INDIANAPOLIS Jenny Thompson dropped out of Tuesdays episode of The Jenny and Dara Show, leaving Dara Torres and Amy Van Dyken battling for supremacy in the 50-meter freestyle at the U.S. Olympic trials.
Torres qualified fastest at 25.23 seconds a half second off the American record she set in June. Van Dyken, the defending Olympic and world champion, was second at 25.45.
Thompson decided not to swim the event after qualifying for Sydney in the 100 free and 100 butterfly, beating Torres both times. Shell also swim at least two relays at the Olympics.
Ive beaten Jenny every time but one race, Van Dyken said. I was not concerned about her.
Also absent was Angel Martino, who was second to Van Dyken in the 1996 trials. Martino left the trials after failing to make the 100 free final Sunday night.
You always want the best swimmers in there, but youve got to do whats best for you, said Torres, who briefly trained with Thompson after ending a seven-year retirement in July 1999.
Torres and Van Dyken were the stars of a thinned-out field. Courtney Allen of Colorado Springs, Colo., was third-quickest at 25.58.
They were among 16 qualifiers for Tuesday nights semifinals. The top eight advance to the final Wednesday, the final night of the eight-day trials.
The fifth and last Alaskan swimmer at the Olympic Trials finally saw action earlier today in the 50 free. Maria Reeves, a 2000 graduate of Lathrop High School in Fairbanks who will attend Northwestern University this fall, tied for 40th place out of 98 swimmers with a time of 26.86 seconds. Reeves is the last Alaskan to see action in the Trials.
One other Alaskan saw action after deadline on Monday, though. Former Dimond High School and University of Washington swimmer Robert Roosa of Anchorage took 83rd place out 95 swimmers in the 100 butterfly, posting a time of 57.38. Ian Crocker of Portland, Maine, broke the Olympic Trials record in the events preliminaries with a 52.82 and also had the top time in Monday nights semifinals. The finals in the 100 butterfly are tonight.
Chris Thompson, bronze medalist at the 1999 Pan Pacific championships, was the fastest qualifier in the 1,500 freestyle. Thompson, of Roseburg, Ore., led eight men into Wednesday nights final in 15:21.71.
Thompsons goal is to break George DiCarlos 16-year-old American record of 15:01.51, which would make him the first American to go under 15 minutes.
Ill be disappointed if I win and dont break the American record, but it wont be too bad as long as I make the Olympic team, he said. Ive been slowly improving every year 10 seconds here, 20 seconds there. Ive just been plugging away at it.
Torres, 33, said she wasnt trying to do anything special in the preliminaries, especially after her legs cramped while finishing second to Thompson in the 100 free Monday night.
Im a little tired right now, she said. Im just trying to get through today and go fast tomorrow.
Torres instructions from her coach, Richard Quick, were to check where the other swimmers were and slow down if she was ahead.
He didnt want me to waste any energy, she said. Thats the strategy in the morning, but in the final theres not a lot of strategy. You just get up and go.
Van Dyken, 27, took one breath so she could peek at the competition.
If someone is close, I turn it on, she said. Its all about getting the right lane for the finals. In prelims and semis, theres a lot of pacing. In the final, you go for it like a rocket.
Van Dyken is possessive about the 50 free, in which she beat the Chinese at the 96 Olympics.
I feel I can win it, she said. Its been my baby for a long time, but Dara is ahead of me right now. I enjoy being the underdog. I enjoyed it a lot in Atlanta.
Van Dyken made her second straight Olympic team by finishing fourth in the 100 free Monday, and earning a berth on the 400 free relay team.
In the 1,500 free, Jamie Grimes qualified second at 15:21.73. Erik Vendt of North Easton, Mass., was third at 15:22.73. Hes already going to Sydney in the 400 individual medley.