By Phillip Whitten
ORLANDO, Florida, February 12. NORTH Baltimore came up big on the third night of competition at the ConocoPhillips US National Swimming Championships in Orlando, as NBAC swimmers took three of the four individual events contested this day.
Michael Phelps made it three-for-three here, scoring a decisive win in the 200 meter freestyle, where his 1:46.47 was less than half a second off his American record. The second spot went to veteran Chad Carvin in 1:49.30, as four men broke 1:50.
Fourteen year-old Katie Hoff proved that her performances last December at the US Open were no fluke as she took her first-ever national title with a wire-to-wire win in the women's 400m IM. Her time, 4:42.32, would have ranked her fifth in the world last year. It was, of course, a lifetime best and a 13-14 national age group record.
Hoff's splits: fly: 1:03.64; back: 1:12.81; breast: 1:20.54; free: 1:05.33.
University of Florida standout Sara McLarty hung on Hoff's heels until the second lap of the breaststroke, when the 14 year-old busted a move and McLarty couldn't match it.
McLarty finished in 4:44.59, a PR, while hard-charging Canadian Liz Warden was third in 4:45.69. Maddy Crippen, a 2000 Olympian in this event, was fourth in 4:49.27.
Kevin Clements gave North Baltimore its third win with a victory in the Phelps-less men's 400 IM. Trailing Trojan's Erik Vendt for the first 275 meters, Clements took the lead at that point and pulled away from an obviously tired Vendt.
Clements touched in 4:18.91, followed by Vendt at 4:20.35 and Canada's Keith Beavers at 4:21.21.
Trojan Swim Club's Lindsay Benko was the only swimmer able to crack North Baltimore's dominance, as she racked up an impressive win in the women's 200m free. Leading all the way, the USC grad split 57.58 on her way to a swift 1:58.62.
Dynamo's Mary Hill was second in 2:00.96 while Rachel Komisarz took the bronze in 2:01.08.
Canada beat out Irvine Novaquatics for the win in the women's 4x100m free relay, 3:45.81 to 3:47.90. Longhorn was third in 3A:A48.13.
Nova was untouchable in the men's relay, however. Lezak led off in 49.34 and the Novas were never challenged. They finished in 3:19.74. Auburn followed in 3:21.82 while Longhorn took bronze again, in 3:22.57. There were three sub-49.5 relay splits: Neil Walker, 49.26; Roman Barnier, 49.32; and Roland Schoeman, 49.32.