SWIMNEWS ONLINE: March 1996 Magazine Articles

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Nick Thierry

The U.S. Swimming team has relinquished its customary frontrunner position at the Olympics and will be trying to catch Australians, Russians, Germans and the Chinese women.

No American records were set at the seven-day Olympic Trials for the first time in 76 years, while 20 of 26 races posted slower winning times than at the 1992 trials.

All hopes will be on Tom Dolan, winner of the 400 free, 200-400 I.M. who recovered sufficiently from fatigue (overtraining) to win the 400 I.M. just four-tenths of a second off his world record. He finished in 4:12.72. Just a few weeks ago his coaches were worried about his ability to finish. In January he came down with a variety of aches and illnesses, weakened by overtraining and asthma and allergies that always hamper him. Doctors ordered almost complete rest leading in the trials.

American hopes will rest on Tom Dolan's broad shoulders. For larger 64k photo click on image. Photo © Marco Chiesa

Men's highlights:

Gary Hall, 21, will swim the 50 and 100 free, and anchor the 4x100 free relay. All three should be medal prospects.

David Fox, earned a spot in the 50 free and a potential 4x100m free relay leg. For larger 64k photo click on image. Photo © Marco Chiesa

John Piersma, 21, won the 200 free in 1:48.97 slower than the winning time for the last two U.S. trials., the 4x200 free relay will be hard pressed against the Australians, Russians, Germans, New Zealanders etc. Piersma will also swim the 400 free, finishing second to room mate Dolan.

Carlton Bruner, 24, whose hometown is Atlanta won the 1500 free in 15:12.85, a time five seconds slower than the 1992 trials winner, and hardly a threat internationally.

Jeff Rouse, 26, finished second with 55.15, to Tripp Schwenk, 24, winning in 54.96 the 100 back. Rouse has a history of seconds at the important races. Brad Bridgewater,22 and Schwenk took the 200 back in just under two minutes. Not likely good enough to challenge the Europeans.

Jeremy Linn, 20, was the upset winner of the 100 breast in 1:01.94. Kurt Grote, 22, finished second and won the 200 in 2:14.22. No medals likely.

John Hargis, 21 and veteran Mark Henderson, 26 earned 100 fly spots while Mel Stewart, 27, finished third in the 200 fly as Tom Malchow, 20 and Ray Carey,22 touched ahead. Stewart won gold in 1992. Pankratov should not feel threatened.

Dolan and veteran Greg Burgess, 24, will swim the 200 I.M. but will be no match for Finland's Sievinen. In the 400 I.M., Eric Namesnik, 25, will be the second entry.

Women's highlights:

In the women's sprints Amy Van Dyken, 23, won the 50 and 100 free, with veteran Angel Martino, 28, second in both. Everyone's favourite, Jenny Thompson, 23, missed an individual spot, but will swim on the 4x100 free relay. Van Dyken said. "It's cool, but very weird. Jenny is the best. I've been doing a lot more endurance work and that's probably why I was so strong in the last metres."

Christina Teuscher, 17, won the 200 free 1:59.50, finishing second in the 400 free. Veteran Janet Evans, 24, won the 400 free 4:10.97 and finished second in the 800 free 8:33.60.
Brooke Bennett, 15, clinched 800 free over record holder Evans. For larger 64k photo click on image. Photo © Marco Chiesa

Brooke Bennett, 15, won the 800 free 8:31.41 just ahead of world record holder and two-time Olympic champion Evans. But with a worldwide distance decline, this could turn into one of the stronger medal prospect events.

One of the three 14-year-olds on the women's team Beth Botsford won the 200 back 2:10.66, finished second in the 100 1:01.59, with veteran Whitney Hedgepeth, 24, taking the shorter distance 1:01.52 and placing second in the longer 2:12.10.
One of three 14 - year - olds on the team, breaststroke winner Amanda Beard. For larger 64k photo click on image. Photo © Marco Chiesa

Amanda Beard, 14, took both breaststrokes 1:08.36 and 2:26.25 as the third 14-year-old Jilen Siroky finished second in the 200 with 2:28.23. These three are the youngest American Olympic swimmers in 20 years. Kristine Quance, 20, finished second in the 100 breast 1:09.72, the day after she was disqualified for an illegal turn in the prelims of the 400 I.M. where she had qualified first. Subsequently she added another spot in the 200 I.M.

Angel Martino, clinched the 100 fly in 59.63 (a lifetime best of 59.40 in the prelims) with Van Dyken second and favoured Jenny Thompson, fourth.
Angel Martino, 28, took three individual spots. For larger 64k photo click on image. Photo © Marco Chiesa

Martino, after her 1988 crash landing for steroid use and a two-year suspension, spends less time in the pool and more in cross-training with weights, biking and running. At 5 feet 4 inches, weighing a muscular 150 pounds, can bench-press 200 pounds and leg-press 700 pounds. Allison Wagner, 18, won both indvidual medleys, 2:13.71 and 4:41.61.

Some theories regarding the American decline: The rise of other countries. Too much emphasis on practicing and not enough international competition. The de-emphasis on distance training favouring sprints. Government legislated gender-equity eliminating men's programs. A weakened club program where development takes place.

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