Column by John Lohn, Swimming World senior writer
BASKING RIDGE, New Jersey, November 8. THE big news in the swimming world this week was the announcement that Janet Evans, the greatest female distance swimmer in history, is returning to competition. Evans is eyeing Masters action, with her initial sights set on performing well at next year's Masters Short Course Nationals.
With Dara Torres having enjoyed tremendous success into her forties, many fans last week were abuzz about the possibility of the 39-year-old Evans following a similar path and competing in another Olympiad. Whoa. Whoa. Whoa. Let's not get too far ahead of ourselves. For now, Evans' return to Masters competition needs to be viewed as a great development for the sport, not in relation to Olympic aspirations.
While it will be interesting to see what kinds of times Evans is able to produce at Masters Nationals in the 500 free and 400 individual medley, along with the longer freestyle events, her presence in that domain should be viewed as a treat for fellow Masters competitors. They'll get the chance to share the deck with an Olympic gold medalist, as is the case with meets featuring Rowdy Gaines. More, it's sensational that Evans is going to have the chance to enjoy competition again.
Who knows what this comeback will bring? Perhaps it will turn into something more than a Masters foray. However, if it does not, it's still key to look at Evans' return to competition as a huge positive, for we should appreciate the chance to see this legend compete again – regardless of the level.
**Speaking of comebacks, Garrett McCaffrey had a sensational interview with Ed Moses at the Curl-Burke Swim Club. Moses, who was en route to the funeral of Fran Crippen, had the chance to speak with McCaffrey about the meaning of Fran in his life, along with the amazing nature of the Crippen family. If you haven't seen the interview, take the time to watch it here.
Also during the interview, Moses indicated that he recently hopped into the water at the Rose Bowl in California and has done some casual work in the pool. This doesn't mean Moses is targeting an official comeback, but with the United States men in need of some breaststroke help – especially for the 400 medley relay – it would be a pleasant surprise to see Moses back in action.
To be greedy, it would be even better to see Brendan Hansen make a run at a third Olympics. The former world-record holder in both breaststroke events, Hansen is obviously another guy who could bring a spark to the United States, along with the leadership characteristics that have made him a Team USA captain in the past.
**One of the highlights of the Stockholm stop on the World Cup circuit was the meeting between Germany's Paul Biedermann and France's Yannick Agnel in the 200 and 400 freestyles. Biedermann took the latest rounds between the stars, but it's more important to note that this rivalry is burgeoning and only going to enhance in stature in the lead-up to the 2012 Olympics.
In this country, we're lucky enough to have the Michael Phelps-Ryan Lochte rivalry to watch. It's great to have another head-to-head duel in Europe to follow.
**We mentioned Dara Torres earlier in relation to her age-defying performances. While Sweden's Therese Alshammar is only 33, you have to respect her longevity in the sport. Alshammar tore up the World Cup circuit and earned an easy win in the points standings. Look for the Swede to be one of the stars, if not the biggest highlight, at the upcoming World Short Course Championships.