Central Coast native Josh Prenot made a lasting impression during the U.S. Olympic swimming trials Thursday night at the CenturyLink Center in Omaha, Nebraska.
The 22-year-old from Orcutt surged past Kevin Cordes in the final seconds to win the 200-meter breaststoke title, securing Prenot a trip to the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.
Prenot finished the race in 2 minutes, 7.17 seconds, the second-fastest time in history and a tenth of a second off the world record set by Japan’s Akihiro Yamaguchi in 2012. He established the American record in the event, surpassing Eric Shanteau’s mark of 2:07.42 set back in 2009.
Prenot, a 2016 Cal graduate and two-time gold medalist at the 2015 World University Games, earned the No. 1 seed in Rio in August.
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“This was my last race, my last chance to make the team,” Prenot told the Los Angeles Times. “I didn’t feel like waiting another four years.”
After finishing third in the 100 breaststroke earlier in the week, Prenot said there was “tons of pressure” leading up to Thursday’s race. Prenot stayed close to Cordes until the final 75 meters and put together a decisive finishing kick for the win.
“This is by far the most perfectly I’ve ever put it together,” Prenot said.
Prenot won the 2016 NCAA championship in the 400 individual medley in March, capping a stellar collegiate career in Berkeley. He also finished second in the 200 IM and 200 breaststroke at the NCAA championship meet, and swam a leg on the Bears’ second-place 400 medley relay team.
The Olympic semifinals for the 200 breaststroke are scheduled for Aug. 9, with the final to follow Aug. 10.