VANCOUVER, British Columbia, Canada. May 27. HE'S BAAAAAAcK!
Former USC NCAA champ Lenny Krayzelburg, who owns world records in the 50-100-200 meter backstrokes but hadn't swum competitively since winning a trio of gold medals at the Olympics in Sydney last September, made his 2001 debut here this weekend at the Mel Zajac Jr. Invitational.
And similar to his performance at the Big O's, Krayzelburg was nothing but golden here in his specialty, winning the 50-100-200 meter (lcm)
His times were hardly earth-shattering (26.46, 56.50, 2:03.08) but it was a nice way to ease back into competition, according to his coach, USC and Trojan Swim Club boss Mark Schubert.
Krayzelburg had been serving as a Trojan assistant coach during the 2000-01 collegiate season and also kept busy by participating in a "Superstars" competition that aired on Sunday on ESPN.
However, he has been keeping a deliberate low profile in the pool. Krayzelburg said last winter that he intended basically to take the year off save for swimming next month in the Mare Nostrum Series (starting this weekend in Barcelona, then moving on to Canet and Monte Carlo); and then competing at the Maccabiah Games in Tel Aviv in mid-July.
In any event, Krayzelburg looked good in Vancouver, all things considered, according to Schubert and his swims will give him a good base to be competitive in Europe.
The ex-SC star beat Stanford's 100 back Pac-10 champ Randall Bal in the 50-100 backs and Canadian Olympian Chuck Sayao in the 200. Bal won the 50 free in 23.66 for his sole victory of the meet.
While most of the golds went to the home team Canadians, some current and former U.S. collegians — and a couple of foreigners who swim for American
universities and their corresponding club teams — were winners too.
Foremost among this group was ex-Stanford NCAA champ Tom Wilkens, who won the 200 breast (2:16.30 to Canadian Olympian Morgan Knabe's 2:17.37) and the
200 fly (2:02.22). Wilkens was Olympic bronze medalist in the 200 IM and ranks third globally with his 2:01.58 that won the U.S. World Championshuhip
Trials last March.
Wilkens' fly victory — an event he does not often swim in competition — came at the expense of Hungarian Olympian and USC standout Tamas Kerekjarto, who was second (2:03.54). Kerekjarto collected wins of his own in the individual medleys (200, 2:03.35; 400, 4:25.35) with Wilkens second in both.
Another Olympian, Venezuelan Ricardo Monestario, who swam last season for Coach Greg Troy's Unviersity of Florida Gators, won the mile (15:39.76).
Canadian Olympian Rhianon Leier, who swam collegiately for Miami, was a triple champ in the breaststrokes, winning the 50 in 32.81, the 100 in 1:11.30 and the 200 in 2:33.93. Leier may represent her country in the
World Championships this summer in Fukuoka.
Countryman Knabe won the 50-100 breast races in 28.95-1:02.34. Second in the 50 breast was former Stanford standout Patrick Fowler, who still holds the national prep record in the 100 yard breast.
Scotland's Alison Sheppard, who trains in Canada but represents Great Britain internationally and currently ranks No. 1 globally in the 50 free (25.07 from the British Trials in Manchester last month), won the 50-100 frees in 25.63-57.43.
Jamaica's Janelle Atkinson, an All-America for Florida this past season and holder of the national prep record in the 500 yard free, was tops in the 400-800 frees (4:18.29-8:46.86).
Canada also received a strong performance from Olympian Mike Mintenko, who swam collegiately for Coach Jim Reitz at the University of Nevada-Las Vegas.
Double M won the 50-100 flys (25.09-53.81), was a 100 fly finalst at Sydney, and holds the Canadian records in both events. His 52.58 100 record ranked him seventh globally last year.
One other American who won here was Terrapin Swim Club's (Concord, CA) Laura Davis, who clocked 2:18.94 in the 200 IM to splash past hometown favorite Kelly Doody (2:20.47). Doody earlier had taken first in the 200 free.