By Phillip Whitten
OKLAHOMA CITY, Okla., Dec. 15. THE water was sizzling on Day Three of the Kerr-McGee Pro-Am, deep in the wintry heartland of America.
Once again, the hottest swimmers were some of the oldest with Olympians Neil Walker, Scott Tucker, Chad Carvin, Ron Karnaugh and Amanda Beard leading the way.
The 200 IM quickly became a two-way battle featuring Scott Tucker, 26, of NOVA and 35 year-old Ron Karnaugh, swimming unattached. Tucker got out fast, taking a lead of 1.13 seconds at the halfway mark. Dr. Ron, a strong breaststroker chopped nine-tenths of a second off that lead in the breaststroke leg, but Tucker, whose best events are the freestyle sprints, pulled away in the final 50 yards to win in 1:47.84. Karnaugh followed precisely one second later, his 1:48.84 bettering the Masters record in the 35-39 age group.
Jason Lezak, 26, who keeps getting better with age, equaled the third fastest 50 freestyle ever swum, and recording a meet and pool record with his blazing 19.11 effort. The time was only 6-hundredths off the American record of 19.05 held by Tom Jager. Neil Walker was second in 19.51, with Jarod Schroeder's third-place 19.97 the only other sub-20 second swim.
Ron Karnaugh avenged his second-place finish in the 200 IM with a winning sub-2 minute 200 yard breaststroke. The winner of the 100 breast yesterday (55.02), Karnaugh led from the start over Val Kalmikovs, his only serious challenger, to pull away on every lap and hit the pads in 1:59.23. Kalmikovs followed in 2:00.98. Karnaugh's time is not only a national Masters record for men 35-39, but the first sub-2 minute 200 breaststroke by a Masters swimmer of any age.
Neil Walker breezed to victory in the 100 back, his 46.85-second effort just missing his own meet and pool record of 46.69. His split was 22.35. Jarod Schroeder was second in 49.64.
Chad carvin notched his third win of the meet, earning another $600, when he took the 500 free in 4:22.71. Only 15 year-old Max Jaben, Kansas acIty Blazers, tried to hang with the fast-starting Carvin, with the youngster finishing in an excellent 4:27.74. Carvin led 49.12 to 49.53 at the 100, 1:41.89 to 1:42.86, as the derermined Jaben maintained close contact with the veteran Carvin. But Carvin kept pulling away, increasing his lead by a second on the third and fourth 100s, and by two seconds on the final 100.
Two-time Olympian Amanda Beard, NOVA, notched her second and third wins of the meet, touching first in the 200 IM and 200 breast.
In the medley, Beard was challenged by 15 year-old Caroline Bruce, who won the 400 IM yesterday. Leading by only a quarter of a second at the 100, Beard opened up an insurmountable lead on the breaststroke leg and sprinted home in 1:59.86. Bruce followed in 2:02.29.
The same two young women did battle in the 200 breast, with the same result. Wichita's Bruce gamely went out with Beard, splitting 1:03.89 to Beard's 1:03.44. At 150 yards, Beard maintained the same 45-hundredths of a second lead. But in the final 50, Beard split 33.21 to Bruce's 34.70, to win in 2:10.62. Bruce followed with an excellent 2:12.56.
Texas Aquatics' Tammie Stone also scored with two wins tonight, taking the 50 free in 22.25 over TA teammate Colleen Lane at 22.54 and FAST's Dana Vollmer, 14, at 22.86.
Stone followed her 50 win with a surprise victory in the 100 backstroke, her 55.50 out-dueling 16 year-old Caroline Rodriguez's 55.95. Former SMU star Lia Oberstar was third in 56.02, aand 39 year-old Karlyn Pipes-Neilsen placed fifth in 57.85.
Fifteen year-old Codie Hansen, Dallas Mustangs, cruised to victory in the 500 free, as her 4:48.85 was almost six seconds ahead of 14 year-old runner up, Mandy Blevins of FAST (4:54.75).