Nall leaves Baltimore for Pa. home, old coach

August 10, 1994|By Doug Brown | Doug Brown,Sun Staff Writer

After five years in the Baltimore area marked by a world record and three Olympic swimming medals, Anita Nall has gone home.

She is back in Harrisburg, Pa., where she was born and raised, with her old team, her old coach and her old friends. She leaves behind the North Baltimore Aquatic Club and coach Murray Stephens.

No hard feelings. It was, she says, just that she needed a change in her swimming career, which has been hampered by sickness recently. She is training again under Ed Fraser of the Harrisburg East Shore YMCA.

"I love Baltimore and I love Murray," Nall said. "He put up with me through all my sicknesses for a couple years, and he deserves credit for having the patience to do that. He was as frustrated as I was."

Soon after her banner year of 1992, when she set the world 200-meter breaststroke record with a time of 2 minutes, 25.35 seconds (broken this year by Australia's Rebecca Brown) and won three medals in the Summer Olympics in Barcelona, Spain, Nall suffered a series of upper respiratory infections.

It was that, she said, that prompted her to return to Harrisburg. She felt she could recuperate better under Fraser, whose workouts are less demanding than Stevens'.

"She needed an emotional as well as a training change," said her mother, Marilyn. "Her iron was low. The mononucleosis became chronic.

"She parted with Murray on good terms. Murray's training simply doesn't leave time for extended recuperation. She's not doing near the training that she was before."

Stephens said he thinks Nall was confused and frustrated in trying to regain her world-record speed in the face of recurring illness and the resultant chronic fatigue.

"She wasn't able to practice more than three or four times a week, and then only at 60 to 80 percent efficiency, the last year and a half," Stephens said. "No swimmer can produce world-record type performances with that little training."

Nall agrees, and she is working on that. She says her Harrisburg physician, Dr. Glen Bartlett, has "my health under control with vitamins, better eating.

"I was trying to do too much," Nall said. "I understand that Murray's training must be done with a group, but it wasn't what I needed. Here, I'm doing less yardage, but I'm able to do it every day. Instead of 10,000 yards one day, and then being able only to do 2,000 the next, I'm around 6,000 every day."

The lure of Harrisburg was multi-faceted, for she never really severed ties. Her boyfriend is there. Her sponsor, Dr. Dave Joyner, an orthopedic surgeon with whose family Nall is staying, is in Hershey.

Nall, 18, a June graduate of Towson Catholic High, where she was a National Honor Society member, will attend Lebanon Valley College on a partial academic scholarship. She also was offered an academic scholarship to Loyola College.

Since she turned pro four years ago, and began accepting money from U.S. Swimming, she can't, under NCAA rules, compete for a college team. The Nall family's reasoning was that she could make enough money from prize money and monthly support stipends to cover expenses at a college like Loyola and continue to train under Stephens.

But things changed. Her parents will move from Towson to Clarksburg, W. Va., where her father, John, was recently transferred.

Nall will compete in her specialties, the 100- and 200-meter breaststrokes, in the Phillips 66 National Championships that begin a seven-day run Sunday in Indianapolis.

"I'm swimming pretty well and trying to get a consistent base behind me," said Nall, who has been in Harrisburg since late June. "I haven't been sick in a couple months. I hope to do fairly well in Indianapolis -- no world record, though."

Her long-range goal is hardly a surprise: a return to the Olympics in the 1996 Atlanta Games.

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