It has been said that the worst place to finish at the U.S. Olympic Swimming Trials is third, since only the top two individuals in most events qualify for the Summer Olympics.
Stanford junior Kristen Caverly knows that feeling after finishing third in the women's 400-meter individual medley on the opening night of the U.S. Trials on Wednesday in Long Beach.
On a night that saw 19-year-old Michael Phelps break his own world record in the 400 IM with a sizzling 4:08.41 time and saw three other American records fall, Caverly was one of three third-place finishers who missed a trip to Athens, Greece.
Even more aggravating was her time, a season best of 4:42.57. Had Caverly matched her career best of 4:39.54 from 2001, she would have moved ahead of second-place Kaitlin Sandeno (4:40.39) and made the team.
Katie Hoff, 15, won the 400 IM in a career-best and 2004 world-leading 4:37.67 that nearly surpassed the American record of 4:37.58 set by ex-Stanford star Summer Sanders in the 1992 Barcelona Olympics. Hoff now ranks as the No. 2 all-time U.S. performer and No. 12 in history.
In the men's 400 IM, Phelps eclipsed his own world and American record of 4:09.09 with his blistering effort Wednesday night. Stanford grad Tom Wilkens, 28, finished sixth in 4:23.50.
In the men's 100 breast semifinals, Brendan Hansen set an American record of 1:00.13 that surpassed the previous mark of 1:00.21 set by Ed Moses in 2003. Also advancing to tonight's finals was Stanford's Gary Marshall, who was seventh in the semis in 1:02.33. Former Stanford swimmer Patrick Fowler was 15th and failed to advance.
In the women's 100 fly finals tonight, current Stanford swimmer Dana Kirk will be joined by former Cardinal All-Americans Jenny Thompson and Misty Hyman after all three advanced Wednesday on the opening day at the Charter All Digital Aquatic Centre.
Kirk was Stanford's top finisher in the semifinals with a fourth-place finish, completing the long-course event in 59.08. Thompson clocked in at fifth with a time of 59.17, while Hyman was sixth with a mark of 59.26. Former Stanford swimmer Shelly Ripple Johnston placed 13th in 1:00.57 and failed to advance.
Friday's meet will be televised on a tape-delayed basis starting at 8 p.m. (NBC).