Bobby Finke will defend Tokyo gold in 1500m freestyle

Bobby Finke, who earned a gold medal in the 1500m freestyle four years ago at the Tokyo Olympics, will have the opportunity to defend his title in the event after winning the qualifying final in Indianapolis Sunday.

Finke finished 12 seconds ahead of the field and will compete in Paris in the 800m free as well.

“I’m just looking forward to getting back in and racing those boys,” Finke said. “They’ve pushed me to be my best, and getting able to race them again, I’m always looking forward to it.”

The true drama in the race came between David Johnston and Luke Whitlock battling it out for second place and a trip to France. In the end, Johnston outreached Whitlock, touching the wall .26 seconds ahead of his competitor to earn his spot.

“I’ve been training for this for a year,” Johnston said. “My family and my friends were able to get me going back mentally. I feel like I learned a lot this week that I’m going to be able to take forward.”

On the final day of qualifying, the only other race was the women’s 50m freestyle final, but it wasn’t short on tension either, as Simone Manuel defeated qualifying standout Gretchen Walsh by .02 with a time of 24.13.

Manuel was unable to qualify for an individual event at Tokyo but managed a bronze medal as a relay swimmer. That outing belied a championship pedigree that includes 11 world championships.

“The last experience was tough for me,’ Manuel said. “I put in a lot of work to get to this point.”

Walsh, who previously set a world record at these trials, qualified for her third event by finishing ahead of Abbey Weitzeil by .11 seconds.

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