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Trickett realises London Olympic dream

21 March 2012

Libby Trickett ensured a happy ending to one of swimming's comeback stories after booking her ticket to London at the Olympic swimming trials in Adelaide on Tuesday night.

Needing a top six finish in the 100m freestyle to be considered for selection as a relay swimmer in London, Trickett finished fifth in 54.21 seconds behind race winner Melanie Schlanger (53.85) in the decider.

Schlanger, 25, capped a return of her own after she briefly walked away from the sport after failing to make the 2010 Commonwealth Games team.

Cate Campbell (54.01) was second, to seal the other individual berth for London, while Yolane Kukla (54.08), Brittany Elmslie (54.08) and Alicia Coutts (54.25) also earned a shot at relay selection.

Trickett is now set to be included in the Australian team when it is announced on Thursday night.

"It's unbelievable," a tearful Trickett said.

"This whole journey for me has been probably more challenging emotionally and spiritually and mentally than it has been physically.

"I got through this whole two years with my family and my friends and particularly (husband) Luke, and I get to the share that with them now."

"... It's just completely surreal because two years ago I wasn't swimming, I was 10kg heavier and on a completely different path in my life."

The 27-year-old has bucked the trend of comeback attempts falling flat in Adelaide though Trickett's hope of a return always appeared more realistic, given she spent only around 18 months out of the pool following the 2009 world championships.

Five-time Olympic gold medallist Ian Thorpe failed to secure a place in the 100m and 200m freestyle while Michael Klim's hopes ended on Tuesday night when he was only 14th fastest in the 100m butterfly semi-finals in 53.72.

Klim was disappointed not to have prolonged his comeback at least one more swim but said he had no regrets about returning.

"I think it's just the realisation of that's where my ability is at at 34 and probably, as hard as the truth is, that's what I've had to come to terms with," said Klim, confirming he would go back into retirement.

Geoff Huegill's hopes of carrying his long-running return all the way to London remain alive after he qualified in 52.57 behind fastest qualifier Chris Wright (51.83).

James Magnussen continued to set the pace in the 50m freestyle, further improving on his personal best time to qualify fastest for Wednesday night's final in 21.87.

The 100m world champion finished just ahead of veteran Eamon Sullivan, who surprised himself with an eye-catching a 21.88 - his fastest swim in a textile suit.

"Really happy, bit of a surprise," said 26-year-old Sullivan, who has struggled with injury in recent years.

Australian head coach Leigh Nugent would have taken comfort from a host of young swimmers booking Olympic spots on Tuesday night.

Leading the charge was 18-year-old Tessa Wallace, who sprung a surprise in the the 200m breaststroke final.

Wallace (2:26.31), who overcome a serious knee injury and a recent bout of Ross River fever, beat Sally Foster (2:26.51) with Leisel Jones (2:27.62) fourth and denied an Olympic spot in the event.

"There was a point where I only had two months to go until my race and I wasn't even in full training yet and I had to start thinking `it's not going to be the end of me' and maybe look forward to 2016," an emotional Wallace said.

"But then I thought `I've got some time to do this', and I just can't believe I have."

A pair of teenagers sealed selection in the 200m backstroke with 18-year-old Mitch Larkin (1:57.90) winning from 19-year-old Matson Lawson (1:58.32).

Daniel Tranter (1:58.19) and Jayden Hadler (1:58.99) claimed the spots in the 200m individual medley.

Liam FitzGibbon

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