Upset in 200 breast: Weltz beats Shanteau, Hansen


Scott Weltz celebrates with Eric Shanteau, left, after winning the men's 200-meter breaststroke final at the U.S. Olympic swimming trials, Thursday, June 28, 2012, in Omaha, Neb. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

OMAHA, Neb. -- Brendan Hansen and Eric Shanteau were the favorites.

The race was a different matter.

On a night when Ryan Lochte and Michael Phelps were focused on getting through semifinal races, Scott Weltz won the 200 individual medley, Nathan Adrian won the 100 freestyle and Cullen Jones claimed the second spot for London, while Natalie Coughlin barely survived her last chance to make it back to the Olympics.

The men's 200 breast was just as shocking as the women's 100 breast, which was won by Breeja Larson over Rebecca Soni and Jessica Hardy. At least Soni got second place, still good enough for a do-over in the Olympics.

Neither Hansen nor Shanteau were as fortunate.

Clark Burckle claimed the second spot on the Olympic team, another big surprise. Shanteau finished third and Hansen faded to fourth, which means they'll have to settle for only swimming the 100 breast in London after going 1-2 in that event at the trials.

"I think you guys are as surprised as I am," Hansen said. "I can't believe Eric and I are not swimming the 200."

The 25-year-old Weitz moved up on the third lap and surged to the finish to win in 2 minutes, 9.01 seconds. Burckle was next in 2:09.97, edging Shanteau with the touch.

Shanteau, who competed in the 200 breast at Beijing after being diagnosed with testicular cancer, considers that his better race and thought the 100 was just a bonus. Now, it's his only Olympic race, which is why he was especially distraught when he looked up at the board and saw that Burckle got him by eight-hundredths of a second for second place.

Shanteau took off his cap and goggles and hung on the lane rope, his head dropping back against the wall he didn't get to quite fast enough.

Hansen faded to a 2:10.25 finish.

"I didn't think Weltz had it in him," Hansen said. "He swam like a big-time swimmer."

Hansen got an ugly reminder of his performance at the 2008 trials, when he went in as the 200 favorite and faded to fourth on the final lap. He followed with a disappointing performance in Beijing, which led him to retire from the sport in disgust. He returned after a more than two-year layoff and seemed on course for redemption after winning the 100 breast.

"I'm disappointed by my performance," Hansen said. "The whole time I thought I was right on pace. When I turned it on with 150 to go, I thought, 'Uh oh, been here before."'

Adrian was a big favorite in the 100 free, and this race went as expected. The 23-year-old native of Washington state led at the flip and never let up on the return lap, winning clearly in 48.10, the fourth-fastest time in the world this year.

The real battle was for the second individual spot. Jones went out strong, as always, and managed to hold on in an outside lane to touch in 48.46, giving the first African-American ever to win an Olympic swimming gold a chance to add to his collection in London.

Coughlin barely hung on in her quest to make it back to a third Olympics and take a shot at tying Jenny Thompson and Dara Torres as the most decorated female Olympians in U.S. history.

Having already missed out in the 100 butterfly and 100 backstroke, Coughlin is down to her final realistic chance in the 100 freestyle. She barely got out of the semifinals, finishing sixth in her heat but seventh overall to qualify for Saturday night's final. Brookwood grad Amanda Weir was the fastest qualifier in 54.14, followed by Missy Franklin (54.19) and Allison Schmitt (54.23).

With a loaded final that also included Dana Vollmer and Hardy, Coughlin looks like a longshot for an individual berth in London. She'll need to finish in the top six of the eight-woman final even to earn consideration for the 400 free relay team.

On a busy night. Lochte cruised through the semis of the 200 backstroke with the fastest time at 1:55.73. Tyler Clary was next (1:55.88) in what looks like a two-man race. Only one other qualifier for the final was within 3 seconds of the leaders.

Lochte returned less than an hour later for the semifinals of the 200 individual medley, which was Phelps' only event of the night. Racing side-by-side again, Lochte was top qualifier again with the fastest time in the world this year (1:55.51), while Phelps was about a body length behind (1:56.66).