(Cover photo credit: Louisville Athletics)
Nancy Worley, University of Louisville Athletics
University of Louisville swimmer Kelsi Worrell punched her ticket to Rio and earned an Olympic berth by winning the 100-meter butterfly, putting up the second fastest in the world this year and fifth fastest in history Monday night at the U.S. Olympic Trials in Omaha, Neb.
Worrell touched the wall in 56.48 seconds, edging 2012 Olympic gold medalist Dana Vollmer who boarded a 57.21.
“I am really excited and have this huge relief off my shoulders,” said Worrell. “I did enjoy myself but I do feel really relieved.”
With the win, Worrell will swim the U.S. medley relay team in Rio later this summer. Yesterday she posted a 56.84 in the 100 fly prelims, and dropped nearly another half second in the final. Worrell had to chase down Dana Vollmer, who led at 50-meter mark. The NCAA champion had an impressive second 50 and was nearly a second faster than Vollmer down the stretch.
Worrell now holds the second best time in the world for this year in the event, passing China’s Xinyi Chen (56.82) She trails only Sweden’s Sarah Sjostrom’s 55.68, who also has the world record of 55.64.
Worrell, a four-time NCAA individual champion and the American record holder in the 100-yard fly, will join fellow Angel McCoughtry as the second U.S. Olympian ever from U of L. The Cardinals will also send swimmers Grigory Tarasevich (Russia), Joao De Lucca (Brazil) Marcelo Acosta (El Salvador), Carlos Claverie (Venezuela) and Tanja Kylliainen (Finland). Also on the bubble are Alina Kendzior (Estonia) and Andrea Kneppers (Netherlands).
Worrell still has the 200 fly, 50 freestyle and 100 freestyle ahead and is ranked No. 3 in the United States in the 200 fly, No. 5 in the 50 free and No. 7 in the 100 free.
“There is a weight off my shoulders and now I am pumped for my freestyle races,” said Worrell. “I need to improve and then put a good race together in the 200-fly and not reenact the NCAAs from this year. I want to have fun and enjoy the races.”
Andrea Cottrell, a junior from the University of Louisville, qualified sixth in the 100-meter breaststroke making her just the second Cardinal to ever final in the U.S. Olympic Trials. Cottrell finished in 1:07 .44 in the semifinals, after a 1:07.21 in the preliminaries.
“Andrea is my roommate and my co-captain this year,” said Worrell. “I have seen her work incredibly hard and I was able to watch her race. She said she couldn’t watch my race live because she would get too emotional. Embracing her after the race was so emotional. I am super proud of her and I can’t wait to watch her tomorrow. She deserves it and earned that spot.”
“I have had a chance to be healthy and strong and it built from short course season to long course year after year working at Louisville,” continued Worrell. “Finally we were able to put together a solid race that we worked hard for and trained for. I am really tired now and the adrenalin has worn off. I am really excited and have this huge relief off my shoulders. I did enjoy myself but I do feel really relieved. Grateful for Arthur Albiero and all of the staff. They are one of the best in the country and I have a really good relationship with all of them. I am so Glad to be able to work with all of them. Our program is really personalized for each swimmer. Whenever I get stressed, Arthur is able to calm me down. I look up to him as a father figure too.”
“Before the race it was emotional. For me it is my family sitting there in the front row and our big team section,” said Worrell. “I am so grateful for that and after the race too, because I didn’t really expect to be first and hearing that was a dream come true. I really couldn’t see Dana (Vollmer) much at all except on my turns because she was on my other side. I try to do my own race. My little brother told me that so that is what I tried to do.”
All Time Fastest Times in the 100-butterfly
- Sarah Sjostrom, Sweden: 55.64 (2015)
- Dana Vollmer, USA: 55.98 (2012)
- Zige Liu, China: 56.07 (2009)
- Jessicah Schipper, Australia: 56.23 (2009)
- Kelsi Worrell, USA: 56.48