SWIMNEWS ONLINE: April 1996 Magazine Articles

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Karin Helmstaedt

By the beginning of the third night only three men were listed on the Maritime Life banner, one of whom had prequalified. Fortunately, things were about to pick up.

The first truly exciting race in the men's competition was the 200 butterfly. Rob McFarlane of Calgary went into the final in first place and managed to hold on to that spot until the halfway mark. After touching in 57.31, he started to lose ground to 21 year-old Casey Barrett. Canadian born but living and training at the University of Southern California, Barrett swims for the Pacific Dolphins when on Canadian soil. He came back strongly to challenge McFarlane in the second 100 and touched first in 1:59.91, under the FINA standard of 2:00.65. McFarlane was next in 2:01.19, and Eddie Parenti, also swimming for the Dolphins, was third in 2:01.30. While he looked strong at the 100 (57.58), Philip Weiss was off his best and finished fourth in 2:01.7.

The women's 400 freestyle was a visually exciting race, but it was clear early on that the FINA standard and then even the COA standard were out of reach. Andrea Schwartz took it out from the start and was challenged all the way by Danielle Kennedy of Calgary. Kennedy touched ahead by a fraction at the 300 mark but was beaten to the wall by the persistent Schwarz. Her time of 4:18.31 was the slowest winning 400 time at an Olympic Trials since 1976, a not-so-subtle hint that women's freestyle has seen better days.

The men's 100 backstroke saw yet another surprise win by Robert Braknis, who edged out Chris Renaud to earn a provisional spot on the Olympic team with his time of 56.66. Renaud was mysteriously off the mark and his second place finish (56.95), while under the COA standard of 56.98, was not enough to get him onto the team. For Braknis, the thrill of making the team is marred by worry; his spot remains precarious and anyone making the FINA standard (before he does) at one of the three meets this spring could bump him off the team, just like that. Ray Brown of North York finished a close third in 56.99.

The highlight of the evening came when two more spots on the women's team were filled-with newcomers. After a strong finish in the 100 two days earlier, Christin Petelski and Riley Mants went for broke in the 200 breaststroke. Mants had a great start and pushed Petelski all the way, but Petelski had the better reach and won in a personal best time of 2:29.51. The performance catapulted her to seventh in the world in the rankings, while Mants' second place time of 2:29.85 ranks her ninth in the world. Both women were well under the FINA standard. Veteran Lisa Flood was relegated to third in this event, her time of 2:31.99 also under the FINA cutoff. Guylaine Cloutier did not compete in the event due to an injury.

Christin Petelski, IS, embraced by Lisa Flood, PDSA, after 200 breast win. For larger 40k photo click on image. Photo © Marco Chiesa

The 400 freestyle was Mike McWha's chance to come back after a disappointing 200. The Windsor swimmer came from behind to battle leader Owen von Richter and second placed Brett Creed of the Pacific Dolphins. At the 375 mark, the top spot was his, but his time of 3:57.04 was well off the COA standard of 3:55.70. Von Richter was second in 3:58.09, and 16-year-old Mark Johnston of Brock stole third place from Creed in 3:58.98. To put the swim into a historical perspective, the winning time would have tied for third at the 1980 Olympic Trials.

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