Kate Ziegler makes Olympic team in 800 freestyle
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By ERIC OLSON,
Updated July 1, 2012
OMAHA, Neb. (AP) Kate Ziegler will get her chance for redemption in the Olympics.
Ziegler made the U.S. team with her second-place finish to Katie Ledecky in the 800-meter freestyle final in the swimming trials Sunday night.
The 23-year-old from Great Falls, Va., failed to make the finals in the 400 and 800 freestyle in 2008 in Beijing.
The experience took the joy out of the sport for her. She sought a change of scenery in the summer of 2010, left her longtime coach and began training in California.
The time away made Ziegler realize she wanted to return to Virginia and have Ray Benecki coach her again.
She started having fun again.
At last year's world championships, she took the silver medal in the 1,500 freestyle and the bronze in the 800 free.
She swam a strong final 50 meters in Sunday's 800 final and touched in 8 minutes, 21.87 seconds. Ledecky was timed in a trials-record 8:19.78.
"The last four years have been a little bit of a roller coaster ride, but it's been a really good journey," Ziegler said. "I said it before and I'll say it again, my disappointments have definitely shaped me into the person and swimmer I am today. I wouldn't be here swimming like this or enjoying swimming so much if I hadn't had the experiences I had.
"I couldn't be more thankful to have another opportunity to go to the Olympics and I couldn't be any more proud to represent my country again."
TORRES TO FINALS: Dara Torres' bid to make a sixth Olympic team continues. The 45-year-old had the third-fastest time in the 50-meter freestyle semifinals and easily advanced to Monday night's final.
She touched in 24.80 seconds, about a tenth of a second faster than she had planned.
"Going faster is always a good thing," she said. "So I'm in the finals, I'm in the top eight, and I'm ecstatic."
Jessica Hardy (24.56) and Christine Magnuson (24.72) finished 1-2 in the semifinals.
Torres' time of 25.00 was fifth-fastest in the preliminaries. She said after her morning swim that she held back a bit to save energy for the semifinals.
Asked if she went 100 percent in the semifinals, she said, "It wasn't all I've got. But my coach wanted me to move my legs a little more at the end than I did this morning just to make sure I got in."
Torres is competing in just one event at trials after winning three silver medals four years ago in Beijing. She would be the first American to swim in six Olympics if she finishes in the top two Monday.
ADRIAN MISSES SPRINT SWEEP: Nathan Adrian, who won the 100 freestyle at the trials, missed a sweep of the men's sprints when he came in third behind Cullen Jones and Anthony Ervin in the 50 freestyle final.
Given that he already is going to London, he said he was relaxed heading into the 50.
"I would have loved to have swum that individually in London but I missed my spot," he said.
Adrian, 23, touched in 21.68 - eight-hundredths of a second behind Ervin.
"There's definitely a level of disappointment," he said. "I plan on going another four years. We'll see what I can do then."
CRIPPEN TO RETIRE: Teresa Crippen came in sixth in the 200 backstroke final and announced her plan to retire.
Crippen, 22, had been swimming in memory of her brother Fran Crippen, who died in an open-water swimming competition in the United Arab Emirates two years ago.
She had finished fourth in the 200 butterfly final on Friday, and she was more than 4 seconds behind runner-up Elizabeth Beisel in Sunday's backstroke final.
"I was hoping to go a little faster," Crippen said. "I feel I had a good run in swimming. I got a lot from it. I can't be disappointed."
Crippen, who finished her career at the University of Florida this past spring, said she is sure about her decision.
"I think everybody comes to that point where you kind of know that it's over, and it's hard to put your heart into it, and I definitely got that," she said.
BEISEL RELIEVED: Elizabeth Beisel will swim the 200 backstroke in London after finishing second to Missy Franklin in the final.
"It's like taking a thousand pounds off my chest," Beisel said.
Beisel already had secured a spot on the Olympic team when she won the 400 individual medley.
Four years ago she came to the trials under the radar and made the team in the 200 backstroke and 400 individual medley.
Her gold medal in the 400 IM at the world championships last summer made her feel like a marked woman here.
"This trials was much different because I had a dart on my back, especially being ranked No. 1 in the world last year, so I felt people were trying to beat me," she said. "It's pretty hard. I put enough pressure on myself, and then hearing all the pressure from the media and stuff, it gets to me. I'm learning to handle it."