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Swim stunner: Manuel fails to make the final in 100 free

In the biggest surprise yet at the U.S. swimming trials, defending Olympic champion Simone Manuel failed to advance from the semifinals in the 100-meter freestyle Thursday night.

Manuel, who tied for the gold at the Rio Olympics to become the first Black female ever to win an individual swimming event, finished fourth in the first semifinal heat at 54.17 seconds.

She just missed a spot in Friday night's final when five swimmers went faster in the second semifinal heat, with Erika Brown taking the eighth spot in 54.15 — two-hundredths faster than Manuel.

Nic Fink reacts after winning the men's 200 breaststroke during wave 2 of the U.S. Olympic Swim Trials on Thursday, June 17, 2021, in Omaha, Neb. (AP PhotoCharlie Neibergall)

Natalie Hinds and Olivia Smoliga were the top qualifiers in 53.55. Allison Schmitt, who already made the team in the 200 free, advanced to the final with the sixth-best time (54.08).

Manuel's failure to make it to the 100 free final means she won't be in the mix for the relays, either. She still has a chance to qualify for the team in the 50 free — an event she took silver in as part of a four-medal haul at Rio.

In the men's 200 breaststroke, Nic Fink made the Olympics for the first time at age 27, winning with a time of 2:07.55 in a 1-2 finish with club teammate Andrew Wilson.

Nic Fink participates in the men's 200 breaststroke during wave 2 of the U.S. Olympic Swim Trials on Thursday, June 17, 2021, in Omaha, Neb. (AP PhotoJeff Roberson)

Fink failed to finish in the top two at either the 2012 or 2016 trials, and he had another heartbreak with a third-place showing in the 100 breast this year.

Now, finally, he's got his long-sought spot on the Olympic team.

“It’s something I can’t really describe,” Fink said. “Relief is only the beginning of what I’m feeling right now. It’s a long journey to come here. I’ve had so much support and help. I’m so grateful for this opportunity and to come back after getting third in the 100."

Nic Fink participates in the men's 200 breaststroke during wave 2 of the U.S. Olympic Swim Trials on Thursday, June 17, 2021, in Omaha, Neb. (AP PhotoJeff Roberson)

Wilson, who swims with Fink on the Athens Bulldog Swim Club in Georgia, earned a likely second individual event at the Tokyo Games with a runner-up finish in 2:08.32. Wilson also finished second in the 100 breast.

“It’s really fun to see it pay off for Andrew and I,” Fink said.

Kevin Cordes, who made the 2016 Olympic team in both breaststroke events, came up short this time. He was a distant fourth, nearly 2 seconds behind Wilson.

Bobby Finke at the medal ceremony after winning the men's 800 freestyle during wave 2 of the U.S. Olympic Swim Trials on Thursday, June 17, 2021, in Omaha, Neb. (AP PhotoCharlie Neibergall)

“It’s tough to see him not make it,” Fink said.

The U.S. team added another first-time Olympian when Bobby Finke of Clearwater, Florida won the men's 800 freestyle, an event that will make its Olympic debut in Tokyo.

He covered 16 laps in 7:48.22, holding off runner-up Michael Brinegar (7:49.94). Ross Dant just missed an Olympic spot, finishing a mere 72-hundredths behind Brinegar in a thrilling finish.

Bobby Finke waves after winning the men's 800 freestyle during wave 2 of the U.S. Olympic Swim Trials on Thursday, June 17, 2021, in Omaha, Neb. (AP PhotoJeff Roberson)

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