LONG BEACH, Calif., April 21. He may not swim the 400 free at the Olympic Games in Athens. (Then again, maybe he will.) But he will be swimming the 400 at the Janet Evans Invitational in June in Long Beach, California.
"He," of course, is three-time Olympic gold medal winner Ian Thorpe of Australia, who has committed to compete in the upcoming Janet Evans Invitational, the first event of the two-month Long Beach Aquatic Festival including the Toyota Aquatics Grand Prix and US Olympic Team Trials, taking place this summer in downtown Long Beach.
Thorpe will be joined by 12 other members of the 2004 Australian Olympic swim team including three-time Olympians Michael KIim, Sarah Ryan and Petria Thomas, as well as first time Olympian Craig Stevens.
Thorpe, 21, is one of the world’s premier swimmers, having won three golds at the 2000 Sydney Games. His hopes for a repeat performance in Athens appeared to be over when he was disqualified after falling off the starting block for the 400 meters at last month’s Australian team trials.
“What a tremendous opportunity this is for Southern California sports fans to see one Australia’s most celebrated Olympic swimmers competing right here in Long Beach,” said Rich Foster, President of the Long Beach Sports Council. “The Australian’s are clearly using the Janet Evans Invitational to fine tune their Olympic talent against their fiercest competitors, the United States swimmers.”
“The Olympic Trials year always increases the importance and intensity of the Janet Evans Invitational and with a team of top Australian swimmers attending this year, the meet should be faster and more intense than ever,” said Mark Schubert, 2004 Head Women's USA Olympic Coach and University of Southern California Men's and Women's Head Swim Coach. “This is a great opportunity for swimming fans in Southern California to see a preview of the USA vs. Australia rivalry that will take place in Athens.”
“We are certainly thrilled that one of the world’s top swimmers will be competing in our inaugural event,” said Beth White, Chief Operating Officer for the Long Beach Aquatic Festival, organizing committee for the events. “Many of the world’s top swimmers will be here, making the Janet Evans Invitational a preview of not only the US Trials but for Athens, as well.”
The Janet Evans Invitational Swim Meet, June 10-13, 2004, will relocate to Long Beach for 2004 from its usual home at the University of Southern California. This event draws up to 800 of the nation’s finest swimmers and will allow Olympic hopefuls to “test” the waters of the new swim stadium, as well as serve as a test event for the local organizing committee.
Members of the 2004 Australian Olympic team that will be competing at the 2004 Janet Evans Invitational (name, events; * denote the events to be swum at the Olympics):
Ian Thorpe *100, *200 ?400 Free
Michael Klim 50,*100,200 Free
Craig Stevens ?400, *1500 Free
Petria Thomas *100,*200 Fly, 100 *200 Free
Sarah Ryan *100, 50 free
Sarah Paton *800 free
Linda Mackenzie *200, *400, *800 Free
Justin Norris *200fly, *200 IM, *400 IM
Antony Matkovich 100,*200 Free
Jim Piper *100, *200 Breast
Felicity Galvez 100,*200 Fly
Andrew Mewing 100,200 Free
Coaches: Pierre Lafontaine, Glenn Beringen, Allan Thompson, Tracy Menzies, Grant Stoelwinder