IRVINE, CA., May 28. AGELESS Chad Carvin just keeps swimming — and winning.
The 27-year-old University of Arizona graduate, who's had more ups and downs in his career than Jack Nicholson at a Laker game, was up Up UP this weekend
during the Speedo Grand Challenge Meet in Irvine's Heritage (50 M) Pool, winning the 200-400-1500 frees and both IMs as he tunes up for this summer's World Championships in Japan, where he'll swim the 400-800 frees.
In the mid-1990s Carvin was an all-world distance star for Coach Frank Busch's University of Arizona Wildcats, and was hopeful of threatening Australian supremacy in the 400-mile. But then a series of maladies laid him lower than low, and for a while it was touch-and-go as to whether he would check out permanently, let alone ever swim again.
However, an almost miraculous recovery a couple of years ago has put Carvin back in the swim of things. Now the veteran Mission Viejo freestyler is competing at peak form, according to Nadadore coach Bill Rose — who trained former Stanford great Mike Bruner when he won the gold and set the world record in the 200 fly at the Montreal Olympics.
Carvin made his first U.S. Olympic team last summer but finished out of the money in the 400 free at Sydney. Adding insult to injury, he saw his American record in the 400 free set at the Trials (3:47.50), eclipsed by teammate Klete Keller, who went a pr and AR 3:47.00 to win the Olympic bronze medal. And at this year's NCAAs, Michigan's Chris Thompson surpassed Carvin's 1000 free American-collegiate record en route to winning the 1650 in AR-NCAA record-time.
In any event, Carvin remains undaunted. He came back and won the 800 free at the World Championship Trials last March (7:56.39, third globally for 2001 and fourth on the all-time U.S. performers' list). He was also runner-up to Georgia's Robert Margalis in the 400 free (3:48.72-3:49.47) and will thus do double-duty in Japan.
Since the 800 is now an official World Championship event, Carvin will be going against the likes of Australian stars Ian Thorpe (world record-holder)
and Grant Hackett, Olympic gold medalist in the 1500 free at Sydney. He'll also have to contend with this duo plus Italy's silver medal-winning Massi Rossolino and other top European stars at Fukuoka in the 400.
Besides winning his first international medal, Carvin will be trying to regain his 400 free AR in Japan plus break the oldest U.S. standard on the books, former Cal star Sean Klllion's 7:52.45 in the 800 from the U.S. Nationals in Clovis 14 long years ago. Clovis is also the site of this summer's U.S. Nationals — two weeks after Fukuoka — so if Carvin doesn't become a record-setter there he can come back and try again at Clovis!
Here at Irvine, Carvin won the 200 free in an easy 1:52.12-1:53.56 over ex-Auburn All-America Scott Tucker, splashed to the 400 in 3:57.00 and the
mile in 15:43.05. Showing his versatility, Carvin also took No. 1s in both individual medleys (2:07.36 in the 200 to Tucker's 2:09.92) and the 400 (4:30.28 to Michigan NCAA champ Tim Siciliano's 4:36.37).
The meet featured a number of other outstanding American swimmers, including Cal's NCAA woman Swimmer of the Year, Natalie Coughlin (representing the
Terrapins of Concord, CA.); and teammates Anthony Ervin, Sydney co-gold medalist in the 50 free and NCAA champ a few months ago in the 100 where he tied ex-Cal great Matt Biondi's American-NCAA record (41.80); and Haley Cope, a Sydney Olympian who will swim at the World Championships this summer in the 50-100 backstrokes.
Ervin was third in the 50 (23.04 to winner Jason Lezak's 22.67 and South African Olympian Roland Schoeman's 23.02) and won the 100 in a solid 50.38.
Coughlin took top honors in the both backstrokes (1:02.79 to Cope's 1:02.86 in the 100), and in the double-century won in 2:16.60. A third gold came in
the 50 fly, where the Goldenest Bear edged UCLA rival Bethany Goodwin, 27.65-27.66.
However, in the 100 fly it was Goodwin who raced to No. 1 in a pr 1:00.69 to Coughlin's 1:00.77. It was the first time the Bruin All-America has beaten the Cal star and also Coughlin's first loss in a major 100 fly race this year. She won the Trials over Illinois prepster Mary Descenza, 59.38-59.39, and also set an American-national collegiate record en route to the 100 yard fly title last March during the NCAA Championships in East Meadow — where she also set American-NCAA standards in the 100-200 back.
Goodwin's time ranks her 20th globally for the season. Her old pr was a 1:00.71 from the Olympic Trials — a time which, interestingly, was Coughlin's
old pr too and which similarly was done at the Trials.
Yet another Golden Bear, Malaysian Olympian Alex Lim, was fastest in the 100 back (57.86 to Auburn's Jeff Somensatto's 58.21). In the 50 back, however,
Somensatto edged Scott Greenwood by a 25.69-26.04 margin.
The 200 back went to (who else?) Olympic silver-medalist Aaron Peirsol, who won in an easy 2:03.47 to Lim's 2:06.71. Peirsol leads the world in the 200 back off his 1:56.56 that won the Trials and is No. 2 globally in the 100 back (pr 54.80, also from the Trials). Making it a family affair, his sister Hayley was runner-up in the 800 free to Santa Barbara's Adrienne Binder (8:48.28-8:58.89), with the latter also triumphing in the 400 free (4:22.10).
The men's breaststrokes were divided between Las Vegas' Bobby Middleton (50, 30.11); home team Irvine Nova's Daniel Kim (100, 1:06.43); and Auburn's Kevin Clements (200, 2:27.16).
Nova's up-and-coming Michael Cavic, a 16-year-old who'll compete at Fukuoka for Yugoslavia and who set a national age group 15-16 100-yard fly record earlier this spring with his 47.10, won his specialty in 55.28 to Schoeman's 55.30. Somensatto won the 200 fly (2:03.15).
In women's competition, former Texas All-America Tammie Stone (nee Spatz), winner of the Trials' 50 free in 25.11 (third globally with Britain's Alison
Shepard's 25.07 leading the list), showed no mercy here, winning in 25.70 to "fellow" Texan Colleen Lanne's 26.04. Lanne won the 50-100 frees at NCAAs, won the 100 at the Trials (pr 55.20, No. 3 globally) and also won the 100 here in 56.32 to Longhorn teammate Erin Phenix's 56.57.
In the 200 free former Stanford All-America Gabrielle Rose showed her heels to the field in 2:02.52 to ex-Auburn star Rada Owen's 2:02.67. Owen was a member of the U.S.A.'s gold medal-winning 800 free relay at Sydney — a race the hometown ladies fully expected NOT to lose — but did.
Stanford NCAA 100 breaststroke champ Tara Kirk won the 50-100 here (32.59-1:10.61 with a 1:10.33 in the prelims) while San Clemente prep sensation Kristen Caverly won the 200 (2:31.72). Caverly will rank No. 1 among the nation's high schooler's this season in two events, the 100 breast and the 200 IM.
The IMs went to Auburn NCAA champ Maggie Bowen (200, 2:15.80) and 400 (4:48.93). Bowen, who also won the Trials' 200 IM, edged Rose in the 200 here (2:16.34) while Caverly was runner-up in the 400 (4:49.65).
– Bill Bell