SWIMNEWS ONLINE: August 1996 Magazine Articles

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Anders Holmertz, SWE, like so often in the past, set he pace, leading to the 250.

The field crept up with Paul Palmer, GBR, and Danyon Loader, NZL, challenging for the lead.

Loader was first at 300, Palmer was second with Holmertz third. Daniel Kowalski, AUS, in a fast finish took the bronze. Emiliano Brembilla, ITA, the top qualifier finished in fourth

It was a second gold for Loader and an all Commonwealth podium.

Second gold for New Zealand's Danyon Loader
For larger 64k photo click on image. Photo © Marco Chiesa

For Danyon Loader, every swim is important. "I always look for personal best times. I'm pretty pleased that I was able to do two of them today. I hope this will give younger swimmers incentive to try and train harder because anything is possible."

On his strategy: "You've got be like a reed in the wind."

Silver medal winner Paul Palmer said "I am not surprised. I certainly trained hard for this past year. My feelings now are euphoric. I probably won't sleep for a week."

In 1992 Palmer finished 10 th in this event, 9 th in the 200 free and swam on the 4x200 free relay that finished 6 th. He is more relaxed at these Olympics. "This time I know what to expect. I am more experienced and have really focused on the 400 freestyle. I am more confident in my taper."

After four days of competition 17 countries had won medals. Palmer said "I think a lot of it is because the sport has become drug-free. The words 'powerhouse nation' don't exist anymore. The times have gotten a lot slower around the world. That leaves a chance for the rest of us."

Britain had a disappointing meet up to this point. "I think we just started off slowly. I was their best medal hope. We still have a lot of races to come."

In what was expected to be an Australian revival, Kowalski's bronze was disappointing. "I am a lot better swimmer than a 3:49. It's up here (pointing to his head). I have been going about it the wrong way. Worrying about things. I am getting caught up in it. All my races have been so close."

Regarding Australian expectations, Kowalski said "We had a meeting about that. Australians expect 100 percent and we need to start busting our balls."

How the race was split: 
Loader 55.49 1:53.73 2:52.14 3:47.97
Palmer 55.31 1:53.44 2:52.22 3:49.00
Kowalski 54.91 1:53.84 2:52.82 3:49.39
Brembilla 56.57 1:54.61 2:53.20 3:49.87
Holmertz 54.83 1:53.32 2:52.29 3:50.68

Two Italians qualified for the final with, Emiliano Brembilla first, setting a new national record in 3:49.35. Top seed Tom Dolan, USA, (3:48.99) missed finals, as his 3:53.91 was 11 th.

Dolan, who won the 400 IM on Sunday, was unruffled at the result and looked forward to his final event, the 200 IM.

"I was really sore still. My muscles didn't really feel like they had recovered. I would like to have felt better. It's tough when your body is not a hundred percent. But you can't be too disappointed after winning a gold. I trained for the 400 IM, it was my main event and one day maybe I'll train for the 400 free and focus on that."

The second American, John Piersma, was also in the B Final having placed 10 th.

Danyon Loader, NZL, winner of the 200 free, swam a beatifully controlled race holding 29s for each 50 all the way.


Penny Heyns, RSA, in invincible form, turned first at the 50, with Samantha Riley about a second behind at the 100. Heyns moved further ahead and had a body on the challengers. Amanda Beard moved up on Riley on the last length and closed to the finish, just missing the gold by 3/10 ths..

Riley was passed in the final rush to the wall by Agnes Kovacs, HUN, who took the bronze.
It was another Olympic record for Heyns.
It was an unexpected bonus for Heyns. "All the training was worth it. Never in my heart did I think I would take home two gold medals."

"My performance will help swimming in South Africa. I have lots of plans when I finish swimming, I want to coach."

Tasting her second gold 200 breaststroker Penny Heyns with Amanda Beard
For larger 64k photo click on image. Photo © Marco Chiesa

For Amanda Beard, winning her second silver: "It's amazing. When I get home, my mom's rabbit just had babies, I'm going to take one of them and name it Silver."

"My strategy was to go easy on the first 100, I knew Penny would go out fast. I tried to stay close. Then on the last 100, I tried to reel her in, but didn't get there soon enough. At the turn for the last 50, I just tried to kick as hard as I could."

On the colour of her medal: "I don't mind that much. I just came here to race. Silver is a perfect medal-it's just a colour to me."

How the race was split: 
Heyns 32.38 1:09.06 1:46.50 2:25.41
Beard 33.97 1:11.30 1:48.77 2:25.75
Kovacs 33.96 1:11.43 1:49.04 2:26.57
Riley 33.09 1:10.14 1:48.29 2:27.91

European record for Agnes Kovacs in bronze medal 200 breaststroke swim
For larger 64k photo click on image. Photo © Marco Chiesa

In the prelims Penelope Heyns, RSA, qualified first and bettered the Olympic record by 2/100 th to 2:26.63.

"It felt pretty good. I was not sure how fast I was going. I haven't swum the 200 since March so I didn't know what to expect. I think it will almost take a world record to win gold tonight. I haven't had much sleep since I won the 100 metres."

Kyoko Iwasaki, JPN, the winner in Barcelona in 1992, missed the final.


Jeff Rouse, USA, was in control all way. He turned first at the 50 with 26.30. He was a body length ahead after the turn.

Third qualifier Rodolfo Falcon, CUB, had a poor start and had to catch up for most of the race. His strong finish moved him to second, with Niesser Bent, CUB, touching for third.

For Rouse the four year wait is over.

The Cubans, always a threat in many sports, can now add another first-two athletes on the podium in the same event.

Rouse finally had his individual gold. "It's the pinnacle of my career. I have been thinking about it since I was 14 years old. I still can't believe it. It will take a couple of days or years for it to sink in."

"I've imagined winning for so long. I went through every scenario I possibly could. I really wanted to stay in the pool for about 10 more minutes and live the moment."

Jeff Rouse on his way to winning the big race
For larger 64k photo click on image. Photo © Marco Chiesa

"I know some have called me a choker. I've only lost a few big races, one was the 1992 Olympic final. I had a really good swim in Barcelona. I don't think of it as having lost that race. I just got beat. Mark Tewksbury had an awesome swim. In 1994 at the World Championships, I didn't feel good and it didn't matter. Losing at this year's Trials didn't matter. Nothing mattered because I knew this is what I wanted to do. Forget those losses and concentrate on this."

"I don't think this is my last swim. I hope not in any case. Before 1992 I wouldn't have thought I would be swimming right now."

The unheralded Cubans surprised many. "We have been the focus of the trainers and coaches for 10 years. We have been leading up to this for a long time and we have been lucky," silver medallist Rodolfo Falcon said.

Backstroke medal winners: Rodolfo Falcon, silver, Jeff Rouse, gold and Neisser Bent, bronze
For larger 64k photo click on image. Photo © Marco Chiesa

"I don't consider myself a hero," Neisser Bent, the bronze medallist explained. "In Cuba sports heroes win gold medals. I did a good job. I never thought I would win a medal. I will continue to swim and be happy."

Preparations prior to Atlanta were difficult for the Cubans. Their usual training venues didn't have any water. Only hotel pools have water for the tourists. They had to do their final pre-Olympic training in Puerto Rico.

The surprise in the prelims was the strong showing by the Cubans. Neisser Bent set a national record of 54.83 in qualifying second and Rodolfo Falcon, better known for his short course world title last December, qualified third.

World record holder Jeff Rouse, USA, easily qualified first. He had been the world's fastest swimmer each year since 1989, but had yet to win an Olympic individual event.


Ayari Aoyama, 14, JPN, was again sensational, winning the start with her extended underwater kick to about the 35 m mark emerging on the surface and turned first at the 50 with 27.32. But the older and stronger women raced to the finish, with Amy van Dyken and Angel Martino, USA, racing to the finish as Limin Liu, CHN, caught up and missed the gold by the smallest margin.

Amy van Dyken took the gold and Martino the bronze, both in personal bests.

Aoyama finished sixth.

The margin of victory was 1/100 th of a second. Imagine finishing second and having to live with that the rest of your life.

Amy van Dyken realizes that she just won gold
For larger 64k photo click on image. Photo © Marco Chiesa

Gold medallist Amy van Dyken proved a point. "It's really special because a lot of people were saying I should drop out of this race, that I wasn't a medal contender. To walk away with a medal, especially a gold, proves that I was right. It means a lot."

"I am not surprised at all how well we have done. Everyone said we'd be underdogs but suddenly we have quite a bite."

Missing the gold by 1/100 th of a second, Limin Liu, CHN, thought she had a good race. "I performed very well. Some of the others (Chinese) are less experienced and are finding it quite difficult."

As to the conditions in the village, "I'm not happy with the food. There is no Chinese food. Only Japanese miso soup and American steaks. I know they put a lot of effort into providing all we need. There is a big difference between western and Asian food." On drug testing she said, "I've been tested at least a dozen times this year. In 1995 I was tested seven times just in the month of August. In 1994 it was the same thing."

In the prelims Angel Myers, USA, qualified first with 59.31, a personal best.

Ayari Aoyama, 14, JPN, with the fastest time this year (58.83) put on a spectacular display of underwater kicking, swimming the first 35 m underwater and emerging in first place. After the turn she again stayed under, dolphin kicking to emerge first around 20 m. She qualified fourth with 1:00.20.


The Americans were solid favourites, so the question was where would the Russians swim Popov to get the most out of his speed.

Popov swam second and gave the Russians a body length lead.

The Americans fell behind just enough to bring the Germans into contention.

When Gary Hall jumped in to anchor the American team it was over in a few metres. He pulled well ahead and finished in an Olympic record time of 3:15.41. Hall's split of 47.45 is the fastest non lead-off relay leg of all time.

The Russians set a new European record.

1) 3:15.41 United States,USA 	     Split 	   Total 
Jon Olsen 				49.94 		49.94
Josh Davis 				49.00 		1:38.94
Brad Schumacher 			49.02 		2:27.96
Gary Hall 				47.45 		3:15.41 
2) 3:17.06 Russia,RUS Roman Egorov 49.95 49.95 Alexander Popov 47.88 1:37.83 Vladimir Predkin 49.51 2:27.34 Vladimir Pyshnenko 49.72 3:17.06
3) 3:17.20 Germany,GER Christian Troger 49.74 49.74 Bengt Zikarsky 49.01 1:38.75 Bjorn Zikarsky 48.81 2:27.56 Mark Pinger 49.64 3:17.20
4) 3:18.30 Brazil, BRA Fernando Scherer 49.69 49.69 Alexandre Massura 50.24 1:39.93 Andre Cordeiro 50.38 2:30.31 Gustavo Borges 47.99 3:18.30

MEDAL TOTALS after day 4

Country		Gold	Silver	Bronze	Total

United States	7	8	2	17
Russia		2	1		3
Ireland		2			2
New Zealand	2			2
South Africa	2		1	3
China		1	2		3
Belgium		1			1
Costa Rica	1			1

Germany			3	5	8
Brazil			1	1	2
Cuba			1	1	2
Sweden			1		1
Great Britain		1		1
Australia			4	4
Hungary				2	2
Canada				1	1
Netherlands			1	1

Total		18	18	18	54

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