1999 Janet Evans Invitational

World Record Surprise From Penny Heyns

Four World Record Swims For South African Breaststroker


LOS ANGELES-South African Penny Heyns betterd world records four times during July 17-18.

First she bettered the 200 world record in the 200 breaststroke during the prelims and finals on the third day of the sixth annual Janet Evans Invitational on Saturday (July 17) at the USC McDonald's Swim Stadium in the meet hosted by USC and presented by Speedo.

Heyns, who already owns world records in both the 50 and 100 breaststrokes, swam a 2:24.69 in the prelims, only to go 2:24.51 in the finals.

Prelim splits 33.35 1:10.44 1:48.07
Finals splits 33.30 1:10.64 1:48.13

Rebecca Brown (AUS) held the previous world record in the event, swimming 2:24.76 on March 16, 1994.

Heyns, a two-time Olympic gold medallist in the 100 and 200 breaststroke, is currently training with the University of Calgary Swim Club. After posting the record in prelims, she almost decided not to swim in the finals.

"I tried to scratch (from the finals), but they (her coach and meet officials) spoke me into racing again," Heyns said. "Then I thought, if I think about it, I'll try too hard and maybe I would (try to) swim a little slower. I still don't feel like I did it. Every time I swim well like that, it blows me away. It's like I'm blessed.

"Coming into this meet, I was feeling tired. If I could go 2:28, that would be nice. A long shot would be 2:26. Never in my dreams did I think this would happen."

Easy does it, Heyns betters world records four times in two days
Click image for larger photo. Photo © Marco Chiesa

The next day Penny Heyns set and reset a world record, this time in the 100-meter breaststroke. Heyns, who entered the day as the owner of world records in the 50, 100, and 200 breaststrokes, first broke her 100 mark with a swim of 1:06.99 in prelims, bettering the old mark of 1:07.02 set during the 1996 Olympic finals.

She then lowered it again with a 1:06.95 in the finals as she made it four world records in four swims. An attempt to break her mark in the 50 breast (30.95) in a time trial at the end of the meet fell just short as she swam a 31.33.

"(The 100) was kind of the hardest race of all so far," said Heyns. "I got to a point where I really wanted that one. This morning, I was surprised to go under (1:07). My goal was to go under 1:09. It is still weird and I'm all blown away and everything."

Another great swim was by Lenny Krayzelburg, the American record-holder in the event, who swam a fast 1:57.68, less than a second off of his U.S. mark (1:56.95). As it was, he topped his own meet record (1:59.82) set in 1997. Among those he beat were second-place and 15-year-old Aaron Peirsol (Irvine Novaquatics, 2:01.90), the youngest person ever to swim under 2:00.00. Brazilian national champion and current USC swimmer Leonardo Costa (Trojan, 2:01.91) was third, and Brad Bridgewater (Trojan, 2:02.54), the 1996 Olympic gold medallist in the event, was fourth.

"This was my best in-the-middle-of-the-season swim," Krayzelburg said. "My goal was to swim under 1:58. I usually try to improve each meet of the season and I did it by six tenths. I'm excited because I have been training really hard and I'm looking forward to the next two meets coming up (U.S. Summer Nationals on Aug. 6-10 and the Pan Pacific Championship on Aug. 22-29).

"Pretty much over the last year, I've been in the last 50 (meters) by myself, so I've gotten used to it. My goal is to break the world record. If I do that, it's pretty much going to be me, so I have to race against the time more than anyone else."

Lenny Krayzelburg captured his second victory, taking the 100 back in 54.63, just two tenths off of his personal best. Brazilian Leonardo Costa (Trojan), a sophomore at USC, took second in 56.64.

"About this time of year, we're starting to work on speed," Krayzelburg said. "To go this fast now is really exciting. I think I can do something really good in the next five weeks in this event as well (as in the 200 back). I'm right where I want to be. I wanted to go under 1:58 (in the 200) and under 55 (in the 100) and I've done both. I think I'm going to be ready (at the Pan Pacific Championships on Aug. 22-29)."

Said Krayzelburg on Heynsâ showing: "I've been so close, to see her makes me excited. I can't wait for my chance."

Fellow South African Ryk Neethling, training in Arizona (Hillebrand) won four events: 1:50.71 in the 200, 3:52.62 in the 400, 8:01.36 in the 800, and 15.19.12 in the 1500 for three meet records.

"Hopefully, I'm putting things together for the nationals and Pan Pacs," said Neethling, who watched his compatriot, Heyns, set her two records. Speaking of her performance, Neethling added: "If a swim like that does not inspire you, nothing will."

Olympic gold medallist Jenny Thompson (Stanford) won her three events. She won the 50 free in a meet record time of 25.75, cruised to victory in a meet-record time of 55.51 in the 100 freestyle, and took the 100 butterfly in a meet-record time of 58.78, her fastest unshaved and unrested time.

"I felt very good in the race," Thompson said. "I scratched the 200 IM because I had a good feeling about the butterfly. I was psyched with the time. I'm really excited about how I've done here. All my times are my best unrested times. It's been a good week."

Also commenting on Heyns, Thompson said, "It's pretty inspiring to see someone have that kind of performance. It raises the level of competition and gives everyone that tingling feeling."

Joanne Malar (University of Calgary), in her pre Pan-Am Games tune-up competition, won the 200 free (2:02.22) and the 400 IM (4:42.63), the latter a meet record. She posted her third victory with a meet record 2:15.41 in the 200 IM. On the first day she swam a personal best in the 800 free (8:38.22) for second.

Other Calgary winners: Morgan Knabe, the men's 100 breast in 1:03.22; Curtis Myden in the 200 IM in 2:03.48; and Shamek Pietucha in the men's 200 fly in 1:58.98.

Another Canadian, Kelly Stefanyshyn (Pacific Dolphins, 2:14.66) won the women's 200 back.