OMAHA, Neb. — Cullen Jones wrapped up what he called definitely the best meet of my life by becoming the fastest swimmer in America once again Sunday night.
Jones, the former N.C. State star and Charlotte resident since 2008, won swimmings splash and dash race the mens 50 freestyle in 21.59 seconds at the U.S. Olympic Swim Trials. The winning margin was about the length of your thumbnail, as Jones edged Anthony Ervin (21.60) by 1/100th of a second.
Ive been dreaming of this forever, of qualifying for two individual events in the Olympics, Jones said in response to a reporters question. The only thing different is that, in my dream, Im giving better answers.
In reality, Jones had every answer in this meet. Entered in two events, he made the 2012 Olympic team in both.
Earlier in the meet, Jones qualified both individually for the mens 100 freestyle and also for the 4x100 relay by finishing in second place in that race. So he will be the busiest of the six swimmers with North Carolina connections on the U.S. Olympic team, swimming three events in London (after only swimming one, a relay, in 2008).
The plan now, Jones said, is not to let the U.S. down.
Josh Schneider, Jones teammate at SwimMAC Carolina, finished fourth in the 50 freestyle and did not qualify for the Olympics, despite swimming a personal best of 21.78 seconds.
Pre-race favorite Nathan Adrian finished third and surprisingly did not qualify in the 50. Jones had said before the race that while many seemed to consider Adrian unbeatable, Im going after him.
Adrian was a graceful loser, giving Jones a playful splash and a hug after the race. Adrian had already made the team in the 100 and the two will be relay teammates in London.
Jones already holds the American record in the 50 at 21.40 seconds, but that was swum in a high-tech bodysuit in 2009 before such suits were outlawed. I havent gone this fast in three years, said Jones, whose time was second-fastest in the world this year behind Brazils Cesar Cielo Filho, the world-record holder. So Im really happy.
In the mens 100 butterfly, Michael Phelps won as expected to qualify for his fifth individual event in London. Phelps could swim up to eight events in these Games. In the 2008 Olympics he did the same thing, winning eight gold medals in eight tries.
But the three SwimMAC finalists couldnt grab the second place necessary for an Olympic spot. Davis Tarwater finished fifth, Tim Phillips sixth and Eugene Godsoe seventh. Tyler McGill was second.
Immediately after the meet, the 28-year-old Tarwater who has a postgraduate degree from Oxford University retired.
This was my last swim, said the versatile Tarwater, who made three finals in the meet but couldnt eke out an Olympic berth. Its been a blessing to swim for a great club like SwimMAC and now its on to the next thing for me.
Godsoe, 24 and one of the best swimmers to ever come out of Greensboro, said he was unsure whether he would continue swimming full-time.
In the womens 50 freestyle semifinals, both Madison Kennedy who has purple hair hidden under her swim cap and Kara Lynn Joyce advanced to Monday nights final. Kennedy qualified fourth and Joyce was fifth in the semifinals.
The third-place qualifier was 45-year-old Dara Torres, who will be the crowd favorite Monday night. The fastest qualifier was Jessica Hardy.