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Feature by Jason Marsteller
OMAHA, Nebraska, June 29. THIS evening, the likes of Clark Burckle, Eric Shanteau and Brendan Hansen could produce a remarkably close finish in the men's 200 breast at the 2012 U.S. Olympic Trials. The odds, however, are not in their favor in replicating the exciting finish between Glenn Mills and John Moffett in the 1980 edition of the event.
Mills owns the Trials record for the smallest margin of victory in a men's 200 breast with a .01-second triumph over Moffett, 2:18.78 to 2:18.79. The 1980 Trials proved to be one of the most dramatic of all with close finishes night after night, including a deadheat between Tracy Caulkins and Terri Baxter in the women's 200 breast earlier in the week. Shortly after that swim, Mills pulled off his own close victory.
Mills produced some history that evening, as USA Swimming used to keep track of indoor and outdoor national titles. That night, he became the first man since 1972 to win the indoor and outdoor 200 breast crowns since Brian Job accomplished the feat in 1972. Moffet, meanwhile, finished second for his second consecutive year, having lost to John Simons in 1979 at nationals. Simons went on to take fifth at Trials with a 2:20.68.
Mills and Moffet had Nick Nevid to chase in the finale, as Nevid went out explosively fast with a 1:06.3 at the turn, with Rick Meador on his hip with a 1:06.7. The duo, however, paid the price for the strategy by fading to the final two spots at the finish. At the 150-metre mark, Moffet then took the lead, 1:42.27 to 1:43.51, ahead of Mills before Mills put on a final 50 rarely seen to overcome a full second deficit down the stretch.
“Everything's happened so quickly since the last Nationals that I guess I can't ask for a peak performance from myself every time out,” a relieved Mills said. ” I was shootin' for a 16 (2:16) inside of me but I'm happy to have won. I could see somebody just ahead of me off the last wall but I didn't know who it was. I had a good finish but I was awful lucky too.”