• Results: U.S. Swim Trials (mobile)
• Photo Showcase: U.S. Swim Trials, July 1
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Four years ago, four women flew through 50 furious meters of freestyle strokes in the semifinals of the U.S. Olympic Swimming Trials in souped-up suits.
A return to textile was supposed to slow things down and even out the playing field.
Someone forgot to mention that to the semifinalists in Sunday's 50 freestyle — two races that produced some of the loudest roars in the first seven days of the U.S. Trials at CenturyLink Center. Five of the swimmers made it to the other end in less than 25 seconds.
That list begins with 100 freestyle champion Jessica Hardy, who led the way by winning the second heat in 24.56. Heat 1 winner Christine Magnuson touched in 24.72, followed closely by 2008 U.S. Trials champion Dara Torres in 24.80.
Add Madison Kennedy (24.96) and Kara Lynn Joyce (24.97) to that list, and fans either attending or watching Monday's 7:03 p.m. final on NBC are sure to be entertained.
Hardy said having the 45-year-old Torres in the finals — where the top two finishers earn a berth at the London Olympics — makes things that much more fun.
“It's really fun to race her,” Hardy said. “She brings out a level of excitement. She's an inspiration. She's in better shape physically than all of us.”
The path Torres has taken to becoming the first American to participate in six Olympics is well-chronicled. She won both the 50 and 100 freestyles in Omaha in 2008, swims that eventually led to three silver medals at the Beijing Olympics.
Following a more than yearlong break and surgery on her left knee, Torres said she's starting to feel the presence of Father Time more than ever.
“It's a lot tougher this time,” Torres said. “When I was 41, people said I was middle-aged, but now I'm really, really middle-aged. It hurts my knee to do dolphin kicks, so I have to do two quick kicks and get up as quick as I can. The quicker I can get up and start my swimming, the better for me.”
Torres wasted no time under water in the semifinals, and that helped her trim 0.20 seconds from Sunday's prelim swim of 25.00.
This time around, Torres isn't as concerned about winning. First or second Monday night would be just fine with her.
“In '08 it was about winning medals,” Torres said. “This time around, it's about making the team. My mindset and my mentality have changed so much over the years. I appreciate it so much more now and what it takes to be an elite athlete.
“I have a totally different approach than I had when I was 17 competing at my first Olympics.”
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