Jack Conger finished in fifth place in the men’s 200-meter backstroke final Saturday night at the U.S. Olympic swimming trials in Omaha, moving up from his eighth-place seed.
Conger, who competes for the Rockville-Montgomery Swim Club, started fast, reaching the first turn in second place, ahead of Ryan Lochte and Tyler Clary, the eventual top finishers. After the second turn, where his stroke broke down the night before, Conger held firm, maintaining his position through the finish.
Conger sneaked into the final in Lane 8 after fading to a distant third in the first semifinal heat on Friday night. After that performance, he knew he had to be better in the final.
“I took it out pretty well, but my closing speed wasn’t what I wanted,” Conger said after his semifinal swim. “My walls weren’t as sharp and my under waters weren’t that good.”
He did just that in his second final of these trials, making adjustments from one night to the next and showing a level of maturity beyond his 17 years. He finished eighth in the men’s 100 backstroke final.
In the morning preliminaries, Megan Byrnes of Curl-Burke Swim Club competed in her first Olympic trials in the women’s 200 backstroke. At 13, the rising Oakton freshman is one of the youngest competitors at this year’s trials. She was joined by 2012 All-Mets Janet Hu, Caroline McTaggart, Charlotte Meyer and Hellen Moffitt.