This is the next installment in a continuing series of articles where we follow the progress of our local Olympic hopefuls.
Kaitlyn Johnson was back in the pool Thursday morning for the 100-meter freestyle, her second event of the weeklong U.S. Olympic Team Trials, and the Uniontown graduate finished third in her heat with a time of 57.28 seconds.
The Uniontown graduate finished 80th overall.
Harper Bruens won the heat — and placed 30th overall — in a time of 56.03 seconds. Paige Madden was second with a time of 57.18 seconds.
“It was alright,” said Johnson. “I started a little more conservatively than I usually do. The race felt good, pretty solid.”
Johnson went out in the first 50 meters in 27.59 seconds, coming back in 29.69.
Although she already had one race in the books, Johnson said she was anxious as her heat approached.
“I want to say I was less nervous for the 100 butterfly than the 100 freestyle. I seem to get a little more nervous for the freestyle,” explained Johnson. “It’s a really hard race. It takes a lot more strategy.”
The 100 freestyle was one of the marquee events for the women with seven swimmers in the field ranked in the top 25 fastest times of 2016.
All seven swimmers qualified for the semifinals, including in order of finish in the preliminaries: Abbey Weitzeil (53.58), Amanda Weir (53.76), Dana Vollmer (53.80), Simone Manuel (53.84), Kelsi Worrell (54.02), Katie Ledecky (54.04), and Lia Neal (54.06). Missy Franklin, Natalie Coughlin and Allison Schmitt also advanced to the semifinals.
“The 100 freestyle is a crazy good event for the USA,” said Johnson.
Johnson has one last event, the 50-meter freestyle on Saturday morning. The timing is better suited for Johnson after a four-day break between her first and second events.
“I feel good. I’m excited for my 50 free. That’s my event,” said Johnson. “It’s a long meet. I have a lot of down time. All you do is sleep, swim and eat.”
As for her strategy for the race, Johnson said, “I’ll go with the flow and see how it goes.”
Although she has a lot of time out of the pool, Johnson hasn’t explored Omaha much.
“You don’t want to be on your feet all day. I’ll go watch the finals if I don’t have a race (the next day). The College World Series is going on,” said Johnson.
“It’s a lot of fun being here. My college coach flew in to surprise me and see a race,” added Johnson, who has other friends and family in the stands watching this week.