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OMAHA, Nebraska, July 2. THE final Great Races in U.S. Trials History series of this week looks back at the 1996 triumph of Amy van Dyken over Angel Martino in the women's 50 free. The race took place at the 1996 Trials held in Indianapolis, Ind.
Van Dyken clipped Martino in the closest women's 50 free finals finish in Trials history with a .06-second triumph, 25.17 to 25.23. The two had traded punches throughout the meet, first with van Dyken capturing the 100 free title, 55.27 to 55.39, over Martino. Martino bounced back with a 100 fly victory before taking second in the splash-and-dash. Legendary Jenny Thompson, meanwhile, finished third in both the 50 (25.91) and 100 free (55.45).
“'Mentally. it is really tough to s wim the first day and the last day.” said Martino of
the lengthy seven-day Trials. “'But you just have to set that aside.”
Van Dyken initially trailed in the 50 freestyle before turning on the afterburners down the stretch to blow by both Martino and Thompson.
“'I was really nervous before the race. so my start was not really strong.” Van Dyken said. “'But I really believe that a sub-25 second swim is in here somewhere.”
Martino became, at the time, the oldest female competitor to swim in an Olympic Games at 28, was labeled “team mother” by van Dyken after the race. Dara Torres, who is gunning for her sixth Olympic appearance tonight, has far surpassed Martino in the age-is-just-a-number realm. The 45 year old already swam in 2008 at 41 years old, and is the oldest Olympic gold medalist at 33 with a 400 medley relay win in 2000.
“'I think I have many experiences that I can share with some of the younger swimmers,” Martino said. “But, I hope I can be one of many leaders on this team.”