MALAR WINS 400 I.M. IN A NEW CANADIAN RECORD OF 4:43.39
The trend of the meet was clear on the first evening. The women were hot
and the men were not.
In the women's 100 freestyle, Shannon Shakespeare of Winnipeg, the only
one to swim under 57 seconds in the heats, was the only one to swim under
57 seconds period. She led the race at the 50 (27.26) and finished strongly
in 56.72. Although she was a little disappointed with the time, she said,
"I didn't want to concentrate too much on the time because I think
it takes away from my race. I just wanted to go after it in the first 50
and hold on at the end of the race and win it and see what the time did."
Shannon Shakespeare was the only swimmer to go under 57 seconds in the 100. For larger 46k photo click on image. Photo © Marco Chiesa
Behind Shakespeare were Marianne Limpert of Fredericton (57.17), Andrea
Moody of Vancouver (57.19), and Julie Howard of Brantford (57.36). Having
made the COA standard of 57.19, Shakespeare may be the only Canadian to
swim the individual event in Atlanta while the other three women will go
along for the 400 freestyle relay.
John Cleveland of the National Centre in Calgary won the 100 breaststroke
in 1:03.27, just making the COA standard and earning himself a provisional
berth on his third Olympic team. Russel Patrick, also of Calgary, finished
second in 1:04.16. 16- year-old Andrew Chan of Etobicoke, who dropped nearly
a whole second in the heats to qualify second in 1:04.18, finished third
Jon Cleveland earned a place on his third Olympic team by winning the 100 breaststroke in 1:03.27. For larger 46k photo click on image. Photo © Marco Chiesa
The undisputed star of the meet was Joanne Malar of Hamilton. After a morning
swim of 4:48.88 that already made the FINA standard, Malar went into the
final of the 400 IM as she always does, prepared to give it her best. She
did not disappoint. Slightly behind Nancy Sweetnam of Lindsay after the
fly leg, Malar moved ahead in the backstroke and even outsplit Sweetnam
in the breaststroke. Motivated by the screaming crowd, she powered throughout
the last two lengths to touch the wall in 4:43.39, a new Canadian record.
It was the only record of the meet.
"I was so excited that it was the first day and probably my biggest
event," she said. "Just to get all the jitterbugs out of my system,
winning it, and a Canadian record-I couldn't be happier with the way it
Sweetnam finished second in 4:48.04, also making the FINA standard of 4:49.74
and making her second Olympic team. She has been training in Plantation,
Florida., under Lois Daigneault, originally of Montreal, and the swim confirmed
her comeback. "We're going to do a lot of work on Nancy's backstroke
between now and Atlanta," said Daigneault. "It was 2 to 3 seconds
slower than expected just because she tried so hard, but I think if she
keeps that under control it will be a different race."
The men's 200 freestyle was somewhat of a letdown as no one qualified. Brampton's
Stephen Clarke finished first in 1:51.87, missing both the FINA and COA
standards. He was followed by Ron Voordouw of Calgary who swam a personal
best of 1:52.29.
Owen von Richter of Etobicoke went into the final in second place but had
difficulty breathing halfway through the race and backed off alarmingly
to finish eighth. While he suffers continually from asthma, von Richter's
problems were complicated during a workout last November when his heart
rate went up to 270 after an extra dose of Ventolin, his usual asthma medication.
Since that initial scare, the University of Michigan student has been in
and out of hospital with extreme attacks, and was even forced to leave a
high-altitude training camp in Colorado last December.
Doctors are still undecided as to the real source of the problem but have
not kept von Richter out of the water. He has consulted heart and lung specialists,
been through all manner of testing, and feels he is improving, but he still
needs oxygen after a race to catch his breath. He also carries around a
portable EKG in case his heart takes off again. Despite the rather frightening
slant that puts on his swimming career, quitting has "never been an
The women's 100 breaststroke capped off the first evening's events. Lisa
Flood, who also trains in Florida with Daigneault, led the field and won
in 1:09.98, assuring her berth on the Olympic team along with veteran Cloutier,
who was previously prequalified. "I was really thrilled with the swim,"
said Flood, "I came in here and did what I wanted to do. It's unusual
for breaststroke to be on the first day so it was exciting to get up on
the first day and start things rolling." Finishing second was Christin
Petelski of Victoria in 1:11.37, and Riley Mants of Winnipeg was third in
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