By Phillip Whitten
LONG BEACH, Calif., June 12. HOLDING a major meet one month before Olympic Trials means competitors will be in different stages of training or even beginning their tapers. That's probably the reason why some favorites for making the US team found themselves relegated to the B or even C finals after this morning's prelims. Some didn't even make the C final.
On the other hand, some swimmers are always fast, Natalie Coughlin is one of the elect. Smiling, relaxed and confident, Nat posted the fastest time in the women's 200 free this morning, 2:01.46. We would not be surprised to see her go 1:58 tonight.
On the other hand (yes, that's the third hand), American record-holder Lindsay Benko (1:57.41) barely made it into the finals, qualifying eighth in 2:03.05. Among those who wound up in the B final: Kaitlin Sandeno, Gaby Rose, Kalyn Keller aand Colleen Lanne.
Jayme Cramer was the top qualifier in the men's 200 free at 1:50.07, two tenths ahead of WR-holder Ian Thorpe. Ryk Neethling was third.
B finalists include Klete Keller and Michael Klim. Chad Carvin maade the C Final.
Canadians Lisa Blackburn and Lauren Van Oosten occupied the top two spots in the women's 200 breast. Tara Kirk qualified third while 2000 Olympian Stacianna Stiits was sixth. It took 2:35.80 to make A finals.
The men's 200m breast saw foreign swimmers in the top three spots: Greg Owen (South Africa), Andrew Bree (Ireland) anf Nuk Sirisanont (Thailand). The A cut was 2:19.63. Just missing the A final: Ed Moses and Scott Usher.
Haley Cope easily posted the top women's 50 free time, 25.25. Venezuela's Arlene Seneco was second in 25.93. Former UCLA star Keiko Price was eighth in 26.27.
Among the speedsters in the B final: Sara Platzer, Martina Moravcova and Sarah Ryan.
The men's 50 promises to be a great final with four members of the Race Club in the A final. Poland's Bart Kizierowski was first in 22.62, followed by Gary Hall, Jr., 22.63 and Ryan Wochomurka 22.65. Sabir Muhammad qualified fourth in 22.78 and Jason Lezak, winner of the 100 free was sixth, while Aaron Ciarla qualified eighth.
Among the B finalists: Roland Schoeman, ranked #1 in the world; Michael Cavic and Eric Lafleur.
Kaitlin Sandeno swam the fastest time, 4:48.60, in the women's 400 IM prelim. Maggie Bowen was second at 4:49.60 followed by Amanda Beard, 4:49.76, in her debut in this event.
The men's 400 IM promises to be an exciting final, with five foreigners in the A final. Aussie Adam Lucas had the fastest time at 4:25.53 with Trojan Erik Vendt third in 4:25.78. It took 4:28.73 to make A finals.