By Phillip Whitten
FEDERAL WAY, Washington, December 6. Jason Lezak, Tom Malchow and Kim Vandenberg all scored impressive victories on the final day of the US Open at Kings County Aquatic Center in Federal Way, Washington, but once again, foreign swimmers walked off with the lion's share of the gold.
Lezak sprinted to a 49.20 second clocking in the 100m free, just four-tenths off his 2003 best of 48.78. No one else could manage a sub-50 second effort, though Canada's Brent Hayden was second in 50.06.
Malchow, the 2000 Olympic champ, cruised to a solid win in the 200 fly, clocking 1:57.61. The only other sub-two minute swimmer was Davis Tarwater, who dipped under the barrier in 1:59.96.
Kim Vandenberg won her first major title when she took the women's 200m fly in a PR 2:11.29. Fifteen year-old Elaine Breeden was second in a PR 2:12.11. 2000 Olympic champion Misty Hyman, the morning's top qualifier in 2:13.03, wilted in the evening, finishing sixth in 2:17.20.
Japan's Sachiko Yamada, who took the 400 free on Thursday night, won the 800 — her best event — tonight in 8:30.31, well ahead of two-time Olympic champion in this event, Brooke Bennett, at 8:35.43. Yamada negative split her race going out in 4:15.41 and coming back in 4:14.90 to record her best time of 2003 by two-tenths of a second.
Holland's Marleen Veldhuis, who earlier won the 50 and 200, made it a trifecta by taking the 100m free in a lifetime best 54.88, which ranks her ninth in the world this year. In the process she broke the meet record of 55.02, set by Jenny Thompson in 1999.
Birte Steven, a German swimming for nearby Oregon State, authored a convincing win in the women's 200m breaststroke, her 2:27.71 being a PR by nearly a second. Megan Quann was the top American, finishing fourth in 2:30.65, just ahead of 2000 Olympic silver medalist Kristy Kowal, 2:31.11.
Holland's Thijs van Valkengoed won his second gold medal of the meet and set his second Dutch national record. Van Valkengoed's 2:13.32 scratched 11-hundredths off the mark he set at the World Championships last July. Finishing second, as he did in the 100, was University of Wyoming standout Scott Usher, 2:15.85.
The men's 1500 meters went to Korean teen Sung Mo Cho. The 18 year-old swam 15:22.91, just three seconds off his PR, to beat Venezuela's Ricardo Monasterio, 15:24.43.
Canada wrapped up a highly successful meet by winning the women's 400m free relay in 3:48.42.