OMAHA, Neb. – Brendan Hansen was done with swimming after two doses of Olympic heartache.
He’s feeling a lot better now.
Next stop: London.
Hansen, who retired from the sport after the Beijing Games but couldn’t stay away, made his comeback worthwhile by winning the 100-meter breaststroke at the U.S. Olympic trials Tuesday night.
“2008 was not lot of fun. I’m having a lot of fun right now,” Hansen said. “I’m back.”
Eric Shanteau is heading back to the Olympics, too, and this time he doesn’t have to worry about battling cancer. He rallied to finish second to Hansen.
Four years ago, Shanteau beat out Hansen for an individual spot on the team shortly after being diagnosed with testicular cancer. He put off treatment until after the games and has been healthy since.
Hansen wasn’t the only swimmer to use the second night of the trials as redemption for Olympic disappointment.
Dana Vollmer, a gold medalist as a teenager in 2004, missed out on the team four years ago while battling injuries and health problems. It’s all good now. She got off to a blistering start and soared through the water to easily win the 100 butterfly.
And, oh yeah, there was another memorable race between Ryan Lochte and Michael Phelps, but there’s a bigger showdown to come. One night after Lochte beat Phelps in the 400 individual medley, Lochte edged him out again in the semifinals of the 200 freestyle.
That’s just a tuneup for tonight’s final, which figures to be another classic between the world’s two greatest swimmers.
“Oh, that was the semifinals. It doesn’t really matter,” Lochte said. “It doesn’t matter until the finals.”
“It’s going to be a tough race,” Phelps said.
Lochte also has a strong morning swim in the 100 backstroke during the preliminaries, posting the second-fastest time behind Matt Grevers. But he doesn’t want anything to take away from his next race with Phelps, so he dropped out of the back before the semifinals.
He said it was his choice to scratch the 100 back.
“I just want to get ready,” Lochte said. “I don’t want to have to worry about swimming” an extra race.
Hansen, 30, rallied over the final lap for a time of 59.68 seconds, giving him a chance to make up for the disappointment of the past two Olympics. He was one of the world’s top breaststrokers leading up to the past two games, but has yet to win an individual gold. He took silver and bronze in the two breaststroke races at Athens, and was shut out of an individual medal in Beijing.