wsls logo

Zach Harting leads U.S. men's 200m fly into post-Phelps Olympic era

Zach Harting is set to go to his first Olympics after winning the 200-meter butterfly Wednesday night in Omaha. (Rob Schumacher-Usa Today Sports, Rob Schumacher)

Zach Harting will represent the United States in the men's 200-meter butterfly -- one of Michael Phelps' signature events -- at the Tokyo Olympics, the first Games since Phelps' retirement. 2016 Olympian Gunnar Bentz is likely also headed to Tokyo in the event. 

Harting went 1:55.06 to win the final Wednesday night at the U.S. Olympic Swimming Trials, followed by Bentz in 1:55.34. Touching third, just .09 seconds behind Bentz, was former youth phenom Luca Urlando.

Phelps won 10 major international gold medals in the event, including at the 2000, 2008 and 2016 Olympics (he took silver in 2012). He still owns the American and U.S. Open records, but lost his long-standing world record to Hungary's Kristof Milak at the 2019 World Aquatics Championships. 

Harting, who was seventh in this event at Trials in 2016, represented the U.S. in the 200 fly at 2019 Worlds and finished sixth; he trains at the University of Louisville. Bentz, who trains at the University of Georgia, won a gold medal at the 2016 Games as a preliminary heat swimmer in the men's 4x200 freestyle relay. 

Phelps, who's in Omaha this week with his wife and oldest son, was on site for the race. In 2019, Urlando -- who swims collegiately for Georgia -- broke Phelps' 17-18 national age group record in the 200-meter fly that stood for 16 years. That swim vaulted Urlando into spotlight and caught Phelps' attention, so much so that Phelps began reaching out with "technical and tactical tips," according to The New York Times. 

Harting is also entered in the 200-meter individual medley and 100-meter butterfly, where he's the No. 11 seed, later this week at Trials.