BARCELONA, SPAIN, June 2. 'TIS ALMOST summer and the livin' is getting just a little bit harder.
With the advent of the summer season, the drive for Fukuoka is on fullbore, and on Day 2 of the first stop of the Mare Nostrum tour, in Barcelona at the Club Natacio Saint Andreu (50 M) Pool the competition heated up considerably.
Foremost among the "heater uppers" was Stanford University sophomore-to-be Markus Rogan, who competes internationally for Austria and won the 200 back here in a pr-national record 1:59.85 — fourth-fastest globally for the year.
Rogan, who trains with Coach Murray Stephens' Morth Baltimore Aquatics Club — home to former 200 breast world record-holder Anita Nall, among others, when not tolling for Coach Skip Kenney on The Farm in Palo Alto — decisively defeated Hungarian star Peter Horvath (2:01.61) and Japan's Takashi Nakano (2:01.95) for his first major international title.
Rogan was runner-up at this year's NCAA Championships in College Station in the 200 back and his time — 1:41.64 (yards) is fastest-ever among swimmers
under 19 but cannot count as an American age group national mark because he's not a U.S. citizen.
The American-NCAA record in the 200 back (1:40.06) by former Stanford star Brian Retterer so Rogan's 1:41.6 as a rookie augurs well for him possibly becoming the first man ever under 1:40.0 at next year's championships.
Rogan's pr in the 200 meter back coming in was a 2:01.38 that ranked him 43rd globally last season, down from his 2:01.80 in 1999.
Where he'll finish this year ranked is of course unknown at present but 1:59.8 in June unrested could well translate into a spot in the finals next month in Japan.
A quadruple Olympic champ also made his long course debut here, as a certain Mr. Popov won his first title of the year — the 50 free — with a 22.34-22.62 triumph over former Cal Golden Bear (and Polish Olympian) Bart Kiezerowski.
Popov is world record-holder off his 21.64 from last summer's Russian Olympic Trials but finished out of the money at the Olympics in a race he had come to dominate.
Another Olympic champ — Sweden's Lars Frolander (100 fly) — was dethroned here by Ukraine's Dennis Sylantyev, 53.28-53.53. Frolander's pr and national-European record is 52 flat from Sydney, ranking him third on the all-time performers-performances' list. Sylantyev's pr-NR is 52.52 from the Goodwill Games three years ago in The Big Apple, ranking in a tie for sixth on the all-time performers' list.
Yet another Olympic champ resurfaced here after a rather quiet winter, and that would be Costa Rica's Atlanta 200 free champ, Sylvia Poll, who won her
favorite event in 1:59.38 — No. 2 globally for the year. Poll was third at the Sydney Olympics behind Australia's Susie O'Neill and Slovakia's Martina
Moravcova, winner of the 50 fly opening day here (Friday).
Double MM kept up her winning ways today with a pair of victories, the 50 free in 25.91 and the 100 fly in 59.20. Her prs-NRs are 25.24 and 57.97 — this latter swim ranking her fifth all-time performers.
Another winner for the second time in two days was hometown favorite Nina Zhivanevskaya, who won the 200 back in 2:13.58 to Australia's Clementine Stoney's 2:14.09. The winner stroked to the 50 back title yesterday.
In the men's 200 free Hungary's Attila Zubor raced to a pr of 1:49.82 for the victory, eclipsing his old pr of 1:49.83 at last year's Mare Nostrum meeting in Monte Carlo He'll be after the Hungarian NR of 1:49.17 by Atlanta 200 IM gold medalist Attila Czene next month in Japan, and Czene of course was national-collegiate champ last season in the 200 IM for Arizona
State's Sun Devils.
The 400 IMs were won by New Zealand Olympian Dean Kent (4:24.20) and Ukraine dual Olympic gold medalist Yana Klochkova (4:41.82). Her countryman Oleg Lisogor won the 100 breast (1:02.17) and on the distaff side South Africa's Sarah Poewe edged American Olympian Amanda Beard (1:09.14-1:09.26).