Phelps, Longhorn Aquatics Set American Records as American Short Course Champs Start

AUSTIN, Texas, March 2. THE oldest American record on the short-course books was wiped away Thursday night as the American Short Course Championships kicked off at the University of Texas’ Jamail Swim Center. Not surprisingly, the man responsible for the record swim was Michael Phelps.

Contesting the 400-yard individual medley, Phelps blazed an incredible time of 3:36.26 to hack nearly two seconds off the 11-year-old standard of Tom Dolan. The former mark was 3:38.18, produced at the 1995 NCAA Championships when Dolan represented the University of Michigan.

Phelps was nearly a second under record pace after the opening butterfly leg and picked up more ground during the backstroke portion of the event. The eight-time Olympic medalist dropped to .84 under the pace at the 300-yard mark, but a strong finish allowed Phelps to obliterate Dolan’s long-standing mark. David Kahn touched in second place, more than 13 seconds behind with an outing of 3:49.85.

“I am very pleased with how the race turned out tonight,” said Phelps. “I looked at this as my big meet this spring and wanted to go after the record. I had been working very hard on my breaststroke, but knew if it was going to happen I had to come through with my strengths.”

Longhorn Aquatics uncorked several impressive performances, including an American record in the 200 medley relay. Behind the foursome of Aaron Peirsol, Brendan Hansen, Ian Crocker and Neil Walker, Longhorn registered a time of 1:24.00, well under the former mark of 1:24.46, set by the University of Texas in 2003. That relay also included Peirsol, Hansen and Crocker. Daniel DiToro was the fourth member of the former record-holding relay.

Peirsol jumpstarted the relay with a backstroke split of 21.50 and Hansen followed with a 23.84 performance on the breaststroke leg. Crocker then supplied an eye-popping 19.90 effort for the fly leg before Walker anchored in freestyle with an 18.76.

The reigning world champ in the 100 butterfly, Crocker won his specialty in 44.73, just off his American record of 44.72. Crocker clocked 20.60 for the first half of the race and easily dispatched Jayme Cramer, who touched the wall in 46.75. Meanwhile, Hansen delivered an overwhelming victory in the 100 breaststroke as he checked in at 52.01, the third-fastest time in history. Hansen, with a career best of 51.96, wasn’t far off Jeremy Linn’s American standard of 51.86, standing since 1997.

A pair of well-established names emerged out of the 200 freestyle events with victories. A two-time Olympian, Kaitlin Sandeno edged Margaret Hoelzer on the female side with a clocking of 1:45.13. Hoelzer followed in 1:45.17 and Chelsea Nauta was third in 1:46.26. For the men, Cramer, a Stanford alum, followed his second-place fly effort with a 200 free time of 1:33.74 that held off Peirsol (1:34.10) and Club Wolverine’s Klete Keller (1:34.42).

The women’s 100 breaststroke featured a dynamite battle between Tara Kirk, the American-record holder, and Megan Jendrick, the 2000 Olympic gold medalist. Kirk came out on top with a quality time of 58.59 while Jendrick hit the pads in 58.87. In the 100 fly, Hoelzer collected a narrow win over Tanica Jamison, 52.89-52.95, and Ariana Kukors breezed to a triumph in the 400 I.M. with a clocking of 4:12.67.

Kukors (back) and Jendrick (breast) also helped King Aquatics win the 200 medley relay. They were joined by Courtney Eronemo (fly) and Emilee Jennings (freestyle) for a time of 1:40.72. The same foursome also prevailed in the 400 free relay (3:25.04). The men's 400 free relay was won by the Irvine Nova quartet of Kicker Vencill, Jason Lezak, John Criste and Aaron Casey. The squad was timed in 3:02.70.