By Phillip Whitten
LONG BEACH, Calif., July 8. WITH only six-tenths of a second separating the eight finalists in the women’s 100 meter butterfly, the race was wide open. Any of the eight women nervously standing on the starting blocks could win it.
As it turned out, 27 year-old Rachel Komisarz of the Lakeside Swim Club in Kentucky wanted it the most, as she came tearing from behind to punch her ticket to Athens. In doing so she placed herself in august company: The last Lakeside flyer to take an Olympics Trials title was Madame butterfly herself, Mary T Meagher.
Komisarz, a sometime Masters swimmer, has been a member of the US national team for years, but had never won a Big One. But she came into this meet strong, cut, tapered and hungry, and all the hard work paid off. Fourth at the turn in 27.90, she methodically mowed down her opponents, breaking into the lead with 10 meters to go.
Komisarz touched in a pr 58.77, while veteran Jenny Thompson, 31, the leader most of the race, hung on for second in 58.98, just ahead of Auburn Aquatics’ Demerae Christianson, 59.09.
Thompson has now made four US Olympic teams, joining Dara Torres and Jill Sterkel as the only four-time US Olympic swimmers in history.
All eight finalists cracked the one-minute mark.