By Phillip Whitten
SANTA CLARA, California, May 20. THE first day of competition at the 37th Santa Clara International Swim Meet at the George Haines Aquatic Center more than lived up to expectations, as some very fast in-training times were turned in.
Only two events were contested this first night, but both saw meet records tumble.
In the women’s 1500 meters free, 15 year-old Kate Ziegler, FISH, showed no respect at all for her elders, swimming to an impressive win over a star-studded field and immediately establishing herself as a contender in the 400 and 800 meters freestyle at the Olympic Trials.
Taking the lead on the very first stroke, the Fairfax, Virginia, sensation kept extending it with every stroke she took. Splitting 4:14.83 at 400 meters and 8:35.89 at the 800, Ziegler cruised home in 16:20.45, lowering the meet mark of 16:22.12 set by Jamaica’s Janelle Atkinson five years ago.
Finishing 12 seconds behind the Flying FISH was Olympian Diana Munz, 16:32.43, followed by her Lake Erie teammate Alyssa Kiel, 16:38.16, and NCAA champion in this event, Kalyn Keller, Trojan Swim Club, 16:43.99.
There were no young upstarts upending their elders in the men’s 800 free. For 400 meters, Erik Vendt, American record-holder at 1500 meters, and Klete Keller, former American record-holder in the 400, did battle, with Vendt leading all the way and Keller hanging stubbornly at his hips.
That’s when Vendt, down from two weeks at altitude at Colorado Springs, ratcheted the pace up, and Keller, unable to match the pace, drifted slowly back.
Vendt, turning at 4:00.16 at the 400, came roaring home in 3:57.56 to finish it in 7:57.73, smashing Keller’s meet mark of 8:04.35 from last year. Keller, too, bettered his old meet standard with an 8:01.52 finish., even-splitting his race at 4:00.67 – 4:00.85. Venezuela’s Ricardo Montesterio was third in 8:09.49.