By John Lohn
INDIANAPOLIS, Indiana, July 31. EARLIER this month, Kathleen Hersey enjoyed some party time in Rio de Janeiro by winning the 200-meter butterfly at the Pan American Games. It's clear she enjoyed the feeling, as the Swim Atlanta athlete surged over the final two laps and won a national championship Tuesday night with a time of 2:07.19.
At this point in the summer, many of the swimmers who raced at the Pan American Games don't have the juice left to repeat their efforts from South America. Don't count Hersey in that group. The 17-year-old stayed within striking distance during the opening two laps, then allowed her endurance to carry through to the finish.
"It hasn't hit me yet, but I hit the wall and forgot how bad it hurt in the last 50."
Certainly, Hersey will be a player next summer at the Olympic Trials.
"There's no telling what's gonna happen – it's always going to be a race. … this one was about confidence, and setting goals as high as I can."
Hersey's coach at Swim Atlanta, Mark Minier, noted that "last week [at Pan Ams] we thought she'd be in the mix. She's good at setting goals and sticking to them."
Georgia product Mary DeScenza used a charge of her own down the stretch to grab second-place honors. A staple on the international scene, DeScenza cooked up a personal-best mark of 2:07.84, the first time she has managed to dip under the 2:08 barrier. DeScenza's strong finish enabled her to hold off Kim Vandenberg, the silver medalist in the event earlier this year at the World Championships in Melbourne. Vandenberg checked in with a time of 2:08.19, off her best of 2:06.71.
The top qualifier from the morning, Dana Vollmer took fourth place in 2:10.47, slightly slower than the 2:09.82 she managed from the prelim session. Vollmer was the leader at the 100-meter mark and should deliver a stellar 100 fly later in the week. The fifth-place finisher was Teresa Crippen, also a Pan American Games competitor, who touched in 2:11.54.