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Kennedy just misses advancing at Olympic Trials; Gallant earns spot in 1,500 final – The Collinsville Press
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Kennedy just misses advancing at Olympic Trials; Gallant earns spot in 1,500 final

Avon native Madison Kennedy smiles after swimming in women’s 50-meter freestyle Saturday during the U.S. Olympic Trials in Omaha, Nebraska. It was her fourth appearance in the meet. (Rob Schumacher-USA TODAY Sports)

With so many world-class swimmers sprinting to the finish, it frequently comes down to a hundredth of a second in the 50-meter freestyle.

It’s part of the deal when you are a sprinter. Sometimes, you win and capture a medal by a hundredth of a second and there are times when you are just a bit behind and you watch others on the medal podium.

In 2016, Avon native Madison Kennedy was the top seed in the finals of the 50 freestyle at the U.S. Olympic Trials and finished third, just 0.15 of a second away from a berth on the team. Her time of 24.48 was the 12th  fastest in the world on that July evening in 2016.

On Saturday, Kennedy was back in the water in Omaha, Nebraska, for her fourth Olympic Trials appearance in the 50 free. At the age of 33, she is the oldest swimmer in the race.

Kennedy swam a time of 25.53 seconds in qualifying. She finished 20th in the field of 63 swimmers, four spots shy of the top 16 who advanced to the semifinals. She was 0.08 of a second out of the semifinals.

Canton’s Will Gallant swam in his third event at the Olympic Trials on Saturday, racing in the qualifying round of the men’s 1,500-meter freestyle event. Gallant finished fourth to earn a spot in Sunday’s final with the winner earning a spot on the Olympic team and the second place finisher in a good position to also grab a spot.

Kennedy wasn’t surprised with her time. It was her second fastest time in 50 free this spring.

“I did do my best but would have liked to see a faster time,” she said. “So, I will make some adjustments and compete at the U.S. nationals in August.

“I have been swimming the same times all year so this performance does not come as a huge surprise,” she said. “Consistency is the silver lining.”

Olympian Abbey Weitzel is the top seed in the 50 freestyle final on Sunday with a time of 24.27 seconds in Saturday’s semifinals with Torri Huske second with 24.45 seconds. It took a time of 24.68 seconds to be among the top eight swimmers that qualified for the final.

Kennedy is looking forward to a third season in the International Swimming League (ISL). She spent her first two seasons in the ISL with the Washington, D.C.-based D.C. Tridents. But the ISL will be conducting a draft this year so Kennedy isn’t sure where she may land.

She isn’t retiring any time soon from swimming.

“I would be remiss if I don’t feel everything that comes with being a professional athlete (good and bad),” she said. “I have been lucky to (experience) the highs and lows of swimming. Not everyone has the ability physically and mentally to have the letdowns and the big highs.”

Gallant had a career-best time of 15:16.73 in the 1,500 meters on Saturday to earn a spot in the final. Bobby Finke, the 21-year-old University of Florida junior who won the Olympic Trials in the 800 meters on Thursday, was the top seed in the 1,500 with a time of 15:04.66.

Michael Brinegar, Gallant’s old teammate at the University of Indiana and the second place finisher in the 800 meters, is seeded second with a time of 15:07.93. Jordan Wilimovsky, a 2016 U.S. Olympian in the 1,500, finished third in qualifying with a 15:14.67.

Gallant will be hoping for a good start in Saturday’s final – which is nearly a mile (0.93) in the water.

“The best thing to do is to play to your own strengths,” he said before the Trials. “I like to get out in front and hold on. I’m not as big (as some of his competitors) and I don’t have a big finishing kick.”

The final will be broadcast on NBC beginning at 8 p.m.

Gerry deSimas, Jr., is the editor and founder of The Collinsville Press. He is an award-winning writer and has been covering sports in Connecticut and New England for more than 35 years. He was inducted into the New England High School Wrestling Hall of Fame in 2018.

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