ATLANTA, January 18. IT'S about time Michael Phelps got down to business.
After lollygagging around opening night last evening at the Eastern Classic and winning a mere three races, Swimming World's American male Swimmer of the Year ducked his head beneath the waves and went pedal to the metal en route to four more golds on Day 2.
In all, six more pool records fell, bringing the total to nine in the meet that concludes tonight at the Dynamo Swim Center in suburban DeKalb.
Phelps, representing his longtime North Baltimore club, splashed to three more Classic standards, including a 17-18 National Age Group record and near American mark in the 200 fly. His 1:42.34 bettered the old NAG record of 1:44.00 by Stanford's Matt MacDonald from last year's NCAAs at Georgia,.
However, Phelps' fly swim tonight is slightly slower than his 15-16 NAG record of 1:42.10 from last spring's Speedo Sectionals at Fairfax, VA. That swim ranks Phelps No. 2 on the all-time performers'-performances' list; his time here is No. 3 all-time performance.
Former Unversity of Tennessee All-America/NCAA champ Melvin Stewart, who won the Barcelona Olympic gold 200 fly 11 years ago this July, holds the American/NCAA 200 fly record with his 1:41.78 from the 1991 championships at Austin — site of this year's meet too.
Phelps of course holds the world record for the 200 meter fly from the '01 World Championships in Fukuoka. He also is the global standard-bearer in the 400m IM, holds ARs in the 100m fly-200m individual medley and ranks No. 2 globally all-time in both.
And he won't be old enough to vote for another six months.
Were Phelps in college he'd rank No. 1 with that 1:42.3. The current leader is Arizona's Juan Veloz, a Mexican Olympian, who clocked a pr, Wildcat and No. 2 all-time Pac-10 1:42.72 at Texas last month.
When Stewart went his record swim at NCAAs, he had already swum heats and finals of the 500 free opening day, heats and finals of the 100 fly on Day 2 (plus the 800 free relay) and heats of the 200 fly on Day 3.
Tonight, NBAC coach Bob Bowman saw to it that Phelps topped that "workout" in spades. He won the 500 free (4:18.85), the 400 IM (3:44.18), the 100 free (43.93!) and the 200 fly.
Phelps' 500 free clocking is just off his pr and 15-16 NAG record 4:18.12 from the Speedo meet last year. His IM time is also shy of his pr 3:42.08, naturally from the Speedo competition. His 100 free is a career-best and remember: the guy's in heavy training now with megayardage workouts daily. (The 17-18 400 IM NAG record-holder is Dave Wharton, former USC All-America and Seoul Olympian, who did a 3:42.23 to win NCAAs 15 years ago.)
Wait 'till Nationals the first week of April at Indianapolis or the "Duel in the Pool" with Australia following the meet's conclusion. Phelps is likely to turn in performances that will "shock and amaze ya'' to borrow the immortal words of a rather famous Louisville native and former heavyweight champion of the world.
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On the women's side, the race of the evening was the 200 fly, where the home team's Elizabeth Hill, 17, powered home on her final 25 to outtouch NBAC's 17-year-old Emily Goetsch, 1:57.86-1:57.93. Both swimmers recorded prs
They've got a ways to go, however, before they're knocking on the door of the 17-18 NAG record. That mark is 1:52.99 by former Cal great and Los Angeles triple Olympic gold medalist Mary T. Meagher. T. did her time en route to the U.S. Nationals title at Harvard 22 years ago (yes, Virginia, back in those prehistoric days the U.S. spring Nationals was a yards meet).
T's time was also the American record and would remain as such until just last month, when another Cal great, Natalie Coughlin, went 1:51.91 during the Tiger Invitational at Auburn. Coughlin's time is also the current collegiate standard.
Athens Bulldog teammates Kristy Kowal and Courtney Shealey, who won the 200 IM and 50 free opening night, added three more golds to their total tonight while adding their names to the Dynamo record book. KK, looking more and more as if she has plans to be on the plane to Athens next summer, won the 200 breast in 2:11.78.
Her pr is 2:07.66 from the '99 NCAAs at Athens, then the American collegiate record. The mark has been reduced to 2:07.36 by current Stanford star Tara Kirk. Kowal still ranks third on both the all-time performers and performances' lists.
Shealy took home No. 1s in the 100 free (50.22 to teamamte Stefanie Williams' 50.56, same order as the 50 free); and then raced to a meet record 53.79 for the 100 back. Her pr is a 52.50 from the Y2K SECs at Auburn, still the 'Dawg and SEC record plus ranking her fourth and 10th on the all-time lists.
Dynamo's Melissa Klein, who'll be continuing the Georgia Bulkldog tradition next fall when she joins Coach Jack Bauerle's Dawgs in Athens, was second in the 200 breast (2:12.69) with former Georgia All-America Ashley Roby (2:13.26) third. Klein was also runner-up in the 200 IM — and has designs of her own on a trip to Athens — Greece, that is — in 18 months.
In the team race, Dynamo was able to freeze but not shrink NBAC's sizeable lead from Day 1. NBAC is on top by approximately 250 points.
The Eastern Classic features 11 teams fielding 13 squads with a maximum of 50 swimmers each. North Baltimore has won narrowly over Dynamo each of the last two years — and last year's margin of victory after three days of swimming was just one-half point!