By Phillip Whitten
SANTA CLARA, Calif., May 23. MICHAEL Phelps, ignoring the rising crescendo of hype surrounding his bid to equal or surpass Mark Spitz’s 1972 performance of seven gold medals/seven world records at this summer’s Olympic Games in Athens, won two events on the fourth and final day of the 37th Santa Clara International Swim Meet, in Santa Clara, California.
He was also beaten by Aaron Peirsol for the second time in two races.
Phelps’ and Peirsol’s swims were among the highlights on this concluding day of competition at the George Haines International Swim Center. On this day, five meet records fell, one of them to Peirsol.
The 19 year-old Peirsol, who recently gave up his final two years of eligibility at Texas to turn pro, led all the way to win the 100 meter backstroke in 54.91 seconds, defeating an extraordinarily tough field that saw the top six finishers swim under 56 seconds. Peirsol’s time erased the meet mark of 55.13 set by Jeff Rouse in 1992. Peirsol split 26.83 – 28.08.
Phelps was second in 55.48, after turning at the 50 in 27.69, last in the field of nine swimmers. Phelps’ splits: 27.69 – 27.79..
Peter Marshall was third in 55.51, followed by Jeff Rouse, 55.66. world record-holder Lenny Krayzelburg, 55.84 and Randall Bal (55.94).
Brendan Hansen blazed to his second meet record of the meet, taking the 200m breast in 2:14.77 and erasing his own meet standard of 2:15.19 from 2001. Hansen, who won the 100 breast yesterday in a meet record 1:01.80, split 1:05.04 – 1:10.73.
Finishing second was Canadian Matt Mains, Region of Waterloo, in a pr 2:16.26. Thailand’s Nuk Sirisanont was third in 2:17.66.
Adrienne Binder, Santa Barbara SC, won a tough battle with Kate Ziegler in the 800m free, as both young women, dipped under Janelle Atkinson’s four year-old standard of 8:35.73. Binder touched in a meet record 8:34.53, a stroke ahead of Ziegler at 8:35.69.
Two Lake Erie Silver Dolphins, Alyssa Kiel and Diana Munz, took the next two places: Kiel at 8:40.35 and 2000 Olympian Munz at 8:42.96.
Erik Vendt notched the final individual meet record of this year’s meet when he ran away from the field to take the 1500 meters free in 15:11.80, shattering Chris Thompson’s 2001 standard of 15:20.84. On the first day, Vendt went 7:57 to set a meet record in the 800.
Vendt’s former USC teammate, Klete Keller, now stroking for Club Wolverine, was a distant second in 15:27.83.
The Athens Bulldog women’s medley relay ripped up the opposition as well as the meet record in the 400 meter event. Courtney Shealy, Kristy Kowal, Mary Descenza and Stefanie Williams swam 4:09.28 to destroy the old record of 4:4.46 set in 1997 by Queensland. The Dawgs were never challenged today, winning by almost eight seconds.
Natalie Coughlin won the 200 back in a swift 2:12.29, after splitting 1:04.26 at the halfway point. Her time just missed Lea Loveless’ meet record of 2:12.03, but at the end of the race she found herself fending off fast-closing Hayley McGregory, 2:12.79. Third went to Canada’s Jennifer Fratesi, 2:13.66, while Katie Hoff was fourth in 2:16.02.
Shed not a tear for young Michael Phelps, a two-time victim of dorsal specialist Aaron Peirsol, the 2003 world champion at both 100 and 200 meters. Phelps came roaring from behind to overtake Jason Lezak and win the 100 free in 49.26 to Lezak’s 49.53. He just missed breaking Anthony Ervin’s meet record of 49.24 from 2001.
The 19 year-old North Baltimore ace later came back to cruise a 2:00.41 in the 200 IM, four-plus seconds ahead of Mark Liscinsky, who edged Kevin Clements for silver, 2:04.48 to 2:04.73.
Haley Cope won the 50 free in 25.65 as six women cracked 26 seconds. Maritza Correia was second in 25.72, followed by NCAA champion Kara Lynn Joyce at 25.83.
Canada’s Marianne Limpert, 31,who is training at North Baltimore, won the 200 IM in 2:15.31, with Gaby Rose second in 2:16.46 and Singapore’s Joscelin Yeo third in 2:16.86.
Dana Kirk won the 200 fly in 2:10.17, with 100 fly champ Mary Descenza second in 2:11.01 and the ubiquitous 14 year-old Hoff third in 2:12.11.
The team scores, with just one event’s results left to tabulate, show the UBC Dolphins with 710 points followed by Athens Bulldogs with 509. The tussle for third has Club Wolverine with 442 points, half a point in front of Longhorn Aquatics (441.5), with Trojan Swim Club right behind (439).