By John Lohn
INDIANAPOLIS, Ind., March 29. FRIDAY is creeping closer and closer, so as SwimInfo continues its preview series of the World Championship Trials, we direct our focus to the breaststroke events on the men’s side. The Trials begin Friday in Indianapolis.
Barring a startling development, two of the breaststroke berths to Montreal are all but gone, seemingly already in the pocket of Brendan Hansen, the triple Olympic medalist and world-record holder in the 100 and 200 breast events. Quite simply, Hansen has separated himself from his American competition.
Last summer, Hansen highlighted the U.S. Olympic Trials with a pair of world-record swims. After cranking out a mind-boggling effort of 59.30 in the 100, Hansen came back with a 2:09.04 mark in the 200 breast. Can he approach those standards? Soon, we’ll know. At the very least, the University of Texas product is feeling strong.
“It’s been a little weird because I haven’t raced as much as past years,” said Hansen, referring to his first season away from the collegiate scene. “But I’ve been feeling better every day and I’m looking forward to things. I feel fast. This is the first time I won’t be coming off the NCAA Championships for Spring Nationals, so that’s good.”
While Hansen has the upper hand on two World Champs invitations, the remaining two slots are up for grabs between a solid quartet, which includes Ed Moses. The 2000 Olympic silver medalist in the 100 breast, Moses’ story may be one of the most intriguing in Indianapolis.
After missing out on the Athens Olympics last summer, it will be interesting to see how Moses responds. Certainly, the Curl-Burke athlete is gifted and knows what it takes to excel at the international level. It would not be surprising to see Moses in Montreal this summer.
Members of the Athens Olympic Team, Mark Gangloff and Scott Usher will also be in the mix. Gangloff, who was fourth in the 100 at the Olympics, will be a contender over both distances. As for Usher, his status remains uncertain. Last week, Usher struggled at the NCAA Championships, where he was disqualified in the 100 breast and managed only fourth in the 200 breast.
Also in contention this week will be Gary Marshall, coming off an NCAA title in the 100 breast and a third-place effort in the 200 breast. While Marshall had a strong NCAA competition, he was not as swift as he was at the Pac-10 Championships in early March. The question is whether Marshall can peak for one more meet.