By John Lohn
OMAHA, Nebraska, June 29. FOUR years ago, Brendan Hansen walked into Long Beach for the Olympic Trials with a chip on his shoulder. Looking to avenge a pair of third-place finishes at the 2000 Trials in Indianapolis, Hansen had something to prove. The result was a pair of world records in the 100 and 200 breaststrokes.
This time around, Hansen is expected to make the team and again challenge for gold in Beijing. After one swim, everything is looking good. The only American ever to break a minute, Hansen dipped under the 60-second barrier again, going 59.84. Really, it's become commonplace for Hansen to go 59-point.
The possibility exists that Hansen could become history's first 58-second man this week. The former University of Texas star, who won eight individual NCAA titles as a Longhorn, has the speed and power to make it happen. He's also intent on sending a message to the rest of the world, particularly with Japan's Kosuke Kitajima recently taking down Hansen's 200 breast world mark.
Mark Gangloff, well established as the second-best American breaststroker, took the first step toward repeating his Olympic berth from 2004. Gangloff stopped the clock in 1:00.10 and is on the cusp of joining the 59-second club. If he makes the team and has visions of a medal in Beijing, Gangloff will have to go 59-mid.
The next group of qualifiers was led by Eric Shanteau. Better known for his ability in the 200 breast, he went a personal-best time of 1:00.91 and was followed by Scott Usher in 1:00.97 and Scott Spann in 1:00.98. John Criste touched in 1:01.31 and Giordan Pogioli (1:01.40) and Jon Roberts (1:01.44) also went under 1:01.50.