By Phillip Whitten
COLLEGE PARK, Maryland, August 6. MICHAEL Phelps struck again this morning, leading all qualifiers in two of his “off events” — the 100m free and 200 back — which he swam back-to-back.
The morning’s other top swim was turned in by Stanford’s Gary Marshall in the 200m breast.
Phelps began his campaign to expand his program at the Athens Games next year by qualifying first in the 100m free in the first time he has swum the event at a national championship. His coach at North Baltimore, Bob Bowman, said Michael would like to win a spot next year in the US 400 freestyle relay.
He took a major step forward this morning, swimming 49.83 seconds — the only swimmer to crack 50 seconds. Characteristically, he had the slowest first 50 (24.56) of any of the top eight qualifiers. Canadian Brent Hayden posted the #2 time, 50.47.
Two notable veterans made finals, as did two up-and-coming kids. Olympian Neil Walker was tied for third with Matt Grevers, Swimming World’s “High School Swimmer of the Year,” at 50.33. Former Stanford co-captain Sabir Muhammad was seventh at 50.80, just behind 16 year-old Kyle Bubolz at 50.64. It took 50.82 to make the A final, 51.33 to make the B.
The 200 backstroke was the next event and, once again, Phelps qualified first, posting a controlled 1:59.46 (splits: 59.82 – 59.64). Nate O’Brien was second in 2:00.85, with Grevers seventh (2:03.51). Cut-offs: 2:03.79 for the A final, 2:04.93 for B.
Former University of Virginia standout Gary Marshall, now swimming for Stanford, knocked down the fasted 200 breast prelim mark by almost two seconds, a PR 2:13.22 Canada’s Mike Brown was a distant second. Cut-offs: 2:17.35/2:19.77.
In the absence of Michael Phelps, Circle C’s Rainer Kendrick was top qualifier in the 200 fly in 2:00.65, a tenth of a second ahead of Canadian Brian Johns. The final should be anyone’s to win as less than a second separate the top 8 men. Cut-offs: 2:01.54/2:02.76.
Sarah Wanezek, Texas Aquatics, recorded the fasted 100 free time, 56.13, in an event notably devoid of big names. Former Georgia star Stefanie Williams was second in 56.28. Another Bulldog ace, Maritza Correia, was a disappointing 13th (57.15). Cut-offs: 56.91/57.37.
Canadian Jennifer Fratesi led all qualifiers in the 200 back (2:13.65) in a prelim that saw six youngsters, led by #2 qualifier Lauren Rogers (2:15.01), make the top 8. Cut-offs: 2:16.30/2:17.95.
Sixteen year-old Rebecca Soni was the surprise top qualifier in a very strong 200 breast field with her 2:29.78. Craoline Bruce, 17, was second in 2:29.87 with 2000 Olympic 100m champ, Megan Quann, third in 2:31.99. Other finalists: Kristy Kowal and Tara Kirk. Cut-offs: 2:33.89/2:36.32.
Trojan’s Kaitlin Sandeno led the way in the 200 fly at 2:11.24. Circle C 16 year-old, Andrea Axtell, was second in 2:12.23, followed closely by 2000 Olympic champ, Misty Hyman at 2:12.34. Up-and-comer Emily Goetsch was eighth in 2:13.73. The B final cut-off was 2:15.50.