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

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INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — 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.

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.

Carson Foster knocked off Tokyo gold medalist Chase Kalisz in the final of the 400-meter individual medley.

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 competes for the University of Texas, led the entire race to finish in 4 minutes, 7.64 seconds.

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.


AP Summer Olympics:

AP National Writer