Margalis tries to provide consolation after winning 200 IM

BY AP • July 1, 2017

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) Melanie Margalis was more interested in helping her friend than celebrating another victory.

After winning the women's 200-meter individual medley title and claiming a spot on the American world championship team Saturday night, she reached over to the next lane, hugged Ella Eastin and mouthed some encouraging words.

In time, Margalis' memorable actions may help ease the pain Eastin felt after missing out on the big swimming party next month in Budapest, Hungary. But on the final day of the U.S. National Championships, everyone seemed to leave with the same emotions.

''I'm a huge Ella fan my heart was broken the other night after seeing her disqualified,'' Margalis told the crowd. ''I just wanted her to know we were all rooting for her.''

The crowd responded with a loud ovation - a stark contrast from the resounding boos heard Thursday night when it was announced Eastin, the second-place finisher in the women's 400 IM, had been disqualified.

Only winners of each event automatically qualify for the U.S. team. Runner-ups generally make the team through a selection process, and after the judge's decision, Eastin was neither.

She rebounded Saturday with two strong legs to start before fading to third and finishing in 2 minutes, 10.89 seconds. Margalis won with a time of 2:09.57, Madisyn Cox was second in 2:09.69 and again, Eastin was out.

''I know she's pretty disappointed,'' said Abrahm DeVine, another Stanford swimmer who had something to prove Saturday.

Like Eastin, DeVine lost his first chance to qualify because of a ruling in the men's 400 IM prelims. And like Eastin, he was disqualified for the same violation - swimming more than a quarter of the race on his back, a FINA provision that has been tightened up because of a technique Ryan Lochte used on one turn.

But as Eastin tried to compose herself sitting alone on the pool deck, DeVIne redeemed himself in the pool by finishing second in 1:56.79, just behind Chase Kalisz at 1:56.51.

DeVine broke his previous personal best by nearly two seconds, became the fifth swimmer in the world this year to crack the 1:57 mark and, most important, got that ticket to Budapest.

''Coming in I was hoping to make it in the 400 IM and I got DQ'd in the morning and it sucked,'' he said. ''It (the 200) was just completely unexpected. It kind of blew my mind a little bit and seeing my teammates freaking out made me feel pretty good.''

Other swimmers had reasons to smile, too.

Two-time Olympic gold medalist Simone Manuel won the women's 50 freestyle in 24.27 seconds, the No. 3 time in the world this year. Abbey Weitzeil was second in 24.74.

Caeleb Dressel captured the men's 50 title in 21.53. Dressel held off Nathan Adrian, another Olympic gold medalist, who touched at 21.87.

Dressel won three titles, qualified in four individual events and collected the high points trophy for the men.

''It's incredible,'' Adrian said. ''I think he, along with all of us, was taking a stand this week to see what he can handle. He's obviously accomplished a lot, but that's a really grueling schedule at worlds.''

Leah Smith won the women's 1,500 free in 16:01.02. Katie Ledecky earned the other spot in the event by taking the 800 titles on Tuesday.

Smith won two events, finished second to Ledecky three times and wound up as the women's high-point scorer.

Ledecky received the Phillips 66 Performance Award despite taking two days off this week.

Clark Smith won the men's 800 free in 7:50.43. Zane Grothe was second in 7:50.97. They were the Nos. 6 and 7 times in the world this year.

And Sarah Gibson earned the second spot in the women's 50 butterfly by winning a swim-off with Weitzeil.

But it was the swimmer who didn't make it that became the star of the night.

''I just her to know we all really feel for her,'' Margalis said. ''I wanted to say something earlier, but I didn't want to remind her of the DQ.''

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