Former Lawrence-based swimmer Michael Andrew qualifies for Tokyo Olympics
One day after setting an American record in the 100-meter breaststroke semifinals at the U.S. Olympic Trials in Omaha, Neb., former Lawrence-based swimmer Michael Andrew achieved his lifelong goal of qualifying for the Olympics by winning the event on Monday night.
Andrew’s Monday swim of 58.73 seconds was not quite as fast as the 58.14 seconds he swam on Sunday that beat the old American record by nearly a half second. But it was good enough to finish first and earned him one of the two spots in the event at this summer’s Olympics.
Andrew Wilson was second, just one-hundredth of a second behind. Missing out was Nic Fink, who settled for third in 58.80, just .07 seconds behind Andrew.
Andrew’s Olympic-qualifying swim came one year later than his original goal of competing in the Tokyo Games in 2020. But that was because the games themselves were postponed because of the pandemic. Prior to that, Andrew came oh so close to qualifying in 2016, when he reached the finals in two events at the U.S. trials that year but could not deliver a top-two finish in either.
“It’s still hard to believe it’s real,” Andrew told The Associated Press after Monday’s race. “It’s been five years in the making. Not making that team as a 17-year-old and to come back to kind of rectify that, I’m just honored and blessed.”
Contacted by the Journal-World shortly after the announcement that the 2020 Summer Olympics had been pushed back to 2021, Andrew said the overwhelming emotion he felt at the time was relief. The reason was simple. Finally knowing something concrete in a year full of uncertainty gave him more time to reset his training schedule to focus on a run in 2021.
That paid off big time this week in Omaha.
Originally from Edina, Minn., Andrew, 22, made national news by turning pro at age 14 in 2013 and was dubbed by NBC Sports as “the breakthrough swimmer of 2018” when he won the 100-meter breaststroke at U.S. nationals.
After living in Lawrence from age 11 to 19, Andrew and his family moved to Encinitas, Calif., in December 2018 to better prepare for his push to the next Olympics. Although the journey was delayed and featured some unique training adventures along the way, it all appeared to be worth it on Monday.
Shortly after touching the wall and seeing his name in the top spot on the scoreboard, Andrew let out a howl of joy while still taking it all in from the water.
Andrew will look to earn an Olympic spot in two other events later this week — the 200 individual medley plays out Thursday and Friday and the 50 freestyle will run Saturday and Sunday — but he’ll head into those knowing that he already has his ticket punched for Tokyo.
The opening ceremony for the summer Olympics is scheduled for July 23. The swimming events are set to begin the next day and the finals of the men’s 100-meter breaststroke are slated for July 26.
Andrew entered Omaha as the world’s No. 6-ranked swimmer in the event.