By P.H. Mullen
Federal Way, Wash., April 1. FOR 1,300 meters, Lake Erie's Diana Munz went toe-to-toe with 1996 Olympic
gold medallist Brooke Bennett in the women's 1,500-m freestyle at the
Phillips 66 National Championships before pulling away to a convincing
victory and the second-fastest time in history.
The two women, who had pulled away from the rest of the field within the
first 100 meters, exchanged the lead several times during the race and for
much of it were separated by less than .2 seconds.
Then at the 1,300-meter mark Munz found a new gear and over the next 100
meters established a nearly three-second lead. She finished in 16:03.30 to
Bennett's 16:08.80. Only Janet Evans, who holds the world-record in
15:52.10, has gone faster.
In the 200-meter individual medley, two rivals for the title of World's Best
All-Around Swimmer once again found themselves battling on the final
freestyle leg for the national title.
But unlike Thursday's 400-m individual medley, when Santa Clara's Tom
Wilkens pulled away from world-record holder Tom Dolan to win by a healthy
margin, tonight's 200-m event came down to the last stroke before Wilkens
could seal his second victory.
Moving under world-record pace for 150 meters, Wilkens appeared in full
control entering the last lap. But from lane seven Dolan began a tremendous
surge and in the final 25 meters closed a body-length lead. Coming under
the flags, Dolan appeared to be gaining speed but was out touched by
Wilkens, 2:00.67 to 2:01.21.
Dolan's final 50 meters was :28.0, compared to Wilkens' 29.71.
"I come home stronger than anyone in the world," Dolan said, who believed
the split was his fastest ever. "If it's close when we hit free, the race
is going to be mine."
Wilkens' time, a lifetime best by .34, was the third-fastest ever by an
American and seventh fastest ever.
In the men's 50-m free, the amazing Neil Walker of Texas Aquatics continued
his winning ways with another start-to-finish victory, clipping Hawaii's
Sabir Mohammed, who was swimming virtually unnoticed in lane one, 22.10 to
22.68. Walker's time broke Matt Biondi's eight-year-old long-course
national record by .02 seconds. Finishing third was the unheralded SMU's
Matt Weghorst, whose previous best finish at a national competition was
eleventh at the 1999 summer nationals.
In the women's 50 sprint, a.k.a, a race for the ages, 32-year-old Santa
Clara's Dara Torres achieved her seventh personal best time of the meet and
won her second event with a :25.09, the second-fastest time ever by an
American. Only Olympic champion Amy Van Dyken has gone faster, with a
24.87. Tammie Stone of Texas Aquatics was second in 25.33 while another
32-year-old, Olympic veteran Angel Martino, took third in 25.88.
Torres, a three-time Olympian who retired in 1992, had not put on a cap and
goggles in seven years before deciding to make a run at the 2000 Olympics in
Martina Moravcova of the Dallas Mustangs won women's the 200-m I.M. in
2:14.44 over Kristine Quance-Julian who finished in 2:15.14.
The British Invasion of the U.S. Championships continued with England's
Stuart Trees winning the men's 1,500-m with a 15:10.35. Chris Thompson of
Michigan nabbed second in 15:18.47.
Moravcova and Dolan won the women's and men's high point awards.