York Suburban grad finishes 10th at U.S. Olympic Trials in 100 backstroke, misses final

ROB ROSE
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Coleman Stewart

Coleman Stewart might have to wait until 2024 to earn a chance to represent Team USA.

The York Suburban High School graduate swam a 53.91-second time in his men's 100-meter backstroke semifinal at the U.S. Olympic Swimming Team Trials on Monday night, but it wasn't enough to reach Tuesday's final. The top eight made the final in Omaha, Nebraska.

Stewart was fifth in his semifinal. Still, finishing inside the top 10 U.S. swimmers in the event is a drastic improvement from the No. 135 spot he held at the 2016 Olympic Trials.

Ryan Murphy, a 2016 Olympian and the world record holder, had the top time during the two semifinal races with a :52.22 mark.

Stewart entered  2021 after a decorated career in college at North Carolina State. He was a two-time NCAA champion (100-meter backstroke, 400-meter freestyle relay), 22-time All-American, 13-time Atlantic Coast Conference champion, 2017 ACC Freshman of the Year and two-time ACC Men's Swimmer of the Year (2019, 2020).

Stewart will also compete in the men's 100 freestyle and 100 butterfly at the team trials this week. The former Trojans standout will be swimming each day Wednesday through Saturday if he is able to reach the finals in both events.

Before competing for a spot on Team USA, Stewart spent the 2020 International Swimming League season with the Cali Condors. Also on the Condors team with Stewart was Spring Grove High graduate Hali Flickinger, who is also competing for several spots at the Tokyo Games this week.

After finishing second in the 400 individual medley on Sunday in a personal-best time, Flickinger is a near Olympic lock in that event. She's also considered the favorite in the 200 butterfly. She made the 2016 Olympics in the 200 fly, finishing seventh. The 200 fly preliminaries are Wednesday, while the final is Thursday evening.

Flickinger is also expected to compete in the 200 freestyle on Tuesday and the 200 backstroke on Friday and Saturday.

The U.S. Swimming Olympic Team Trials will continue through June 20 and will be broadcast on various NBC channels and streaming services.

— Reach Rob Rose at rrose@yorkdispatch.com.