Nall is fourth, finished Short at U.S. trials, she plans return to studies

Metzler, Botsford are in

Swimming

March 10, 1996|By Peter Schmuck | Peter Schmuck,SUN STAFF

INDIANAPOLIS -- Olympic gold medalist Anita Nall probably didn't notice the music as she marched in parade for the 200-meter breaststroke final at the U.S. Olympic trials last night. If the Towson swimmer she had, she might have wondered if it was chosen just for her.

The song was entitled "And She Was" by the rock group Talking Heads, and it turned out to be prophetic. Soon after the race was over, Nall was talking about her swimming career in the past tense and looking ahead to the college education she gave up temporarily to pursue her athletic dreams.

Nall finished fourth in a time of 2: 30.77 in her second and final attempt to make the 1996 U.S. team, then graciously turned the women's breaststroke over to a new generation of promising swimmers even younger than she was when she swam to a gold, silver and bronze medal at the '92 Olympiad in Barcelona. However, Nall's North Baltimore Aquatic Club teammates Whitney Metzler and Beth Botsford will be going to Atlanta. officially qualified for the Olympics yesterday. Both were expected to qualify after finishing second in their events earlier in the meet, but needed four swimmers to double-qualify to assure them of positions on the U.S. team.

Nall's The race went to swimming's newest phenom, 14-year-old Amanda Beard, 14, who finished in 2: 26.25, the eighth-fastest time ever recorded in the event. Jilen Siroky of Charlotte, N.C., another 14-year-old, turned in a lifetime best 2: 28.23 to join Beard on the U.S. team.

The fourth night of competition at the University of Indiana Natatorium also featured another strong performance by Curl-Burke's Tom Dolan, who swam 1-2 with University of Michigan roommate John Piersma in the 400-meter freestyle, and a handful of other interesting subplots:

* Georgia's Angel Martino, who at 28 already was the oldest swimmer to qualify for the team, won a tight three-way duel in the 100-meter butterfly to qualify for her second event. Amy VanDyken finished second and 16-year-old Misty Hyman missed qualifying by three one-hundredths of a second.

* Floridian Tripp Schwenk narrowly edged world-record holder Jeff Rouse in the 100-meter backstroke. Rouse swam the race in a personally disappointing 55.15, but he also qualified for the team.

This was not the way Nall wanted to go out, of course. She wanted to make one more Olympic appearance and erase some of the frustration that had built up during two years of chronic illness and competitive disappointment. She trained hard, even leaving NBAC coach Murray Stephens for 3 1/2 weeks recently to train with breaststroke specialist Josef Nagy, but did not make enough progress to convince herself to continue her swimming career.

"I don't think so right now," she said after the race. "I told Murray that I don't want to do it half-heartedly. I think right now I'm going to concentrate on school. I think that will be my emphasis."

Stephens said he wouldn't try to change her mind, though the progress she's made since January convinced him she is capable of returning to at least the No. 2 U.S. ranking in the sport she once dominated.

"I don't ever try to talk anybody into swimming," he said. "It's important for them to have the sense that they want to do it.

"She gave it a shot, but we needed a couple-second breakthrough tonight and we didn't get it. She was swimming a 2: 35 in January and she got down to 2: 30 today. If she had been at 2: 30 in January, I think she would have been right there."

Nall needed to cut another 2 1/2 seconds off her time to finish in the top two. She would have to improve even more to challenge Beard, who figures to challenge Nall's American record (2: 25.35) this summer.

"It's pretty frustrating," Nall said. "I know my stroke is better and I'm in better shape, but the time wasn't better. Maybe I was a little too nervous."

North Baltimore's Whitney Phelps had a difficult time in the 100-meter butterfly. She entered the preliminaries seeded 10th, but finished seventh in her heat and 19th overall to miss the cut for both the "A" and "B" finals. She was not considered a strong contender in the 100-meter event, and Stephens was not concerned that her soft race would carry any negative implications for the 200-meter butterfly on Tuesday.

"She was sloppy," Stephens said. "It's impossible to make any determination out of that. Most of the people in the 100 and 200 don't swim both events. The top six in the 100 won't even be in the 200.

". . . It [the 100] actually was good from the standpoint of after sitting around for six days, she got to do something."

Phelps owns the top qualifying time in the 200-meter butterfly at 2: 11.04 and came to the trials as NBAC's North Baltimore's top candidate to make the U.S. team. She remains a favorite to join teammates Metzler and Botsford in Atlanta.

They're in

Baltimore Sun Articles
|
|
|
Please note the green-lined linked article text has been applied commercially without any involvement from our newsroom editors, reporters or any other editorial staff.