By Brent Rutemiller
INDIANAPOLIS, April 4. MISTY Hyman, 23, was crowned USA Swimming’s National Champion in the 100 meter butterfly tonight in a time of 59.74. This marked her 12th national title and her first since capturing a gold medal in the 200 meter butterfly at the 2000 Olympic Games in Australia.
“Winning this event tonight gives me tremendous confidence in overcoming my shoulder surgery 18 months ago,” Misty beamed. Since winning the gold medal in Sydney, Misty has gone through extensive dryland rehabilitation along with modified water training workouts. The injury setback was so severe that Misty fell out of a world ranking in 2002.
Coach Bob Gillette from the Arizona Sports Ranch (AFOX) in northern Phoenix said, “We expected to make progress at this meet, but Misty’s swim puts us way ahead of schedule in her comeback efforts.
Misty displayed her classic fish kick off the start with 9 rapid beats underwater emerging at the 15 meter “Misty Mark” requiring competitors to surface. This mark is now regulated throughout the world for every sanctioned competition as a result of legislation passed in 1998 limiting underwater swimming pioneered by Misty Hyman. The ruling forced Misty and coach Gillette to devise a new race strategy. It was at that time that Misty rotated her underwater breakout to be preformed on her side instead of her stomach. A new plan was hatched and gold was born in Sydney.
“Now the challenge has been a daily problem-solving activity on how to overcome the combined effects of injury and a long recovery layoff” Coach Gillette commented. “She has been in serious training for only six months now. To come this far in this short of time is very motivating for her.” Misty added that, “I feel that I am on schedule to make the 2004 US Olympic Team.”
After breaking to the surface in her race, Misty went on to take 21 strokes to the wall, pushing off with 12 underwater fishkicks on her side surfacing to take 21 strokes to the finish over the back half of the race.
With a goal of 20 strokes per 50 meters, Misty smiled at her accomplishment for the day and looks forward to the months ahead as her and coach Bob Gillette ponder their strategies.