A ninth-grader at Towson High has the best chance to shine in the Phillips 66/U.S. Swimming Spring Nationals that begin a five-day run tomorrow in Seattle.
Anita Nall, 14, who swims for the North Baltimore Aquatic Club, won the 200-meter breaststroke at the U.S. Open in December in 2:30.53 to become the fastest American in that event last year and the third fastest American in history. The 200 breaststroke in Seattle will be held Thursday.
Nall's time ranks behind only those of Amy Shaw (2:29.58 in 1987) and Tracey McFarlane (2:29.82 in 1988) in the United States. Since August, when she posted a 2:34.73, she has risen from No. 39 to No. 7 in the world in the event. The world record of 2:26.71 was set by East Germany's Silke Horner during the 1988 Olympics.
Other NBAC swimmers who qualified for the nationals include Scott Conly, Mike Raley, Amanda White and Brandy Wood. The Retrievers Aquatic Club is sending Megan Malchak, Mike Stambaugh, Ken McCormick, Cheryl White, Candie Johnson, Ingrid Kilpe and Jennifer Atkins.
The Retrievers, under coach Sid Burkot, have made marked progress since 1986, when no one on the team qualified for the senior or junior nationals. The Retrievers had their first seniors qualifier in 1988, won the girls' portion of the National Junior Olympics in 1989 and last year sent large contingents to the junior and senior nationals and qualified two (Johnson and White) for the U.S. Olympic Festival.
"This year we had 16 in the NJOs, and we have seven in seniors," Burkot said. "It's been a natural progression."
Mark Gabriele, a Calvert Hall senior bound for James Madison on a swimming scholarship, is the lone Knights of Columbus-Orchards representative. He'll compete in the 100-meter butterfly. He won the 100-yard butterfly at the Eastern Scholastic Championships in February in 49.85 seconds, a Maryland Scholastic Association record.
"We don't expect him to win anything, but it's his first senior nationals and it'll be good experience for him," said KCO coach Reds Hucht. "He qualified for this meet with his time at the Easterns."
The nationals will serve as a selection meet for this year's Pan Pacific Games Aug. 22-25 in Edmonton, Canada, the Pan American Games Aug. 11-17 in Havana, the World University Games July 15-21 in Sheffield, England, and the U.S. Olympic Festival July 12-21 in Los Angeles.
The main plum is the Pan Pacifics. The U.S. team will include the first two finishers in each event in the nationals, plus the top four 100- and 200-meter freestylers. After that, other top finishers will be selected for the Pan American and World University teams. The Olympic Festival is for swimmers 18 or under who have never been on a U.S. national team.