Olympian Bobby Finke had the same idea as Canton’s Will Gallant in the finals of the 1,500 meters at Sunday’s U.S. Olympic swimming trials in Omaha, Nebraska – start fast and keep the hammer down.
Finke, who earned his first spot on the U.S. Olympic team by winning the 800 meters on Thursday, literally swam neck and neck with Gallant in the first 350 meters of the longest individual race in the Olympic swimming program.
But Finke began to pull away with 400 meters gone in the race and turned in a dominating performance to win his second Olympic Trials event with a personal-best time of 14:46.06, which was less than a second (0.50) away from an Olympic Trials record set by Peter Vanderkaay in 2008.
Gallant, who was second after 400 meters, couldn’t keep up the pace and finished sixth with a time of 15:17.34, less than a second off his personal best time of 15:16.73 in Saturday’s semifinals. In his first Olympic Trials, Gallant swam in three events and came away with a pair of top 10 finishes. He was fifth in the 800 meters on Thursday. He was 15th in the 400 meters.
Indiana’s Michael Brinegar, who finished second in the 800 on Thursday, grabbed another second place finish in the 1,500 meters with a time of 15:00.87, a whopping 14.81 seconds behind Finke. Jordan Wilimovsky, who qualified for the Olympics in this event in 2016, was third with a time of 15:05.29. Wilimovsky will be in Toyoko as part of Team USA having qualified in the open water swim
Finke and Brinegar will swim for the Americans in the 800 and 1,500 meters in Toyoko when the 2020 Olympics begin later this month in Japan.
Gallant had the lead at the 100 meter mark by 0.03 of a second over Finke and extended his lead to 0.30 of a second after 150 meters. At the 200 meter mark, Finke had a slight lead over Gallant (0.02) but Gallant had the slight lead (0.02) after 250 meters.
Finke got stronger and had a 0.70 of a second lead over Gallant after 350 meters. Finke extended the lead to 1.24 seconds after 400 meters.
Brinegar caught Gallant a little over midway through the race, moving into second place with 850 meters gone. Wilimovsky passed Gallant after another 100 meters as the Canton swimmer fell into fourth place.
Gallant, a 2019 graduate from Canton High, spent one year with the Indiana University swim team before heading to California last May to train with the Mission Viejo Nadadores under the coaching of former U.S. national team coach Mark Schubert.
Gallant will be back in college this fall at North Carolina State where he hopes to study accounting and finance. Twenty current and former Wolfpack swimmers competed at the Olympic Trials.
Avon native Madison Kennedy, who now lives in Charlotte, N.C., also competed in her fourth Olympic Trials this weekend. She was 20th in the women’s 50-meter freestyle.