By Phillip Whitten
LONG BEACH, Calif., June 13. BY and large it was the usual suspects who took the top qualifying spots this morning on the final day of the 2004 Janet Evans Invitational. But there were a few surprises.
Natalie Coughlin, who is having a terrific, confidence-building meet, took the top qualifying spot in the women's 100m back in 1:02.36, just ahead of her former Cal teammate Haley Cope, 1:02.58. Misty Hyman was the surprise #3 qualifier at 1:03.50. It took 1:04.28 to make the A final, 1:05.26 for B and 1:05.66 for C.
The men's 100 back prelims featured WR-holder Lenny Krayzelburg, former WR-holder Jeff Rouse and Randall Bal, but the top dorsal swimmer this morning was Matt Grevers in 56.02. Dan Westcott was second in 56.11, followed by Lenny at 56.30. Tonight's race promises to be tight, but give the edge to Lenny. It took 57.30 to make tonight's Big Final; 58.09 for B and 59.09 for C.
The three top seeds took the three top spots in prelims of the women's 100m breast. Gliding smoothly, 2000 Olympian Stacianna Stitts qualified first in 1:10.05 followed by short course WR-holder Tara Kirk at 1:10.39 and national high school record-holder Jessica Hardy at 1:10.82.
Mark Gangloff looked sharp in leading the men's 100 breast heats in 1:02.85. South African Greg Owen was second in 1:03.12 with Ed Moses third in 1:03.30. Aussie Jim Piper, winner of the 200m breast after qualifying seventh, was eighth today in 1:03.96.
The women's 100m butterfly looks to be the most intriguing — and toughest — event on this evening's program. Three women swam 59s in prelims: Aussie Petria Thomas (59.17), Slovakia's Martina Moravcova (59.47) and Jenny Thompson (59.84). Misty Hyman qualified fourth in 1:00.42. The remaining qualifiers are Dana Kirk, Shelley Ripple-Johnston and Michelle DeFreese.
Look for the top four qualifiers to battle it out for the gold tonight.
Venezuela's Luis Rojas turned in the fastest prelim time in the men’s 100 fly at 54.08, with Canada’s Mike Mintenko second in 54.52. It took 54.96 to make the Big Final, 55.64 (Tom Malchow) to make B and 56.33 to make the bonus final.
In a preview to the US Olympic Trials, the women’s 200m IM pits several tough competitors. Amanda Beard was tops this morning in 2:17.40. Maggie Bowen, American record-holder for 200 yards IM was second in 2:17.40 and Kaitlin Sandeno third in 2:17.70. Throw in Kirsty Coventry and you probably have tonight’s top four finishers.
The men’s 200m IM was very tight with Canada’s Brian Johns leading the way at 2:04.52 followed closely by Wisconsin upstart, Tim Liebhold, 2:04.55. Olympic bronze medalist Tom Wilkens squeaked into the eighth qualifying spot at 2:05.67.