SWIMNEWS ONLINE: August 1996 Magazine Articles

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Carla Geurts, NED, and Brooke Bennett, USA, were the early leaders, turning first at the 100.

Dagmar Hase, GER, made her move on the third length. Geurts fell back, with Bennett in the lead, and Hase a stroke behind at the 200.

Janet Evans, USA, was sixth at the 300.

Kirsten Vlieghuis, NED, Irene Dalby, NOR, and Kerstin Kielgass, GER, fought for third spot behind the leaders.

At the 500, Bennett had over a body length on Hase, with Kielgass moving into third.

Vlieghuis moved into third with 100 to go, with Kielgass almost even.

Passing the torch - as Evans faded, Brooke Bennett dominated 800 freestyle
For larger 64k photo click on image. Photo © Marco Chiesa

Bennett won in 8:27.89, with over a body length over Hase who finished in 8:29.91. Vlieghuis touched out Kielgass in 8:31.06.

Vlieghuis made the biggest drop between prelims and finals, a whopping nine seconds and set a national record.

American favourite Janet Evans was sixth in 8:38.91, a tick slower than her heat swim.

"After the 600 I knew I had it," Bennett said. "But I had to keep going. As I left everyone behind me I felt confident. I had waited such a long time to get this over. I felt so good in the water. I kept reminding myself to keep it together and swim a smart race. Don't go out too slow or too fast. After I touched the wall I thought about my grandfather, James Lang. I miss him. He taught me how to swim. He passed away earlier this year. We were really close. He was always so happy that he could say he was the one who got me started in swimming. This is all in memory of my grandfather and I love him very much."

Bennet was asked about Janet Evans. "She was such a great role model for me. I hope I will be a great model for kids coming up. My first goal was to make the Olympic Team. Another was to win a gold medal. My next goal is to break Janet's record. I think that is what I am going to focus on. The next two years will be really hard training."

"After the race Evans came over and gave me a hug and I hugged her. She's going on with life. She's hanging up her suits now. I think she'll always be the queen of distance swimming."

"I am going to take a break from swimming for awhile. I have two more years of high school. I want to have some fun. I might even get a tattoo of the Olympic Rings on my ankle on the inside. And for something different I will probably try skydiving."

How the race was split: 
Bennett Hase Vlieghuis Kielgass
100 1:01.90 1:02.22 1:02.80 1:02.41
200 2:05.89 2:06.13 2:07.29 2:06.83
300 3:09.18 3:09.74 3:11.59 3:11.15
400 4:12.78 4:13.57 4:16.25 4:15.67
500 5:15.90 5:17.42 5:20.63 5:19.89
600 6:19.68 6:21.77 6:24.79 6:24.36
700 7:23.94 7:26.20 7:29.01 7:29.21
800 8:27.89 8:29.91 8:30.84 8:31.06


Gary Hall, USA, had the lead for two thirds of the race. Alexander Popov, RUS, with his uncanny ability to shift gears 10 m into the wall, surged to the lead. He won in 22.13 to Hall's 22.26.

Brazil's Fernando Scherer was third with 22.29, a national record from lane one.

Veni, vidi, vici.

Popov beat the jet lag, beat the heat, and beat the crowd which favoured Hall. He came to Atlanta and conquered both sprint events like he did in 1992 in Barcelona.

Attention to detail paid off for Popov
For larger 64k photo click on image. Photo © Marco Chiesa

Alexander the great Sprint Tsar of swimming. "It was a pretty tough race," Popov said. "My lower back doesn't feel too good. I worked on my technique after the 25 m and moved into the lead."

About competing in Sydney he said, "There is a saying in the Bible. If you want to know, I won't tell you. If I tell you, you wouldn't believe me. So I am not going to tell you."

On the closeness of the race he said, "What can you expect? At the Olympic Games you have to expect everything. I came from Australia to America. It is winter there, the time difference is enormous, and the climate is different. You have to beat all the odds and conditions. I saw what was happening in the stands when they announced the American swimmers. If you win in your first Olympics you become famous. If you win in your second Olympics, you become great. If you win in your third Olympics, you become history. In the Olympic Games you can expect anything from anyone at anytime. You just have to be ready."

Popov's strategy included qualifying first in each of his races. He would be swimming in the heats immediately after Hall. He would know his time and knew what he had to do to be in lane four for the final.

Knowing what to do and actually doing it sent a strong message to Hall.

Gary Hall is not known for training very hard and Popov was asked how he would train him. "I would probably have him come to Australia and train with me and do a lot of swimming and a lot of training."

On competing in more than one Olympics, "It's hard to win once, even harder to win twice and almost impossible to win three times. If I still have enough strength in me, I will go for a third medal. I will celebrate for a while and then go back into training for the next competition."

Gary Hall thought Popov had the edge. "Experience counts for such a huge part, especially in the 50. Popov has three years on me, and that is a huge amount at world competition level. I will improve with time."

Is America fixated on gold? "I think that is true. People want to see gold medals stacked sky high. But there is only a certain amount of gold out there. We were written off as underdogs."

"I have learned about the competition and the atmosphere, the environment. Just being in it you learn to deal with it. That is Popov's advantage over me."

No surprises in the prelims. Most of the top seeds reached finals.

Ricardo Busquets, PUR, in qualifying sixth leap-frogged over a whole lot of swimmers as he was seeded in 31st place (23.21). His time of 22.61 was a national record.

A swim-off was required for 7th and 8th spots, as three swimmers tied. Bengt Zikarsky, GER, won the swim-off, but was subesquently disqualified for leaving early, allowing Fernando Scherer, BRA, and Francisco Sanchez, VEN, to move to the finals.


Krisztina Egerszegi, HUN, won her third consecutive gold in this event. She won by swimming to the front right from the start and at the 100 had more than a body length lead. At the finish there was close two body lengths of open water between her and Whitney Hedgepeth, USA.

Some gold medals were won by 1/100 th of a second. Egerszegi had a four second margin over second place-the biggest in any event

Egerszegi has accomplished a feat that only the great Australian sprinter Dawn Fraser did when she won theree consecutive golds in the 100 free in 1956-60-64. Egerszegi is the greatest backstroker in swimming history.

Best ever backstroker Krisztina Egerzegi shows the superior technique she is known for
For larger 64k photo click on image. Photo © Marco Chiesa

Krisztina's Olympic 200 performances:
	200 back 	Age 
1988 2:09.29 14
1992 2:07.06 17
1996 2:07.83 21

Winning three consecutive golds in the same event, Egerszegi was asked whether she would try for a fourth. "I plan to swim another year for sure. I want to taper down. I don't want stop abruptly. It wouldn't be fair to my body or my friends. But I don't have any plans to swim in the 1998 World Championships."

"I didn't swim the 100 back because at the 1994 World in Rome it didn't feel good. My 200 back and 400 IM felt right. I wanted to help my country in the medley relay. That's where I did swim the 100 back."

At three Olympics she has a total of five golds. Are there any favourites? "All of them. But maybe this last one is the best one."

Whitney Hedgpeth, who swam for the silver said, "Krisztina is the best. She holds the world record and seldom loses a race. She has the best stroke with great technique and she is beautiful to watch. It is nice to get to swim against somebody like that. This was the last race of my career. A year ago I didn't think I would be at the Olympics. This is the icing on the cake. I didn't win any medals in 1988 when I finished eighth."

Earlier in the prelims Beth Botsford, USA, winner of the 100 back missed the finals as she finished 9 th in the prelims.


Curtis Myden, CAN, took the lead on the fly leg. Attila Czene, HUN, moved into the lead on the back leg, turning first at the 100 with a body length on Myden in second.

Jani Sievinen, FIN, made a strong effort to catch up on the breast leg. At the 150 Czene held about a body length lead over Myden and Sievinen.

On the freestyle leg, Sievinen almost evened up with Czene but fell short. Sievinen's free leg was 28.19 to Czene's 29.04. Czene touched first in 1:59.91 in a new Olympic record.

Hungarian winning tradition upheld by Attila Czene's gold
For larger 64k photo click on image. Photo © Marco Chiesa

Sievinen took the silver and Myden touched for third in a new national record.

How the race was split: 
Czene 26.47 56.42 1:30.87 1:59.91
Sievinen 26.65 57.95 1:31.94 2:00.13
Myden 25.94 57.37 1:31.91 2:01.13
Wouda 26.53 58.05 1:32.42 2:01.45

Czene swam the 200 fly from lane two and now in the I.M. he had lane one. "I thought having an outside lane was so great because I did such a good time in the fly. I didn't see much throughout the race. I just wanted to swim as fast as I could, after the breaststroke turn (when I had the lead) I remember what my coach Tamas Szechy said 'Come home as fast as you can.' and I did it. I did my best."

"We train very hard. I am always tired. But you see it's all been worth it."

In the prelims fourth seeded Christian Keller, GER, missed the final.


Franziska van Almsick swam lead-off, giving the Germans a body length lead over the Americans.

Kerstin Kielgass held on to the lead throughout the first 100 as Christina Teuscher, USA was in hot pursuit. On the second 100, Teuscher caught up and gave the lead to Sheila Taormina.

Anke Scholz, swimming for the Germans was a stroke behind.

The Americans took a half a body lead at the 500. Taormina had a body length lead going into the last swimmer.

American women sweep relays - gold medals for 4x200 freestylers Trina Jackson, Jenny Thompson, Cristina Teuscher and Sheila Taormina
For larger 64k photo click on image. Photo © Marco Chiesa

Jenny Thompson anchored for the USA and Dagmar Hase for the Germans. The Americans had a two body length lead with 100 to go.

Australia moved into third with Susie O'Neill anchoring.

1) 7:59.87 United States,USA 	     Split 	   Total 
Trina Jackson 				1:59.71 	1:59.71
Cristina Teuscher 			1:58.86 	3:58.57
Sheila Taormina 			2:01.29 	5:59.86
Jenny Thomspon 				2:00.01 	7:59.87 
2) 8:01.55 Germany,GER Franziska van Almsick 1:58.14 1:58.17 Kerstin Kielgass 2:00.86 3:59.00 Anke Scholz 2:02.47 6:01.47 Dagmar Hase 2:00.08 8:01.55
3) 8:05.47 Australia,AUS Julia Greville 2:01.06 2:01.06 Nicole Stevenson 2:03.23 4:04.29 Emma Johnson 2:01.21 6:05.50 Susa O'Neill 1:59.97 8:05.47
4) 8:07.46 Japan,JPN Eri Yamanoi 2:01.03 2:01.03 Naoko Imoto 2:01.47 4:02.50 Aiko Miyake 2:04.07 6:06.57 Suzu Chiba 2:00.89 8:07.46

MEDAL TOTALS after day 6

Country		Gold	Silver	Bronze	Total

United States	10	10	2	22
Russia		4	1	2	7
Hungary		3	1	2	6
Ireland		3			3
South Africa	2		1	3
New Zealand	2			2
China		1	2	2	5
Belgium		1			1
Costa Rica	1			1

Germany			5	6	11
Australia		2	5	7
Canada			1	2	3
Brazil			1	2	3
Cuba			1	1	2
Sweden			1		1
Finland			1		1
Great Britain		1		1
Netherlands			2	2

Total		27	27	27	81

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