OMAHA, Neb. – Cullen Jones is going to a second straight Olympics after an up-and-down couple of years.
Jason Lezak is headed to London, too, as a 36-year-old father of two.
They were part of a loaded field of Olympic medalists in the 100-meter freestyle final on Friday night at the U.S. swimming trials.
Nathan Adrian went in as the favorite and won in 48.10 seconds, fourth fastest in the world this year. The sprinter who trains at California led at the turn and never let up.
The race was on for the second individual spot.
Jones hung on from the far outside lane to touch in 48.46, giving the first African-American to win an Olympic swimming gold medal a shot at adding to his collection.
“It means a lot,” he said. “I had some definite doubts the last couple years.”
Jones, 28, swam on the winning 400 freestyle relay in Beijing that set a world record. The win raised his profile and he parlayed his credibility into a major role with USA Swimming’s Make a Splash campaign that encourages minorities to learn to swim.
“Although a lot of my work is positive in talking to kids, I wanted to live, I wanted to enjoy what I had gotten in 2008,” he said.
Jones didn’t make the team for last year’s world championships in Shanghai and then missed the championship final of the 50 free at the U.S. nationals.
Lezak answered the bell from the opposite side of the pool as Jones. Stuck out in lane eight, the Olympic relay star from Beijing finished sixth in 48.88, grabbing the last spot to be included in the relay mix. Also earning spots in the relay pool were Matt Grevers (third), Ricky Berens (fourth), and Jimmy Feigen (fifth).