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U.S. National Championships - Day 2

Kristy Kowal Latest Breaststroke Sensation


Russ Ewald

Kristy Kowal became the latest U.S. sensation in the women's breaststroke, twice shattering a nine-year-old meet record for 100 metres. She went 1:08.87 in the morning and improved to 1:08.80 in the final. The old mark was 1:08.91 set by Tracey McFarlane at the 1988 Olympic trials.

Kristy Kowal, the latest breaststroke sensation
For larger 64k photo click on image. Photo © Marco Chiesa

At 18, Kowal is a late bloomer compared to the past two breaststroke stars, Anita Nall and Amanda Beard. The University of Georgia sophomore has benefitted from training under a trio of successful coaches. Besides Jack Bauerle at Georgia, she's split time this summer with Foxcatcher's Dick Shoulberg and Central Pennsylvania's Ed Fraser, who has also developed Nall and Jeremy Linn.

"This is the first summer that I've put in the training," she said. "Dick has pounded into me 'good finish.' That has been my downfall. From 10 metres in, I always seemed to glide into the wall."

Beard, the Olympic silver medallist in both breaststrokes, failed to make the final by .01 because of a poor finish. "She almost touched the wall with her elbows," sighed Dave Salo, her coach.

Women's breaststroke looks to be a strong event for the USA. Seven swimmers moved into or up the all-time top 25 U.S. performers list, including 12-year-old Carly Geehr of Rose Bowl, who set a U.S. 11-12 age group record of 1:09.87.

Gold medallist Tom Dolan encountered more problems with the pool conditions than the 400 individual medley field. Dolan swam 4:18.52 in the morning, but the muggy conditions foiled his bid for a world record in the evening. The ex-Michigan ace went out in 57.52, under his own world record pace (58.29) before experiencing problems breathing. He won in 4:17.13 with up-and-coming Steve Brown, 18, from Reno, second in 4:19.69.

"I really thought I had a shot at going 4:12 or faster," said Dolan. "Unfortunately, the air here is terrible. It's really hot. This morning it wasn't as bad because it was cooler."

Badger's Cristina Teuscher edged Lindsay Benko of Trojan to win her third national title in the women's 200 free. Teuscher (2:01.00), Benko (2:01.03) and Brooke Bennett (2:01.18) all passed Jenny Thompson during the final lap after the Stanford swimmer had taken it out in 27.92, 58.70, and 1:29.81.

With the two fastest active Americans, Dolan and Chad Carvin, opting to swim the 400 IM, North Coast's Timothy Siciliano, 17, repeated as 800 free champion in 8:02.83.

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