Sandeno, Keller Go 1-2 In 400m Free At Olympic Trials

July 8, 2004

USC senior-to-be Kaitlin Sandeno qualified for her second race on her second U.S. Olympic Swimming Team while sophomore-to-be teammate Kalyn Keller qualified earned her first ever spot as the duo finished 1-2 in the 400m freestyle on the second day of the U.S. Olympic Swimming Trials in Long Beach on Thursday (July 8).

They weren't the only Trojans in action with former USC NCAA title winners Lenny Krayzelburg and Klete Keller (older brother of Kalyn) advancing through prelim and semifinal rounds to qualify for the finals of the 100m backstroke and 200m free, respectively.

Sandeno, who was second in the 400m IM on Wednesday, swam a personal best 4:08.07 to win her first-ever national title in a freestyle event. Kalyn Keller, meanwhile, joined brother Klete (who won the men's 400m free on Wednesday) on the U.S. team by touching in second place in 4:09.78.

Sandeno swam three events at the 2000 Olympics, but the 400m free wasn't one of them. She swam the 400m IM, 200m fly and the 800m free. Though she may not swim in all of them, she is still entered in four more races in the meet, including Wednesday's 200m IM.

Sandeno's and Keller's finish denied Diana Munz, the silver medallist in the 400m free at the 2000 Olympics, a chance to go for back-to-back medals in the event. Munz finished third while the defending Olympic gold medallist in the event, Brook Bennett, was seventh. In fact, it took Trojan graduate Lindsay Benko's decision to skip the finals of the race (deciding to save her energy for her best event -- the 200m free) to get Munz into the finals (she finished one place out after prelims).

Munz took it out fastest at the start, swimming to first after 100 meters while Sandeno and Keller turned in fifth and sixth, respectively. Sandeno moved into third after 150 and Keller took fourth, but while Sandeno moved into first at the halfway point, Keller was among six swimmer turning virtually together about a second back, officially in seventh.

Sandeno built her lead in the second half of the race while Keller reeled in the third-place Munz. Keller passed Munz after 300 meters and maintained almost a one second lead on her for the rest of the race.

Krayzelburg, the backstroke star of Sydney in 2000, is trying to earn a spot on the 100m back. The world record holder in the event who has been plagued by injuries the past three years, was the top qualifier in the event after prelims and was the fifth fastest in the semifinals at 55.05 to earn a spot in Friday's finals.

He will have his hands full, having to compete against top qualifier and the currently top-ranked backstroker in the world Aaron Peirsol as well as Peter Marshall, Dan Westcott and Randall Ball, who all finished ahead of Krayzelburg in the semis. Also looming large is former Olympic backstroke champ Jeff Rouse.

Klete Keller seems primed for an epic race against superstar Michael Phelps in the 200m free finals on Friday. Keller qualified first in prelims with Phelps in second and the roles reversed during the semifinals, Phelps going 1:47.42 to Keller's 1:47.65.

It will be quite a battle on Friday. Phelps is the American record holder in the event (1:45.99) but Keller is swimming fantastic and shattered Phelp's U.S. standard in the 400m free on Wednesday. It will be considered an upset if anyone else displaces either swimmer in the top two.

Larsen Jensen, who made the team in the 400m free on Wednesday, made the semifinals of the 200m free, but settled for 12th in 1:50.62. Jensen, however, is a favorite, along with fellow Trojan Erik Vendt, to qualify in the 1500m free.

USC's Marisa Kozak was 34th in the 100m back in 1:05.00 out of 54 swimmers while Trent Staley was 31st in the men's 100m back in 58.20 out of 45 swimmers.

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