SANTA CLARA, Calif., USA, June 26. SHE’S been feted as a national hero in her homeland, Zimbabwe. Three Olympic medals, including one gold, have a tendency to generate such respect. But, Kirsty Coventry obviously is not satisfied with the accomplishments of her past.
An Auburn University product, Coventry set meet records in a pair of events on Sunday, the final day of competition at the Santa Clara Invitational. The four-day meet, featuring many of the globe’s elite performers, served as a tuneup for next month’s World Championships in Montreal. Look for Coventry to play a starring role.
The winner of the 400 individual medley from Saturday night, Coventry claimed Sunday wins in the 200 I.M. and 200 backstroke. After posting a time of 2:14.08 en route to victory in the 200 I.M., Coventry had a strong effort in the 200 back. The reigning Olympic champ in the event, Coventry stopped the clock in 2:11.48, ahead of the 2:12.39 of Margaret Hoelzer.
Preparing to contest five individual events at the World Champs, Michael Phelps found mixed results on Sunday. Although Phelps won the 200 I.M. in 1:59.31, the eight-time Olympic medalist was third in the 100 freestyle (50.15). Phelps finished the race behind Jason Lezak (49.54) and Brent Hayden (49.94). In the I.M., Phelps topped Ryan Lochte, who prepped for Montreal with a quality effort of 2:02.37. Bradley Ally was just behind in 2:02.54.
The world-record holder in both breaststroke events, Brendan Hansen had little difficulty winning the 200 distance of his pet stroke. Hansen cranked out a time of 2:15.41, which was more than two seconds clear of Mark Gangloff (2:17.53) and Giordan Pogioli (2:17.55). Earlier in the meet, Hansen cruised past his opposition in the 100 breast.
The Athens Bulldogs combination of Mary DeScenza and Kara Lynn Joyce notched first-place showings in the 200 butterfly and 50 freestyle, respectively. DeScenza covered the distance fly in 2:10.15, supplying her with an easy decision over Demerae Christianson (2:12.21). As for Joyce, she handled the one-lap sprint in 25.87, faster than the 25.99 of Lacey Nymeyer.
A three-way battle ensued in the men’s 100 backstroke, which was won by Randall Bal. Representing Stanford Aquatics, Bal managed a time of 56.19, a mark that edged Peter Marshall’s swim of 56.24.Lochte checked in with a third-place time of 56.29. Meanwhile, Kate Ziegler showed her heels to the field in the 800 freestyle, as the 16-year-old standout went 8:30.94, good for a meet record. In the men’s 1,500 freestyle, Ricardo Monasterio took first place in 15:27.43.