N. Baltimore club's Metzler lapping up renewed hope Extra work, Quance ruling improve Olympic chances

March 07, 1996|By Peter Schmuck | Peter Schmuck,SUN STAFF

INDIANAPOLIS -- Whitney Metzler is living proof that there are two sides to every story.

While the rest of the swimming world was commiserating with disqualified 400-meter individual medley finalist Kristine Quance, Whitney Metzler was in the pool yesterday afternoon at the Indiana University Natatorium, working between the preliminaries and the finals on her technique in the breaststroke.

The extra effort paid off big-time. Metzler, a member of Murray Stephens' North Baltimore Aquatic Club contingent, made a strong comeback in the third leg of the medley to finish second behind the University of Florida's Allison Wagner and become a near-certain bet to compete in the Atlanta Olympics.

Metzler did not receive an automatic berth, but an intricate set of qualification standards make it very likely that she'll be named to the U.S. team during the weeklong U.S. Olympic trials.

"I'm so ecstatic," Metzler said. "I can't even explain it. The last 50 meters, I was in so much pain, but I saw that there was only one person ahead of me and I wasn't going to let up. I couldn't even feel my legs at the end." She'll have five months to get the feeling back. Metzler, 17, was not considered a strong candidate to make the team until Quance made a technical error in the morning preliminary and was disqualified. That left Metzler with the second-best time in the event, and she held that position in the final, though she had to come from near the back of the pack in the final 150 meters.

Metzler knows what it's like to be disqualified. She was knocked out of her first senior nationals. Now she knows what it's like to qualify for the biggest event.

"I feel bad for her, but I made the team and that's what's important to me," Metzler said. "I was disqualified in my first senior national and I've had disappointment after disappointment, but this helps make up for it."

Colorado's Amy Van Dyken, 23, officially became the first member of the American team when she touched the wall first in the 100-meter freestyle. Van Dyken finished in 55.27 seconds, edging second qualifier Angel Martino (55.39) and American record-holder Jenny Thompson. Thompson and 26-year-old Melanie Valerio make the team for the 400-meter relay.

The University of Tennessee's Jeremy Linn pulled a mild upset to qualify first in the men's 100-meter breaststroke, holding off favored Kurt Grote and Eric Wunderlich to win in 1: 01.94.

In the evening event, Michigan University swimmer John Piersma won the men's 200-meter freestyle in a tight finish, edging second qualifier Josh Davis of Athletes in Action and third-place finisher Ryan Berube.

Pub Date: 3/07/96

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