Stanford's Manuel joins the Olympic party headed to Rio


Stanford's Simone Manuel finished second in the finals of the women's 100 free on Friday night in Omaha to earn her berth on the U.S. Olympic swimming team and a trip to Rio.

She'll be joined by Stanford junior Lia Neal as a member of the 400 free relay. Neal finished fourth in the 100.

Simone Manuel
"It took five minutes to set in but it's a dream come true and I'm super happy to be representing my country," Manuel said as she tried holding back tears of joy. "Overall I'd like to take my teammates. They have done so much to help me and support me."

Manuel held off American record holder Amanda Weir by .23 seconds to claim the spot.

Neal made her own comeback try, finishing .02 seconds behind Weir in fourth place. She set a personal best 53.77.

Stanford grad Maya DiRado, already a two-event Olympian, takes the top qualifying mark of the 200 back into Saturday's final.

"It's all fun right now; just trying to add an event," DiRado said. "No pressure, just go out and try to have a really good race."

Incoming Stanford freshman Katie Ledecky continued to roll along, taking the top time in the women's 800 free preliminaries (8:10.21) into Saturday night's final.

Incoming Cardinal freshman Erin Voss will also compete in the finals.

"It felt pretty easy," Ledecky said. "I expected a ceiling of 8:20, so that bodes well for tomorrow."

Ledecky, despite swimming the final 50 meters in the fastest time, was seventh in the 100 free.

Neal, seeded fifth, was seventh halfway through the race and then finished strong -- only Ledecky was faster over the final 50 -- and failed by a couple of inches of matching Weir.

"That was my first time under 54," said Neal. "It was a long time coming."

Manuel and Neal unofficially become the 34th and 35th Olympians with local ties.

"I'm glad she's on my team," Neal said. "We push each other in practice and we have a lot of fun."

Cardinal grad David Nolan was so close and yet so far away with his third-place finish behind Olympic legends Ryan Lochte and Michael Phelps.

Nolan was less than three seconds from making the U.S. Olympic team, though in a race involving two of the more decorated American Olympians, those three seconds can seem like a mile. Stanford sophomore Abrahm DeVine was sixth.

"You have to turn off your mind and let your body do the actual racing," Nolan said. "That's when I do my best."

With Lochte and Caeleb Dressel both scratching from the men's 100 fly semifinals, Stanford's Andrew Liang and Nolan both had a better chance to qualify for the final.

Liang, who graduated from Palo Alto, dropped over a full second to move from 45th on the psych sheet to an 8th seed in semifinals. He went 54.04 in the semis and placed ninth.

Stanford grad BJ Johnson, swimming with PASA, finished sixth in the finals of the 200 breast, swimming 2:10.70, and Cardinal grad Drew Cosgarea was 14th in the 200 back semis, at 2:00.96.

Stanford junior Max Williamson was 12th in the 200 IM semis in a time of 2:01.77.

Stanford grads Eugene Godsoe and Bobby Bollier also competed in the 100 fly semifinals.

"It's a little disappointing but I have so many good experiences behind me and so many good people," Bollier said. "It's bittersweet but rewarding all the same."

— Palo Alto Online Sports

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