Josh Davis Sets US Open Record in 200 Free at Nationals

By Phillip Whitten
CLOVIS, CA., Aug. 16. LINDSAY Benko said it was that "Fighting Trojan Spirit" that propelled her to victory.

Josh Davis said it was the time off after Sydney he spent with his family recharging his batteries that enabled him to become onee of the oldest American male record-setters ever.

Whatever the reasons, both Benko and Davis, along with Olympian Tom Wilkens and newcomer Kristen Caverly scored impressive victories this evening on the
third night of competition at the Phillips 66/U.S.A Swimming National Championships, held at the Clovis Olympic Swimming Complex at Clovis West High here.

Davis set a U.S. Open record of 1:47.13 en route to his 200 free win, just off his American record 1:46.73 that got him fourth at Sydney.

Davis now has two of the three fastest U.S. times ever in the 200, with USC's Klete Keller's pr 1:47.10 from the World Championships last month — a swim that got him the bronze medal — No. 2.

Even more remarkably is that Davis, at 28, became the first man EVER to win the 200 free and the 200 back in the same U.S. National Championship.

Last evening Davis, who has won eight previous U.S. titles in the 200-400 frees, won his first 200 back crown and what a win it was — a pr 1:58.58 that ranks him fourth globally (second U.S. behind World Champ Aaron Peirsol) and a career-best by more than two seconds.

This evening in the 200 free finals Davis led wire-to-wire and was off like a Saturn V. His first 50 was covered in 24.59 vs. 24.42 at Sydney. He hit the 100 in 51.29 vs. 51.02, the 150 in 1:19.07 against 1:18.75 and came home in a quick 28.20 vs. 27.98 on his AR swim.

However, Davis said afterwards that he took a "long rest" following the Olympics and his training this past spring and summer has been somewhat sporadic.

"I wasn't sure the record was going to happen," he said. "I feel 28 but I feel good, strong. I've been training hard a looooonnnng time and even if you take a few months off you don't lose your intensity, your base."

Perhaps the closest any other person has ever come to winning the 200 free-200 back at the same meet is the 1976 Olympics, when America's John Naber won gold in the 200 back (then world-record 1:59.19) and was runner-up to U.S. and USC teammate Bruce Furniss in the 200 free.

(And Naber emphatically denies any sugggestion he deliberately tanked the final 50 at Montreal so a fellow Trojan could get the victory.)

Costa Rica's Sylvia Poll was runner-up to East Germany's Heike Friedrich in the 200 free at the 1988 Olympics in Seoul and qualified for the 200 back
finals but didn't win.

Benko's win is equally remarkable in that she is swimming with a broken kneecap, incurred in a freak accident in Fukuoka a week before the World
Championships began.

She was fourth last night in the 100 free and this evening trailed 100 champ Gabrielle Rose at the halfway point by more than a second.

However, she came storming back like the Trojan she is on the third lap and powered home to win in a season-best 2:00.16, to bring a smile of joy a mile wide to her coach, USC boss Mark Schubert.

Benko said he knee still bothers her "but I don't think about it when I'm racing. It's a non-factor."

Benko's pr is a 1:58.86 relay leadoff from the 1999 Pan-Pacific Championships at the Olympic Pool that August, a time that ranked her fourth globally and top American.

Last year she was a part of the U.S.' gold medal-winning 800 free relay at the Olympics and she plans to make her third trip to Oz in three years later
this month as part of the U.S.' Goodwill Games team.

Runner-up was Santa Clara's Lauren Thies (2:00.71) and Rose took the bronze in a pr 2:00.81.

Australia will be out to duplicate its Fukuoka-winning feat at Brisbane (Goodwill Games site) but this trio gives the U.S. three strong legs.

In the other individual event, the 400 IM, Santa Clara's Wilkens, just back from Fukuoka where he was bronze medalist (4:15.94), used a strong
breaststroke leg to dust the field. Wilkens was third after the fly leg to leader Eric Donnelly and Chris (Bo) Greenwood, but then pulled even on the
backstroke and blew the field away on the breast leg –splitting 1:10.01. He came home in 1:00.14 and touched in 4:19.35 to Donnelly's 4:22.62 and
Greenwood's 4:23.16.

The victory was Wilkens' second of the meet as he had previously won the 200 breast last night, and he now has 15 national titles. He ranks third globally in the 400 IM and his pr is 4:13.84 from last year's spring Nationals in Federal Way — 10th-fastest performance, sixth-performer all-time (third American behind world record-holder Tom Dolan and current
Michigan assistant coach Eric Namesnik, a former Wolverine All-America).

Caverly, the nation's top prep 200 yard IMer this year, won her second title of the meet and first 400 IM crown) with a pr 4:43.09 victory — moving her
into No. 8 on the yearly list.

The San Clemente (CA.) High senior, who swims for Coach Brian Pajer's Irvine Aquazots, dropped her career-best from a 4:46.12 at last March's World
Championship Trials.

Still 16, Caverly said she hopes to be on the plane to Athens in three years and wouldn't mind seeing Brisbane in a couple of weeks either.

With two wins in two races and a shot at a third title in the 200 IM tomorrow that would appear to be a certainty.

— Bill Bell

USA Swimming National Championships
Day Three: August 16, 2001
Clovis, California


Women's 200 meter freestyle
1. Lindsay Benko 2:00.16
2. Lauren Thies 2:00.71
3. Gabrielle Rose 2:00.81

Men's 200 meter freestyle
1. Josh Davis 1:47.13 (US Open record, meet record)
2. Scott Goldblatt 1:48.34
3. Chad Carvin 1:48.80

Women's 400 meter individual medley
1. Kristen Caverly 4:43.09
2. Leslie Lunsmann 4:47.28
3. Melissa Klein 4:47.66

Men's 400 meter individal medley
1. Tom Wilkens 4:19.35
2. Eric Donnelly 4:22.42
3. Chris Greenwood 4:23.16

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