FT. LAUDERDALE, April 26. IT was that noted worldly philospher, sage and former Major League pitching star Satchel Page who once opined: "Never look back; somebody may be gaining on you."
This advice is particularly appropriate in view of the results from the YMCA Short Course Nationals held at the Hall of Fame Pool here April 5-7, where Montgomery's 16-year-old Amy Wheatley sent a message to Mlles. Tara Kirk and Agnes Kovacs: "I'm gaining on you — fast."
The Montgomery, AL. youngster won both breaststroke races and in the 200 broke the decade-old meet record of 2:12.95 by former University of Michigan All-America Rachel Gustin (2:13.95), with a fine 2:12.57.
That time ranks her as one of the fastest 15-16 girls nationally.
Gustin is still the Wolverines' and Big 10 record-holder with her 2:10.37 from the 1995 NCAA Championships, where she was silver medalist.
The Super "K" ladies — Kirk and Kovacs — were one-two at last month's NCAAs in Athens with the former, swimming for Stanford, winning in an American/NCAA record 2:07.36.
Arizona State's Kovacs' runner-up 2:07.64 is history's second-fastest performance and she's also reigning Olympic and World Champion.
Wheatley's 100-winning swim, 1:02.98, was just off the meet record of 1:02.25 by former Upper Main Line Y and current Penn State All-America Corrie Clark.
Runner-up in the 100 breast was Sarasota's Anne Bavbicz (1:03.70). She leads the nation's prepsters with her 1:01.98 from last November's Florida state championships, swimming for (where else?) Sarasota High, Kim Linehan's old alma mater. Babicz, an 1lth-grader, also won the 100 fly here (55.80) and is definitely an up-and-comer.
In the team race, Cincinnati's powerhouse M.E. Lyons/ Anderson Barracudas — who last summer won both the women's and men's titles — went themselves one better this spring wtih Coach Ed Bachman's charges scoring repeat titles in both and the overall championship too.
Although she didn't set any records, 17-year-old North Central's Ashley Carusone splashed to four individual wins to take home high point honors. Close behind was Champaign County's Michael Alexandrov, 16, who had three wins and a second place finish.
Carusone started off with a win in the 500 free (4:49.30 to San Pedro's Katie Ball's 4:49.93). Then she raced to a gold in the 200 free(1:49.32-1:49.78 over Winston-Salem's Brittany Johnson), got her third
No. 1 in the 200 fly (2:00.61) with Johnson again second (2:02.20), and closed out her week's work with a 4:15.98 400 IM victory.
Her fly time was just six tenths off the meet-record of 2:00.01 by another former Wolverine star, Talor Bendel, who swam for the M.E. Lyons/Anderson Barracuda Sharks during her Y career.
Carusone's 400 IM clocking was a mere .08 off the meet-record of 4:15.90 by former USC All-America Sarah Maggio, whom Trojan coach Mark Schubert recruited from the N.W. DuPage Y team in Illinois.
Alexandrov's wins were in the 400 IM, the 200 breast and the 200 fly. His 3:53.56 in the medley was not too far off current Harvard star Dan Shevchik's record of 3:52.90. In the 200 breast he went a 2:01.41 to UML's Chris Ippoliti's 2:02.00, while in the 200 fly Alexandrov won in 1:50.77 to MEL's Marty Tomes' 1:50.86.
Grand Rapids' Scott Weir won the 200 IM in 1:49.87, with Alexandrov second in 1:51.38.
Tomes, second in the 200 fly, was also second in the 100 fly, this time behind Lakeland's Gary Grant (48.73-49.36) and his sister, Megan, won the 100 back (57.11).
San Pedro Peninsula Y's Katie Nelson scored a pair of distance wins, racing to the 1000 free (meet-record 9:55.64) and the 1650 (16:27.76). Lyons' Ball was second in both (9:57.78-16:41.12).
Lyons' Kevin Nead, 16, dominated the men's distances, winning the 500 (4:30.19), the 1000 (9:18.51) and the 1650 (15:35.88). He also chased Alexandrov in the 400 IM, finishing a close second in a pr 3:54.35.
A 3:53-3:54 400 IM for a 16-year-old boy is a very respectable time. However, they'll have to do some major dropping to get the 15-16 NAG record, which is
3:42.08 by a certain Baltimore native who happens to be world record-holder/World Champion in the 200 meter butterfly — Master Michael Phelps — who did that IM last month at a meet in Virginia.
Phelps' time is history's ninth-quickest performance (sixth performer).
Winston-Salem's Johnson, in addition to her runner-up finishes in the 200 fly, 400 IM and 200 free, finally climbed atop the podium in the 200 IM when she went a winning 2:02.10.
The men's 200 free went to Roanoke's Guwstavo Calido (1:40.16), who was runner-up in the 500. The meet-record is 1:36.42 by Champaign's Dan Trupin. In this year's Pac-10 Championships, Trupin upset Stanford teammate Markus Rogan in a stunning 1:43.83, a 17-18 NAG record and fourth-fastest performance ever (third performer).
Rogan, hwoever, came back to win NCAAs (1:44.03) with Trupin second (1:44.08).
As another example of how success at Y Nationals can translater into success at the Olympics, look no further than a cerrtain former University of Tennessee swimmer Matt Vogel, who was an obscure and unheralded Y swimmer a quarter-century ago.
To the surprise of almost everyone save perhaps himself and his college coach, Ray Bussard, Vogel made the 1976 Olympic team and won the Montreal 100 fly gold over favored U.S. teammate Joe Bottom, then a star at USC.
Another former Tennessean who parlayed success at Y Nationals into something just a tad bigger is breaststroker Jeremy Linn, who won the 100 in '94 with his meet-record 54.76, still No. 1. Two years later he won silver at the Atlanta Olympics, won a gold on the 400 medley relay and holds the American/NCAA century record (51.86) from the 1997 Southeastern Conference Championships — history's only sub 52.0.
— Bill Bell