There was no Father’s Day storybook ending for Nathan Adrian in the 50-meter freestyle in the final session of the U.S. Olympic swim trials on Sunday.
But the women’s 50 free generated its own high drama, as former Stanford star Simone Manuel earned a spot in the Tokyo Games with a tight victory over Cal alum Abbey Weitzel — a result that will give both swimmers a chance to race each other again next month.
Weitzeil, who already had an Olympic team berth after winning the 100 free this week, smiled broadly as she leaned over the lane markers to embrace Manuel.
“Wasn’t that fun to see Abbey and Simone?,” NBC analyst Rowdy Gaines said. “Cal and Stanford finally getting along!”
Adrian, the 32-year-old Cal grad and three-time Olympian from Cal, needed that same top-two finish in the men’s 50 free to secure a trip to Tokyo. He couldn’t make the final in the 100 free earlier this week and as the No. 3 seed on Sunday came up a quarter-second short.
The winner of eight medals, five of them gold, at the 2008, 2012 and 2016 Olympics, Adrian battled testicular cancer in 2019, requiring two surgeries. He and his wife, Hallie, had a daughter, Parker in February.
But on Sunday, Adrian could not overcome winner Caeleb Dressel — America’s top current swim star — or runner-up Michael Andrew.
Dressel, who could swim as many as seven events in Tokyo, touched first in 21.04 seconds, tied for the fourth-fastest time in history. Andrew was second in 21.48 and Adrian third at 21.73.
Adrian was more than gracious afterward while doing a poolside interview with NBC.
“Those two guys beat me, you know. That’s how this sport works,” he said. “They’re going to be good. They’re going to give Team USA our best shot at getting the most medals possible. I’m now their biggest fans and I’m excited to watch from home and cheer like crazy.”
He also downplayed the team missing his leadership at the Games, a subject swim legend Michael Phelps brought up the day before.
“People keep saying that, but they’re going to be just fine. Seriously, I really, really genuinely appreciate that. But this is going to be growth and they’re going to be so good.”
Manuel, a powerhouse sprinter and importance voice as an African American female in the sport, was a popular choice of fans at Omaha, Nebraska, to deliver after she came up short in the 100 free earlier.
She took three weeks off from training in the spring after being diagnosed with overtraining syndrome, which had her battling anxiety and insomnia.
Manuel hit the wall in 24.29 seconds with Weitzeil arriving at 24.30 — 1/100th of a second later. Almost immediately Weitzeil gave her rival a hug.
“She said she’s so proud of me,” Manuel said. “I’ve gotten so much support from so many people over the past week.
CAL'S QUALIFIERS FOR THE TOKYO OLYMPICS
— Ryan Murphy: 100 back and 200 back (also likely to swim on the 400 medley relay)
— Abbey Weitzeil: 50 freestyle 100 freestyle (also likely one or more relays)
— Bryce Mefford: 200 backstroke
— Tom Shields: 100 butterfly
— Andrew Seliskar: 800 free relay
— Katie McLaughlin: 800 free relay
Cal's Teri McKeever named to coaching staff of Olympic team
Cal women's head swimming coach Teri McKeever was named as a staff member of the U.S. Olympic team, officials announced Sunday evening.
This marks the fourth time McKeever has served on the Olympic team's staff, including as head coach of the women's team for the 2012 London Games. She was an assistant coach in 2004 and '08.
Cal men's coach Dave Durden is head coach of the U.S. Olympic men's team.
Cover photo of Abbey Weitzeil and Simone Manuel by Rob Schumacher, USA Today
Follow Jeff Faraudo of Cal Sports Report on Twitter: @jefffaraudo