OMAHA, Neb. — Louisville's Clark Burckle earned a spot on the U.S. Olympic swim team when he placed second in the 200-meter breaststroke at the trials Friday night, combining with winner Scott Weltz for a major upset of favorites Brendan Hansen and Eric Shanteau.
The outcome left Hansen and Shanteau with only one individual event each at the London Games, the 100 breast, after going 1-2 in that event at the trials.
On a night when Ryan Lochte and Michael Phelps were focused on getting through semifinal races, Nathan Adrian won the 100 freestyle and Cullen Jones claimed the second spot for London, while Natalie Coughlin barely kept alive her last chance to make it back to the Olympics.
But the men's 200 breast was the real stunner, 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.
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"I think you guys are as surprised as I am," Hansen said. "I can't believe Eric and I are not swimming the 200."
The 25-year-old Weltz moved up on the third lap and surged to the finish to win in 2 minutes, 9.01 seconds. Burckle, who attended St. Xavier, was next in 2:09.97, edging Shanteau with the touch.
Shanteau, who competed in the 200 breast at Beijing after being diagnosed with testicular cancer, considers that his better race and thought the 100 was just a bonus. Now, it's his only Olympic race, which is why he was especially distraught when he looked up at the board and saw that Burckle got him by eight-hundredths of a second for second place.
"I didn't think Weltz had it in him," said Hansen, who faded to a 2:10.25 fourth-place finish. "He swam like a big-time swimmer."
Hansen got an ugly reminder of his performance at the 2008 trials, when he went in as the 200 favorite and faded to fourth on the final lap. He followed with a disappointing performance in Beijing, which led him to retire from the sport in disgust. He returned after a more than two-year layoff and seemed on course for redemption after winning the 100 breast.
"I'm disappointed by my performance," Hansen said. "The whole time I thought I was right on pace. When I turned it on with 150 to go, I thought, 'Uh oh, been here before.'"
Natalie Coughlin barely hung on in her quest to make it back to a third Olympics and take a shot at tying Jenny Thompson and Dara Torres as the most decorated female Olympians in U.S. history. Having already missed out in the 100 butterfly and 100 backstroke, Coughlin is down to her final realistic chance in the 100 freestyle. She barely got out of the semifinals, finishing sixth in her heat but seventh overall to qualify for Saturday night's final.
Lexington's Kelsey Floyd finished eighth in the women's 200 butterfly final. The Tates Creek alum, who swims for the University of Tennessee, clocked in at 2:10.52, exactly 4 seconds behind winner Cammile Adams.