SwimmingWorldMagazine.com Rewind: Janet Evans’ 1650-Yard Freestyle American Record

By Jason Marsteller

PHOENIX, Arizona, December 8. WITH news coming out of Fairfax, Va., that Kate Ziegler claimed the last Janet Evans American record measured in yards by downing the AR in the 1650-yard freestyle on Thursday in 15:37.17, SwimmingWorldMagazine.com Rewind looks to pay homage to the 16-year-old standard of 15:39.14 set on March 17, 1990 in Austin, Texas at the Women's NCAA Championships.

Here is an excerpt of the story written by Russ Ewald in the May issue of 1990 as Rewind looks back to honor Evans' 1650 free from that day:

Because the Longhorns were considered a shoo-in for the 400 free relay, the last hope for the Cardinal lay in the 1650.

The only Longhorn entry was Hayes, who was being asked to do a Herculean same-day double of a 1650 and 200 back. She was seeded just 12th; however, Schubert purposely had Hayes swim a slower time during the season to get her in an early heat. That gave his senior co-captain more recovery time for the 200 back.

In the first heat of the 1650, Eva Mortensen and Karen Kraemer of Stanford went 1-3 with respective times of 16:19.33 and 16:22.18.

Before the second heat, Schubert told Hayes her pace was OK if he kept his hat on. Even though it was St. Patrick's Day, the Texas coach wore an orange hat befitting a Texas tradition that goes back to 1884 when a special train of students dressed in that color went to Georgetown (Texas) for a baseball game.

The heat, beginning an hour and 20 minutes before the official start of the final session, nevertheless drew the attention of the entire Texas team and a large delegation of Longhorn supporters in the stands. Schubert never removed his hat during the race as Hayes finished first in 16:04.08, less than two seconds off her runner-up time of a year ago.

The meet would be on the line in the final heat with Stanford's Evans and Barb Metz, who placed fourth a year ago (16:10.01) among the eight. Shortly after the start, the only competition for Evans came from the clock. She averaged low 57s and lapped every other competitor. With a few lengths to go, the only suspense left was how far under the American record would Evans go? She touched in 15:39.14, shattering her old mark of 15:44.98 set at a Q meet last year in Long Beach. The NCAA record formerly was 15:50.86 by Florida's Tami Bruce in 1988.

"A year and a half ago, I took it out real fast, too fast," said Evans. "I hurt at the end. Tonight, I didn't fall off and felt comfortable."

About her improvement, Evans replied, "I just think my turns are better and my pace, too."

But Metz couldn't maintain her pace by the 600-yard mark. Stanford's last opportunity to avoid a showdown in the 400 free relay was gone–Metz wound up 15th in 16:30.44. Hayes' time put her second; Mortensen and Kraemer were 6th and 10th, respectively.

For the complete Swimming World Magazine article on the 1990 Women's NCAA Championships, click here.

Premium online subscribers can view the entire May 1990 edition of the magazine, as well as any other edition of the magazine back to 1960. To order a premium subscription, please click here.

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