By John Lohn
OMAHA, Nebraska, July 3. THE men's 200 breaststroke figured to feature a one-two finish by Brendan Hansen and Eric Shanteau. What unfolded was a shocker. While Shanteau placed in his expected spot, Scott Spann grabbed victory. Hansen, who won the 100 breaststroke earlier in the week, settled for fourth, just behind Scott Usher.
Hansen was in the lead through 150 meters, but he ran out of gas on the last lap as Spann and Shanteau got stronger and moved ahead. Spann touched the wall in a career-best of 2:09.97, joining the exclusive sub-2:10 club, while Shanteau was timed in 2:10.36. Usher followed in 2:11.00 and Hansen was clocked in 2:11.37.
Spann split 33.62 for the last lap and Shanteau covered his last 50 meters in 35.07. Hansen, meanwhile, was timed in 36.15, well off the 34-mid he went in the semifinals and the 33-point performances he has produced during his career. Hansen was 2:09.60 in the semifinal round and his American record sits a 2:08.50.
"I really don't know what to say," Hansen said. "I didn't have a good feeling after my warmup and those guys brought it. I might have been worrying too much about getting the job done. My hat is off to those guys. I train with them every day. Maybe I trained them too well."
Spann was the third-place finisher in the 100 breaststroke and punched his first Olympic ticket with the swim of a lifetime. Following Hansen in fifth place was Clark Burckle (2:13.86), followed by John Criste (2:13.87), Ryan Hurley (2:13.90) and Giordan Pogioli (2:15.07).
"I tried to be long and smooth," Spann said. "I wanted to stay right with Brendan and attack the last 50 meters. I was disappointed with my 100 (third place) and told myself not to mess up. This is a real surprise. That was definitely an off swim for Brendan. To me, he's still the best in the world. I still need to get to his level. I know he's going to take on the world in the 100."
Kitajima also weighed in according to the Associated Press.
"For a swimmer of his level it shouldn't be that difficult to qualify," Kitajima said Friday on his official Web site. "He didn't seem to set his goals and rise to the challenge just one month before the Olympics."
Kitajima watched the U.S. swimming trials on television and said that Hansen didn't swim up to his potential.
"His timing was off," said Kitajima. "He didn't swim in his usual powerful style."
Video Footage Removed Due to NBC Restrictions
Go to Swimming World's 2008 Olympics Landing Page for the most comprehensive coverage of the meet on the Internet.