OMAHA, Neb. — Brendan Hansen and Eric Shanteau were the favorites.
The race was a different matter.
In another major breaststroke upset, Scott Weltz won the 200 meters at the U.S. Olympic swimming trials Friday night in 2 minutes, 9.01 seconds, leaving Hansen and Shanteau with only one individual event at the London Games.
On a night when Ryan Lochte and Michael Phelps were focused on getting through semifinal races, Nathan Adrian won the 100 freestyle in 48.10 seconds and Cullen Jones claimed the second spot for London, while Natalie Coughlin barely survived her last chance to make it back to the Olympics.
The men’s 200 breast was just as shocking as the women’s 100 breast, which was won by Breeja Larson over Rebecca Soni and Jessica Hardy. At least Soni got second place, still good enough for a do-over in the Olympics.
Neither Hansen nor Shanteau were as fortunate.
Clark Burckle claimed the second spot on the Olympic team, another big surprise. Shanteau finished third and Hansen faded to fourth, which means they’ll have to settle for only swimming the 100 breast in London after going 1-2 in that event at the trials.
The real battle in the 200 meters was for the second individual spot. Jones went out strong, as always, and managed to hold on in an outside lane, giving the first African-American ever to win an Olympic swimming gold a chance to add to his collection in London.
Coughlin hung on in her quest to make it back to a third Olympics. She is down to her final realistic chance in the 100 freestyle. She barely got out of the semifinals, finishing seventh overall to qualify for tonight’s final.
On a busy night, Lochte cruised through the semis of the 200 backstroke with the fastest time at 1:55.73. He returned less than an hour later for the semifinals of the 200 individual medley, which was Phelps’ only event of the night. Racing side-by-side again, Lochte was the top qualifier again with the fastest time in the world this year (1:55.51), while Phelps was about a body length behind (1:56.66).