By Phillip Whitten
COLLEGE PARK, Maryland, August 8. JEFF Rouse, at 33 the oldest competitor at the ConocoPhillips US National Championships, was the top qualifier in the men's 100 meter backstroke this morning.
The 1992 Olympic gold and silver medalist and '96 double gold medalist demonstrated he is dead serious about his comeback attempt for 2004 when he threw down a 55.66-second challenge. The time was his fastest by almost half a second since he began his comeback a year ago following a six-year layoff.
University of Wisconsin up-and-comer Adam Mania clocked a PR in qualifying second in 55.78, with Matt Grevers, Swimming World's male "High School Swimmer of the Year" third at 56.03.
Among the remaining qualifiers: Randall Bal (5th, 56.54) and Neil Walker (6th, 56.78).
It took 57.08 to make A final, 57.63 to make B.
Former Ohio State star Susan Woessner, now swimming for Circle C, was the only woman to swim under 1:03 in the prelims of the 100 back. She clocked 1:02.64, half a second ahead of Brielle White (Philadelphia Dept. of Recreation) and 16 year-old Lauren Rogers (Terrapins).
Beth Botsford, the 1996 olympic champion, qualified seventh. Cut-offs: 1:03.48 for the A final, 1:04.55 for the B.
400 meter Freestyle
The biggest news in the men's 400m free prelims was that Michael Phelps didn't qualify first. That honor went to Mission Viejo's Justin Mortimer whose 3:50.98 was 5-hundredths faster than Phelps.
Those two swimmers appear to be head and shoulders above the rest of the field as third qualifier, Larsen Jensen, was more than five seconds back.
It took 3:56.03 to make the A final, 3:57.46 to make B.
Kalyn Keller, who is having a break-out meet, led a talent-laden women's 400 meter freestyle field in the prelims. Keller, who won the 800 in a PR 8:31.54, negative split her 400 this morning to clock a PR 4:12.94 (2:06.96 – 2:05.98).
Fifteen year-old Canadian sensation, Brittany Reimer, einner of the 200 last night in 2:00.62, was second (4:13.42) followed by Kaitlin Sandeno (4:13.99) and 2000 Olympic champion, Brooke Bennett (4:14.27).
Sara McLarty was the eighth qualifier at 4:15.68. It took 4:17.94 to make the B final.
100 meter Breaststroke
Relative-unknown Scott Usher was the surprise top qualifier in the men's 100m breast in 1:01.82, the morning's only sub-1:02 swim. Ed Moses followed in 1:02.01 with 200 breast winner, Gary Marshall, third in 1:02.66 and Dave Denniston fourth in 1:02.72.
It took 1:03.03 to make the A final, 1:03.90 to make the B.
2000 Olympic champion Megan Quann hasn't done much of late, but she made an emphatic statement this morning, qualifying first in the women's 100m breaststroke with the only sub-1:09 performance.
Megan touched in 1:08.81, well in front of a quality field iuncluding Tara Kirk (1:09.35), Kristy Kowal (1:09.67) and 200m winner Caroline Bruce (5th in 1:09.86).
It took a 1:10.75 or better to make the A final. Cut-off for the B final was 1:11.99.
100 meter Butterfly
South African Eugene Botes, a student at Penn State, posted the fastest prelim time in the men's 100 fly – 53.54 – with only one other swimmer, 18 year-old Peter Verhoef (53.79) able to swim under 54 seconds.
Cut-offs: 54.80 and 55.03.
Angry at her disappointing showing in the finals of the 200 fly, 2000 Olympic champion Misty Hyman came out with guns ablazing in prelims of the 100 fly, swimming almost a second faster than her nearest pursuer. Misty's 59.67 was faster than her winning time (59.76) at the Spring Nationals in March.
Misty's former AFOX teammate Jana Krohn, now swimming for Trojan, and 14 year-old Elaine Breeden tied for second at 1:00.40.
The A final cut-off was 1:00.79; B cut-off was 1:01.52.