Walsh follows world record with 1st Olympic berth; Foster wins 400 IM

INDIANAPOLIS — Gretchen Walsh followed up a world record in the 100-meter butterfly with something that felt just as good.

Her first trip to the Olympics.

Walsh didn’t go quite as fast as a night earlier in the semifinals, but she touched in 55.31 seconds to claim the coveted Olympic berth against a loaded field at the U.S. Olympic swimming trials on Sunday.

On the second night of the trials at Lucas Oil Stadium, Carson Foster made up for the disappointment of 2021, when he just missed out on the Olympics, with a victory in the men's 400-meter individual medley.

And 30-year-old Nic Fink, whose wife is expecting a child, made it quite a Father's Day by winning the 100-meter breaststroke.

Looking into the stands toward Melanie Margolis Fink — herself a gold medalist at the 2016 Rio Games — he made a rocking motion.

Clearly, Nic Fink's mind was on more than just a gold of his own.

Facing three medalists from the Tokyo Games, Walsh knew she had her work cut out for her — even after setting a world record in the semifinals with a time of 55.18 that broke the mark held by Sweden’s Sarah Sjöström since the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics.

Following the same strategy, Walsh went out strong again in the final and was under her world-record pace at the turn.

Then, it was a matter of hanging on for the 21-year-old native of Nashville, Tennessee, who swims for the University of Virginia.

She finished with the second-fastest time in history, while Torri Huske grabbed the second Olympic spot with a time of 55.52 that made her the third-fastest woman in swimming history.

“I couldn’t ask for a better start to the meet,” Walsh said.

Regan Smith became the fourth-fastest female ever at 55.62 — but the third-place showing wasn't enough to get her to Paris on the powerhouse American team. She'll have more chances later in the meet to claim her spot.

The first final of the night produced another first-time Olympian when Foster knocked off Tokyo gold medalist Chase Kalisz.

But Kalisz should get a chance to defend his gold in Paris, taking the runner-up spot to claim the expected second American slot.

Jay Litherland, the 400 IM silver medalist in Tokyo, missed out on his third Olympics with a third-place showing.

The 22-year-old Foster, a native of Cincinnati who swan collegiately at Texas, led the entire race to finish in 4 minutes, 7.64 seconds.

He appeared on the verge of tears as Kalisz reached over the lane rope to give him a hug, knowing how much this meant to the winner.

At the 2021 trials in Omaha, Nebraska, Foster was the top seed coming out of the preliminaries, only to get chased down by both Kalisz and Litherland in the final.

The third-place finish cost Foster a trip to the Tokyo Games. When the Americans went 1-2 at the Olympics, the missed opportunity hurt even more.

Kalisz closed to within a tenth of a second on the breaststroke leg, but the 30-year-old simply didn't have enough in the tank to keep up with the younger Foster. The winner pulled away on the freestyle, with Kalisz touching in 4:09.39.

Litherland faded at the end for a time of 4:12.34.

Fink will be heading to his second Olympics after touching first in 59.08. He held off Charlie Swanson, who secured the expected second spot for Paris in 59.16.

“That's a win for me,” Fink said, “but it's really a win for everybody in my life.”

A life that will soon have a new addition.

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