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Backstroke Dominance

Jun 18, 2021
Ryan Murphy (right) and Bryce Mefford finished first and second in the 200-meter backstroke event at the U.S. Olympic Trials on Friday.

OMAHA, Neb. – California finished 1-2 in the 200-meter backstroke event for the second consecutive U.S. Olympic Swimming Trials on Friday night as Ryan Murphy completed the 2021 backstroke sweep and Bryce Mefford touched second to clinch a spot in Tokyo.
Murphy (1:54.20) – the defending Olympic 200 back champion – secured the win with the second-fastest time in the world this season and his fastest since 2019. Mefford (1:54.79) threw down 29.46 in the final 50 meters, the fastest in the field, to take runner-up honors by more than a second.


It will be Mefford's first Olympic appearance. In 2016, Murphy and fellow Cal alumnus Jacob Pebley went 1-2 in the 200 back at the Trials on the way to representing the U.S. in Rio. Murphy had already solidified his spot on the 2021 U.S. Olympic roster before Friday's 200 back victory, having won the 100 back title Tuesday. The Cal post-graduate has now swept the backstroke events at two consecutive Trials, becoming the first to do so since Aaron Peirsol in 2004 and 2008.
Mefford lowered his personal-best for the second time in as many days after entering the meet with a previous PB of 1:57.39. Fellow Golden Bears Destin Lasco (1:56.98) and Daniel Carr (1:58.76) placed fifth and eighth in the event.
"It was a great swim, I felt great about it," Mefford said following the race. "Every time I went by that board I was looking up at it trying to see where I was. It was a little scary, but I was happy to be swimming with my Cal brothers and have my family in the stands watching.

"There's a lot more of us involved in the Cal backstroke group than just the four guys (racing tonight). My brother (Colby) swam last week and this week, and I got to swim against him this morning. It's a race every day against those guys. It's a brutal way to practice and train every day, but it pays off for the four guys who were in that final."

In the second men's final of the night, Andrew Seliskar (1:58.35) and Trenton Julian (2:04.49) finished sixth and eighth in the 200 individual medley. Just 15 minutes later, Julian jumped back in the pool and joined Tom Shields in advancing through the 100 butterfly semifinals. Shields (51.20) and Julian (51.70) will be the second and fifth seeds in Saturday's final; it will be Julian's third final of the meet.
Full results from Friday's finals and semifinals can be viewed here.
200 Back (Finals)
1. Ryan Murphy (1:54.20)
2. Bryce Mefford (1:54.79)
5. Destin Lasco (1:56.98)
8. Daniel Carr (1:58.76)


200 IM (Finals)
6. Andrew Seliskar (1:58.35)
8. Trenton Julian (2:04.49)
100 Fly (Semifinals)
2. Tom Shields (51.20)
5. Trenton Julian (51.70)
The penultimate day of the U.S. Olympic Trials will feature the 50 freestyle prelims/semis, 1500 free prelims and 100 fly finals. Prelims will start at 8 a.m. PT and finals/semis will begin at 6 p.m. PT. and NBC/NBCSN will carry the action.
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