ANN ARBOR, Mich. May 20. TOM MALCHOW has been in a bit of a funk of late — but tonight he's a very happy camper.
Since the end of March Malchow, the Sydney gold medalist in the 200 butterfly and former world record-holder, has been stewing over his loss to super age-grouper Michael Phelps in the finals of the U.S. Nationals-World Championship Trials in Austin the end of March. Phelps didn't just beat the former Michigan All-America/NCAA champ and No. 1 globally for the past two years in that race; he also surpassed his world-record too, becoming the youngest U.S. wr-setter ever and also one of the youngest males ever in the history of the sport.
So what did Malchow do?
Well, this evening in the final session of the United States Swimming-sponsored Domino's Swim Classic at the University of Michigan's Canham Natatorium, Malchow didn't quite break Phelps' global standard (1:54.92) –but he swam the ninth-quickest 200 fly in history, a solid 1:55.66, breaking his own meet record of 1:55.68 set last year here at this same meet.
That time is also the fifth-fastest performance ever in the U.S. and gives the Wolverine graduate a needed boost of confidence as he prepares for this summer's World Championships come late July in Fukuoka.
"It was a good, solid swim and I'm very pleased," Malchow said afterwards. "I have nothing against Michael but I DO want to get my world record back and this was a good beginning."
Although loath to make excuses, Malchow was not 100% physically at the Trials — suffering from a virus that had weakened him — so swimming a 1:55.46 as he did was an impressive performance.
Tonight he attacked his race from the start and left Phelps and third-place finisher Robert Margalis — who would later win the mile in 15:26.31 to go along with wins in the 200-400 frees — in his wake. Malchow was out in 26.92 for his initial 50, then hit the halfway point in 56.28. His third 50 (30.26) put him at 1:25.64 for 150 and a final 30.02 50 gave him the victory. Phelps, in second after having won both IMs on the previous two days, was never a factor and clocked 2:00.16 to Margalis' 2:03.09.
The next "Battle of the Titans" will be in a few weeks at Charlotte and the question is: will the nascent Malchow-Phelps rivalry push either (or both!) to a wr prior to the World Championships.
Malchow won the 100 fly yesterday with in an unshaved 54.21. His pr is 54.09 from last year's Charlotte UltraSwim Invitational — the same meet where he set his pr and former wr of 1:55.18 . That time broke the global-standard of 1:55.22 by Russia's double Atlanta Olympic champ, Denis Pankratov, which he had swum in 1995 during the Mare Nostrum Invitational that June at Canet, France.
In the men's 100 free, Texas' Neil Walker notched his third win of the meet, splashing home first in 51.49 to Longhorn Aquatics' teammate Bryan Jones' 51.79. Walker won the 50 free opening night and the 100 back yesterday — an event where he holds the American-NCAA record in the yards version.
The women's free went to Georgia All-America Stefanie Williams, a member of the Bulldogs' NCAA Championship teams the past two seasons. Her time was 56.98 with Irvine Novas' Gabrielle Rose (57.28) next and Cal's Natalie Coughlin (57.59) third.
In the 200 breast Christina Teuscher finally lost a race. After going four-for-four the first two days, including wins in both IMs, she came a cropper to the 'Dogs' Kristy Kowal in the 200 breast, 2:32.33-2:36.57. Teuscher will represent the U.S. at Fukuoka in the 200 IM and Kowal willl swim the 100-200 breast and perhaps the 50 too.
In the women's 200 back Canada's Jennifer Fratesi, who broke her country's national-record with a 2:12.42 from the Sydney International Youth Festival meet at the Olympic Pool in early January, went a Canham Natatorium-record 2:12.83 to win tonight. She won the 100 yesterday in 1:03.03 and won the 200 going away by nearly six seconds over Coughlin's 2:18.39.
The men's 200 back title went to another Canadian, 16-year-old Tobias Oriwol, who clocked 2:00.88. His pr is 2:00.03 from the same meeet where Fratesti set her record and that time ranks him fourth globally for the year.
Elvin Chia, a Malaysian Olympian training with Georgia coach Jack Bauerle, was fastest in the 200 breast (2:22.93) followed closely by Dr. Ron Karnaugh, the world's oldest living senior swimmer at 5000 years!!! (well, would you believe 34?) An Olympian at Barcelona where he learned of his father's death shortly before having to race in the finals of the 200 IM, Karnaugh still hopes that the old Satchel Page line about "only being as old as you feel" applies to him as he continues to train with a possible eye on the Athens Olympics three years hence.
The women's 200 fly was the province of Trials' 100 fly champ Mary Descenza, who went a fine unshaved 2:13.65, winning by nearly seven seconds over Ildico Szekely.
The 800 free relay, the meet's final race, was swept by the Long Island Aquatics Club. The women won in 9:00.26 and the men followed suit in 8:11.33.
– Bill Bell
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