By Phillip Whitten
FEDERAL WAY, Wash., December 5. THEY call it the US Open, but foreign swimmers took six of the eight individual events on offer tonight at the King Aquatic Center, and one of the two relays.
No one left disappointed, however, as the evening's events were exciting and very fast — and the power outage that delayed proceedings last night (shades of Nashville!) did not recur.
In another giant step in his recovery after shoulder surgery last July, 2000 Olympic champion and world record-holder Lenny Krayzelburg won the 100 meter backstroke with a swift 55.35. It was unclear whether Lenny would even swim this evening after he scratched last night's 200 meter dorsal final due to pain.
"I have some good days and some bad days," Krayzelburg said. "It's still in
somewhat of a rehabilitation state for me. I did pretty good, I thought, for now, because I didn't know what to expect. This was my first race since my surgery five months ago, so I thought I did pretty well.
"Basically the goal was to set a standard at this meet and get better and
better with each meet. You go out there and set a benchmark, see where you
are and go from there."
Finishing in a tie for second were Stanford training mates Jeff Rouse and Randall Bal in 56.16. The 33 year-old Rouse, the 1996 Olympic champion, is making a comeback in a bid to earn a berth on his third Olympic team.
The University of Florida's Sara McLarty notched the other US win this evening, as she came storming from behind to nip 14 year-old Kathryn Hoff of North Baltimore A.C., 4:45.38 to 4:45.82, as both women scored PRs. Hoff, who set a national age group record for girls 13-14 yesterday in the 200 IM, is the sensation of this meet.
"I was just thinking, 'Someone on this team (Florida) needs a gold medal.
Please swim a little faster, Sara – just get home,'" McClarty said. "It was
an amazing race… I just swam the 200 free in consols, and my freestyle was feeling really good, so I was relying on it on that last 100 a lot,
and it worked."
Canadians won four individual events as well as one of the relays. Brent Hayden held off a fast-closing Klete Keller to take the men's 200m free in 1:48.80, half a second ahead of Keller (1:49.38). They were the only two swimmers under 1:50.
Mike Mintenko swam 52.94 — the same time WR-holder Ian Crocker recorded yesterday at the Texas Invite — to win the 100 fly. Only Southern Connecticut's Ben Michaelson, the Pan Am champion, challenged him, touching second in 53.62.
Brian Johns won his second event in meet record time when he touched first in the 400 IM in 4:18.91. Yesterday Johns won the 200 IM in 2:00.94. The British Columbia student led a 1-2-3 foreign finish as Japan's Takahiro Mori was second (4:20.60) and New Zealand's Dean Kent third (4:25.14). Tom Wilkens was the fastest American, swimming 4:26.26 to place fourth.
Jennifer Button struck gold for the Canadian women, taking the 100m fly in 59.97, one-hundredth ahead of Rachel Komisarz. Misty Hyman, the top qualifier at 59.97, was third in 1:00.29.
The band wasn't just playing "Oh Canada" this evening. There were other catchy tunes as well. Holland's Marleen Veldhuis notched her second win of the meet, taking the 200m free in 2:00.78 ahead of Japan's Sachiko Yamada (2:01.42). The USA's Colleen Lanne was third in 2:01.68. Yesterday, Veldhuis blazed a 25.24 50 free.
Kiwi Hannah McLean won the 100m back in 1:02.26, three-tenths ahead of Diana MacManus (1:02.56) with 2000 Olympian Courtney Shealy third in 1:02.90.
Irvine Novaquatics nipped Canada to take the women's 400m medley relay, 4:09.54 to 4:10.12.
Canada turned the tables in the men's medley, touching in a fast 3:42.16, with Irvine Nova second more than six seconds in arrears.