on Sunday night. The top two from the 50 free final earn spots on the Olympic team.
Kennedy’s speed in the sprints was evident on Thursday. She had the third fastest 50 meter time in preliminaries with a time of 25.80 seconds. In the semifinals, she had the fastest 50 meter time in her race, leading at the midway point with a time of 25.79 seconds.
Kennedy was seeded 13th entering the meet in the 100 meters. She swam the eighth fastest time among more than 100 swimmers to earn a spot in the semifinals. Her time of 54.24 seconds was a career-best performance, topping the mark of 54.45 that she swam at the 2012 U.S. Olympic Trials.
In the semifinals, Kennedy led at the midway point by 0.14 of a second over Simone Manuel. But in the second half of the race, Manuel (53.64 seconds), Amanda Weir (53.72), Ledecky (54.04) and Allison Schmidt (54.07) were slightly faster than Kennedy (54.18).
And as usual in the sprints, it was a tight field. The No. 1 qualifier Abbey Weitzel swam the 100 meters just 0.61 of a second faster than Kennedy.
It is the third Olympic Trials for Kennedy, who competed in 2008 and 2012. At the 2012 Olympic Trials, the 2005 Avon High graduate finished she finished fifth in the 50 freestyle and eighth in the 100 freestyle. She lives in Charlotte, N.C., and has been training with SwimMAC Carolina since December 2011.