By John Lohn and Dana Lawrence Lohn
INDIANAPOLIS, Indiana, August 4. "I feel more and more consistent," Erik Vendt shared after the race, and that is indeed what we've witnessed here: as a follow-up to his Day 1 win in the 1500-meter freestyle, Vendt shifted into high gear and went unchallenged en route to the gold medal in tonight's 800 freestyle. Vendt produced a time of 7:49.75, a personal best, to set a U.S. Open record and to take down the 20-year-old meet record of Sean Killion (7:52.45).
"[The 800] is a little different, and with this coming at the end of the meet, I got my two best times [in the 800 and the 1500], and I'm 26, so that's good!" added Vendt, who, in an effect we may slang "Torresian," is clearly finding that his times are improving with age.
After Club Wolverine teammate Peter Vanderkaay led in the early stages, Vendt took control around the 300-meter mark and continued to pull away. Vendt now ranks as the second-fastest American in the history of the event, behind only the American record Larsen Jensen, which sits at 7:45.63. Jensen's record was from the 2005 World Championships in Montreal.
A two-time Olympic silver medalist in the 400 individual medley, Vendt was followed in the silver-medal slot by Vanderkaay, who won the 400 free earlier in the week. Vanderkaay delivered a time of 7:53.93, good for a personal best. Jensen, who won silver in the 400 free and 150 0 free, earned the bronze medal with a mark of 7:57.79.
Mission Viejo's Fran Crippen, who was the gold medalist at the recent Pan American Games in the Open Water 10-kilometer event, finished fourth in 8:03.19. Crippen is a good bet to swim the 10k when it is introduced to the Olympic Games in Beijing. The 800 free for the men is not an Olympic event while the 1500 free is not on the Olympic program for the women.