Colleyville’s Katie Meili will be packing her bags for Rio de Janeiro after finishing second in the 100-meter breaststroke Tuesday at the U.S. Olympic Trials, which are proving to be a changing of the guard in American swimming.
Meili, who attended Nolan Catholic High School and Columbia University, finished less than a second behind Lilly King, who won the event in 1:05.20, the fastest time in the world this year. Meili finished in 1:06.77, the sixth fastest time in the world this season. Olympic gold medalist, Jessica Hardy, finished sixth.
King and Meili, who earned two gold medals at the 2015 Pan American Games, will both be making their first Olympic appearances.
Hardy wasn’t the only former Olympic gold medalist to go down Tuesday.
First, Ryan Lochte. Then, Missy Franklin.
Lochte, an 11-time Olympic medalist but slowed by a groin injury, missed out on his second chance to make the team in an individual event with a fourth-place finish in the 200-meter freestyle. There was some consolation: Lochte at least clinched a spot in the 4x200 relay, so he’ll be in Rio.
Franklin can’t say that yet. The bubbly star of the 2012 London Games struggled to a seventh-place finish in the 100 backstroke, denying her a chance to defend the gold medal she won four years ago.
“I think I am feeling more pressure than I ever have before,” said Franklin, who still has more chances to make the team. “But part of the process is learning how to move forward, and all I can do is the best I can do.”
Racing just 23 minutes after qualifying for the final of the 200 free, the 21-year-old Franklin couldn’t pull off the grueling double. She finished nearly a body length behind winner Olivia Smoliga and runner-up Kathleen Baker, who will represent the U.S. in what was once Franklin’s signature event.
The only swimmer to finish behind Franklin was 12-time gold medalist Natalie Coughlin.
In the men’s 200 free, Lochte was second at the final turn but couldn’t hold on, either. Townley Haas surged to the victory, followed by Conor Dwyer. Southlake Carroll product and UT swimmer Jonathan Roberts finished eighth in 1:49.50.
“I’m just happy that I’m going to Rio,” Lochte said. “You can never go in knowing that you’re going to make the team, just because the U.S. is one of the hardest countries to make the Olympic team.”
For good measure, another stalwart of the 2012 U.S. team failed to qualify for Rio. Matt Grevers, the defending Olympic gold medalist in the men’s 100 backstroke, finished third behind Ryan Murphy and David Plummer.
Former Keller Fossil Ridge standout Lauren Pitzer, a double gold medalist at the 2015 UIL state championships, was 17th of 105 swimmers in the qualifying heats of the women’s 200 freestyle, missing out of the semifinals by one place.