NBAC's Phelps wins women's national 200 butterfly crown

August 20, 1994|By David Woods | David Woods,Special to The Sun

INDIANAPOLIS -- Brooke Bennett, 14, is being called The Next Janet, after longtime distance queen Janet Evans. Should Whitney Phelps, also 14, be called Little Madame Butterfly, after Mary T. Meagher?

"I don't mind," said the North Baltimore Aquatic Club swimmer, who won the 200-meter butterfly last night at the National Swimming Championships.

So Phelps will be going to Rome before she goes to Towson High School. She became a member of the U.S. team that leaves Tuesday for Italy and competes Sept. 5-11 at the World Championships.

Phelps, second at the spring nationals, beat a field that included four former champions in the event and held 26 national titles. Her time of 2 minutes, 11.04 seconds -- third in the world this year behind two Chinese swimmers -- put her No. 8 on the all-time U.S. list.

Stanford's Sarah Anderson, 19, of San Ramon, Calif., clocked 2:12.83 for a distant second to Phelps, who was third after 100 meters but bolted ahead in the third 50.

Phelps said she was nervous in preliminaries, when she had the second-fastest time (2:14.00) but not in the final. She didn't realize she had won until she saw the electronic scoreboard.

"I just looked up there, and I was like, 'Whoa,' " Phelps said.

North Baltimore coach Murray Stephens said she would need to swim about 1 1/2 seconds faster to be a medal contender in Rome. "Let's put it this way. She's certainly a comer on the world scene," Stephens said. "She's got a long way to go."

Meagher has held the world record since 1979, and her mark of 2:05.96 has stood since 1981. Phelps said she would like to break Meagher's age-group mark of 2:07.01. But no one else of any age has ever been faster than 2:07.82.

For Phelps even to allow herself to be compared to Meagher is uncharacteristic. When she won national Junior Olympic titles as an 11-year-old, she wouldn't let her mother report it to her middle school.

Another North Baltimore swimmer, Beth Botsford, 13, was 13th in the 200 backstroke in 2:17.03 after a 2:16.90 in prelims. Lisa Pastrana of Navy Juniors was 35th in 2:20.33.

Melinda Rehm of North Baltimore (2:18.90) was 29th in the women's 200 butterfly. David Miller of Retriever Aquatic Club (2:10.59) was 43rd and Calvert Hall graduate Mark Gabriele (2:11.88) was 48th in the men's 200 individual medley.

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