Facing best doesn't faze 14-year-old star Phelps

August 18, 1994|By David Woods | David Woods,Special to The Sun

INDIANAPOLIS -- Baltimore's Whitney Phelps isn't rattled when she swims against the likes of Jenny Thompson, a world-record holder and double Olympic gold medalist, or Amy Van Dyken.

After all, when Phelps, 14, swam in Paris last spring, she defeated Krisztina Egerszegi, a five-time Olympic champion from Hungary.

"I didn't know she was anything big. I'd never heard of her," Phelps said. "I just thought she was another person."

Phelps, of North Baltimore Aquatic Club, is just another of the rising stars in U.S. women's swimming. She was the youngest finalist in the 100-meter butterfly by three years, but she finished fourth last night in the National Championships at Indiana University Natatorium.

Stanford's Thompson, swimming with a plate in the arm she broke in May, came from behind to win in 1 minute, .34 of a second. Colorado State's Van Dyken, who upset Thompson in the NCAA 50-yard freestyle to set an American record, was second in 1:00.57.

Phelps' time was 1:01.25, a personal best. She was second in the spring nationals, but neither Thompson nor Van Dyken swam there.

More is at stake here, because the top two in each event advance to the World Championships Sept. 5-11 at Rome. Phelps will try to make the U.S. team tomorrow in the 200 butterfly, her best event.

Her 13-year-old teammate, Beth Botsford, also had her best time in the 100 butterfly, 1:02.86. Botsford, seeded 57th, finished 18th. Ingrid Kilpe of the Retriever Aquatic Club was 54th in 1:04.31.

Kelly McPherson, 16, also of North Baltimore, clocked 8:47.33 in the women's 800 freestyle and qualified seventh for tonight's final.

Former North Baltimore swimmer Anita Nall swam 1:12.48 in prelims of the 100 breaststroke, the event in which she holds the American record of 1:08.17. She subsequently withdrew from the consolation final.

North Baltimore's Whitney Metzler (1:15.98) was 54th and Greater Baltimore's Brooke Donoho (1:19.88) 67th.

Elsewhere, Arizona's Chad Carvin, who set two American records at the NCAA Championships, barely missed a third in the men's 400 freestyle. He settled for 3:49.83, just off the mark of 3:49.14 by Dan Jorgensen in 1992.

Seth van Neerden, who tied the American record in the men's 100 breaststroke Monday, won the 200 breaststroke in a natatorium record of 2:13.27.

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