By Phillip Whitten
FEDERAL WAY, Washington, December 4. HOMETOWN girl Megan Quann re-emerged after nearly two years of low-profile swimming to turn in the outstanding performance on the first night of competition at the U.S. Open in Federal Way.
Quann, the 2000 Olympic champion in the 100 meter breaststroke, now swimming for the South Sound Titans, took the lead at the start of the 100 breast tonight, turned well ahead of the field at 32.03, and was never challenged. Her time of 1:08.13 vaulted her to sixth in the world this year, just ahead of instate rival Tara Kirk.
Kirk, the defending NCAA champion in the 100 breast, was second tonight in 1:08.99.
Interestingly, the next five finishers were foreigners, while Kristy Kowal, a silver medalist in Sydney in the 200 breast, was eighth.
The men's 100 breast also produced some interesting results. Dutchman Thijs van Valkengoed clocked a national record 1:01.52 to take the event ahead of fast-closing Scott Usher at 1:01.85, a PR. Usher, a student at the University of Wyoming, is setting himself up as a major challenger to favorites Ed Moses and Brendan Hansen at the US Olympic Trials.
World and Olympic champion Yana Klochkova won the women's 200 IM in a solid 2:14.34. No surprise there. The surprise came in the #2 spot. In a field that included Olympians Joanne Malar and Kristy Kowal, as well as perennial NCAA contender Michala Kwasny, the runner-up spot went to 14 year-old Kathryn Hoff in 2:16.26. Kathryn swims for the North Baltimore A.C., which has a pretty good male medley swimmer.
In the men's IM, Canada's Brian Johns swam his best time this year — 2:00.91 — to win convincingly over Ryan Lochte, at 2:02.53. Johns, WR-holder in the short course 400 IM, took the lead at the halfway mark from Japan's Takahiro Mori, then pulled away on the breaststroke.
The winners of the women's and men's 400 free used the same strategy to secure their victories. In the women's race, Japan's Sachiko Yamada, WR-holder in the short course 800, clocked 4:10.04, more than 2-1/2 seconds ahead of defending Olympic champ, Brooke Bennett, at 4:12.69. Both Yamada and Bennett passed the early leader, Rachel Komisarz, at the 250 mark. Komisarz hung in tough, finishing in 4:13.05.
In the men's race, former US record-holder Klete Keller lay back in third place at the 200 meter mark. By 300 meters he had the lead, and he held off fast-closing teammate Peter Vanderkaay to win with a negative-split 3:51.87 to Vanderkaay's 3:52.94.
Jamie Reid, a former Washingtonian, celebrated her return with a hard-fought win in the 200 back over Cnada's Jennifer Fratesi, 2:14.30 to 2:14.89. Reid jumped into the lead after the first turn, gradually stretching it over the next 100 meters. Fratesi had something left on the final lap, as she cut Reid's margin almost in half. But it was too little, too late.
New Zealand's Cameron Gibson was the winner of the men's 200 back. His 2:01.31 was exactly two seconds faster than runner-up Chris DeJong. Gibson took the lead at the 100 (59.48 split) and steadily extended it.
Comebacker Jeff Rouse, 33, took the B Final in 2:04.34, a time that would have placed him fifth in the A Final. The time bodes well for Rouse in the 100 meters backstroke, the event in which he formerly held the world record and in which he won gold at the Atlanta Olympics.
Defending Olympic champion Lenny Krayzelburg, back in competition after two shoulder surgeries, qualified second in 2:03.57 but scratched the final.
The women's 50 was a Dutch Treat, as two Dutch girls took the top two spots — and Inky De Bruijn didn't even swim! Marleen Veldhuis, 24, swam a PR 25.24 to win with ease over teammate Chantal Groot, 25.83. Maritza Correia was third in 25.86, followed by 16 year-old Dana Vollmer at 25.89.
1988 Olympian Trina Radke, on the comeback trail, was fifth in 26.06.
Texas' Colleen Lanne took the B Final in 25.86, which would have tied her for third in the A Final. Masters swimmer Peggy Gross, 34, swam a solid 27.13, to finish 48th out of 115 competitors.
Jason Lezak asserted his dominance in the men's 50 free, clocking a swift 22.34, well ahead of Holland's Johan Kenkhuis, 22.76. Lezak led four Irvine Nova swimmers in the final. Gabe Woodward was third, Luke Anderson fourth and Scott Tucker fifth.
800 Free Relay
Canada took both the women's and men's 4 x 200 freestyle relays. In the women's race, the Canucks' 8:14.56 was a shade ahead of New Zealand, at 8:14.80. The men's race was not nearly as close, with Team Canada clocking 7:20.47, seven seconds ahead of the University of Michigan. Brian Johns led off for Canada in 1:49.66.