SWIMNEWS ONLINE: August 1996 Magazine Articles

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Watch out when the race is slow. It becomes unpredictable.

Franziska van Almsick, GER, and Claudia Poll, CRC, went stroke for stoke on the first length. Poll had a slight lead at the 100 and held on to it to the 150.

On the last length Poll gradually moved out in front by about a stroke, half a body at the finish.

Claudia Poll held off Franziska van Almsick to take the race
For larger 64k photo click on image. Photo © Marco Chiesa

PollAction.jpg Poll's time of 1:58.16 was slower than her personal best but good enough for the gold.

Franzi was second in 1:58.57 and Dagmar Hase, GER, who lagged most of the race, took the bronze with 1:59.56.

For the small Central American country of Costa Rica it was a first ever gold. It was the slowest Olympic winning time since Los Angeles in 1984.

Franziska van Almsick was not happy after the race. "I must say I am little disappointed with my time. I expected better. I put a lot of pressure on myself. It was a difficult race. All the people out there made it somewhat overwhelming. My knees went soft. It was that way from the very beginning."

"Being the favourite, people expect a lot from me. I'm relieved with the silver and plan to lead-off the 4x200 relay."

"The biggest pressure comes from within. I try not to listen to the televison or the newspapers. I will continue to swim until Perth in 1998. I don't want to consider much beyond that."

For bronze medal winner Dagmar Hase the 200 is just a bonus event. "The 200 is not that important. Tomorrow when I swim the 400 that's when I really will have the pressure. In this race I just wanted to better two minutes, which I did and got a bronze. This is quite an accomplishment for me."

Family specialty, Claudia Poll wins gold, sister Silvia won silver in 1988
For larger 64k photo click on image. Photo © Marco Chiesa

There were no comments from Claudia Poll as she didn't to show for the post-tace press conference. She was preparing for next day's 400 freestyle. Rules require all medal winners be available to the media after the race.

In the prelims, van Almsick left no doubters. By qualifying first, she put behind her the tribulations from the last World Championships where she missed finals, then went on to set the world record when teammate Dagmar Hase scratched.

Again the two Chinese seeded around 2:00.00 missed finals by swimming 3 to 4 seconds off their entry times. In 1994 their success was claimed due to superior training. Now it seems the problem is inexperience.


Curtis Myden, CAN, took early lead on the fly leg , with Tom Dolan, USA, moving up at the 100. They were even on the first backstroke leg, with Eric Namesnik, USA, taking the lead at the 150.

It was Namesnik and Dolan at the 200. Myden was still third. Matthew Dunn, AUS, moved to fourth.

Myden tried to close the gap during the breaststroke but Dolan and Namesnik battled stroke for stroke for the lead.

Going into the final length, Myden didn't loose any ground and held on to third.

Tough racing payed off for Curtis Myden with first bronze
For larger 64k photo click on image. Photo © Marco Chiesa

Dolan just touched out Namesnik for the gold. The winning time was somewhat slow, not even Dolan's best this year at 4:14.90. But getting the gold was the objective.

Myden held on to third in a personal best of 4:16.28 as Dunn finished fourth with his personal best of 4:16.66. Both bettered their respective national records.

How the race was split:
Dolan 58.36 2:02.87 3:15.73 4:14.90
Namesnik 58.57 2:02.87 3:15.29 4:15.25
Myden 58.04 2:04.04 3:15.45 4:16.28
Dunn 59.06 2:05.42 3:18.72 4:16.66

For gold medallist Dolan winning "Is an incredible feeling. It is something every kid dreams about, to win a gold medal in their sport, let alone their own country. I can't describe it. I'm glad it's over. I felt a lot of pressure coming in."

"It was a tough race. I was definitely hurting when I came to the wall. Regardless of how I felt or what I time I went, I won the gold medal. I am overwhelmed with that right now."

"I was confident in my finish. Freestyle has been my strong point. I knew I could come in hard and have a good shot. Coming off the 350 wall my legs were hurting pretty bad and I couldn't get any oxygen. I knew it was between me and Eric. I just gave it everything I had coming into the finish."

"It has lifted a huge weight off my back. I was the one the U.S. was counting on to win a gold medal. I feel like I am free now." Being an asthmatic and having to race, Dolan said, "The air here is really heavy and sticky. My breathing is really, really tight and constricted in my lungs and chest. When I take a deep breath, the last half is tight and constricted. When I am racing I take in half as much air as I want to and I get a claustrophic feeling."

Dolan wins a tough race
For larger 64k photo click on image. Photo © Marco Chiesa

Paying tribute to training mate Eric Namesnik: "It's been great to train with him. I don't think either of us would be in the place we are right now without each other. We've been able to handle it, and we get along well. The bottom line is that we're pushing each other in the water. It is an ideal situation for both of us."

Silver medal winner Namesnik agrees. "Definitely it has been great. Tom came to Michigan after 1992 and it pushed me all the time to stay on top of my game and get back up on the awards stand. Of course when two top guys are in the same event, there is some difficulty and stress. After today, our relationship should get better and little bit more friendly. I will be standing on the deck now and telling him what to do and not doing it."

The race was tight. "On the last length I was breathing towards Tom's side and saw we were dead even. Tom has always been a better freestyler and my thought was to just get to the wall any way I could-ugly, pretty, breath, no breath. Tom had a half-stroke lead today."

"It is disppointing to be second. Everybody is telling me I am second fiddle. I am not sorry to lose to Tom. I just fell a little short today."

Curtis Myden's medal was the goal. "I wanted to get up on the podium with these guys. I knew how tough it was going to be. All year long I've been trying to work on my confidence. My strategy was to take it out strong in the first half and try to be in the race. If I was ahead or with them, I had to try to hang on in the last 100."

"I was confident if I was with them at the 200, I would be in the race for the medals."

In the prelims misfortune struck Finland's Jani Sievinen as he failed to reach finals, finishing 9 th.

The previous day's 200 free could have been the reason. After the prelims he was tied with Paul Palmer, GBR, for 8 th spot with 1:49.05. They had a swim-off and surprisingly tied again with 1:48.89. Sievinen decided to scratch and save himself for today. The effort obviously cost him a spot in the final.

The other top seeds made it through.

Dolan, USA, the world record holder, didn't look particularly sharp. Namesnik, USA, the top qualifier, won the silver in 1992 and Lucca Sacchi, ITA, who took the bronze in 1992, was also a finalist in 1988.


Vera Lischka, AUT, had the best start, but Penny Heyns, RSA, moved into the lead and turned first at the 50. She held on throughout the second length as Amanda Beard, USA, challenged for the lead. Lischka faded and Samantha Riley, AUS, moved to third at the finish.

Heyns glided into the finish slowing her time down to 1:07.73. Amanda Beard was second with a new American record of 1:08.09. Riley took the bronze in 1:09.18, a slow time for the former world record holder whose technique seems to be off.

Heyns gliding in to her first gold medal win
For larger 64k photo click on image. Photo © Marco Chiesa

"At first I wasn't sure if I had actually won," Heyns said. "Going to the wall I glided too long. Only when Amanda said I had won, I was certain."

"I didn't intend to break the record this morning but I wanted a good time."

"I was fairly relaxed before the final and hoped for another best time. I know my country had big expectations, but I tried not to let if affect me. Only when I came into the wall I realized I did as well as I had hoped."

Heyns has a springbok tatooed on her left shoulder, which is considered offensive and a symbol of apartheid by some in South Africa. "President Mandela and the Minister of Sport Steve Tswere support me. I know some people think it's offensive. I got it in 1991 and it was a personal thing for having achieved international status. It was a way to show my colours."

"I've been here in the U.S. for a lot of the time and I don't know what all the hype is before coming here. Hopefully my achievements here and the other members of the team would give other sports a higher profile as well as my country and my sport." Heyns on training in the U.S.A: "I went to the University of Nebraska in January of 1993. I swam four seasons for them. I am done swimming for them but I still have another year to study. I'm going to take the next semester off to try and stretch it out a bit and swim some more."

Amanda Beard, the 14-year-old who has been on a streak of success for the past year, was happy. "I like to have somebody ahead of me so I have somebody to race. I try to do better with somebody ahead of me. It make me go a lot faster."

"Of course I was a bit more nervous tonight. It was my first final of the Olympics. I had to feel how the crowd reacts. My times keep dropping and I like that. I don't know what is my future. I want to stick with swimming until I am out of college."

Bronze medal winner Samantha Riley, was amazed with the setting. "The atmosphere is just amazing. I thought a 1:07 plus would be sufficient to win."

On her failed drug test in December: "I've been cleared. I'm not doing anything wrong. I'm not taking anything to make me go faster. The pill in question is not performance enhancing. You need to ask FINA why it is on the banned list."

A new World and Olympic record by Penelope Heyns, RSA, was the highlight of the morning perlims. Her time of 1:07.02 bettered her own previous record of 1:07.46 from last March.

"I didn't go out as hard as I wanted to. I am still trying to get the feel for that race." 31.65 from 32.19 for the first 50 was a large improvement from the March record swim.

"I am not totally satisfied with the race and the time. Maybe I need to warm up a little closer to the race. That's been a problem. I am used to warming up just prior to my race. I will try to make a plan for that and concentrate a little more."

"I want to enjoy these Games and not get nervous. I won't perform well if I do. I want to be satisfied that I gave it my best shot."


The USA took the early lead as Josh Davis turned first at the 100. He gave the second American swimmer almost a body length lead. Davis split 1:48.19.

Australia, with Michael Klim and Sweden, with Anders Holmertz, narrowed the American lead. Australia had the lead at the half-way mark.

The Germans challenged at the 500 but the USA regained a slight lead, with Sweden, Australia and Germany battling for third.

The USA had the lead with Ryan Berube swimming anchor. Sweden's anchor Anders Lyrbring fell gradually behind but held on to second. Germany moved ahead of Australia for the bronze.

The Americans were elated, especially not being favoured to win and placing only third in 1992.

Americans were not favoured to win 4x200 free relay, congratulate anchor Ryan Berube who brought them the gold
For larger 64k photo click on image. Photo © Marco Chiesa

Lead-off Josh Davis: "I am just trying to smile and soak up the moment. That's all you can do and enjoy it. Almost all of us swam lifetime best. It's hard to describe."

Joe Hudepohl, second leg: "No one expected us to be there. We expected it to be a close race. We have been waiting for this for a long time. It is one of the greatest moments in all of our lives. To do it in front of a home crowd really helped."

Brad Schumacher, third leg: "I only knew at 5:30 am that I would be on the relay. I felt very confident after my morning swim. I switched from water polo two and a half years ago. Sitting here is one the most incredible things that has ever happened to me. Back then I was not on the swimming scene. Now I am here with some of the greatest swimmers in history."

Anchor Ryan Berube dreamed about just such a thing. "I never pursued it actively but I dreamed about anchoring a winning relay. I never asked for it. It was given to me. I didn't win it, the three guys sitting there beside me are just as big a part." Sweden expected the silver. "The Americans were seeded ahead of us," Anders Holmertz said. "I think we did everything right. We didn't expect to beat the U.S. I feel great about this."

Germany took the bronze. "It was definitely an advantage for the Americans to be in their home country," Christian Troger said. "We also felt motivated by all the cheering people."

1)  7:14.84 United States,USA	     Split 	   Total 
Josh Davis 				1:48.19 	1:48.19
Joe Hudepohl 				1:49.29 	3:37.48 
Brad Schumacher 			1:48.89 	5:26.37
Ryan Berube 				1:48.47 	7:14.84 
2) 7:17.56 Sweden,SWE Christer Wallin 1:50.47 1:50.47 Anders Holmertz 1:47.03 3:37.50 Lars Frolander 1:48.98 5:26.48 Anders Lyrbryng 1:51.08 7:17.56
3) 7:17.71 Germany,GER Aimo Heilmann 1:49.31 1:49.31 Christian Keller 1:49.50 3:38.81 Christian Troger 1:49.80 5:28.61 Steffen Zesner 1:49.10 7:17.71
4) 7:18.47 Australia,AUS Daniel Kowalski 1:49.42 1:49.42 Michael Klim 1:48.04 3:37.46 Malcolm Allen 1:50.77 5:28.23 Matthew Dunn 1:50.24 7:18.47

MEDAL TOTALS after day 2

Country		Gold	Silver	Bronze	Total

United States	2	4	1	7
China		1			1
Belgium		1			1
Ireland		1			1
New Zealand	1			1
Costa Rica	1			1
South Africa	1			1

Germany			2	3	5
Australia			2	2
Brazil			1		1
Sweden			1		1
Hungary				1	1
Canada				1	1

Total		8	8	8	24

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