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Ervin Throws Back Gauntlet In 21.74

Jun 30, 2012  - Craig Lord

US Olympic Trials, Omaha, Day 6 semi-finals: 

Men's 50m freestyle

After Nathan Adrian and Josh Schneider tied in the first 50m freestyle semi on 21.81, 5th best in world this year, Anthony Ervin, the 2000 Olympic champion on the comeback trail,   threw the gauntlet back at them with a 21.74 in second semi ahead of Jimmy Feigen, on 21.89. The stability, the control in Ervin, like Adrian coached at CAL by Dave Durden, is masterly, his time well inside the 21.98 victory in 2000.

Heading to the final tomorrow, Ervin said: "Maybe I just had a greater stroke of luck that [this] time. No, I'm - you know, it's just - you know, usually I have a little bit better swims in the afternoon, not sure why. In warm-up this afternoon, my underwaters were feeling a little more stable, more power, and I wasn't dissipating as much, when I was going through my warm-up. I was looking at it as 'hey, something feels a little bit better'. Maybe I can have a better time, and, yes, best time, that's all I can ask for."

Ervin, of Burbank, California, was the first man of African-American extraction to race for the United States, the first to win an Olympic swimming title (2000, 50m freestyle) and the first man, with teammate and Sydney 2000 roommate Gary Hall Jr., to share one. 

Racial stereotyping started when Ervin, at 19, made the American team. It gathered pace when he clocked 21.98sec with Hall Jr. Born of a three-quarters African-American father and a white Jewish mother, Ervin said: “I feel the labels, in a way, belittle who I am. I’m proud to be black. I’m proud of my Jewish heritage. I’m proud of everything that makes me who I am. All of that makes me a unique person, just like anyone else.” 

At the 2001 world championships in Fukuoka, Ervin became the second man in history after Alexander Popov (RUS) to win both the 50 and 100m freestyle crowns, and did so by beating Van den Hoogenband. He might have won a third gold alongside USA teammates but left his blocks early in the medley relay. Coached by Mike Bottom, at University of California, Berkeley, first time round, Ervin sold his gold medal on Ebay for thousands of dollars in March 2005, to raise money for UNICEF and tsunami relief. 

Women's 200m backstroke

Elizabeth Pelton set the pace at 2:08.71 in the first semi before world champion Missy Franklin took it on to 2:07.91 in the second line-up for lane 4 in the final ahead of the other Elizabeth seeking a throne in London, Beisel, on 2:08.41.