Breaking the two-minute barrier in the 200 freestyle is like a jinx for American women. No swimmer has broken the two minutes with any consistency since Cynthia Woodhead clocked 1:59.49 twenty years ago on August 3, 1978, for an American record. Through September 2, 1979, Woodhead lowered the record three times to 1:58.23. Nicole Haislett in 1992 dropped the record to 1:57.90, where it still stands. This year Cristina Teuscher clocked 1:59.63 to win the bronze medal at the recent Goodwill Games, the fourth fastest clocking in 1998.
In the 200 free at Clovis, Lindsay Benko, 22, Trojan Swim Club, upset Olympian Teuscher by a touch in 2:00.67 to Teuscher's 2:00.72. Ellen Stonebreaker, 13, still a year out of high school, clocked 2:00.95 for third.
"I didn't know how close it was," Benko said. "I just wanted to make it in there. What she tried (Teuscher's double) was really tough to do. She's a great athlete, a great competitor, and a great person. I wanted to stay focused and swim my own race. It ended up pretty good. I'm really excited. I looked up and saw lane six and the number 1 by it and thought ‘oh my gosh, I can't believe it.' I knew it was close, but I couldn't tell if I won or not (when I reached the wall)."
Ugur Taner eeked out a win in the 200 freestyle in 1:48.91 over Josh Davis, 25, Texas Aquatics, 1:49.08. Jay Schryver, 19, Loveland Swim Club, was third in 1:49.36.
Cristina Teuscher, swimming about 20 minutes after the 200 free, was again a runner-up, this time in the 400 individual medley, as Maddy Crippen, 18, Foxcatcher, was timed in 4:42.61, about a body length and a half ahead of Teuscher, 4:44.44. Shannon Cullen, 17, Redlands Swim Team, was third with 4:46.23. Crippen said after her win, "I needed to maintain the lead into freestyle. It's good to be making the turn into freestyle in the lead because Cristina is awesome in free. It's good to be making a turn into freestyle and see the rest of the field still doing breaststroke. I could see Teuscher catching up to me. In the last 25, I just tried to get my kick going and get into the wall. I could see someone else in a far lane during the backstroke, so I was trying to keep an eye out over there too. I couldn't have afforded anything less than what I did. If any one can run down anyone in the world, it's Cristina."
Cristina Teuscher, after swimming the double, 200 free and the 400 IM, said "I was really disappointed in my 200 free. I was angry with myself. I think it was a cowardly swim. I was a little complacent. I was worrying about my next swim. I wasn't concentrating on just one race at a time. I thought I'd be okay in the 200 and you can't swim like that. I was upset at my time. I would've liked to come back better (this morning). I was hoping to have a great 200 swim and that would carry me over into the 400 IM, but I wasn't concentrating or taking care of the 200 first." On swimming the double again, "I don't know (if I'll do it again). I've enjoyed doing it in smaller meets. They're two of my favourite events." On the 400 IM being such a difficult event, "I try not to concentrate on thinking of it as the worst event ever because then it will be, but yeah it hurts."
Tom Dolan had high hopes in his bid to lower his world mark for the 400 individual medley as his asthma wasn't as bad as Tuesday, when he placed 14th in the 800 freestyle. Dolan's hopes skyrocketed after he blasted out a 4:17.13 in the morning prelims.
"That's one of best morning swims I've ever had," Dolan said. "I really expected to get close to the record tonight." After a false start by Erik Vendt, 17, Ocean State, that DQ'd him, the next start was clean. Dolan split 58.94 for the fly. Tom Wilkens stayed three-quarters of a body length to Dolan through the backstroke, 1:05.39, Dolan split 1:13.42 for the breaststroke leg, and came home in 58.58.
"I could tell from the beginning of the fly that it was not going to be where I wanted it to be," he said. "It's kind of frustrating to be in the middle of the race and you can't do anything about it. I knew pretty much I was just going to have to get through with whatever I had. It wasn't there" Dolan said. Tom Wilkens, 22, Santa Clara, was second with 4:18.38. Ron Karnaugh's time of 4:18.83 would have given him third place, but it was wiped out, disqualified for a faulty breaststroke turn.
The women's 4x100 freestyle relay was won by Hillenbrand (Lindsey Farelia, Liesl Kolbisen, Courtney Shealy, Ashley Tappin) in 3:44.87. Hillenbrand "B"was second in 3:49.16, and Walnut Creek was third in 3:50.96.
The men's 4x100 freestyle relay was won by Texas Aquatics (Neil Walker, Josh Davis, Brent McDonald, Bryan Jones) in 3:21.40. Santa Clara was second in 3:23.09, and Trojan Swim Club was third in 3:24.89.
Barbara Bedford, 25, Colorado Springs Swim Club, came from behind and won the women's 100 backstroke in 1:01.11, her lifetime best, beating 1996 Olympic gold medallist Beth Botsford and 1998 World Champion Lea Maurer, who finished second in 1:01.42. Natalie Coughlin, Terrapins, was third in 1:01.77, third fastest in 1998 and equaling Maurer's World Championship time. Bedford's clocking was the second fastest in the world this year.
"I can't believe it. It's the greatest thing. I'm so excited to go my best time. I haven't done a best since the world championships in 1994, I'm an old lady." On coming from behind, "I have a theory about that in backstroke. It's the only stroke where you have the ability to put your head back and block the pain out. Goodness knows I can't do that in freestyle. I was hurting and hit the lane line, but I didn't care. I just wanted to get there."
As expected, Lenny Krayzelburg won the 100 backstroke. His time of 54.64 was second fastest in the world this year. Robert Brewer, 24, Irvine Nova, finished second in 55.26 and Brad Bridgewater was third in 55.95. It was Brewer's best time ever and fourth fastest in the world in 1998. Lenny said, "I thought I'd go faster. I guess my 200 was better at this meet than my 100. I focused on the 200 more. The 100 was a little bit tough going out. I held my stroke back a little and came back in the end. I'll still take the time. It's a pretty good time. Now I've won both backstrokes back-to-back twice (World Championships, Goodwill Games and here) and that's hard to do so, I am happy I did."
Cristina Teuscher won the 400 freestyle in 4:10.80 just touching out Melissa Deary, 15, Bolles Sharks, 4:10.88. Diana Munz, 16, Lake Erie, was third with 4:11.18, her fastest time. Teuscher, after winning two second-place finishes yesterday, said "I definitely wanted to end one of my better races on a good note. I felt good this morning. I thought I'd be hurting after yesterday. I wanted to swim my own race and worked hard. At the end my arms felt like they had lead balls. I knew Munz could crank it at the end. I was hoping to get far enough ahead and keep it going. I was worried about the end of the race. If the pool was one metre longer, I think Melissa Dearing would've caught me. Her swim was amazing. That's awesome. I love to see the young kids coming up. She didn't even seem to be out of breath at the end of the race." Deary was a member of the U.S. National Junior Team and had no world ranking in the 400 free.
Erik Vendt, 17, Ocean State, won the 400 freestyle in 3:51.23, followed by Jon Younghouse, 20, Texas, 3:52.00, and Ugur Taner, 3:53.65.
"I was seeded first going into today so I was hoping for a victory. I knew if I swam my best, I'd have a good chance," said Vendt after the race. On his DQ for a false start in the 400 IM, "I made sure I heard the beep before I left. I didn't feel sorry for myself. It just made me ready for today. I've trained for the 1500 all year. The 400 free and the 400 IM just come along with it."
Kristy Kowal won her second title, outstroking the field to win the 100 breaststroke in 1:08.71. Ashley Roby, 18, Athens Bulldogs, was second in 1.09.12 and Megan Quann,14, Puyallup Aquatics, third in 1:09.14. Quann turned at the 50 in 32.57, faster than Amanda Beard's split when Beard set an American record. Quann faded and Kowal streaked past her.
Kurt Grote, 25, won the 100 breaststroke in 1.01.60. second fastest in the world in 1998. Michael Norment, 23, Philadelphia Dept. Rec., was second in 1:01.85, and Ed Moses, 18, Curl-Burke, was third in 1:02.42.
Jenny Thompson won her 20th national title, the 16th swimmer to win 20 national titles, as she won the 100 butterfly in 59.74. Thompson was ahead of Mary T. Meagher's world record pace halfway through the race. Meagher's is swimming's oldest world record (57.93), holding up since August 16, 1981. But Thompson couldn't keep the pace and finished at 9.74. Thompson split 27.58, which was 17/100ths ahead of Meagher's world pace.
"I tightened up a bit. It was hard," said Thompson. She added, "My goal is to really come back in the final 50 with more training." Richelle Fox, 24, Badger Swim Club, was second in 1:00.04 and Ashley Tappin was third in 1:00.55.
In the men's 100 butterfly, Brock Newman, 21, Swim Atlanta, 53.24, touched out Dod Wales, 22, Santa Clara, 53.64. Sabir Muhammed, 22, Santa Clara, finished third in 53.75.
Bolles Sharks "A" won the 4x200 freestyle in 8:12.44 (Jenne Street, Ashley Whitney, Ashley Ellis, Melissa Deary). Hillenbrand was second in 8:15.76, and Trojan SC third in 8:16.32.
Texas Aquatic won the men's 4x200 free relay in 7:30.64 (Ricky Kovatch, Josh Davis, Bryan Jones, Brent McDonald). Club Wolverine was second in 7:31.45 and Mission Viejo was third in 7:34.31.
Cristina Teuscher won her second title by winning the 200 individual medley in 2:14.18. Natalie Coughlin was second with 2:14.79 and Maggie Bowen, 18, Sunkist SC, third with 2:17.11.
"It turned out to be better tonight," said Teuscher. "I'm happy with that. I was trying not to get nervous about this race. I told myself to just relax and have fun. I'm really happy with my 400 free and 200 IM times. They were really good times for me."
Tom Wilkens clocked 2:01.80 to win the men's 200 IM. Ron Karnaugh was second with 2:02.16 and Tom Dolan third with 2:03.26.
"I trained for the 400 IM, so I knew coming home I should be as strong as anyone else. I knew Ron (Karnaugh) would be a tough competitor and Tom Dolan could do a record at any time. To get my best time on this last day of the meet is great. It was a tough swim. I pushed my backstroke hard because I wanted to get an early lead."
Diana Munz and Brooke Bennett battled neck and neck the whole way in the 1500 freestyle. Munz touched the wall first in 16:16.00, fastest time in the world this year, and Bennett touched in 16:20.61. Erica Rose, 16:33.20, was third. Munz said, "I tried to go out fast. We were even the whole race. It's one of the closest races we've (Munz and Bennett) had in the mile. I don't think I was going any faster in the last 400. Maybe Brooke dropped off some. It's hard when someone is right next to you the whole race, especially a long race like this one." Munz said. "You keep thinking, I wonder if she's going to drop off soon. Once I could get her on the turns, I didn't have to make up so much time so I felt better." Bennett said, "After the races I've had this week and this being my last race at this meet, I wanted to give it all I had. I felt better tonight so I decided to go out fast. I'm pleased I could come back tonight after my races this week. The mile is a tough race mentally to get ready for. You never know how long you can hold on. I'm glad I could stick with it. I'm happy with my time."
The women's 50 freestyle was a classic. Barbara Bedford, by 3/100ths of a second, spoiled Jenny Thompson's bid for a 21st individual national title and a third title at these Championships in Clovis. Bedford, 25.64, defeated Jenny Thompson, 25.67. Tammie Spatz, 25.74, was third.
"I had a lot of caffeine before the race," Bedford said. "I had three cups of coffee, so I was about 10 levels ahead of what I usually am and that's pretty high anyway. I didn't expect to win this race at all. I've always been of the mindset that the 50 is a controlled seizure."
Erik Vendt won the 1500 freestyle. His time of 15.10.50 knocked 20 seconds off his best. Trailing were Chris Thompson, 15.14.42, and Jon Younghouse, 15:25.79. Vendt's time was the fastest time by an American since 1992.
"I'm feeling great. Having such a great time takes away the pain," Vendt said. "My coach always tells me if you pass someone to imagine someone else ahead of you. I just kept moving forward."
|ALL TIME AMERICAN 1500 FREE TIMES|
Bill Pilczuk, 27, Cape May Point, 1998 World Champion, won the 50 freestyle in 22.62, followed by Matt Busbee,19, Academy Bullets, and Neil Walker, 22, Texas Aquatics, and Jason Lezak, all tied at 22.72.
"I was hoping to go faster. It was a slow race. It was cool that the race was so close. I wanted to go under 22.6. It's been an awkward season for me. It's kind of a transitional season after the World Championships. I'll spend next year getting ready for the Olympics," said Pilczuk. "I closed my eyes to feel my stroke better. It's been a little funky lately, so I was trying to concentrate on it a little."
Hillenbrand (Denali Knapp, Emily Mastin, Ashley Tappin, Liesl Kolbisen) won the women's 4x100 medley relay in 4:10.33, with Badger Swim second in 4:13.96 and Terrapins third in 4:16.10.
Santa Clara (Tate Blahnik, Kurt Grote, Sabir Muhammad, Dod Wales) won the men's 4x100 medley relay in 3:41.96. Hillenbrand was second in 3:43.99 and Irving Nova was third in 3:44.68.
The final team standings were: Men: Santa Clara, 361 points. Women: Hillenbrand, 351 points. Combined standings: Hillenbrand, 504.5 points.