By Gerry Rodrigues
July 14. LOS ANGELES. JENNY Thompson destroyed her own eight year-old American record in the 100 meter freestyle tonight, the second night of competition at the Janet Evans Invitational at the Olympic Pool on the USC campus.
Thompson, 27, wearing a Speedo bodysuit, clocked 54.27 seconds, erasing the mark of 54.48 she set at the 1992 Olympic Trials, a world record at the time.
At the 50, Thompson trailed 33 year-old Dara Torres, 26.30 to Torres' 25.95. But Thompson came roaring back to pass the tiring Torres with 15 meters to go. Torres, wearing an Aquablade suit, finished in 54.47, also bettering Thompson's old mark.
Amy Van Dyken split 26.70 at the 50 and finished a strong third in 55.76, while Gabrielle Rose, who is enjoying the best year of her career, was fourth in 56.61.
Thompson's time ranks her second in the world this year behind Inge de Bruijn's world record 53.80. Sweden's Therese Alshammar is third (54.41), followed by Slovakia's Martina Moravcova (54.45) and Torres (54.47).
In another highlight, 16 year-old Aaron Peirsol came roaring back in the final lap of the 200 meter backstroke to nip world champion and world record-holder, Lenny Krayzelburg, 1:59.01 to 1:59.34.
Krayzelburg led all the way, splitting the 100 at 57.14 and turning at the 150 a seemingly comfortable 1.6 seconds ahead of teen phenom Peirsol. But Peirsol turned in a 30.21 second final 50, almost two seconds faster than Krayzelburg's 32.12 to beat the world champion for the first time in his career. European champion Gordan Kozulj was third (2:00.73) while defending Olympic champ, Brad Bridgewater, was sixth in 2:05.01.
The men's 100 free saw another come-from-behind victory as Brazil's Gustavo Borges reached down in the final 10 meters to nip Poland's Bart Kizierowski, 50.00 to 50.02. Anthony Earvin, who just keeps improving was third in 50.09.
The 100 free was very fast and very tight with 52.20 needed to make top 24, and 51.93 the 23rd fastest time in the evening finals.
Jon Olsen, 31, who barely qualified for the consol-ation final, won the consols from lane one with a seasonal best 50.94.
Gary Hall, Jr., did not swim the 100 free, but he made his Olympic Trials cut leading off the victorious Phoenix Swim Club's 4 x 100m freestyle relay. Hall clocked 51.13, and Phoenix won in 3:23.15. Hillenbrand won the women's free relay in 3:49.77.
Misty Hyman asserted her dominance in the women's 200 fly, leading from start to finish and touching in 2:09.68. There was a tight three-way battle for second, taken by Kaitlin Sandeno in 2:10.65. Kristine Quance-Julian was third in 2:11.49, a hundredth of a second ahead of Shelly Ripple. Thirty-five year-old Angie Wester-Krieg, a 1992 Olympian, was elevent in 2:17.72.
Hyman split the race in 1:01.36 ad 1:08.32, fading on the final lap. Sandeno gained a full second on the Stanford senior-to-be on the final lap, but was unable to overcome Hyman's substantial lead.
Tom Malchow won the men's 200 fly as he pleased, splitting 56.16 at the 100 and finishing in a very fast 1:55.84. Malchow stayed just ahead of the field for 130 meters, then built his speed and pulled away with ease. Canadian Olympian Shamek Pietucha was a distant second in 1:59.41, the only other swimmer under two minutes.
The women's 200 backstroke was an exciting, though relatively slow race. B.J. Bedford won in 2:14.28, as Canadian Olympian kelly Stefanyshyn and 1996 Olympic 100 meter backstroke champ, Beth Botsford, finished in a second place tie in 2:15.58.
Eighteen year-old Klete Keller, the 1999 5-K open water world champion, showed he's got what it takes between the lane lines as well. Swimming unnoticed in lane 7, Keller negative-split the 400 free, going 1:56.81 and 1:56.47 for a strong 3:53.28 final time.
Still behind at the final turn, Keller nipped Canada's Mark Johnson (3:54.15) and Mark Warkentin (3:54.38), who waged a spirited battle in the middle of the pool, unaware of Keller in lane 7. Chad Carvin was fourth in 3:56.098. Ryk Neethling, who failed to qualify for the big final, won consols in 3:55.41.
The women's 400 free was totally unlike the men's event. A very fit Claudia Poll took the lead on the dive and kept lengthening it with every stroke. the Costa Rican Olympic champion won in a solid 4:09.04, separated from Kaitlin Sandeno (4;14.35) and Canada's Joanne Malar (4:14.57) by several body lengths of clear water.