As the United States Olympic Trials reached their midway point on Wednesday, ARENA athletes had the opportunity to both celebrate, and exhale with a sigh of relief. Simply, it was a drama-filled day, the outcomes all positive for Tom Shields and Cammile Adams.
When Shields arrived in Omaha, he was followed by lofty expectations for the 100 butterfly, but little was said about the former Cal star’s chances in the 200 butterfly. Shields wanted to prove he was capable of excelling in both events, and he got the job done at the CenturyLink Center. While Michael Phelps qualified for his fifth Olympics with a victory in 1:54.84, Shields also earned a trip to Rio behind a time of 1:55.81.
Shields sat in second place through all four laps of the 200 fly and was able to hold off a late challenge by Jack Conger, who was closing the gap at the finish and touched in 1:56.45. For Shields, the 200 fly has always been a grind, his pure speed not lending itself as a natural fit for the event. But his determination could not be underestimated.
“I was just trying to finish,” Shields said. “I’m still trying to figure out how to swim it. (Phelps) swims the race kind of like me, except he’s better on the back half. I’m kind of speechless. I’m excited. I’m so excited to see what the next couple of months has.”
While Shields earned his first Olympic berth, Adams put herself in position to earn her second bid in the women’s version of the 200 fly. Yet, it wasn’t a day without drama, as Adams had to endure a tension-filled morning in which she was initially disqualified for an illegal turn, but was ultimately reinstated after officials reviewed video footage of her race.
Given a reprieve, Adams shined during the evening session, winning her semifinal in 2:07.31, good for the top seed in the final. Adams will have her hands full with challenges from Hali Flickinger and Cassidy Bayer, but she’s certainly the favorite. After the hectic events of the morning, Adams was just happy to have a second chance.
“They took a little bit to review the tape, but when I saw it, there was a little bit of panic,” Adams said. “A lot of panic. I’m just really thankful for the system that we have and got to go back to the head official and looked at the underwater camera. With it being overturned, I’m obviously very thankful.”