Ryk Neethling, who completed his eligibility after the NCAA Championships last March, swam the third-best time in the prelims, finishing second in his heat in 3 minutes, 48.08 seconds.
Australia's Ian Thorpe swam the fastest time of the morning, 3:44.65, a new Olympic record. Italy's Massimiliano Rosolino was the No. 2 qualifier in 3:45.65, the time with which he won the heat Neethling was in.
Carvin's time of 3:48.42 was the fifth-fastest time of the prelims, and it was also good enough to give him the victory in his heat. Fellow American Klete Keller will join the 1995 graduate of Arizona in the final.
The final is scheduled for 7:15 p.m. (Saturday), Sydney time. The event will begin at 1:15 a.m. (Saturday), Tucson time. NBC will televise the final (tape-delayed) Saturday night in the United States.