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Hansen fails to make Olympics in 200 breast

Associated Press

OMAHA, Neb. — Brendan Hansen clung to the lane rope, glaring at the scoreboard. No matter how long he stared, the shocking result just wouldn’t go away.

He wasn’t first — or even second.

He won’t be swimming one of his signature events at the Beijing Olympics.

In the first major stunner of the U.S. swimming trials, Hansen failed to make the Olympic team in the 200-meter breaststroke Thursday night. The world recordholder less than a month ago was knocked out by a fourth-place showing, laboring to the finish in the wake of three countrymen.

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Hansen’s only solace: He still has a spot in the 100 breast and, most likely, the 400 medley relay.

It was of little comfort on this night.

"I did my best," said Hansen, the last of the eight finalists to leave the pool deck. "I gave everything in the pool tonight. I left it all out there. It just wasn’t there. It wasn’t my day."

Hansen wasn’t the only big name to falter on the fifth night of the meet, which failed to produce a world record for the second straight night. Six were set over the first three days.

Katie Hoff, who already had qualified for four individual events and one relay, failed to advance out of the semifinals of the 100 freestyle, denying her a chance to go for as many as eight medals in Beijing.

But Hoff’s 11th-best time against a field that included Natalie Coughlin and 41-year-old Dara Torres wasn’t that surprising — the 100 was by far the longest shot on the 19-year-old’s grueling program.

Hansen, on the other hand, has long been this country’s top breaststroker, and the crowd gasped when he touched the wall behind three others.

Scott Spann won in 2:09.97 — far off Kitajima’s pace. Eric Shanteau locked up the expected second spot on the team in 2:10.36.

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Michael Phelps had a relatively easy night, posting the second-fastest time in the semis of the 200 individual medley. He moved on to another showdown Friday with rival Ryan Lochte, who had the top time.

Coughlin was the top qualifier for Friday’s final in the women’s 100 free. She won her heat in 53.64, touching just ahead of Torres, the four-time Olympian who has twice retired from swimming but is back again — 24 years after her first U.S. trials. Torres also moved on to the final with the second-best time (53.76).

Garrett Weber-Gale locked up his first trip to the Olympics, winning the 100 freestyle at 47.92 — nearly a half-second off the world record held by France’s Alain Bernard.

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