CALGARY - It was bound to happen sometime.
They called a National Championships and half the swimmers didn't show up. Some who showed up, did a token swim and left.
Others came, worked out before the meet, during the meet, after the meet, and swam poorly in the meet.
What's going on? Well you just can't please everybody anymore. One thing for sure, when the best have a chance to meet head - to - head, it can only be a good thing.
Competition always brings out the best. Avoiding it will always be detrimental.
For those that were there to race, the meet was just what was needed at this early phase of the season.
The attendance of the United States Resident made the meet, and Badger Swim Club from Larchmont, New York was the icing. The two American teams won 14 events.
Host team University of Calgary won 13, leaving seven events for other Canadians.
Men's Events: American sprinter David Fox was the class of the field, winning the 50 in 22.18 and the 100 in 48.95.
Ryan Laurin was the best Canadian in the 50, with a 22.51 for second. Veteran Dean Kondziolka, was third with 22.82. Kondo is now self-coached, as long-time coach Bill Barton moved to Texas.
Calgary's Rob McFarlane won the 200 free, and was pleased. "My best placing in the 200 free was third. I'm concentrating on the 200 fly. That is my best bet for Atlanta. I'm working with a sport psychologist who's helping me gain more confidence."
McFarlane's winning freestyle time was 1:49.90. He later won the 200 fly with a solid 1:58.91. Ron Voordouw, UCSC, won the 400 and 1500 distance double. He was particularly pleased with his 1500 win. "It was fun to win and this really helps boost my confidence. It was my first distance swim of the season. I have a lot of training ahead for the long course season."
Voordouw had the lead throughout. Finishing second was Curtis Myden, UCSC, in a rare foray into this event. It was part of his preparation towards the World SC Championships in a couple of weeks in Brazil.
American backstroker Tripp Schwenk was the class of the field, winning the 100 - 200 in 54.48 and 1:57.30. COBRA's Robert Braknis, taking a year-off from Florida State University and training in Canada, got seconds in the 100 - 200 backstroke with 54.88 and 1:58.89. World championship bound Chris Renaud, UCSC, got thirds with 55.80 and 1:58.96.
The best performer for UCSC was Russell Patrick who won both 100 - 200 breast over perennial Canadian champion Jon Cleveland. "This is great. It's my first win in a real event. I won the 50 breast before, it feels good to do it in this distance. I took it out really fast. I've always had the speed, it's good to use it. Every win against your main Olympic Trials rivals is a plus."
Patrick went on to win the 200 I.M. over Curtis Myden, which must have been unsettling, so close to the Worlds. Myden won the 400 I.M. with 4:21.61.
Sprinter Stephen Clarke, COBRA, won the 100 fly in 54.02. "This was a good race for me. It was my first meet of the year, so it's a good start to the racing season. It's always good the beat some Americans (Mark Henderson and Byron Davis from the Resident Team)." Calgary won two of the four relays.
Samak de Brossard won the 4x50 free and then added the 4x100 free as two of Calgary's teams were disqualified.
Women's events: American swimmers won the majority of the available events.
Amy Van Dyken, USRT (US Resident Team) won the 50 free in 25.13, added a second in the 100 and a third in the 100 fly. Richelle DePold, USRT, won the 100 free in 55.86 and 100 fly in 1:00.97, adding a third in the 50 free.
Badger Swim Club's Christina Teuscher won the 200 - 400 free with 2:01.66 and 4:12.33. She was second in the 400 I.M. and would have won the 800 as she had the fastest time from the prelims, but left for home before the finals.
The 800 free final was won by AndreaSchwartz, ROD, with 8:51.84 in a close race with Danielle Kennedy, UCSC in 8:53.96 and Sophie Simard, UL, 8:54.59.
"This was a okay swim for me," Andrea said. "This is my first national title in this event and it feels great. The turns helped me win the race. I spent some time with my coach on them after the prelims. My main focus for the Olympic Trials is the 200 fly, but this event helps with my endurance."
Schwartz was second in her specialty the 200 fly with 2:14.80. Summer Sanders, USRT, won with 2:12.95.
Badger's Lea Loveless won the 100 - 200 back with 1:00.94 and 2:11.52.
Tara Sloan, UCSC, won her first national 100 breaststroke title with 1:10.40, "It's a great win for me. It boost my confidence going into the long course season. It was my personal best. During the race I just focused on going out fast and sticking to my strategy."
Veteran breaststroker Nathalie Giguere, Universte Laval, won the 200 breast in 2:30.37. "I was very pleased with the time. It was my best unrested and unshaved time. I'm glad to be on top of the podium given the level of the competition."
Nancy Sweetnam, LLSC, won the 400 I.M. in 4:47.17. She will be going to Brazil, so this was merely a tune-up. "It was a good race," Sweetnam said. "My coach and I have been working on the backstroke and freestyle portions of my race. The work has been paying off. Tonight's performance indicates we're on the right track. I have been training in Florida. I should be a lot faster when I'm fully rested. I've had a tough last three years. I felt like I had been thrown off a horse. I'm having fun again. I know I can be faster and am looking forward to a great ride!"
Calgary won the 4x100 medley and 4x100 free relays. Pacific Dolphins took the 4x50 free and Badger SC the 4x200 free.
Notes: Summer Sanders won four medals at the 1992 Barcelona Olympics. On the strength of that she got her own show on MTV and was in demand as a commentator and motivational speaker. She even gave up her remaining university elegibility to make endorsements. But life in the working world didn't suit her. "I'm only 22, I have the rest of my life to concentrate on my career."
She's back training with the U.S. Resident Team in Colorado Springs. Will she make it?
"It's going to be tough," she admits. "I needed the challenge. I love the idea of being such an underdog."
"It's really hard to stay. It's not an easy sport," Jonty Skinner, coach of the Colorado training centre said. "She's come around a lot faster than I ever expected her to."